Vegetable Gardens: Tips, Advice, Questions, Tales, Pictures

Discussion in 'The Rumble Strip' started by FoolKiller, May 14, 2009.

  1. FoolKiller

    FoolKiller Premium

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    So, in the Show off Your Latest Purchase thread we got off on vegetable gardens for a bit and Pako mentioned that there are a lot more people growing them due to the economy. So, I decided that a thread on them might help anyone getting started on their first one.

    I won't pretend to be some expert, but half my family are farmers and I get advice from people who have been doing it their whole lives. This will be my third year growing a vegetable garden. The year before I started that I had a sunflower garden, and got second place at the State Fair for my sunflower entry. A few other members are from farming regions too, so there should be advice from all around.

    I'll start it off by showing my garden and explaining what I have done. I'm trying a few new things too, so it may be that this acts as more of a "don't do this" garden, but we'll see, I guess.



    So, a few weeks back I started my seeds in a seed starter kit that you can buy in practically any lawn and garden center.
    [​IMG]
    Basically the little peat pods come as small discs that expand when you add water. After they are expanded you add your seeds. This allows you to start your seeds before the last threat of frost passes. These are watermelon and cantaloupe. These are also the ones that didn't get planted in the garden and will likely be tossed once the ones I did plant show signs of getting properly established.

    No plants with a large tap root, like corn or sunflowers can be done this way. They must be sown into the ground. I have also never managed to get bush beans to successfully germinate in this way. Beans on a vine will, but bush beans always seem to die before they form any kind of leaves. But I try every single year.


    Now, here is my garden. It is small, about 10x40 feet.
    [​IMG]
    This shows one of my experiments, landscaping fabric/weed fabric - it has various names. Anyway, I grew tired of weeds getting in among my vine plants and causing problems where I have trouble actually getting in to weed without risking damage to the plants. I also hate that ground based plants get the dirty/dark spot where they grow. So, this is a double attempt at avoiding those things. I will be covering with a thin layer of dirt once everything gets well established.

    On the left, in the dirt, I have two rows of corn sown. It appears too close together, but it works every year. Now I just need to stop the raccoons. Then in the end row of dirt I have sown beans. In the shorter section of the fabric are bell peppers, squash, zucchini, and lettuce. On the right are watermelons and cantaloupes.


    Here is my yellow squash. I bought these, and everything but the melons, in a small pot at Lowe's. I would have started them from seeds but my wife switched what she wanted at the last minute.
    [​IMG]


    These are my zucchini. I cannot wait for some nice zucchini bread.
    [​IMG]

    Green bell peppers.
    [​IMG]

    Yellow bell peppers.
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    Red bell peppers. FIESTA!!!
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    This is my lettuce. It came in a pack of nine.
    [​IMG]
    This is my first year with lettuce. The problem I have found is that I have slugs on them within 24 hours. So, a quick check with my mother and grandmother resulted in a few organic tricks.

    1. Sharp rocks that they can't crawl over without cutting themselves.
    2. Broken egg shells, same as the rocks.
    3. A bowl of beer.

    I am starting with the beer. That was my grandmother's idea, and I trust her better than my mom's ideas, plus I have plenty of that around the house. What I am supposed to do is put a small plastic bowl in the ground to the rim and fill it with beer. The slugs are drawn to the beer (yeast? grains?) and then fall in and drown. That's how I wish to go one day. Seems a waste of beer though. I figure I'll get some Natty Ice or Fall's City beer that goes for $5 a 24 pack or something. I have also heard of a similar trick for chipmunks/ground squirrels involving sunflower sees floating in a bucket of water. Chipmunks are cuter than slugs though.

    Anyway, we will see how that goes.


    Here is some cantaloupe, fresh from the seed starter kit. It is just starting to get its first true leaves.
    [​IMG]

    And my watermelon. I am a big fan of fresh watermelons and cantaloupes. I also like honey dew, but I ran out room since my wife wanted squash, peppers and lettuce.
    [​IMG]


    Now, here is my second experiment: Topsy Turvys. The one on the right has a tomato plant and the one on the left has a cucumber plant. I intend to do two more of these with another tomato and cucumber when they come in, as well as one for strawberries and one for herbs.
    [​IMG]

    Basically, they grow upside down. Supposedly this makes nutrients and water flow easier into the plant and create bigger fruit. Personally, I think it is more likely that it allows better sun exposure to the leaves, which will definitely create bigger fruits. When the rest come in I will show them as well.
    [​IMG]

    Please ignore the odd lean of my hanging pole. It is an older one that already had a slight bend to it and any weight makes it lean to the left. I need new ones.

    Tonight I intend to put up a small fence around the garden.


