I have alot of pleasant memories of gardening with my grandparents. If it were not for them, my sisters and I would have gone hungry alot. They helped my mother put food on the table for us to eat. My mother was a single mother for a while and she had a job and went back to school. She did her best by us, but our grandparents were always there to help too. Thats just what you do for family. I can remember picking truck loads of corn and sitting on the tail gate shucking and cutting corn for days. Then I remember picking and shelling butter beans til I thought my fingers would fall off. I’ve dug my share of potatoes and snapped many a beans too.While working in the garden my PaPa Oliver always said…” Now Bit, don’t look at how much you’ve got left to go…look behind at how much you’ve already got done.” Wow he has no idea how many times I repeat that to myself when hoeing down my looooong rows. It helps me everytime. Thanks Pa Pa. I always said when I grew up, I wanted to have a garden, well it has taken me plenty of years to accomplish this. When David and I first got married he was in the Marine Corp and it was hard to have a garden when you lived in base housing or an apartment in town, which we did both. I told him if we ever got our own land some day, I was going to have one, so here we are now. If you are not able to or have the space for a garden, seriously consider shopping at your farmers markets. You will not only provide your family with good healthful food, you will also be supporting growing locally. You can also Google container gardening to preserve space.
I am so glad to see more people putting in gardens. I choose to do this for more than just pleasure and memories of childhood, but for health purposes too. I choose to have a garden so I can provide healthful meals for my family. Now, some things I just can’t grow, because of a green thumb, but some things I can. My children do not like green beans from the store anymore since we grow our own and they’ve ate them for so long.
This is just my opinion, but “I” believe that alot of our diseases and cancers are coming from the chemical preservers that are put in our processed foods. My ancestors didn’t have many health problems, and it seems the more we try to “change” things the worse they get. Why can’t we leave good enough alone. Ok, I’ll get off my soap box now.
I’ll tell you the way I do some things and then I’ll share some other ideas from others. Remember, alot of this is what I do and is my opinion. You use your own convictions concerning anything you do in your garden. No two gardeners rarely do anything alike. I’ll also leave some buttons and links to some helpful websites.
I have tried many different strategies and ideas that I want bore you with them. I’ll start from what works best for me now. You have to keep in mind of your zones that you live in and climates. Some things just don’t do well in some climates and zones. I live in the south and we have good springs and summers. Although God can have other plans and we can have wet and floody or hot and drought seasons to where farmers and gardeners are forced to replant several times.
The only way I make it through the winter time, is by looking at seed catalogs and starting to plan and draw my garden on paper. This keeps my mind off the cold and the depression of not being able to get outside. Try it sometime, it really works. I don’t just get out there throwing seeds every where and expect them to come up. I plan first.
We will start by, in the fall, after every thing has been harvested and everything is dying, we will burn off and then disk up the ground, and let that settle for a while. In the winter if you have access to some manure, start throwing it on there and letting it decompose. If this is your first garden and you want to put one in, you will need to pick a good spot that drains well and does not flood. Have someone come and disk up the dirt in the spot you designate, or if its just a little spot you can get a rotto tiller and till it up. You can either get a jump start and do this in the fall or wait until the last frost of the season and then till it up. If you dont have space for a big garden consider raised beds or container gardening, I’ll speak more on that later. Also, during the winter or early spring, I will throw out lime or fertilizer (whichever your soil needs to get started) to help the soil and we will periodically spray weed killer to help keep the weeds out. We have discovered this helps tremendously for keeping weeds under control in the summer. Let the garden “rest” for a while. After the last frost, I will get my husband to disc the garden a couple of times before we start planting. Since we have the space and I want a “big” garden with plenty of food, this is what mine looks like:
I know, its big. What ever you do, only plant what you know you can handle, do not overwhelm yourself. I have one this big because I plant everything I can and I know we’ll eat, and most of all, I have help and that helps alot. I have two strong boys and a good husband that helps me alot. If it were not for them sometimes, I would not be able to keep up trust me. Having Rheumatoid Arthritis limits me to what I can and can’t do. This is my tiller I got for Mothers Day one year. I have taught the boys how to use my tiller because sometimes it gets painful after a little while for me to use it.
We use the tractor and disc for tilling and breaking the ground for the first time, but I use the tiller to keep in between the rows weed free. Some people use the no till method, but to me this helps airriate the soil, I don’t know if I spelled it correctly, but I mean help the soil get air. Air is essential in your soil. Your gonna need a good hoe too, to help weed in between plants where your tiller may not fit.
Let me go ahead and talk about raised beds and container gardening before I forget. Some older people have benefited from a raised bed to help with bending and can’t hardly manage getting up and down alot for picking. If you don’t have a lot of yard to give up to a good size garden this works well. All you do is just find anything like wood or cement blocks to make a square. Dakota made mine for me. Bless his little heart, I really appreciated them.
