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newbie - starting vegetable garden...

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
by couponmama on March 06, 2006 07:27 AM
Wow! I wish I had found this site sooner.... I am new to gardening getting ready for my first "real" vegetable garden and hoping to have enough for snacking throughout the summer as well as abundance of good stuff for canning as I am experienced with that. I have many questions and hope to find some answers here [wavey]

I have already started my seeds indoors about one week ago and they are growing much faster than I had anticipated... some are about 6" tall but not too many leaves... I have removed the plastic cover and put them near the window for more light after reading through some info here. I still plan to purchase more seeds - is there a real difference between the more expensive seeds in the catalogs and the cheapie walmart seeds? The ones I have now are the 10 cent walmart seeds?

Also, are there any good methods to keep deer out of the garden that are not too expensive? We have dug up a 12x24 ft patch and enclosed with 4ft fence and are thinking of covering this with netting to keep the deer and birds out? Also, I still need to prep the soil - right now it is just dirt so I am wondering what I need to mix into it? Have begun saving vegetable matter for compost and still need to build a "box" of some sort to put it in next to the garden. At this time I am planning to grow various toamatoes (some for fresh, some paste tomatoes for canning), variety peppers for fresh and freezing/canning, variety zucchini/squash, lettuce, spinach, shell peas, snap peas, eggplant, onions, pumpkin, watermelon, cantalope. I also have a seperate 2x8" patch for strawberries only and plan to reserve a 3x12ft patch in the garden for rasberries and blueberries that I have not purchased yet.

I guess I am wondering if I am on the right track so far or any suggestions for making my garden successful. I am on a pretty tight budget so cannot afford to spend "too much" although I am willing to spend more on plants, that will be more productive or better quality. The primary purpose for my garden is to feed my family on a budget. We are in the pacific northwest. This website is awesome!
by comfrey on March 06, 2006 08:14 AM
Sounds like you are off to a good start....The only suggestion I have is to go slow and don't plan more then you can take care of.

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by Amigatec on March 06, 2006 08:21 AM
Gardens are a LOT of work, I started small and keep adding each year. I have a 30X40 spot, and I have more stuff to plant than I have room for.

I also have a 10X15 asparagus bed, a 4X8 strawberry bed, and a 2X20 bed for blackberries and rhubarb.

Soon I will adding a herb bed, and a worm bin.

Sometimes there is more to do then I have time for.

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One OS to rule them, one OS to find them:
One OS to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Redmond where the shadows lie.
by tamara on March 06, 2006 08:32 AM
Welcome couponmama, 12 by 24 is a large garden to start off with. My veggie gardens are small squares all over my yard.

When will your plants be placed in your garden, they can become leggy if planted to early and they need to be hardened off before you can plant them also, there is alot to learn but through trial and error it will be a rewarding experience.

To me seeds are seeds, the cheaper the better. Sometimes you just don't get a high germination with the 10 cent packs but anything is better than nothing.

I mix compost, peatmoss and sheep manure in my gardens, well before I plant. I work everything by hand with a shovel and hoe. I have good soil here, it depends on what you have.

I also plant veggies in with my flowers for interest. Watermelons and pumpkins can take over your garden they need alot of room. I've never grown cantalope though. I also have a strawberry patch that is 12 by 12 and need to expand it. They multiply quickly. Raspberries are planted by themselves in my garden because they send up runners, they take over quick.

Hopefully somebody comes along quick to help with the deer problem for you. If there is anything specific you need to know just post, someone will be along shortly.

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Tamara's Photos
Thinking Spring, Thinking Spring...Nope, doesn't
by couponmama on March 06, 2006 08:49 AM
Thank you for all of the feedback so far... sounds like I may need to plant my pumpkins, watermelon and cantalope somewhere else so they don't take over? We have a spot out back where we throw all the lawn clippings that I have thought of trying as long as the deer won't eat these? I guess that is a lot of my concern - when we moved into this house I brought several tomatoes and peppers I was growing in large planters at my apartment... went out in the morning and they were GONE... learned from the neighbors that its the deer. So far nobody else here has gardens so no advice to keep deer out.

How long before I plant outside should I mix compost, manure, etc into the soil? Also, in what proportions for a 12x24ft garden? I will need to purchase these, does anybody have recommendation that is cost effective? Thanks for all the feedback... I guess I should be careful not to get carried away... if nothing else hopefully this can be fun for me & the kids and a learning experience this summer.
by Amigatec on March 06, 2006 08:58 AM
I would either buy a soil testing kit or have it tested somewhere before I start adding to much to the soil. Having it tested is better and more accurate.

I bought cheap kit at Lowes last year, and found I was a bit acidic and low on nitrogen. So I added some Lime, some 27-13-13, and a lot of compost.

I will test again in a few weeks.

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One OS to rule them, one OS to find them:
One OS to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Redmond where the shadows lie.
by detectorbill on March 06, 2006 12:37 PM
Couponmama I heard (don't know how true it is) that you can get human hair from a hair shop and spread it around. If the deer are not to domesticated it will deter them??? Sounds good and it's free!

