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Garden experiment has ended for the Summer - serscot
Garden experiment has ended for the Summer
Well, I've turned under my garden. It produced a grant total of 11 Tomatoes, 3 Cucumbers, and 9 very small potatoes. The potatoes were volunteers anyway so the treatment on the roots may have affected their ability to produce large amounts of tubers.

While I didn't grow much I learned a lot. The plants need a lot more water than I gave them. I think I need to grow a nitrogen fixing crop next year to improve the over all soil fertility. I'd been burying my household garbage in the ground where I was planning to plant but that was obviously not enough to really get the soil where it needs to be. Next year I'm planting "butter beans". As a Legume it should act as a nitrogen fixer and improve the soil for 2013 then we can really see what I can grow.

Therefore, while this years effort was not a success I'll call it a highly worthwhile learning experience.
6 comments or Leave a comment
regina_of_york From: regina_of_york Date: September 4th, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, man, I wish we had teleporters. A friend with an overactive garden just dropped off two large bags full of veggies for us, and there is more than enough to share, lol.

Gardens do seem to be all or nothing affairs, don't they?
terraprime From: terraprime Date: September 4th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you don't want to use chemical fertilizers, you should think about starting a compost before you start your next year's planting, and keep it going throughout. Vegetables really do need a lot of nutrients to set good crops, especially if you plant them somewhat close to each other like most people gardening in backyards do. Another thing to check is the drainage quality of your soil. Most vegetables like well-drained soil, so you might need to amend the soil with some sand if it's too clay, or add some clay if it's too sandy.

As for watering, yeah they do want quite a bit of water. One thing we do is since we have a 2-sided sink at the kitchen, we just stopper up one side and catch all the clean (no detergent, no grease) water that we generate from daily use (like washing an apple) and then use that to water the plants. If you run a dehumidifier in the house, you can also catch those water, too. It helps with the water bill and it conserves water. :-)

This year our zucchini plants didn't produce much. The tomato plant produced some but it wasn't as much as we had expected. We had already eaten about 15 tomatoes and there are still 7 or 8 ripening. They should make it before the frost. Cucumbers we had quite a bit from what we planted. The American variety get mildewed halfway through so we had to take it out. The Chinese variety is producing well and we got a lot of nice crunchy cucumbers this year. Our beans, on the other hand, are lost to the rabbit demon(s). All 6 that sprouted ended up becoming rabbit poop. We also planted some daikon but they didn't do too well, because I think our planting bed is not deep enough. We also planted bitter melon but it's a late growing plant so it's just now setting fruit. One thing we discovered is that they need a lot of nutrients. When I set up the planting bed I mixed 3 bags of top soil with 1 bag of potting soil (with time release fertilizers) and 1 bag of peat moss, and it's still not enough. We ended up having to fertilize about once every 10 days to keep them producing.

Anyway, better luck next year!
serscot From: serscot Date: September 4th, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks for the advice. One question what is the difference between just burying your organic garbage and actually composting? Is composting a lot better than just burying?
terraprime From: terraprime Date: September 4th, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
In the long run, burying the organic garbage and composting are essentially the same, since both are processes wherein the garbage decomposes into available nutrients.

However, in the short run, compost material is further along in the breakdown and will be more available to the plants. If you are going to use natural fertilizers like that, you need to premix as much of it with the soil before planting as you can. If you don't have enough compost to start, buying peat moss (sphagnum) or processed animal manure will also help condition the soil. I personally like peat moss better because of the smell and the distinct lack of grubs, but your mileage may vary. But all the stuff that you've been burying will help the soil, in the long run. They just might not have made it in time to help this year's crop.

So, essentially, composting speeds up the decomposition process and makes the nutrients available to the plants sooner. If you do not care about the time scale, then burying the garbage is the same as composting. So let's say now, you are going to let the planting area rest for the winter. This would be a good time to simply bury the stuff in it by tilling it in and letting it sit for the fall and winter to decompose. The decomposition rate will vary depending on what's being decomposed, the temperature, and the moisture level. But a whole fall and winter should no doubt do the trick.

At any rate, another hazard of composting is that you don't have the same control in what you get, since what goes into each batch of compost will differ. You're going to get the nutrients (nitrogen-phosphate-sulfur), but not always in the same ratio. I'm still a beginner gardener myself and I have much better luck with the chemical fertilizers than with composts, although I do use them. I think it's just a matter of getting a good rhythm of composting and being more familiar with the life cycle of your plants. Certainly, there are gardeners who use only composts and get great results. I'm not one of them. :-) So, what I've been doing is adding composted material, but also supplement with chemical fertilizers. The compost will help with the long-term health of the plot, and it helps reduce domestic waste for landfills, so it's a good thing, while the chemical fertilizers help ensure that I will get some crops from the plot.
blanchemains From: blanchemains Date: September 4th, 2011 10:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
My garden wasn't much of a success, either. And I live in SoCal, where gardens flourish with very little effort! I think my error was in building materials: I used some railroad ties we had to make the sides of the planting bed and lined it with plastic. Unfortunately, I underestimated how soaked the ties were with oil and creosote and it looks as if it leached through the plastic and burned the roots of many of my plants. The tomatoes and cucumbers have done okay, but I am leary of eating them without knowing what chemicals have gotten into the soil! I definitely won't be using the same materials next time.

I had several tomato plants in large pots and they have produced ridiculous amounts of tomatoes! One year, I grew cantaloupes vertically up a chain link fence at the old house. I got some mesh to make little hammocks for the melons as they formed and I have too say- best melons ever.

_lady_narcissa_ From: _lady_narcissa_ Date: September 5th, 2011 03:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Gardening seems so easy in theory but takes a lot of practice and luck. Sounds like you had a good experimental summer. Heres to lots of more produce for next summer!
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