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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)


Planting a garden can be a great way to reduce your monthly food costs while ensuring that the produce you enjoy is organic and not coated with pesticides or other chemicals. Planting enough food to feed your family can be challenging and sometimes intimidating, but it's also rewarding. If you want to create your own garden, here are some tips and tricks to get you started.

Choose Your Location


First, you need to decide what part of your home or yard you're going to turn into a garden. Take a close look at the available area and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does this area get full sunlight for at least six hours a day?
  2. Do I have the ability to get water to this area if it doesn't rain?
  3. Is the ground relatively flat?
  4. Are there any low spots that could trap cold air during the cooler months, creating frost pockets?
  5. Is the soil suitable for growing?
  6. Are there any rules against planting a garden in my Home Owners Association handbook?
If you can answer yes to the first five items, and no to the last one, then congratulations - you've found the perfect spot for your garden.
Sunlight is the most important of these questions. Most vegetables require full sun for at least six hours a day - and some require more - so make sure you don't have any overhanging trees or branches. Water is also a necessity, so be prepared to lug a watering can if your hose doesn't reach. Flat ground allows for even water distribution and prevents rain erosion from washing away your plants.

Learn Your Growing Season


Your next step is going to be learning your local growing season. This will vary depending on where you live - southern states have longer growing seasons than northern ones, because they get warm earlier and cool off later. First, check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map - this will provide you with your growing zone. Next, take a look at this chart that will tell you your primary growing season.
You can figure out your own growing season by paying attention to the weather too. No matter where you live, your growing season starts after the last frost of the year and ends after the first frost of the new season. Anything planted before the growing season begins or after it ends might not germinate, and if it does, the plant itself will likely die in the cold weather.

Collect Your Tools


Once you've chosen a location, you need to start collecting your tools to get your garden ready before it's time to plant. Your exact collection may vary depending on what you're planting, but in general, you're going to need:

  • Shovels, spades, rakes and other hand tools. Keep a sharp shovel handy to break up roots that you might encounter.
  • A roto-tiller to turn the soil if you don't want to do it by hand.
  • A wheelbarrow for moving large items like soil, or to collect your harvest.
  • Gloves to protect your hands.
  • An air compressor for powering tools, filling tires, and cleaning off ground-based produce like carrots and potatoes.
  • At least one hose with a watering attachment, or watering cans.
  • Stakes or trellises for plants like beans and tomatoes that grow upward.
Once you've collected all your tools, and the weather warms up, it's finally time to plant.

Plant According to the Directions


Your next step is to sow your crops, but make sure that you're planting all of these fruits and vegetables according to the directions. Some require more water than others, and some need to be kept far away from similar plants.
Potatoes, for example, don't grow well around tomatoes, melons, or sunflowers. Keep your beans away from beets and peppers. Broccoli and cauliflower might grow well together, but they won't grow at all if you plant them near your squashes. Asparagus won't grow if your garden is too crowded, or if you plant it near any veggies that grow underground like onions and potatoes. Sunflowers release a chemical that prevents anything around them from growing - great for weed control, but not so great if you're putting them in an already crowded garden.
Plan out your garden accordingly. You can grow all of these things and more in the same garden. You just need to be a little more mindful of your placement.

Enjoy Your Harvest


Once you've got the plants in the ground, all that's left is to be patient. Vegetables and fruits can grow in as little as 30 days or as much as 120 or more, so you may be waiting a while. Keep an eye on things, make sure everything is watered and watch out for pests, but that's all you really have to do once the garden is planted.
At this point, all that's left to do is enjoy your harvest - and maybe learn how to can or preserve produce because you might have a lot of it leftover!

Guest Author Article By:
Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington
 

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Start with Potatoes high yeld. easy and high pay back.
 

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Are there any rules against planting a garden in my Home Owners Association handbook?

check with your municipality - very common BOCA ordinance across the country is nooooooo veggie planting in the front yard section of your plot - there's usually a % that needs to be in grass - no large majority even in flowers ....
 

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A green house would only make it hotter. Unless you go to the expense to put shades on it. O liked what Disney did. They have sprinlers spray soap suds on the top to block the sun when it get too hot. I do grow some stuff, tomatoes, potatoes, green peppers, etc. but the crops are very small, and it takes a ton of water.
 

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Excellent thread

Oh, one more thing @Cricket

Make sure you have an illegal or two around for things like manure spreading and the like! :vs_smile:
 

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Ah, spring! We've got the lettuces in now. Hubs has some other things planted in the raised beds. I need to ask him what they are.

Garlic, basil--but I bring the basil in when the temps drop. Still early here. I keep most of the herbs for my kitchen garden in tall pots in a fenced in area which is nice and sunny. It's deer proof. My other herbs'll be getting planted soon. Rosemary, oreganno, mint (which grows like a weed), cilantro....smells like heaven.
 