    In the pictures you see a small bushy plant and a purple flower next to my Topsy Turvys. That is chives (purple flowers) and oregano. Once I get the herb planter in those will be coming out. They were just remnants from my very first garden, which had a row of herbs. I also had strawberries in the garden, but have moved them to pots until the Topsy Turvy for them comes in.
     
  2. Sureboss

    Sureboss Premium

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    That's cool, FK. You've lost me on yellow squash though, butternut squash?

    As for the slugs, use slug pellets. What I always do, if the birds don't eat them first. Got a herb garden and that's it. Did have an apple tree, raspberry canes, plum tree, never a veg garden though. Want one, but not enough time/energy atm.
     
  3. Solid Lifters

    Solid Lifters

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    Looks like a nice hobby. I have only fruit trees (tangerine, two orange, avocado, lemon and grapefruit) and nothing else. I had more stuff, but they got destroyed.

    As a kid, I grew pumpkins, strawberries, zucchini and tomatoes. All were not easy, but I learned by trial and error.

    Tomatoes got raided my caterpillars. Strawberries by slugs. None would grow well unless they were in the sun for most of the day (pay note of that and where your garden is. Too close to the house and no sunlight.)

    To save them tomatoes, I put them behind a screen. For the strawberries, I used 'Corry's' snail and slug killer.
     
  4. Joey D

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    I haven't been able to plant much yet since it just decided that it needed to quit frosting at night. I planted 4 tomato plants last weekend and have kept them covered, but hopefully this weekend will be nice and I can continue to put things in the ground. My mom wants an herb garden so my dad and I bought her some plants. I'll take some pictures when it's up and running.
     
  5. ROAD_DOGG33J

    ROAD_DOGG33J Premium

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    The problem we have with lettuce is that the birds seem to peck it out. At least I think it's the birds.
     
  6. YSSMAN

    YSSMAN Premium

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    The newest issue of GQ Magazine had a big article about this, maybe with some free time I'll make a scan and post it. Generally speaking though, it got me thinking about growing and doing it myself, but having a really small deck that is in mostly direct sunlight all day, probably doesn't make for the best environment to grow things. I'd likely be looking to do greens and tomatoes, but that would be about it.
     
  7. Solid Lifters

    Solid Lifters

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    Here in SoCal, they've been airing TV commercials for 'do-it-your-self veggie gardens' and the like for a few months, now. Lowe's especially. Makes sense. Fruits and veggies are the first 'food luxury' to go for many financially pinched families.
     
  8. FoolKiller

    FoolKiller Premium

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    Eh, no. At least I think not. To clarify possible regional differences here are pictures of the fruit.

    Butternut Squash
    [​IMG]

    Yellow straightneck squash (perhaps I should have clarified the straightneck bit)
    [​IMG]
    It looks like yellow zucchini. There is also crookneck squash, which is just bent. I have also heard of both being called summer squash.

    Last year we tried spaghetti squash, but deer got them.

    I know this sounds incredibly weird coming from me, but as I am planing to eat this myself I prefer to go with organic methods of pest control (I use chemical fertilizer) and avoid chemical treatments until a last resort.

    I love fresh herbs, but whenever I grow them we somehow go lazy and don't cook for ourselves. Last year I had none except the never dying chives and oregano in my pics and we were cooking all the time, but had to use store bought herbs. I will do herbs again this year once I get the hanging planter in.

    Guess what other benefit those Topsy Turvys have? That is why I am transplanting my strawberries into their hanging planter when it comes in, that and every animal on Earth ate them before I could, including my dog. :ouch:

    That is on the south side. That side is not shaded until after 6:00 PM, and then that is due to trees.

    Just to add to my desire to not use chemicals, yet, I have gone ahead and priced this very item at Lowe's. So, if I cannot find any other tricks to get rid of the slugs this will l likely be my option. It says it is safe with pets. Can you confirm that?

    Wow, when is your last threat of frost up there? Mine is the first weekend in May.

    Round circular holes? If so, it could be slugs or snails. Heck almost any bug. If it is just torn up it could be any number of things.

    Please do. The only magazine I read regularly is Racer, so I would be very interested in seeing this.

    For tomatoes look into those Topsy Turvy things I have. If you order it from their Web site they come with hooked screws, or you can buy various deck hanging things. I decided to try them as my brother's neighbor had them last year and was very happy. He had them hanging from a hook connected to his deck railing.

    If you look for them do not pay more than $10 each. Walgreens and Lowes carry them but they are rarely in stock. If you go to their Web site (hangingtomatoes.com I believe) they are $19.99 for two, plus some silly tomato slicer gadget. The problem is that they charge shipping for each, even though it all shows up in one box.

