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What would you do with 1/4acre veggie plat?

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
by woodchuck on May 23, 2006 03:38 AM
Okay, everybody has there own ideas, and I'd like to hear them, here's the setup:
Growing Category 5
About 3degree slope, South to North
Faces North
Full Sun
Mainly Clay, but grass clippings will get added and tilled weekly, until congested with grown veggie plants.
100 feet by 100 feet, fenced with 6'x2"x4" wire.
Water source is well water a little high in iron.

This is the first year I'm gardening here, the usage history is:
2004,2005 light weeds, sparse grass, mowed.
2003, corn by neighbor, weed control=roundup.
2000-2002 weeds
many years-1999 soy/corn rotation.

This stuff gets so hard after the sun has been on it that I could make bricks with a little straw, no kidding, some fell out of a light duty fence stake and it baked for a day, about 3/4"diameter, it was all I could do to break it in half.

Feel free to suggest soil ammending comments, my occupation pays me in hugs/kisses, not dollars/cents so cheap/free is good, that this will take time is understood.

Food for thought; family of four, goal is to eat fresh and fresh frozen/canned/pickled year round.

If I missed any needed info, please let me know.

by weezie13 on May 23, 2006 04:16 AM
Originally posted by woodchuck:
Feel free to suggest soil ammending comments, my occupation pays me in hugs/kisses, not dollars/cents so cheap/free is good, that this will take time is understood.

