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  • Small scale personal garden

    Very small scale.

    Someday, a few years or so down the road, I'd like to have a nice large garden with a variety of herbs and veggies. I'd also like to own a few chickens for eggs and maybe even a goat for milking.

    But that's someday! Right now I'm a complete newb to gardening and I need advice on getting started. I'm looking to grow a few (maybe 2 or 3) different crops in a small space in my backyard. I have potentially 20 feet x 20 feet maximum to use for growing, though even that seems a bit intimidating to me.

    I appreciate any advice I get, but here are some of the main things I'd like to know:
    - What should I grow? I'd like to start with things that are easy and worthwhile (decent yield).
    - What kind of prep work should I do? I figure I'll need a little fence (chicken wire?) to keep out skunks, groundhogs, and other local critters. We have a lot of deer here too, not sure how to deal with that. And then what about prepping the actual ground/soil?
    - What resources would you guys recommend I look into? Any really great books/websites on small scale personal gardening and/or sustainable living?

    I read a lot, and am totally willing to do my own research. I'm just hoping some of you can get me off to a faster start than I'd get on my own. I don't even know where to begin!

    *** Oh yeah, important notes: I live in upstate NY, I think the soil is good here (though I don't know how to tell for sure) because I'm literally surrounded by farmland for miles, and our local pests (as far as I know) include deer, skunks, groundhogs, rabbits, moles, and various insects. Also, I'd obviously prefer to keep things organic.

  • #2
    ORGANIC GARDENING

    40 Gardening Tips to Maximize Your Harvest - Organic Gardening - MOTHER EARTH NEWS

    Vegetable Gardening - Starting a Vegetable Garden

    Controlling Four-Legged Pests - Keeping the Critters Out of Your Garden and Home

    Organic Pest and Disease Solutions for a Safer Garden

    just a few links, i hope they help. i'm planting my first garden this year and i'm a little nerve wracked about it. i decided on swiss chard, spinach, a few heirloom tomatoes, asparagus, garlic, herbs, green beans, a lettuce mix, carrots, strawberries and some others

    also a buttload of flowers, cause i'm pretty girly

    i had a lot of leaf cover over the winter so my soil is pretty decent (dark, moist, wormy) but i got some garden fertilizer soil mix (with manure, bleh) to til in because i have a few sandy areas. i don't have it planned out yet, and i have seeds sprouting in the starter pots already so i need to get on the ball
    beautiful
    yeah you are

    Baby if you time travel back far enough you can avoid that work because the dust won't be there. You're too pretty to be working that hard.
    lol

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    • #3
      I recommend "Square Foot Gardening", a book which teaches how to grow in raised beds. Very user-friendly. It has great charts in the back which detail growing times; these are so helpful for planning.

      What should you grow? Start with thinking about what you eat. Salad greens and other greens are super easy, fast to grow, and great to eat fresh out of the garden. Peas are very easy (I like snow peas), but need something to climb on.
      My blog: Pretty Good Paleo
      On Twitter: @NEKLocalvore

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      • #4
        salad greens are insane growers, just want to add that on. every seed i planted exploded in an explosion of 'oh god it was a mixed seed bag what is all this?!'
        beautiful
        yeah you are

        Baby if you time travel back far enough you can avoid that work because the dust won't be there. You're too pretty to be working that hard.
        lol

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        • #5
          Square Foot Gardening is cool! I produced a pretty good amount on my little 20x20' plot a few seasons ago. It's fun!

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          • #6
            over the last couple weeks I have been gathering herb, berry, and vegetable plants (IFA keeps having crazy sales!)
            the husband seems to be getting less and less amused as we run out of more and more kitchen table space, LOL
            I keep telling him about the square foot raised garden box and greenhouse at the stores, but he just grunts! I'm sure he'll be more excited when he starts seeing his zucchini come in (fave veggie)
            --Trish (Bork)
            TROPICAL TRADITIONS REFERRAL # 7625207
            http://pregnantdiabetic.blogspot.com
            FOOD PORN BLOG! http://theprimaljunkfoodie.blogspot.com

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            • #7
              @bloodorchid - thank you for the links! Some good stuff there that I'll go back to for sure.

              Originally posted by Annika View Post
              I recommend "Square Foot Gardening", a book which teaches how to grow in raised beds. Very user-friendly. It has great charts in the back which detail growing times; these are so helpful for planning.

              What should you grow? Start with thinking about what you eat.
              I just added that book to my amazon wishlist! It looks like the perfect strategy for a beginner like me, thank you!

              I'm getting the impression that I need to start smaller than expected, and that this could potentially be harder than I thought. I'm up for it though, gotta start somewhere!

              I don't have a lot of experience eating veggies, I pretty much just eat the same ones over and over: spinach like it's going outta style, and salad greens. I also love bell peppers (or any peppers for that matter), garlic, onion, zucchini, and squash. I'd like to start eating more kale and collard greens as well.

              ^^ Of those I listed, are any of them a bad idea for a beginner garden? Would they all "get along" in the same garden?