    If you look at the Website make sure it is just the single Topsy Turvy, and not the hanging tomato tree (holds three plants), which is $60, plus shipping, and they do two hanging strawberry planters too, also charging shipping for those. But for your deck situation that tree may be ideal as it is on a stand. Walgreen's Web site says they will be getting them soon.


    I did get my rabbit fence up tonight, and just in time as I had to run a rabbit off when I got home from work. I would have pics but the sun was going down by the time I finished and the thin wire wouldn't show in the images.

    Actually, now that you mention that, I have seen a lot of planter setups in Wal-Mart and Lowe's, including window sill herb gardens and whatnot.
     
  9. Sureboss

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    So the yellow straightneck squash is used like Zucchini? Looks a good colour. I've never seen it over here.
     
  10. Aldo

    Aldo

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    Yup, never seen yellow squash in the UK
    What does it taste like FK if you've had it before?
    It looks interesting though
    I can imagine it being sweet :tup:
    Thanks for the good tips as well
     
  11. Sniffs

    Sniffs

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    you wait till you have so many Zuchinni you don't know what to do with em!

    Britons: you're telling me you guys never have developed a yellow Marrow of any sort? this from a country that breeds every plant in creation!
    btw, people, europeans love our weeds, Goldenrod, enough, that they hybridisethem.

    Fool: hey, one or two states up, the frost threat doesn't end till June first. if Joey's Upper penninsula, they have a ways to go yet, being ZOne 3 and 4. even here in zone 5, we have to wait for a lot of summer stuff for a couple weeks yet.

    Aldo: I didn't taste anything unusual...but then again, last time I had it was breaded and fried slices.
     
  12. Solid Lifters

    Solid Lifters

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    I cannot confirm that Corry's is safe for pets. I never had one at the time, except a lizard and a fish.

    Though, this wont help you at all, I did have a dog (Wilbur) who ate an entire box of rat poison. I witnessed him eat the last morsel. He didn't even get sick (but that dog could and would eat anything). I'm sure any pets you have should be safe.
     
  13. Joey D

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    It's frosted in June before, kind of lame.
     
  14. FoolKiller

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    Have you guys ever had crookneck squash?
    [​IMG]
    It's the same only straight. A little Googling and I see one site saying that straightneck is just crookneck squash bred to fit in shipping containers easier.

    Actually, I have had it three times this past week. The local farmer's market is open and my wife has been stopping by there about twice a week.

    It is similar to zucchini, and in fact my wife will even cut them both up with some peppers and onions and sautee the whole thing, or we throw them on the grill. They are both a type of squash. The only difference is that zucchini can be allowed to mature (get big) and used in bread, where as yellow squash tastes utterly nasty when allowed to mature. I think that really is it. If picked for their flesh while young before seeds fully develop they are very similar, but the tastes go in different directions when they develop seeds and mature.

    If you don't intend to make zucchini bread the only real reason to have both is to create a colorful dish.

    And if you don't check them daily they turn into a log.

    It's the KY state flower too.

    Man, I had to start prepping my garden (killing weeds, tuning up the tools) almost a month ago

    My issue is my cat, who likes to lay between the rows and under the leaves when everything grows in.

    As for the rat poison, was it D-Con? A friend of the family used to be the head of the health department's rat division and he said they eat that stuff like candy with hardly any effect.

    Now I know why I never hear a lot from the Michigan farming industry. So do you all generally have to start this time of year and keep everything covered, or is that just what you are doing to get an early start?




    Going back to my comment about my wife getting stuff at the local farmer's market: You can help your local residents by using the farmer's market this time of year. With the current economy some of those guys may be only getting income from that until their larger crops are harvested later in the year. Plus, the food is ten times better than anything you will get in the grocery. Farmer's markets often have produce picked within the last 24 hours, where the grocery likely has stuff that was picked before it was ripe about a week ago.
     
  15. Omnis

    Omnis Staff Emeritus

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    You can just call it yellow squash. It's usually mixed with zucchini. The difference is less about taste and more about texture. They don't get real soft like zucchini does, and they have a "less-ripe" taste about them.
     
  16. Joey D

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    If you don't start things now then you don't start getting produce until September, and it can freeze then too and kill off everything. It's highly annoying. We are supposed to be getting another frost here on Sunday with a day time high of 50! Come on, it's May.
     
  17. Solid Lifters

    Solid Lifters

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    Last edited: May 16, 2009
  18. mafia_boy

    mafia_boy (Banned)

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    If you're looking for an 'organic' method of getting rid of your slugs/snails Foolkiller, the best way I've found is to put a barrier of some iodised table salt around your garden or areas of nuisance.