COMPOST [Cool] , COMPOST [Love] , COMPOST [clappy] ,
oh yeah, some more COMPOST [grin] !!!!!
It will help with everything, it breaks up the clay like soil, will put nutrition in the soil for the plants, worms, and stuff in the soil, will help with water retention, and loosen's the dirt/soil...

~~~~>Do you have a compost bin started?
There's tons' of info on it in the ORGANICALLY SPEAKING section..<~~~~

Mainly Clay, but grass clippings will get added and tilled weekly, until congested with grown veggie plants.

Do not rototill the grass clippings in...
**the process of when the green breaks down,
steals nitrogen from the soil and will rob it from a growing plant and will not allow it to get
it's proper nutrition..**

What all types of veggies do you like??
That would help with what to do with it or
what to tell you to do with it..

Space doesn't seem to be too big of a problem,
but companion planting is efficient...

And don't forget about crop rotation...
If you planted tomatoes in a spot, you should, *ideally* 3 years before planting any nightshade plant there again..
***I don't get those amounts, I'm lucky to get one year or two between.. but alot depends on the size of the garden..***

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Don't forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have
done this have entertained angels without realizing it.
- Bible - Hebrews 13:2

by Longy on May 23, 2006 08:08 AM
Did you mention compost Weezie?

For an area that size, and being low in organic matter, i'd concentrate on a very small area first, just to get the feel of the soil. Add lots of organic matter to this small area and build it up to good soil, rather than using the stuff on the whole area and it not being enough. Start small, gain knowledge and increase the area as you are able.

Use all your grass clippings to start a compost system, along with anything else you can come up with and use this on the small area as it becomes available. No need to spend any money on a compost system. Nature has composted for eons, we just try and emulate the conditions and it doesn't take any state of the art equipment, just a basic understanding.
(Though a strong back is a good start.)

For the remaining area, i'd strongly recommend a green manure crop. Say woolly pod vetch or similar with a grass type crop like oats mixed in. These are cool season crops, there are plenty for the hot months too if you want to start immediately.

The oats will give the vetch support and as oats have a deep root system, they will pull nutrient up from deep in the soil.

The vetch is a legume and will deposit nitrogen in the soil for free. You would do best to innoculate the vetch. Your supplier will explain how, it basically gaurantees the legume will put nitrogen into the soil. Anyway, i digress.

When the vetch is just about to flower, slash it down and rototill the lot back into the soil.
You will possibly need to apply dolomite or lime to your soil to grow legumes successfully. By all means invest in a Ph test kit. Very cheap and simple to use and they last for many years. I've found the liquid and powder types the most reliable.

Use green manure crops on any part of any garden which is idle and it will improve that garden.
If you're interested in this method of soil enrichment, there is plenty of info available.

So, you're so far looking at a few pounds of seed, a 50 lb bag of dolomite and a Ph test kit to make incredible improvements to your soil. That's less than $50. Bargain.

Have fun.

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The secret is the soil.
by woodchuck on May 23, 2006 09:59 AM
As soon as I can figure out how to add my layout to a reply window, you'll have more to workwith, regarding comments about this year's layout.

However, please feel free to tell me what you would do if the space were yours, veggies mainly.
by Wrennie on May 23, 2006 10:01 AM
Did someone mention COMPOST yet? [thumb]
Are you in a town with a trash dump? Or is there curbside pick up? Do people bag their leaves and garden waste?? Go around the neighborhood taking all the bags of FREE compost and make your own BIG pile of it. Our dumps have compost piles where homeowners can dump 'yard waste' FREE for the taking.If there are any horse or cow owners around they're usually happy for you to take their 'barn waste', FREE.
I have zone 5 CLAY soil too. Lots and lots of compost. I have done lasagna gardening too. The compost is your first layer the soil is your second (on top) that you plant in.
Read in Frugal Gardening. Lots of inexpensive ideas there.

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 - Summer Camp '07, July 14th weekend, won't you join us?  -
summer camp thread 1, 2, 3,4
by ranger on May 24, 2006 06:56 AM
The green manure SHOULD BE tilled as ref here:
Nitrogen fixation - Legumes, inoculated with their specific rhizobium bacteria, will take nitrogen out of the air (present in the soil) and store it in their plant tissues via nodules on the roots of the legume. Some of this nitrogen is available as roots die, but the majority becomes available when the legume is tilled under (green manure).
Fresh wood chips or sawdust type material will steal the nitrogen for its breaking down prcess.
by Deborah L. on May 24, 2006 09:07 AM
What's a "plat" ?

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by Longy on May 24, 2006 06:51 PM
The green manure SHOULD BE tilled as ref here:
Yeah, that's what i said. "When the vetch is just about to flower, slash it down and rototill the lot back into the soil."
Are you correcting me or is there an echo in here ;-)

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The secret is the soil.
by ranger on May 25, 2006 12:56 AM
Not from your post it was above yours.
by weezie13 on May 25, 2006 01:02 AM
[Wink] [Big Grin] [Wink] [kissies]

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Don't forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have
done this have entertained angels without realizing it.
- Bible - Hebrews 13:2

by Sir Ts Princess on May 25, 2006 01:35 AM
I understand the clay issue, and I might have some ideas for you. First, soil ammend with compost. Or better yet, vermicompost (compost made by worms) and if you have kids
my occupation pays me in hugs/kisses, not dollars/cents so cheap/free is good
then they will enjoy helping with the vermicompost and learn a bit too. Of course, what ever compost you use, be sure to till it into the soil.

You said that you were tilling grass clippings into the soil, that's good. But some other things that you could till in would be coffee grounds, tea grounds, egg shells, vegetable peelings, leaves, dead plants, and shredded paper. (the same stuff you use to compost with) Why? Well, the coffee grounds will add nitrogen to the soil, as will the tea, the egg shells add calcium to the soil, and the paper will biodegrade and add to your soil eventually...but in the meantime it works well to help hold water into the soil.

