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I need to start a garden this year...


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dawbs

and looking at WTF to do to start is damn overwhelming.

so...would FJ like to help me?
I live in MI, so we're not quite to planting time (I usually start some things indoors, and just have to try not to have the cat eat them)
Assume that I"m the sort of flaky person who can sometimes forget plants for a day or 3 at a time (That's what's nice about cats and children--they yell at you if you forget to feed and water them).  Assume I'd like for us to have yummy food to eat.  And everyone in our house hates tomatoes.
Space isn't a problem, sunshine isn't a problem...but figuring out what to buy and what to start and how not to just have a big ol' patch of weeds because I've given up by July would be good :)

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OnceUponATime

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/home_gardening/vegetables <- it has pdfs per veggie there. and it's locally aimed for you :) The planting vegetables pdf there has a table of crops rated by 'expertise'

Try and grow your favorite vegetables.

 

Easy veggies from seed:

radishes - easy to grow, fast. Don't grow too many at once. I actually use these to mark the ends of my rows.

carrots - you can usually buy seed tape (saves you from having to thin them out). make sure you loosen the soil well quite deep though

spinach - pick the leaves young. it's a veggie that keeps giving and giving. 

lettuce (check out what is recommended where you are, because lots of it bolts if it is too warm)

spring onions - instead of thinning them, harvest in a way that naturally thins them (every 6th, 3rd etc)

peas - watch out for birds stealing them. they're a cold loving crop.

green beans - if you don't have growing supports look for a bushy type.

sweet corn - because these are tall be careful where you grow them. They need to be in a square and not a single row for best results

 

From seed or plant:

pumpkin/squash/zucchini - plant them far enough apart because they spread! keep them weeded well at the start, after a while they tend to sprawl over and smother weeds.

Broccoli/cauliflower/cabbage - buy a few plants the first time. Growing them from seed can suck (plus those packets contain a lot). Sometimes your broccoli/cauliflowers will regrow heads after you cut off the big one.

 

YMMV - about watering, I personally don't after planting/sowing except for in the greenhouse. I have heavy soil, so when the top few inches is dry usually it is still damp underneath.  I have a bit of an unorthodox gardening method ;) 

as for weeding. Mark you rows well. Make sure you sow them straight and far enough apart. Hoe in between the rows before your weeds grow too much, it saves a lot of work later. Trust me I know. youtube - how to use a garden hoe

to spend 'less' time weeding I tend to weed when I harvest. So if I'm harvesting green beans I'll also put out all the weeds I see as I go along, the same with spinach. It probably isn't quicker, but it seems more fun that way. and whatever you do don't let your weeds flower - after a few years (depending on your neighbors) you should end up with less weeds.

 

Oh and my best gardening tip is grow flowers that bee's love around/in your veggie garden. Bees are great, they love pollinating veggies, so giving them extra happy food is always nice.

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catlady

for me, the hardest part was getting rid of the grass.  i've dug out blocks of sod by shovel, borrowed roto-tillers, and (this requires planning ahead) left the fall leaves in the yard all winter.  for weed control and keeping paths clear, i lay down wet newspaper and cover it with either hay or cheap mulch.

i started with tomatoes and peppers, which work well in my region (NY state).  i've gradually added cucumbers, lettuce, garlic, horseradish, grapes, and raspberries.  i buy tomato plants, but i grow my other annual plants from seed.  

i cannot for the life of me get a basil plant to come back for a second year. if you ever do horseradish, put it in a container or isolate it away from the rest of your garden,  it will spread like mad, and the leaves are huge, like 18" long and 8" wide.

this year's project is going to be potatoes in containers.  Mother Earth News says this makes harvesting more efficient.  i also got my own roto-tiller for christmas, so i'm just itching to get outside, but we're supposed to get up to five inches of snow this weekend.

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Terrie

My house came with a pre-cleared garden. Starting with lettuce, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, chili peppers. We'll see how it goes.

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CoveredInBees

I'm rubbish with veg but I keep persevering (tomatoes and peppers this year and I've got some herbs on the go). I'm more of a flower type person, sunflowers are easy enough (and if you get the right variety you can eat the seeds) and I often have a crack at sweet peas.

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dawbs

we had plans to start things indoors this week...but there's snow standing on the ground right now (WTF?) so we're delaying even the indoor stuff another week.

 

This might get me started though.  I think I can borrow a rototiller...The Mr. will probably NOT volunteer to dig for me, seeing as we've already done more than enough digging recently because of a giant sump pump reroute.

 

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  • 2 months later...
PraiseDog

If you're new to gardening - or even if you're not - I highly recommend getting the Territorial Seed garden planner.  You can access it from Territorial Seed's website, and it's not TOO pricey, $30 per year or $40 for two years.  I've found it to be well worth the price, even though I'm moderately knowledgeable (but far from expert) about gardening.