    I have done this to my house to prevent the slugs crawling up the wall and sneaking in my windows during the summer. I only have to do this a couple of times a year, and it doesn't kill off the grass that grows in those areas, if anything it's grown more wild there. :tup:

    Plus, it's cool to pour the salt on them and watch them shrivel up from salt burn. :cool:
     
  19. Sniffs

    Sniffs

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    *grin* ever tried the Beer trap for slugs? just use a cheap bottle/can type...so you won't think it's a waste (and so the neighbor won't drink the bait :p )
     
  20. Bram Turismo

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    Keep those squash plants under control, although I doubt you can. Our vegetable garden was quite varied; paprikas, tomaties, melons, squash, strawberries, berries, etc. Those squash plants we had grew incredibly large, the whole plant covering the squash began to grow outside of the "garden" area, and soon it started to cover the lawn. They tasted lovely though, and boy did we love to pick our own strawberries after a warm summer day, and have them with some vanilla ice :tup:
     
  21. Omnis

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  22. FoolKiller

    FoolKiller Premium

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    Those are great! I should get a big sign that says Victory Garden on it.

    I haven't had slugs all weekend. I don't know what happened, but I won't question it. Maybe they came from the greenhouse where the plants were started and I finally got them all?
     
  23. Omnis

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  24. Digital-Nitrate

    Digital-Nitrate Premium

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    It is indeed a Zucchini. :tup:


    Cool thread. I'm afraid I won't likely be that helpful as far as tips go as my thumb is less green and more brown. :D

    My contribution to the vegetable garden was only in building it, not the plants inside it. That's my wife doing. Although now that we have kids, it is fun to help them learn about how garden work. :tup:

    My favorite things she grows though are her monster steak tomatoes and various types of basil. :tup:


    I'll keep an eye on this thread as I am starting to enjoy gardening with the kids.
     
  25. Joey D

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    My tomato plants are doing good, already have a couple tiny green tomatoes appearing. Also got around to planting a couple of onions, bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapeños, and a small herb garden. Been fertilising everything really good, just need some warmer temperatures. It's only been in the high 40's here at night and just breaking 70 during the day. We are at least getting some decent rainfall though so that's helping out since it's not city water from the tap.
     
  26. FoolKiller

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    I need to take some new pics. I've put up a rabbit fence and mothballs and have my first pepper coming in. we had a late frost though that stunted everything and they are getting back into full swing now.
     
  27. Solid Lifters

    Solid Lifters

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    A late frost means the veggies will taste sweeter. Sugar is produced by the plant for the veggies to survive the frost. Sugar is an excellent 'anti-freeze' and that means your veggies will have more of it.
     
  28. FoolKiller

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    So it is six weeks after I showed freshly planted stuff in the ground. Now, here it is.

    [​IMG]

    This is one of the three watermelon plants. These seem to be struggling more than the cantaloupes.
    [​IMG]

    And the another one. You can see the last one in the full garden picture. They really are coming along slowly.
    [​IMG]

    Here are my squash starting to come in.
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    And the squash on the left and zucchini on the right (hard to tell the difference they got so big so fast), and corn coming up behind them.
    [​IMG]

    Here are the three pepper bushes.
    [​IMG]

    And some coming in on the red pepper plant.
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    Here are my cantaloupes and lettuce.
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    My first cantaloupe is coming in.
    [​IMG]

    And this was my first large take of lettuce. We had plenty for lettuce on sandwiches and then we had salads, and still have one and a half gallon sized Ziploc bags full left.
    [​IMG]

    And here are my two tomato plants and one of the cucumbers in the Topsy Turvys. The other cucumber is to the left. I have decided that the cucumbers are rather pointless as their vines get so long.
    [​IMG]

    And a tomato coming in.
    [​IMG]

    And here is my wife's idea for doing the mothballs. They are in knee high stockings, tied around the rabbit fence posts. So far I have only seen a possum, but it stayed well away from the house.
    [​IMG]

    And after struggling to get beans to grow I contrived this. It is a 2 liter soda bottle cut to work as a miniature greenhouse and keep the worst of the bugs out. It appears to be working so far.
    [​IMG]

    And here is a volunteer sunflower coming up. I have a few others on the other end too. They are outside the rabbit fence so I am letting them grow.
    [​IMG]

    They are the results of when my garden looked like this four years ago. One of my sunflowers got me a second place ribbon at the Kentucky State Fair.
    [​IMG]

    I wanted to see if I could get a ribbon in the state fair, and after proving to myself that I could on my very first attempt I decided I was done. That is all I cared about, proving I could.
     
  29. Solid Lifters

    Solid Lifters

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    Awesome pics!

    How did you settle your slug problem?
     
  30. Omnis

    Omnis Staff Emeritus

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    Try fertilizing your watermelon with some fried chicken.