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I feel more like I do now than I did before I ever felt this way.
by DeepCreekLake on March 07, 2006 01:41 AM
The main difference between the 10 cents seeds ,and the high dollar ones, is price! Ive horded up a bunch of those 10 cent seed packs,(American Seed Co) figuring that is they didnt grow no loss- they have been growing very well, and in some cases better than ones that are a buck a pop or more. When your seedlings sprout up, dont leave the dome on it too long it does tend to make them get more leggy. Another thing I like to do is cut up the potting portion of seed flats into smaller sizes ,there usally one big tray, so that if things need a little longer to grow, and other seeds are growing faster, you can take the ones that growing faster out of the seed flat/dome. Or I use 4 or 6 pack seed pots that people have given to me. Deer are hard to deal with in many places, they will still visit where you throw out you old grass clippings. I grow giant pumpkins, and other things in my compost pile, I see there hoove marks in there, but they dont really eat pumpkins here so no big deal there. A fence is really the best defense (or a high powered rifle like a 30-06) They do make motion activated water spraying system made to scare of pest. When a pest come near it, it forces off jets of water. I have heard they work, but deer can get conditioned to certain thing after while, there not as dumb as people think.
by tkhooper on March 07, 2006 03:23 AM
Different veggies require different types of soil. I know that my tomatoes took off when I added 50 percent partially decomposed compost to their patch in the garden.

Squash are another veggie that loves I high compost percentage in their patch.

But my onions grow great in the clay that hasn't been ammended at all. I love the onion family they are so easy to care for.

I would definitely give the rasberries and blue berries their own space. I'm not fond of the berries that grow on canes because they do spread and are very hard to get rid of.

If you enjoy canning and your in the pacific northwest you might try to find where in the national forrest there are patches of Oregon grape around you. It makes a really great jam. The bush is like a holly bush with blue colored berries on it and the taste of the jam is well worth the effort of a days picking.

Good luck with your garden.

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by Longy on March 07, 2006 04:29 AM
Hi Couponmama, like a lot of new gardeners, you've gone straight for the seeds and getting the plants going and now you don't have a place to plant them. Well, at least you have the new beds dug over right! I recall doing much the same thing as i'm sure many gardeners have.

You asked when you should start preparing the soil and the answer is 'that's the first step'. So you may want to transplant your little seedlings into a series of containers and get into improving your soil. Or you could use a small section of the dug over new bed and transplant them there. Add a general purpose granulated fertilizer first and you may go OK. It will tell you a lot about your soil anyway. As Amigatec suggests, a test kit is a great idea. Esp' a Ph test kit. This will measure the acidity of your soil and you'll know if you need to sweeten it with lime or dolomite. Very simple to use and cheap.

In the meantime, if you want to improve your soil, you need to start amassing organic matter. That means manures, compost, straw from animal bedding and stables perhaps. Don't try and go too big first off. Despite the best of intentions it can lead to heartbreak.
I'd suggest you split the new area into say 3 sections, Use one now for your younguns a week or two after adding the fertiliser. Use another one for a composting area and the third one will be where you add the organic matter which doesn't require composting. For example the deer manure i'm sure is available. Keep the area mulched where possible with old hay or straw and you'll get microbial activity and earthworms which will help to improve the soil.

One great way to improve a new bed is to grow potatos under straw on top of the bed. There's lots of info on this on the web or we can give you ideas if you need. The beauty of this system is it improves the soil and you get a crop of potatos at the same time.

Another thing is there are always people here who will offer help with any problems and there are no silly questions.

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The secret is the soil.
by pagarden on March 07, 2006 07:45 AM
my suggestion- HAVE FUN! [thumb] if youdon't overwhelm yourself the first time it will be a very rewarding past time for years to come! we have had lots of deer around here too and i tried the human hair thing- when i cut my daughters hair i saved it and put it around the garden- didn't deter them one bit. i tried zest shavings too. the only thing i found that worked for my stubborn deer was a mix i made from a book of habanero peppers, eggs, ground cayenne, & water mixed in the blender and let sit for a few days. then strained into a spray bottle and sprayed on my plants as new leaves emerged or after a rain. on a humid day it stinks and maybe that's the point- it kept them away. that and a net just draped over my plants worked just fine. oh and we got a slingshot too and made good use out of the walnuts that fell from the tree! [Big Grin] of course they are very bold and unless i get a direct shot they just sit and look at me like i'm bothering them! oh well. sorry for my long ramble- have fun with your first garden!
by Greenthumb newbee on March 07, 2006 02:28 PM
One thing on one mentioned is How to one the soil. First after marking off where your putting in your garden dig all the grass out or better yet fence it off and put some chickens in there. In no time all the grass will be GONE and that makes it easier to dig and not have weeds. The first year is the hardest so I would rent a tiller (rear mounted one front loaders are KILLERS on you) A CHEAP way to enrich the soil is till in alot of your old tree leaves as they not only make the soil better but also like wood chips keep it from drying out so as to better hold water not to menting airate the soil.
the leaves also promote more worms which really helps. On your vine plants try planting them next to a fence. They will TAKE OFF and grow like crazy. On poor soil try growing beans and peanuts as they make the soil better as well. Anyway good luck and happy gardening.

P.S. Grow flowers rearby as they bring bees which gets you more veggies.

Last but not least. Very important to keep the weeds at bay. A hoe is great for this.
by rozy221 on March 09, 2006 03:02 AM
Welcome Couponmama! Sounds like you're off to a good start. I recommend going to your library and looking for "Burpee's Complete Vegetable and Herb Gardener" This is an EXCELLENT source of info, telling you just how to start each type of seed and how to care for it throughout the season. One thing that jumped out at me when I was reading your post was about your melons/squash. I've read before that you should separate different varieties of melons and squash, or they could cross-pollinate and you may end up with "Squampkins". Good luck and happy gardening!

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