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Gardens


aidan
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I am sure most of you are more than satiated with the daily barrage of economic woes on the news and in print. But, is there any good that can come out of this? My thought is that with this slowdown in the economy, home gardens may once again become more common. My wife and I had our first child this year, and we were starting a garden to fulfill his diet in place of baby food. Now that money is being used a little more wisely, we are hoping to expand it to a little larger than first thought, in order to compensate for the pricier items in the grocery stores. My question for all of you is: Do you think that there will be an increase in home gardens? And, if so will this have an effect on the food industry insofar as to make more local, seasonal and organic fresh fruit and veg more readily available at your local grocery superstore, as well as more affordable?

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The more gardens and plants the better!

This winter's deep freeze has me fantasizing about the garden. We ordered hanging tomato baskets online just last week from Vesey's. We're in a semi-rural Atlantic Canada Zone 6A on the ocean and we've finally figured out where to put a new greenhouse. We've had the metal frames for a few years now, just never got around to putting up the plastic, etc.

If you've got a little one and a little room to grow stuff then why not? I keep doing the math and have yet to see an actual savings in the grocery bill, but my kids are four this year and very interested in growing food -- a whole new reason to do so.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I work for University of Missouri Extension, and I can tell you for sure that more people are gardening in my rural area. We are, in fact, planning a series of 3 lessons on beginning gardening this month, and expect good attendance.

If you are starting a garden, your local extension office is a great place for information. We have a guidesheet that tells you how much to plant per family member, when to plant, how deep, how far apart, what varieties are good for certain areas of Missouri, and so on, and I am sure other states have the same kind of info.

We diagnose insect and disease problems, test your soil to tell you how much fertilizer to use, and we have instructions on constructing raised beds and compost bins.

To find a local office, just google "your state, extension" . Most of our publications are on-line, so you don't even have to come into the office--though we would be glad to see you!!

sparrowgrass
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Some previous eGullet discussions that may have helpful info:

Kitchen gardens, Growing good things to eat

Gardening, The Topic (merged w/ similar topics)

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Since the county cleared an easement for me, I have sun and room to grow this spring/summer. I could not have done it before with all the trees in the yard.

We were talking the other day about what we wanted.

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Every year I say I'm going to start gardening. I have a garden ... over 400 square feet of outdoor patio, filled with containers, that most new yorkers would kill for. And since my green-thumbed housemate left, it's been slowly returning to nature, except for the two strawberry plants that come back magically (but in worse shape) every season.

I just have no idea what to do. What I need is a gardening support group. Anyone else interested in this? I'd probably want to start small. Herbs, and maybe some tomatoes.

Notes from the underbelly

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Every year I say I'm going to start gardening. I have a garden ... over 400 square feet of outdoor patio, filled with containers, that most new yorkers would kill for. And since my green-thumbed housemate left, it's been slowly returning to nature, except for the two strawberry plants that come back magically (but in worse shape) every season.

I just have no idea what to do. What I need is a gardening support group. Anyone else interested in this? I'd probably want to start small. Herbs, and maybe some tomatoes.

I've always fantasized about having a patio garden... right now, I have no outdoor space, but I make do with a southern facing windowsill with a lime and lemon tree, and various herbs, oh and some lemongrass... My biggest fantasy is to have a decent outdoor space where I can put in a greenhouse - and grow all kinds of stuff - plus, it's great to go into the warm steamy greenhouse in the dead of winter!!!

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Vegetable gardening is making a real comeback and, according to an article I read, last year US vegetable seed sales exceeded flower seed sales for the first time. Here in Maine I heard, FEDCO, one of the largest seed suppliers in the state saw 2008 sales grow something like 30% over 2007.

I've been growing vegetable gardens for about 35 years and last year tried raised beds for the first time and they came out great. I can't imagine going back to conventional gardening, plus no rototiller is needed - though a small tractor with a front-end loader to fill the beds with soil, peatmoss, and manure is handy if you're building a number of large beds, as I did.

If anyone wants more info on this, let me know.

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I just have no idea what to do. What I need is a gardening support group. Anyone else interested in this? I'd probably want to start small. Herbs, and maybe some tomatoes.