As for plants...decide which fruits/veggies your family uses the most. These would be what I would consider to be the best pay off because you would be saving money at the grocery store. Some basic plants, and please check your zone to be sure these will grow (this is what we usually grow, but this year is an exception) is corn, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, squash, cucumbers, turnips, collards, peas, beans, carrots, watermellon, cantaloupe, and strawberries. When my FIL was using 1/4 acre of my property to grow veggies he had "sections" in his garden. To understand what I mean, picture your gardening space divided into 4,8, etc. sections depending on what fuits/veggies you want to grow. Now, plan for "paths" down the middle of the the garden space, and across between sections. In other words, when you draw out your space, where your lines are is where your paths will be. I would cover the "paths" with the gardening plastic that is used between rows of plants. This will help to hold moisture in that soil so that it doesn't keep pulling the moisture away from your sections with your plants. Now, start your plants in flats, I use egg cartons for mine (free, recycling, works). Once your plants are growing well, transplant them to the appropriate section in your garden. Once all plants are in, mulch it! Why? You need to hold moisture in your soil and the soil needs ammending which will take time. The mulch will break down and help your soil eventually. Of course, next year the mulch would need to be replaced, so what you do then is remove all your plastic, chop down any "dead plants" that died out over fall/winter. And till away thus tilling all this stuff into your soil along with new compost. Start again, only this time rotate your crops by plating them in diffrent sections than you did the previous year. Continue in this manner. Within a couple of years your soil should be MUCH better, as it will be improving each year. I hope this makes some sense and can help in some way.

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by woodchuck on May 25, 2006 08:35 AM

Will the pictured stuff work as ammendment material for now?

3yrs ago I had all the weeds and top 2-3" of soil scraped and piled at the end of my first garden area, to get a fresher start so to speak. This area was a cow yard from about 1890 to 1970 was neglected for the 15 years prior to us owning it, and has had leaves and weeds naturally cycling. If I dig down more than a 16" its like playsand, the top 16" is black,sandy material. This year it is being tilled monthly to keep the weeds in a germinate then die cycle, the weed seed content is high enough to justify cooking the soil.

No coffee/tea, newspaper(ink has metals) here. The kids are 20mos and 3yrs, my son may just think its a buffet, I'd like to get them into the garden but maybe next year. This will be my first compost pile project and it will be a LOT of work to make enough to ammend an area this big.
by peppereater on May 25, 2006 09:13 AM
Can you resize the pic?

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Even my growlights are getting restless!
by woodchuck on May 25, 2006 09:13 AM
The current planned layout is as follows:
rows1-8 full width corn
rows9-11 full width broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts 2'spacing
row12 peppers
rows13-15 full width tomatoes spaced 3'
rows16-18 half width cucumbers spaced 6'other half width watermelon cantaluope
4 foot service path full width
rows19,20 half width peas other half is sunflowers
rows21-23 half width beans green yellow lima other half row acorn squash
rows24-27 half width onions red white yellow other half row butternut squash
row28 half width swiss chard red green other half spaghetti squash
row29 half width carrots
row30 half width lettuce spinach other half sweet pie pumpkin
row31 half width green zucchini
row32 half width orange zucchini other half pumpkin jack-o-lantern
row33 half width yellow zucchini other half asparagus
row34 full width grapes red green concorde then blackberry raspberry
row35 half width potatoes russet

What's planted? corn, broccoli,cauliflower, brussel sprouts, half row of tomatoes, sunflowers, peas, beans,onions,carrots,beets,spinach,lettuce,potatoes,asparagus,berries,grapes.

Much of the rest is in seedling stage, so changing layout somewhat is still an option. One thing for sure, onions and potatoes can't be together-potatoes will get watery eyes.
by woodchuck on May 25, 2006 09:15 AM
Peppereater- I will try, using imageshack and it doesn't seem to give me the option.
by Deborah L. on May 25, 2006 10:16 AM
I wasn't making a joke, I wanted to know what "plat" means. Is it like a blueprint? Maybe it was a typo. I can relate, I'm the Typo Queen.
I'm interested in these compost quotes-I didn't know you can put in things like egg cartons. The cardboard ones.
This is interesting ! Great posts !
I'd love to make one of those patio compost cans.

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by comfrey on May 25, 2006 10:51 AM
[clappy] Did someone mention COMPOST yet? [Big Grin] [Big Grin] Ok first I want to say I have a 50'x50' fenced garden area, I am blessed with good soil and very few rocks of any size. I also have well water and use an impact sprinkler...placed above the plants which works very well. I did see something about what you plan for rows 16-18 cucumbers and melons, Even though I am growing these both in rows side by side and I am growing my cukes up on a wire fence in the middle of the garden. I have some concerns about doing this, [Embarrassed] And I did this last year in a different area of the garden. All those vines going every which way on the ground...Makes [Frown] it so much fun to harvest that area and forget being able to walk down a row or even in a straight line....Major jungle [nutz] Ok enough

Did someone mention COMPOST yet? [Big Grin] [Big Grin]

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by Sir Ts Princess on May 25, 2006 03:48 PM
When I mentioned doesn't have to be newspaper. It can be the brown paper grocery bags, which is a great way to recycle! And whoever mentioned the cardboard egg cartons is correct. I know my worms LOVE cardboard, just not sure why. LOL. Good luck with your gardening and your kids. [Smile] I'm a mom too, so I understand what concerns you would have. But, even if one of the kiddos did eat some coffee grounds, it's not toxic. My youngest son preferred my oldest son's crayons though. LOL Made for some interesting diaper changes!!! [Big Grin]

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by Tamara from Minnesota on May 26, 2006 02:15 PM
Green manure is an excellent idea. You have room to let some lie fallow. (I wish I did. In fact I was drooling over this topic heading! [tears] I grew up on a vegetable farm with 200 acres to choose from.)
About the compost: check the local area for a compost facility for residents. Also check for free manure from farms (you can try stables too, they are usually nice). And then after you get some and till it in have some buckets reserved to put into each hole the seedlings will go in. This puts the best nutrients right where they are most needed.
