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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,<br><br><br><br>
My Dad is setting up a veg patch in our garden, and we are hoping to provide most of our fresh fruit and veg from there. I just wondered if there are any tips that you might have, for me or for anyone just starting out!<br><br><br><br>
Cheers,<br><br><br><br>
pirate x
 

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Don't skimp on soil preparation. Make sure you have plenty of compost and mulch to add to the soil. You might want to research different gardening techniques such as Biointensive, Permaculture, Lasagna Gardening, Square Foot Gardening, (you can google each of these and get lots of articles) and decide how you want to proceed. Don't make the first garden too large, it's easy to bite off more than you can chew (I do this every year, can't seem to learn!), and end up with a messy, spread-out garden that doesn't grow well, it's better to have a very small, well-cared-for garden than a big plot that goes to weeds or dies from lack of water. You can always expand as your skills improve.
 

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I'd say to plant 3 times as many peas as you think you want, and 1/4 the zucchini you think you'll eat.<br><br><br><br>
It's a good time of year right now to "sheet compost" your garden, which is simply piling on layers of dead leaves, grass clippings, anything compostable in a bin will work, but slower - and you have all winter.
 

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It's so exciting. OK, here are some of my soil-building techniques. I have a compost bin to which I add, as available,<br><br>
cut grass (mine & sometimes neighbors' if they don't treat their lawns)<br><br>
ground up leaves (I use the mower)<br><br>
coffee grounds (my own and sometimes a bag of grounds from Starbuck's - ask if they'll put some aside for you)<br><br>
fireplace ashes from neighbors who use only wood - no starter logs<br><br>
tree bark if a dead tree is available<br><br>
Also, I plant some buckwheat and favas to start building the soil in an area I want to use later.<br><br>
Grow snowpeas next spring. I'm in the northeast, and I plant them around St.Patrick's day. They're so easy and so tasty it makes for a great first effort, and the early season has fewer heartbreaks than summer (such as our invevitable drought, 100' temps, bugs, etc.)<br><br>
Most important perhaps would be a visit to gardenweb.com. There you can look up info on any plant, region, or method imaginable. Most of the boards I've used are busy and up-to-date year round.<br><br>
Good luck!
 

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Given the time of year right now I echo others in saying do not skimp on the soil!<br><br><br><br>
Save all your kitchen scraps as long as there are no animal products in them and if you are able to just toss them either in a compost bin or if you have a food processer stick the scraps in there and blend it into a juicey mess that you can dump right into your garden, I generaly dig a trench and bury it if I am doing it that way.<br><br>
I save all fireplace ashes, and even news papers can be shredded and added to a compost bin.<br><br>
Depending on were you live is how you will plant, I have to plant double the amount of zuchini I want and half the amount of tomatos.<br><br>
The biggest thing when doing yourg arden though is the soil and I would highly advise not useing man made fertalizers ever over time they do more harm to the soil and your plants than they help.<br><br><br><br>
If you are not oposed to it cow or chicken manure is also a great way to get your garden initaly started if you do not have compost already built up.
 

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It's rotting pumpkin season - adopt a couple of shriveling jack 'o lanterns and add some slimy goodness to your compost. They break down fast, and they're a once-a-year opportunity. Sneezi<br><br>
p.s. Having fun yet?
 

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The most important element is the soil. The higher quality the soil the better the plant health.<br><br><br><br>
I suggest reading about growing in your specific climate. Not knowing what you are planting etc it is difficult to give advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yeah, climate is a big thing. I live in the UK, relatively temperate, and the soil is quite clayish in my neck of the woods. Quite rich, I think.<br><br><br><br>
Plans are afoot, designs are chosen, and work should commence sometime around Christmas/ January. Sorry that it has taken me ages to respond - I appreciate all of your comments, but for some reason I haven't been notified of them, which is why I haven't replied before.<br><br><br><br>
Thank you for your comments, I shall now go and yell at my email client.
 

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I agree with Sneezi. Compost lots of lawn grass preferably from your own lawn -- or you can grow perennial white clover instead of lawn grass. Get the green manure and cover crop book from Johnny's Selected Seeds. It is concise and inexpensive. Fireplace ashes are terrific but don't overdo it; it is high in potassium; but you mostly want fall leaves for minerals and green stuff like grass for nitrogen. Also good, in moderation, is seaweed. Too much is dangerous because it has too much salt.<br><br><br><br>
Buckwheat is a good cover crop and green manure. And snow peas or snap peas are a good first-time crop to start very very early. But for snap peas, you absolutely must get the climbing kind, not the bush kind.<br><br><br><br>
I have to disagree with Arlyn about using a food processor. Unless your garden is no bigger than about16 square feet, the amount of material you can grind up in a food processor is insignificant. Plus anything small enough to fit in a food processor, is small enough to degrade rapidly without first being ground up. If you want, get a gas-powerd leaf shredder and log grinder for wood chips and to make leaf composting go a bit faster.<br><br><br><br>
For fruit you can start with melons. Ask you university expert (I don't know what they are called in England) for the right variety to grow in your area. Choosing a good cultivar, or the right cultivar, can have more of an effect on crop yield, and quality, than anything else you do, except adding lots of organic matter to the soil, and making sure your plants have the right amount of water. (Some plants are sensitive to too much water; melons will lose their sweetness and have more leaf fungi; tomatoes will split; others, like sweet corn, seem to taste juicy if they have more water than might seem necessary.<br><br><br><br>
I disagree about man-made fertilization doing more harm than good. If you depend mostly on industrially-produced commercial nitrogen sources, yes, you are doing more harm than good -- esp to the ground water and surrounding rivers and streams. But if you depend mostly on compost, and use a small amount of industrially produced nitrogen to "top off" your soil with the right amount of nitrogen for maximum yield, you are getting the hightest yield per acre, and not doing any harm. The large amount of organic matter in the soil assures that less of the industrial N runs off and more of it get taken up by your plants.<br><br><br><br>
I also disagree about chicken manure; it adds a subtle chicken-feces flavor to many vegetables. Cow manure adds less of a flavor. Also, both cow and chicken feces can be vectors for pathogens. Microorganism species that grow on or in other animals, also grow on humans; microorganism species that grows on or in plants, do not. While compost made in an animals gastro-intestinal tract has a greater amount of N than compost made in a wooden bin, due to the faster-acting decay bacteria than that found in a wooden bin, the chicken also "robs" some of the plant nutrients from the compost, to use to make its flesh.<br><br><br><br>
Before using rabbit feces, they have to be properly aged, to make them safe. There is a way that is said to make it safe, but I am not sure how this is done.
 
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