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Being a city boy, growing things was something I never learned to do. BUT I'm correcting that now since I retired. I've joined our local Master Gardeners Association and all interns must take classes. Classes are taught by professors from A&M and some local experts. You get fire hosed with info but boy have I learned a lot. And I'm having fun doing it. And the learning continues with being around people who have been doing this for years. Many love passing along what they've learned over the years.

Not if but when things get ugly, the plan is to be able to add to our meal from the garden.
 

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We started with a large garden, learned a few things but because of the constant weeding we now just grow in a few raised beds. But we still keep the larger garden area clear in case it's ever needed.

Keeping a little bag of heirloom seeds isn't enough, you need things like fertilizer, pest controls, and basic tools if you plan to plant an emergency garden.
 

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Keeping a little bag of heirloom seeds isn't enough, you need things like fertilizer, pest controls, and basic tools if you plan to plant an emergency garden.
One thing I've learned is about pest controls. You need pollinators for a variety of plants. No pollinators equals no food. Many pesticides kill pollinators and most don't consider that part. I found there are a variety of organic pest control things to use without killing the pollinators.

If you get to a point where pesticide is your only option then use it late in the day when the pollinators have gone to rest. Right now I'm trying to stay with the organic stuff.

I'm also focusing on personal pollinators. By that I mean mason bees and leafcutter bees. They only travel about 300 feet so basically they become your personal pollinators, if you can provide enough pollen to keep them fed.
 

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One thing I've learned is about pest controls. You need pollinators for a variety of plants. No pollinators equals no food. Many pesticides kill pollinators and most don't consider that part. I found there are a variety of organic pest control things to use without killing the pollinators.

If you get to a point where pesticide is your only option then use it late in the day when the pollinators have gone to rest. Right now I'm trying to stay with the organic stuff.

I'm also focusing on personal pollinators. By that I mean mason bees and leafcutter bees. They only travel about 300 feet so basically they become your personal pollinators, if you can provide enough pollen to keep them fed.
We keep honeybees so I guess we've got the pollinator angle covered. Usually we use Neem oil for pest control and don't spray the blooms, only the plant leaves.
 

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One thing I've learned is about pest controls. You need pollinators for a variety of plants. No pollinators equals no food. Many pesticides kill pollinators and most don't consider that part. I found there are a variety of organic pest control things to use without killing the pollinators.

If you get to a point where pesticide is your only option then use it late in the day when the pollinators have gone to rest. Right now I'm trying to stay with the organic stuff.

I'm also focusing on personal pollinators. By that I mean mason bees and leafcutter bees. They only travel about 300 feet so basically they become your personal pollinators, if you can provide enough pollen to keep them fed.
Good point @inceptor, you got me to thinking...

A few weeks ago I was fed up with all the Carpenter Bees that were boring way too many holes in my deck joists around the house as well as the exposed beams in the garage and the rafters/purlins in the barn etc. They were everywhere. We've had Carpenter Bees every year since we've been at Slippy Lodge but this spring was out of control.

I had to make a decision and even though our garden was planted I felt like eliminating at least some of the Carpenter Bees was the right decision.

There are still a few flying around and so far our plants appear to be pollinating well but I'm a bit worried that I killed too many. Any suggestion that you've learned from the MG program?
 

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Good point @inceptor, you got me to thinking...

A few weeks ago I was fed up with all the Carpenter Bees that were boring way too many holes in my deck joists around the house as well as the exposed beams in the garage and the rafters/purlins in the barn etc. They were everywhere. We've had Carpenter Bees every year since we've been at Slippy Lodge but this spring was out of control.
While I haven't bought any I heard that the Carpenter Bee spray sold at Tractor Supply works well.
 

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Some people have more knowledge in gardening than others, and some have none. If you never planted anything, I suggest starting small or even in containers, but do something. Arugula IS very easy to grow. The first crops may not be what you expect, but it does get better. Your garden soil will improve over the years if you take care of it. Also, if you have available area, planting some fruit trees would be nice, but they do take some years to produce well.
Tools can get expensive, but they don't need to be purchased all at once, and you can get them secondhand too.
 

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We keep bees too. Not a lot of hassle if you are not interested in harvesting their honey. Sits right next to the garden... guess who gets pollinated first and most? And the honey is there if things go bad and you DO want it.
I've found that collecting the honey is less work than catching the swarms, building the boxes with frames, and protecting the hives from mites.
While I started with 3 purchased Langstrom hives and nucs I've moved on to catching my own swarms using swarm traps and splitting hives. I've found that effective mite control is the trick to honeybee hive survival.