My friend always makes me design her garden for her and then come over and lay out the areas. The things to remember for laying out veggies are: most importantly, keep legumes and onions separate. Plant peas and carrots together. Keep all the similar families as apart as you can. Put perennials on the edges where they can remain. So I don't like where you put the grapes or asparagus. Also I would put the things that get bugs more often in the middle (like potatoes). And edge everything in flowers that repel bugs and put onions on the edge too to prevent critters. And cucs can grow up sunflowers. they like that.
But there is always next year!!!

The rest of my ideas tend to be because my space has always been limited. Like to think about putting things that finish early by things that will sprawl into that area later. And to put tall things on the south side of stuff that likes shade. And well I am a cottage/potager gardener and so I don't like rows very much anyway. [Roll Eyes]

Oh and aren't you going to grow herbs? If you came to MN I could give you chives and oregano. [Smile]

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by woodchuck on May 27, 2006 02:41 AM
Herbs? They are in the seedling-struggling to stay alive-stage; sweet basil, sweet marjoram, dill, chives, rosemary, parsley, sage, true lavender.

Rows work for me, organized, simple, and I use a tiller set shallow for weeding, like a power-hoe.

The perennials are planted in the last rows of the plot so they can be left alone.

If I figure out how to post good sized photos, then you'll be better able to see the layout.

What veggies to mix and match or not is good info, where can I find more detailed information on this topic?

I am hopefully allowing enough room for growth and foot room when it is time for harvest. Last year the spacing between rows for vine/spreaders was only 2-3 feet and between great soil and 1-2" of water/wk I ended up with massive sprawl. This year it's below average soil,4-6feet spacing, and 1" water/wk, see how it goes.

More ideas please, hearing what others would do gives me inspiration.
by woodchuck on May 27, 2006 03:42 AM
Pictures of compost? and garden may be viewed at just click on PICTURES on the left menu then on the small picture for larger. This will have to do until I figure out the Imageshack program.
by Squirrel on May 27, 2006 04:08 AM
Great pix, Woodchuck! Like the little woodchuckers lol. Cute!! Envy the amount of land you have. My yard would fit into you veggie garden. lol Wishing you a good growing season and a great crop. Sue

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What goes around comes around, so be nice!lol
by Tamara from Minnesota on May 27, 2006 02:19 PM
I had a little handbook some years ago that talked about companion planting. I remember the big one is peas and onions do not get along, but peas and carrots go together like peas and carrots! [Big Grin] Then beyond that keeping the same families apart confuses bugs and discourages disease. Also putting things like lettuce in the shade of things like corn is a smart thing to do.

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by woodchuck on May 28, 2006 12:56 AM
This companion planting sounds like a good thing , there's another 5day batch of rain coming so I'll have time to read some books on the topic.

The tomatoes that I started earlier are going s..l..o..w , so went wally world last night and picked up a few that grow med sized maters, was surprised to see sweet potatoes, of course I had to get some of them too, first time for the yammers, so more learning, it never ends.

by cookinmom on May 28, 2006 04:21 AM
One book I have says to put cucumbers near grapes if you can, because the cucumber beetles love grape leaves even more than cucumbers, but they don't hurt the grape plants as much.

I don't know much about WI, but if zucchini grows up there like it does in FL, you guys better batten down the hatches. My daily planner says there is actually a day called "Sneak-some-zucchini-on-your-neighbor's-porch-day", so if you get too many, maybe you could do that! [Wink] [Big Grin]

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Real women don't have hot flashes -- we have power surges!
by woodchuck on May 29, 2006 12:43 AM
Too much zucchini equals bake sale then donation, and a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

"Sneak some zucchini on your neighbor's porch day", that's funny.
by cookinmom on June 06, 2006 07:45 AM
HI Woodchuck,
How's your garden coming along? Have you gotten everything into the ground yet?

Hope you'll post an update on occasion!

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Real women don't have hot flashes -- we have power surges!
by Stormysgrandma on June 07, 2006 10:07 AM
Boooohooooohoooo! I'm totally jealous! I would plant very much the same thing, except I would reduce the rows to tomatoes to one row - I love them, but we can only eat so many. In those two extra rows I would add more corn, planted at a later date, so I would have corn-on-the-cob for a longer period of time. I can eat corn for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week. Forget most other foods during corn season - give me lots of corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes!!! [clappy]

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by comfrey on June 07, 2006 04:16 PM
Woodchuck...You garden looks alot like mine, except yours is alot cleaner [Big Grin] And that is some compost pile!!!!!!!

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by woodchuck on June 08, 2006 11:40 AM
Hey Stormy G, that sounds like a rapper when you write it that way [Wink] , IF things go well and I get more than 90% total yield, then 25% goes to market to recoup some costs, 25% goes to food-for-families, and the remaining should provide plenty of work(canning) and food for us this winter.

BooooHoooooHoooo, [Wink] [Big Grin] , jealous,huh? you jealous of the weeding that has to done too? [Frown] [Razz]

I've got updated photos at photobucket, but having a little trouble getting them here, they are coming though.
by Stormysgrandma on June 10, 2006 04:04 AM
Ha! Ha! Woodchuck! I'm not a rapper, but when I reread my post it does come out that way.

About the weeding - That is my natural tranquillizer. When I'm stressed or just want to be alone, I go outside and pull weeds - even in my grass. The neighbors think I'm nuts because I sit for hours and pull weeds in the grass.

I can't wait for your pics. I have to learn to do that too. I'm borrowing a camera tonight, so I can learn, and I'm buying a digital this weekend. I can't wait! However, I'm not very patient when it comes to new computer procedures, so I'll probably pull most of my hair out trying to figure out how to post a pic.

Maybe I should buy a wig first [Big Grin]

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