You make a map of your garden, choose the veggies you want to grow, and specify your general area.  From that, it tells you the right time to plant each veggie, how much space each needs, and sends you email alerts when it's time to plant something.  One feature I really like is, if you use it from year to year, it tells you where not to plant something based on what was in that space the previous few years - really handy for rotating crops so as not to deplete the soil or encourage diseases.  It also has options to add other things, such as irrigation, compost bins, containers and raised beds, fruit trees, flowers, even things like decorative items and chicken coops.

After you map out everything, you can print it out so that you can refer to it as you're planting, and you can even share it (or not, your choice) with others who use it for their gardens.

garden_6-9-2016.jpg

Here's my garden, I finally got everything planted just today!  I got a late start because when I was planting my early peas and spinach a few weeks ago, the chickens came in and ransacked everything, so we decided we needed to build a fence.  Well, as you can see, the fence is still only half done, but I needed to get my plants in ASAP so I just blocked off the one gap with a scrap of chicken wire for now, and hopefully we can finish the fence next weekend.  

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CoveredInBees

My garden is finally flowering :) we've had a cold/soggy spring and everything is behind.

The bad news is, I've already lost 2 tomato plants to blight (ripped them out so hopefully it won't spread to the other two) and one of my pepper plants is looking a little sorry for it's self. The slugs have helped themselves to all of my poppy seedlings and my dwarf sunflowers, and are nibbling at my dahlias (even though they're surrounded by copper tape).

On the upside, the teenager insisted I buy an albino pumpkin seedling to grow for Halloween (challenge accepted). I've finally got all the annual planting done and all that's left in the greenhouse are some biennials that I'm growing on for next year.

Here's a pic of my astrantia :)

  

garden (3).jpg

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PraiseDog

Wow, beautiful, CoveredInBees! How crazy that tomatoes are getting blight this early.  
I love your Buddha statue in the background, and is the wooden structure a bench?

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CoveredInBees

Thanks :) I've never suffered the tomato blight before, they're on a sunny patio and normally romp away with no issues (and typically, I gave my dad the rest and they're now doing much better than mine ;) 

It's technically an arbour (which is a poncy name for a covered seat) we built it from a flatpack last year, I shall put up a better picture so you can see the top. It's mainly used by the neighbourhood cats (ours and next doors) who seem to think it's theirs, very handy for sitting on when it's raining.

 

garden (2).jpg

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lawfulevil

Dawbs, if you're still reading-

Home Depot rents out rototillers. And they're great. But depending on how many square feet you're thinking and how hard the ground is, you can get a manual tiller very inexpensively and they work just fine. And that's on your schedule, not the rental schedule. I found that even though it's more work, I preferred the option of doing some at a time and being able to go back.

I'm not a great gardener. I worked on the family farm some summers growing up, but that means I know what to do with corn/soybeans and that's about it. I've grown some fruits/flowers and veg off and on, mostly citrus and roses and squash. We moved at the end of last year (Dec 1 2015) and I had to start from scratch. My old yard was a normal suburban size and my new yard is a little over 400 square feet (but all 6+ hours sun), so I'm branching out a little and sizing down at the same time. Fortunately, my aunt has a lot more experience and has been helping me and taking my panicked calls.

Currently I have about 35 sq ft worth of raised beds (recycled redwood, my aunt owns a planer and LOVES the habitat for humanity restore) and 2 wine barrel halves I finished myself (I didn't do a great job but they're only $25 or so in wine country here). I have: 1 Meyer lemon, 1 variegated calamondin, 2 heirloom zucchini, 1 very standard littleneck, 1 lemon cucumber, 2 sweet basil, 1 cinnamon basil, 1 marjoram, some rosemary (this hardly counts, it's practically a weed here), a blue bell pepper (I've never seen blue ones anywhere else), and... I like tomatoes... SEVEN indeterminate tomato plants. I'm not a determinate tomato person, even though I know how to can.

I really want to try to espalier a pear but we don't really get enough frost hours and we're not planning to stay in this house forever. I think I'll do table grapes. They're very pretty, and my aunt insists they're not that hard...

Still not sure what I'll do with the other half of the yard, other than some grass for the dog.

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PraiseDog

Oh yes, grapes are not hard at all!  At least where we live, the hardest part is keeping them pruned so they don't take over everything!

I bought two small pots of grapes 3 years ago, and even though we get lots of cloudy, rainy days and grapes need sun, they've been growing and producing like crazy.  I planted them next to a terraced retaining wall that faces southwest, so they get warmth from the wall plus as much sun as is available.  The little bushes are now huge vines.  We put up a fence/arbor type thing two years ago and trained them to grow along that, but now they've outgrown it so we need to do the same thing on the second level of the terrace so they can continue upwards.

The first year we didn't get many grapes, and the birds got most of what grew.  Last year, we got probably a whole bushel basket of grapes, and I made a few quarts of jam.  This year, judging by all the little mini-bunches we're seeing, we're on track to get 4x what we got last year.  

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