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One of the first things up on the list is gardening. :) I want to… 
14th-Nov-2009 08:20 am
One of the first things up on the list is gardening. :)

I want to try no-till gardening. That means that over this winter, I need to work on getting a good amount of compost built up.

I also need to figure out what we want to grow, when they need to get started, and whether we'll want to start from seeds or seedlings. Off the top of my head, I figure we'll want (eventually, we might not start with all this)...

- tomatoes
- onions
- garlic
- potatoes
- green peppers
- red peppers
- cucumbers
- eggplant
- zucchini
- yellow squash
- strawberries (I'd like to try everbearing or day neutral)
- raspberries
- blackberries
- blueberries
- spinach
- collards
- lettuce

- asparagus
- green beans
- baby watermelon
- cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli

Anyone have suggestions for what's easiest to get started with?

Also, we think we want chickens. Which is going to take a lot of research.
14th-Nov-2009 03:25 pm (UTC)
My personal experience: Tomatoes are pretty easy and low-maintenance, I didn't get a single cuke off my cuke plant all summer, the green beans worked wonderfully (though you don't have them on your list).

I found through research that lettuce is pretty low-yield: Each plant will only grow 1-2 heads per season, so if you want more than a couple of salads worth, you need a lot of it.

Also, blueberries/blackberries/raspberries will, given the chance, run amok and take over as much space as they can.
14th-Nov-2009 03:57 pm (UTC)
to have chickens, you must have a fox/coyote proof chicken coup. they do not smell very good just to let you know. ~Hope
16th-Nov-2009 12:34 am (UTC)
I don't know if anybody mentioned it, but Mother Earth News has a "what to plant now" for each planting zone. The easy thing to do is put in your zip code.

Here (in Colorado), tomatoes, green beans, and herbs are really easy, as are greens. You can plant a lot of greens (lettuces, collards, spinach, chards, mustard greens, etc) really early in the spring, and they grow really well. Strawberries are also very easy, and will take over wherever you put them, so find a nice corner where you can plant 'em and forget 'em (they'll come back every year.)

Cauliflower and broccoli take a lot of water, which isn't as scarce where you are, but I'd still put them in a spot in the garden where water gathers, like where the garden slopes down(in our garden the spot where the regular hose attaches to the soaker hose pools up because the hoses don't fit perfectly and the water sprays out.)

Don't plant more than two zucchini or yellow squash plants unless that's all you plan to eat for 6 months. :p In fact, one of each is probably good for eating through the summer--two if you want to freeze some (even with one plant we still had a lot to freeze.)

Winter squashes also grow really well. Since you're in the rainy south, buy mildew-resistent variety, because there's a leaf mold that squashes get when it's too wet. One fun thing to do is have a huge area just for viney stuff--squashes and melons, and let them grow around and through each other. Then you have these huge leaves of all different shapes and colors intermingled, and a variety of stuff growing around each other. They like that, because once the leaves get big, it shades the ground to keep it moist and soft.

Peppers need a lot of sun, so put them off by themselves. We didn't think, and planted ours among the tomatoes, which grew huge, overshadowed them, and shaded them out. :p

Plant garlic in the fall.

As far as where to start--start with the soil. Then tomatoes, green beans, squashes, and strawberries.

You can friend me on FB (Stephanie L Soder) if you want to see photos of my HUGE garden from this year. It was very successful. :.)
14th-Nov-2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
I believe you're probably in the same zone as me (6b), or pretty close. All of these are excellent options.

Personally I've never done no-till, but I am *very* interested in the link you posted. I have a lot of crabgrass that I've been unable to get rid of, so my garden each year involves a LOT of weeding and digging and arrgh.

So, let's see...I can tell you what I know generally about what you've listed.

Raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries all need, as Ginger noted, a good bit of space and time. As far as I know, most varieties will not bear fruit on new growth, so it'll be a year or so before you'll have yield from these. While that's a bit of a bummer right off, at the same time it's one of those things that "if you really think you want to do it, might as well do them first thing so that you'll have the fruit to look forward to." Asparagus, if you like it, is similar in that it needs a year or two to get established before it can be harvested. Planted around the same time and very, very easy if you have the patience to just wait for it. :)

They will need to be planted very early in the spring, and you'll only be able to get the canes for a limited time, so just after/around the time of the last frost, begin looking for those plants.