I am the Black Thumb of Death, but I really, really want to garden in my new place. I'd love a kitchen garden support group.

Edited by pax (log)
“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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As sparrowgrass advised, your state extension services are excellent resources. If you live in a city or town that has community gardens, often the organization that owns them sponsors events, demonstrations, lectures, that can be very helpful. And if you participate in a community garden, your fellow gardeners are always ready with advice.

It's worth getting your soil tested, both to find out if you need to amend it in any way, but especially if you live in an urban area to be sure there isn't anything toxic lurking in the soil.

Take some time to learn about what grows well in your planting zone. When I moved to Massachusetts from Missouri, I was surprised at the differences--the shorter growing season, harsher winters, etc. meant that many of the herbs and vegetables that did well in MO didn't thrive in MA. It's frustrating and expensive (time, money, water) if you put in plants that are destined to fail.

Finally, give some thought to how much time you want to spend gardening. Keeping up a garden takes time--planting, weeding, watering, harvesting. Everyone is enthusiastic in the spring, but once the growing season commences you're at the mercy of the weather and harvesting schedules. You can't put off watering during a dry spell or harvesting ripe vegetables until it's more convenient for your schedule. I've had to learn to plant varieties that come to harvest at different time so I can keep up with everything. Otherwise, a lot can go to waste. Herbs, on the other hand, are mostly maintenance free--although some, like basil, need regular water and must be harvested before they get too mature and goes to seed.

If you're a beginner, start simply. It's easier than you think, but don't be discouraged if everything doesn't go perfectly. No matter how long you've gardened, each year is different and there is always something to learn.


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Every year I say I'm going to start gardening. I have a garden ... over 400 square feet of outdoor patio, filled with containers, that most new yorkers would kill for. And since my green-thumbed housemate left, it's been slowly returning to nature, except for the two strawberry plants that come back magically (but in worse shape) every season.

I just have no idea what to do. What I need is a gardening support group. Anyone else interested in this? I'd probably want to start small. Herbs, and maybe some tomatoes.

Re-reading your post, I realized that I may be able to help a bit... herbs are usually pretty easy to grow - an outdoor patio is great in spring and summer, but you can keep them growing all year long if you have a sunny southern facing windowsill... basil grows like a weed from seed... you can basically dump some bagged soil into a pot with the fine stuff on top (use a strainer) and just scatter some seeds... keep it the soil moist with a mister and cover the top with plastic wrap until the seeds sprout... you'll have micro-basil in a week or two, and in a few weeks basil plants... just keep them very moist as basil loves water - you can tell because as soon as it gets a bit dry, it will wilt.... Tarragon is different - you can't plant tarragon from seed or you'll get Russian Tarragon, which is different from French Tarragon - in order to get French Tarragon, you need to plant cuttings from existing plants... an easy way is to pick up a tarragon plant at the farmers market in the spring. Tarragon doesn't like to get too hot, so if you keep it in the windowsill, it should be out of direct sun... or at least not right by the window. Other than that, some herbs like different conditions - thyme and rosemary both like to dry out slightly between waterings - so I tend to keep them in the same pot (or two separate pots that are watered together)...

If you have any questions, you can pm or email me - I'm happy to share all I know... when I was a kid my father had a large garden in Westchester that I used to help in all the time... tomatoes, corn, squash, cucumber... I wish I could do some of that, but since all I have is a large windowsill, I'm pretty limited... My dream is to (one day if/when prices ever come down) have a space with decent patio or roof that I can put in a greenhouse and experiment growing hydroponically... I've been doing some research into it, and it seems pretty feasible....

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I have found that some vegetables require less work than others. Corn is almost "set it and forget it" while I find that tomatoes require a lot more work. Corn, Onions, sweet potatos I've had good results with even though I've had little time to garden in the past two years. On herbs, I've found that basil will reseed itself as will cilantro, mint is an invasive weed, oregano and thyme will thrive with little care. I've planted a lime tree and the house I bought 7 years ago had a mature fig tree in the backyard. If you are in a zone where you can grow a fig tree do so, it's a fast growing tree and in good years you will get two crops a year.

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