Fill them up with compost, like dirt, straw, grass clippings or leaves. Then start planting your plants or seeds of your choice in them. Simple things like leafy greens, radishes, carrots, spinach, garlic, etc. anything you don’t want to use up a whole row in, in your garden spot. The same method goes for container gardening. These are big to small pots you can put on your porch or deck for a small family or just two of you. I know some people who have incorporated things into their flower beds. Like, corn behind some low growing shrubs or flowers, now how cool is that? You can raise tomatoes and potatoes in five gallon buckets.
Lets talk about seeds. You can choose seeds or plants. If you have a green thumb, you can plant everything by seed. You can even start them indoors in winter using cups with soil in them or flats as they call them. I use both. I can’t grow tomato plants, broccili, cauliflower, and cabbage from seed, I have to buy the plants. I’ve never had any luck. However, I will keep trying. Everything else I can plant from seed. Now, consider the kind of seeds you want. Once again, there is a controversy over this. You have heirloom, saved seed and the seeds you buy at Co-op. Yes, some of the seeds we buy are GMO( genetically modified). That means the seed has been injected with a herbicide or insecticide. Alot of people will choose an organic seed company because they don’t want all that “stuff”. To tell you the truth I have used both. Some things will grow better than others it just takes patience and knowledge. I bought some potato eyes from a seed catalog and I followed the directions and everything, out of three rows, I might have gotten two 5 gallon buckets. I was so disappointed. I tried different corn from the seeds catalog and they did not do as good, again, I was disappointed. It is strictly your preference as to where and from whom you purchase your seeds. You do what is best for you. Just remember to follow the directions on the packet. I could sit and type all day long how to plant each seed but you would get tired of reading. You can Google “how to grow…” a certain vegetable and there is tons of information out there that people have submitted. I’ve had to Google a few things myself. When I find some good information, I will copy it and put it in a binder. Also, try to stagger your planting times. Like one week plant your green beans, the next or maybe two weeks later, plant your corn. This way everything is not coming in all at one time and its hard to keep up. Now some things you do plant in different seasons. You’ve got your cold things like lettuces, spinach, carrots, broccili, and cauliflower that can only tolerate cool weather, these need to be started in early spring so they will be harvested before the heat of summer gets to them. Any time you have any questions your co-op or seed supply store can help you with them. My co-op is so helpful and they never get tired of me asking questions or wanting to try new things.
Now, fertilizer. If you didn’t start fertilizing in the fall and winter, you can start fertilizing before you plant or after you plant the seeds. The only thing you have to be careful is to not get fertilizer directly on the plant or seeds. Fertilizer is strong and will burn plants and seeds. If you fertilize before you plant, try to do this right before a rain. If you do this after you have planted, just cast out using a fertilizer spreader from your local Co-op or feed supply store. When fertilizing plants, just spread a little around the base of the plant without touching the plant or any leaves. Fertilizing should be done before and when things start to bloom before they produce the fruit or vegetable. Its called “side dressing”. There is a big controversy over chemical and natural fertilizer. It is strictly your choice. If you choose natural, you can use manure. But what ever you do, let it sit for a while and decompose. Never throw fresh manure around or on plants. Chicken manure has the most nitrogen and can burn the plants. . I almost forgot, there is a difference in commercial fertilizers. My friends at my co-op explained them to me. 15-15-15 is called triple 15, it is equal parts Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus (I think) lol. It is used on things that need to produce stalks or big leaves and grass. I use this just on my corn. Then I use 6-12-12 on anything that needs to produce a fruit or the actual vegetable. When I used this I saw a big difference. So find out from your co-op what is good for what you want to grow and what fertilizer you should use. Another good place to get good info. is your County Extension Office. They can do a soil sample test for you to tell you what your soil is missing in nutrients, and tell you what kind of soil you have and what would grow best there.
Watering is very essential. Try to plant before a rain, not a down pour that causes flooding. I have had to replant several things before. But you will need to water if it has not rained for a while after you plant. Keep things watered during dry periods and droughts. This may make the water bill go up some, but I don’t mind, considering I don’t loose any food. My husband set me up a watering system with water hoses. Some people use an irrigation system. To me this is pretty cool. You can store rain water in barells and use that to water with. Then sit back and start watching things grow.
Now lets discuss how to get rid of those pesky bugs. Once again, controversy. I have tried both. I have found chemical bug sprays to work best. It seems like every thing builds up a resistance to bug repellents. I do like Diatomaceous Earth, the food grade type. I have sprinkled this around my broccili, cabbage etc. and it seems to work good. Something else we tried this year, is planting flowers and sunflowers around the garden to draw good bugs that eats bad bugs. It also draws honey bees for pollination.
We love sunflowers we even harvested them too for the kids to roast, flavor and eat. We also share with the birds. You can also take DE and put about a cup in a 5 gal sprayer and spray your plants. Just keep shaking the sprayer every once in a while to loosen the powder. You will need to spray for bugs more than just once. Usually after every rain, cause it washes some off. I can just about tell you when its going to rain, WHEN I SPRAY! It never fails.