Our family makes mead and candles with the honey from the hives. Great presents for family and friends while maintaining a prep.
After the 1st year a good hive will make about 1 1/2 -2 gallons of honey and 1/2 lb of wax.
 

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Good point @inceptor, you got me to thinking...

A few weeks ago I was fed up with all the Carpenter Bees that were boring way too many holes in my deck joists around the house as well as the exposed beams in the garage and the rafters/purlins in the barn etc. They were everywhere. We've had Carpenter Bees every year since we've been at Slippy Lodge but this spring was out of control.

I had to make a decision and even though our garden was planted I felt like eliminating at least some of the Carpenter Bees was the right decision.

There are still a few flying around and so far our plants appear to be pollinating well but I'm a bit worried that I killed too many. Any suggestion that you've learned from the MG program?
There's not much there so I'm starting a special interest group. It turns out there are a number of people who want to learn more about this.

What I've found about Carpenter bees is not the damage they do but I've seen pictures of Woodpeckers tearing up a barn going after the Carpenter bees. My focus is on Mason Bees and Leafcutter Bees.

Honeybees, at least for me, require too much work maintaining them and their hive. The initial cost involved is also more than I want to spend. The cost for a starter colony alone is $250 here plus the hive and all the accessories needed. I attended our local beekeepers meeting a few weeks ago. After about 5 minutes I heard a story from an experienced beekeeper that had a new bee suit, didn't close it quite right and ended up in the emergency room. I love honey and buy it by the gallon locally. It's really good for my allergies, well except for this year. But I sure don't care to have a hive of my own. In Texas, honeybees are considered animals and are regulated as such. Not so for native bees.

If the Carpenter bees get to causing too much damage, then by all means do what you need to do. But you need to consider what pollinators you have and what you can attract. Mason bees and Leafcutter bees can be bought online to get you started there.

Most solitary bees live in the ground. Of those only Bumblebees are hive oriented.

In Texas, we have more than 1200 species of native bees. Most are solitary, meaning no hive. No hive to protect means you don't need protective gear and the risk of being stung is minimal. Think of solitary bees this way. Single mom's living in a condo that only want to have kids. Each bee can produce about 10-20 larvae during their 6 week lives. They only require care and maintenance twice a year, spring and fall.

I keep talking about Mason bees and Leafcutter bees because these I can have some control over. The other species, not so much. I can buy my first batch of each and the just harvest the larvae for next year.

There are many good video's on youtube and two good sources of supplies and information is Crown Bees out of Washington and Mason Bees for Sale out of Utah. Masonbeesforsale.com offers a great starter book online if you signup for his emails. Both have been pretty darn good to me providing information to me when I needed it.

The majority of the information I've gathered though is from a person from the Master Naturalist program and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Since then I've learned there are several people in the Master Naturalist program who have a lot of knowledge in this area. So I'm joining the Master Naturalist program. My wife is good with this and says it keeps me off the streets and out of trouble.

I just did an online search for your area and found this.
https://georgiaorganics.org/2015/10/native-bees-vital-for-georgia-produce/

I've read the article and it provides good info and links for more information.

Sorry, I didn't mean to write a book here but let me leave you with one more piece of info.

Honeybees are not native to the US. In leftest commie terms, they were forcibly enslaved by white guys and brought here from Europe. These white guys have kept the honeybees as slaves ever since. Maybe someone should bring this to AOC's attention and see what can be done about it.
 

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Good point @inceptor, you got me to thinking...

A few weeks ago I was fed up with all the Carpenter Bees that were boring way too many holes in my deck joists around the house as well as the exposed beams in the garage and the rafters/purlins in the barn etc. They were everywhere. We've had Carpenter Bees every year since we've been at Slippy Lodge but this spring was out of control.

I had to make a decision and even though our garden was planted I felt like eliminating at least some of the Carpenter Bees was the right decision.

There are still a few flying around and so far our plants appear to be pollinating well but I'm a bit worried that I killed too many. Any suggestion that you've learned from the MG program?
You cannot kill too many. Carpenter bees, carpenter ants, termites, they are all on a lower ring of Hell than even Democrats! Kill them all! Spray turpentine on their nests. Douse them in kerosine and light them on fire! I wish they could make noise because their death cries would be music to my ears.
 

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You cannot kill too many. Carpenter bees, carpenter ants, termites, they are all on a lower ring of Hell than even Democrats! Kill them all! Spray turpentine on their nests. Douse them in kerosine and light them on fire! I wish they could make noise because their death cries would be music to my ears.
I wonder why He made so many different varieties of bugs. Everything God makes is good, right? Any thoughts on that? The French have a word that fits maybe, "Jolie Laide", meaning "ugly beautiful" or "pretty ugly" I guess they are kind of. I guess to the birds they're pretty...Pretty tasty.
 
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