Next in line are your roots and greens. Greens get *very* bitter and bolt quickly if the weather is too warm and, well, you know that it will be. So they need to be started early and harvested and enjoyed early. So for spinach and lettuce, start those as soon as possible after first frost -- preferably start them indoors. If you like mesclun and spring green varieties, you may even be able to grow those indoors before frost anyway, then move the planters outside as weather permits.

I know that it's possible to plant lettuces in shadier areas, to cover them, etc., but personally it's always been more trouble than I wanted to deal with. Not sure if you like cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, but they're similar in that they need to be planted early, don't yield a whole lot, but sure are tasty. :)

Onions and garlic are easy, easy, easy, as are potatoes, I believe, though I've never done potatoes. You'll plant them pretty early on, too.

Beans (and peas), as Ginger noted, are easy, though I've never grown a lot of beans due to their tendency to attract spiders. I don't squish spiders, but I also don't really want to invite them around, despite the massive mosquito problem I have.

This leaves your peppers, cukes, squashes, and tomatoes. Absolutely get seedlings for your tomatoes. My dad the master agriculturist can grow tomatoes from heirloom seeds, but I've never had *any* luck with it. All the others are very simple to grow from seeds, though honestly, I tend to get seedlings for them as well, simply because I only need one or two plants and, while a packet of seeds is technically cheaper, I've found that after a couple of years, even with storage in the refrigerator, that they just don't germinate quite as well.

I haven't tried this myself, but I know of a lot of gardeners who have trained their cukes up trellises/cages/etc. Makes absolute sense to me, so might be something you're interested in. It gets the cukes off the ground so you don't miss that 15 pound white pithy cucumber that was hiding under the leaves.

You didn't mention any herbs, but if you also have interest in those, I can probably give you more helpful tips on those, as most of my gardening space has been devoted to herbs. They're more expensive to buy from the grocery store and, at times, are harder to find, so I found them to be a wiser investment of my limited garden space.

As an aside, some plants, when grown together, are very symbiotic; particularly, some herbs will serve as a completely organic pest or disease repellent. For this reason, I always plant parsley with my tomatoes, and I find that I don't have any problems with hornworms. If you can get past the forebrain-searing background on this page there are some basic tips about companion planting.
15th-Nov-2009 01:48 pm (UTC)
You are, as always, a wealth of knowledge. :)

Space isn't going to be an issue, but I'm definitely interested in herbs, I'm just not sure where to get started.

Hrms. I wonder if, my first year, it'd be best to pick a couple of things to get started with and then add over time, so I figure out what the heck I'm doing first. I don't want to jump in with 20 things and get discouraged. Everything listed are things we enjoy from our local farmer's market, so it's not a case of we can't get it if we don't grow it, just, we'd like to grow it. :)
16th-Nov-2009 12:36 am (UTC)
Thank you for that companion planting site--I added it to my favorites.
14th-Nov-2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
A few others:

Okra, if you like it, is VERY VERY VERY easy to grow. Dig a shallow trench, dump seeds in, water, wait. VERY easy. The only caveat of it is that, when you harvest it, absolutely wear gloves and long sleeves and use a knife to cut the pods away from the plant. You'll itch like crazy otherwise.

Corn: I've found corn to be one of the more difficult and finicky plants, so I skip it.

Pumpkins: Easy, easy, easy and kinda fun, too. Watermelons are a little more finicky if it gets too hot and dry through the summer months, but otherwise they're also easy. Need a good bit of space for their trailing, as they can't really be trained up a trellis.
14th-Nov-2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
Also, I highly recommend this book. I picked it up from the library on a whim and it really helped me get a better idea of the various needs of my plants and how to tell when a problem wasn't just "needs water." :)
15th-Nov-2009 02:19 pm (UTC)
I would suggest reading the blog little house in the suburbs. Ivory and Tomato are a wealth of gardening knowledge as well as living green, recipes, patterns, and generally good reads.

I'm so envious. I wish I had a space to garden that wasn't in a pot on the deck.
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