Now, weeding is necessary. You have to keep the weeds out or they will suffocate your plants and steal all the nutrients. You can use plastic sheeting between rows or feed sacks, newspapers, straw, leaves, etc. Something that will “cover” the row and suffocate the weeds. A good hoe is a must to get in between plants. If you don’t weed, you will not harvest a thing. It is laborious work but I have found if you can get out in the evenings and hoe a little at a time it doesn’t get overwhelming.
Come summer, its time to start harvesting. The busiest time in the garden is picking and preparing everything. One year we had so many green beans it literally took us one whole weekend to pick, snap, wash and can. My dear husband helped me here, and we watched movies the whole weekend while doing this. Phew!!!!
I love dill and sweet pickles. I’ve done whole and sliced pickles. If I have a good year of cucumbers I will skip a year and plant something else in its place.
One year we had so much corn, it took all day one day to shuck, the next day we washed and silked, then when I just didn’t think I was going to finish, some family showed up to help me. I had never been so happy to see anybody in all my life. We finally got it all done and in the freezer. It took 3 days, but my freezer was full. Here is some of the pics. I love the one of Dakota falling over in the chair and Joe Joe watching him. We laughed so hard.
I got a couple of good picking of peas one time, til the deer got in and ate the rest.My boys have always helped in the garden and have learned alot at different ages.
Some how I’ve got to find a better way to grow carrots. I think next I’ll try the raised bed for these. Every year I just like to try new things.
The last bit of info. I almost forgot. One year, plant things in specified places, the next year plant them in a different spot. This is called crop rotation. The reason for this is, one year you plant peas in one spot, they have alot of nitrogen. The next year you plant something else in that place, they will get the nitrogen from the soil from the previous year. Also, if there was any kind of disease the plants developed there that year, you don’t want to plant the same thing there again for fear of recontaminating.
Then you have companion planting. This is where some things grow good together. Like the 3 sisters the Indians plant. Corn, green beans and squash. They will plant the corn and let it develop a little stalk, when the stalk is about 2 or 3 ft high, they will plant about 3 green bean seeds around the base of the stalk, the vines grow up the stalk as the stalk grows giving the vines support. Then outside around the green bean seeds, they will plant squash to bush out and shade the ground to keep the weeds down. The Indians knew what they were doing. I know that tomatoes love carrots. Some plants do not grow good next to something else. You can google companion gardening and find alot of info on the net, there is also lots of books.
Just experiment and play in your garden. Its up to you what you make of it. But remember it is hard work. Always remember to keep the weeds out. If you let them in, you want have a garden for long. Recruit help. This is a great teaching opportunity for young children. Alot of kids today do not know where their food comes from they know momma or daddy gets it from the grocery store but that’s it. They have no clue as to how it got there. We’ve had Science class in our garden before.
I hope you really enjoy your hard work and good efforts to try to put healthier food on the table and help with the grocery bill. You can refer to our Canning and Preserving Page to see how we put up and store our harvest for winter.
I told y’all I would do a tutorial for planting a raised bed to help y’all out. No, I’m not an expert flower gardener, however my husband has allowed me to play around with some bare space around our trees in our front yard so we can put some color around here and dress it up a bit.
First, do some planning and look at different kinds of edging to see what you like and how it could possibly look. We chose the cement edging because it’s low maintenance. Some wood rots and might have to be replaced, repainted or repaired after years. Make sure it can hold up to strong weather. Some of those little tiny fences are not strong enough.
Next, place your edging in the shape you want it. I chose a circle, yea, the hardest. Two layers high is fine because you want enough depth to plant bulbs or seeds that needs good root stability.
Then, fill with topsoil, potting mix or compost. You can do your own research and see which you want to do. Spread soil out evenly.
Last, comes the fun part. Planting your bulbs, seeds, or plants according to their proper directions. You will need to plan this out too ahead of time. Take into consideration the amount of sun or shade that particular area get. You have to plant according to full sun, partial shade or full shade. Sensitive shade plants will not thrive in full sun for example. Plan smart and play around.
I like to stagger according to seasons so each season something will be growing. For example, in the fall I planted early spring bulbs like hyacinth, and crocuses. Then behind that a late spring or early summer seed or bulb. Then a late summer followed by fall growing plants, like mums. There will be something for each season.
This raised bed also works for your garden veggies too. It’s not limited to just flowers.
Hope you enjoy planning, playing and gandering at all the loveliness.
Here are some links to some websites for you to enjoy further and gleen from. Also, random pics and articles from blog friends who receive full credit in exchange to help promote each others blogs and websites because we like to help each other out. If you should have trouble with some of these links just copy and paste them into your browser. Im still learning this WordPress thingy. Thanks.
40 Gardening Tips To Maximize Your Harvest
Heirloom Vegetables by Better Hens and Gardens blog: http://www.betterhensandgardens.com/2014/05/19/heirloom-vegetables-better-for-the-backyard-garden-2/
50 Genius Gardening Tips & Ideas
How to fix blossom end rot:
Hope you enjoy.