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              • #8
                well the zucchini is going to totally take over, and you're going to start leaving it on people's porches in the middle of the night...you will do anything to get rid of it, because it will all be ready at the same time. Seriously, no one in the history of gardening has ever been able to not grow too much zucchini. So it's a good one to start with. And salad greens are great--it's such a treat to be able to just pick a few leaves to go with dinner. Peppers and tomatoes would be delicious and save you lots of money in the summer.

                I love Square Foot Gardening. Right now my apartment is right over a major highway. When I saw that it had a fire escape, I immediately thought of all the things I could grow, but then realized that all the chemicals would concentrate in my poor little herbs and tomatoes. Sigh. Someday I'll have a garden again!
                Il faut vivre et non pas seulement exister.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by superdeluxe View Post
                  well the zucchini is going to totally take over, and you're going to start leaving it on people's porches in the middle of the night...you will do anything to get rid of it, because it will all be ready at the same time. Seriously, no one in the history of gardening has ever been able to not grow too much zucchini. So it's a good one to start with.
                  I have a neighbor who does this, not that i'm complaining. Great zucchini.

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                  • #10
                    Hm.

                    I used to attempt vegetable gardening. I grew peas for the rabbits, strawberries for the rats and cauliflowers for the little shiny black beetles. We did get some potatoes (which obviously cost way more than from the supermarket) and some rocket before it all burst into flower. I still grow raspberries for the blackbirds, because the raspberry bushes basically do all the work by themselves, and grow so much the blackbirds can't eat it all and leave some for me.

                    Is there anything that rabbits (and mice, voles and an endless variety of bugs) don't eat?

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                    • #11
                      I've just got a balcony, so all my gardening is small-scale (containers). I just planted this year's crop yesterday. I've had great luck with herbs - doing lots of basil plus cilantro and mint this year. They're easy and grow like weeds.

                      I also do tomatoes and have had decent luck with those, though I suspect they'd be happier with more heat (but since I get morning sun, they don't get all that hot). I've had better luck with grape tomatoes than full-size tomatoes. Did green grape tomatoes last year and again this year. I think i tended to overwater in the past; when I started ignoring my tomatoes last year, they thrived.

                      Tried a bell pepper plant and had exactly ONE pepper. I asked the lady at the garden store yesterday about that and she said that bell peppers don't do that well around here, but that I should try jalapenos and habaneros, so I'm giving those a shot. Also have a couple of lettuce varieties - I've had much better luck with hardier varieties - I did a mesculun mix once that didn't really thrive, but the red leaf lettuce I've grown has done well.

                      Basically I look for stuff that's pretty low-maintenance and hard to screw up. If you have a good local garden shop, don't be afraid to ask for as much advice as you need - most are really helpful and will give you lots of good advice to get you started. That's pretty much what I do.

                      By the way, I always buy starter plants; more expensive, but I just don't have a good space inside to start from seed (not to mention a cat who thinks everything remotely organic is his to be poked at and eaten).
                      "Sometimes, you need to make sure the angel on your shoulder has a wingman." -Me

                      My primal log

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                      • #12
                        I like herbs, and it is easy to start herbs and tomatoes and greens in pots - this is a little easier to maintain and you can bring them inside if it looks like it will get cold overnight.
                        Karin

                        A joyful heart is good medicine

                        He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot

                        Mmmmm. Real food is good.

                        My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread29685.html

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                        • #13
                          I won't plant anything yet...too early in the spring here.

                          My garden will be just greens (collards, turnips, mustards), green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, winter squashes like acorn squash, lettuce, and cabbage. Things we'll want to eat as they come in...and things we can easily preserve. Ours will be small, only about 16' x 32' so it's not going to produce a great deal...but for only a family of 4...it's enough.

                          I'm also "gardening" rabbits and talipia this year. Better to raise my own than to buy them. Easily sustainable food supply.

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                          • #14
                            almost all of my seeds have sprouted, i shan't go hungry this year ;P
                            beautiful
                            yeah you are

                            Baby if you time travel back far enough you can avoid that work because the dust won't be there. You're too pretty to be working that hard.
                            lol

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                            • #15
                              I'm growing veggies for the first time this year. I'm following the square foot gardening concept, and so far, so good!

                              I ignored the advice to start small...not my style I have a total of 170 sq feet of raised beds, with about half of it planted so far. I'm so glad I started big...I'm already realizing I want to grow more than I have room for! But maybe later in the season, I'll understand why I shouldn't have been so ambitious. I figure, though, that this way I can experiment with a wide variety of crops and see what works and what doesn't.

                              I have so far planted: broccoli, cauli, arugula, spinach, brussel sprouts, kale, red and green cabbage, carrots, calendula, onions, garlic, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb, kiwis, blackcurrants and gooseberries. Everything is growing well so far, some of it under plastic. I have tomato starts growing indoors--it's a record breakingly cold spring here, so it could be a long time before those are ready to go out.

                              I'm gradually working on the rabbit/deer/chicken problem by enclosing one bed at a time in either plastic or chicken wire. Soon the whole place will be a fortress
                              Liz.

                              Zone diet on and off for several years....worked, but too much focus on exact meal composition
                              Primal since July 2010...skinniest I've ever been and the least stressed about food

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