Recently, I've been wanting to get into backyard gardening, but I have no idea where to begin. Does anybody have any suggestions on books or websites that might help me get started?
The Square Foot Gardening book and website are great. http://www.squarefootgardening.com/
I haven't followed all of his instructions (I'm still using mostly large containers), but this is the most enthusiastic gardening book I've ever read.
I also suggest checking out the Definitive Gardening forum on this website -- lots of knowledgeable folks.
Doggonit, Becky, you beat me to it! But, here's another good one: http://www.amazon.com/How-Grow-More-Vegetables-Possible/dp/0898154154.
C1oudfire: But, you've gotten your revenge - the book you recommend is making me salivate! Something else to look for at the local used bookstore.
I would recommend John Seymour's The New Self-Sufficient Gardener. This book is a great organic gardening reference book. I appriciate the diagrams and pictures as they guide a visual learner better. Topics include garden design, organic methods, building structures and in depth guide to all fruits/vegetables and herbs. There is a section devoted to food storage as well.
I have used his techniques on my tomato plants this year and I am happy with the results. The plants are healthier and the fruit is amazing.
Beginner gardeners usually want to start by taking over the "point-less" shrubbery border gardens for starters. Try planting a few fruit trees as you take out meaningless landscaping plants or try planting strawberries, swiss chard or colorful kale in the understory below your present landscape trees and shrubs. We did our lake place by ever increasing the border with medicinal and food plants as well as scatter in flowers to attract frogs, birds, bees and insects.
Try using climbing vines to shade a hot side of a house or sprawling plants to cover a slope (then you don't have to mow either!)
Add a chicken tractor to run across your no mowing lawn ( they eat bugs food scraps, fertilize, aerate the grass, keep it short AND give you eggs! . if everything was this effecient we'd have it made.)
Pretty soon, before you know it, your old yard will look like this: Because You are on your Path to Freedom
Your Serious Plant Addict -EGP
Thanks everybody for the suggestions! You all have been very helpful. If anybody else has anything more to add, please feel free to contribute.
Hehe . . . . Enjoy!
Two established threads with a lot of great info:
I'm a big fan of square foot gardening. Cat and I have had had great success so far this year and have been eating out of our Square Foot gardens since the end of May.
Good luck and keep the questions coming.
Square Foot Gardening book has helpful charts to figure out what to plant when and the method really helps to keep organized. I've used The Four Season Harvest for ideas to grow stuff nearly year round in Maine. Start small but high quality, to keep within your available time commitment. This is the first year I've ever actually put planning into a garden, and it's really paid off; just ate peas, carrots, radish, onions, and chard I pulled from my garden minutes before suppoer; very rewarding!
Good luck! Tom
I also vote for Square-Foot-Gardening! I've tried gardening in the past with poor results, and finally decided to try SFG this year. It has worked very well. The one suggestion I can give, no matter what gardening method you try, is to get your soil tested. I think some of my past failures were due to poor soil. Even this year's garden, though producing, is not as robust as it should be. I finally tested the soil and it was very deficient in everything. I just returned from Montreal and saw city vegetable gardens that put my Virginia garden to shame. But this time I take that as a challenge!
I planted my first square-foot garden about 13 years ago . . . And, at the risk of sounding like a braggert, my cohorts are always amazed at the rapid and high productivity I get out of small spaces. Of course, I have customized the concepts to my particular situation, but the basic principles are very sound. There is one recommendation I would add to the author's strategy, and that is to spray the plants' foliage, weekly during growth and high productivity, with a fertilizer that's high in trace elements. There are many such products. The best of them, in my estimation, are organic and made from both fish emulsion and trace elements. The burst in growth and productivity, after application, is easily discernable. The only trouble I have with this technique is avoiding the temptation to push the envelope, as the growth stimulus is so gratifying. Always spray in the morning, so that the foliage can dry out by nightfall, to discourage fungal and bacterial diseases.
Hope this helps, C1oudfire.
Does anyone know how soon you can eat veggies from the garden after treating plants with BT?
Immediately, according to the literature. This bacterium is claimed to be nonpathogenic for humans.
Thank you Cloudfire!
My pleasure . . . Happy Gardening!
A note on foliar feeding, the stomata (the pores on the leaves through which they feed) close at about 77 degrees F. Therefore it is important to spray when temperatures are less than that. As Cloudfire said, the early morning is ideal. Also try to saturate the underside of the leaves as the concentration of stomata are higher there. A bit of natural soap helps break the surface tension and prolongs the effectiveness. The comparison has been made that foliar feeding is equivalent to an I.V. versus eating a meal through the roots. Happy gardening.
P.S. We are enjoying excellent results from bio-dynamic methods this year!
Those are great tips. I often add castile soap to my fertilizer spraying (about a cup for 2 gallons) as and insecticidal soap to kill [primarily] the eggs of squash vine borer. As you mentioned, it also acts as a wetting agent, so that the leaves are coated more thoroughly. Combining the two makes it a weekly one-stop-shop for garden maintenance.
Also, I'd love to hear more about bio-dynamics, if you get the chance to type a few lines . . . .
I recently read an excellent book, Save Our Soil, in which I became very interested in bio-dynamics. The basic principles include using homeopathic strength preparations on your compost, crops, and fallow ground. Planting, transplanting, fertilizing etc. are done in sync with the planetary and lunar phases. We have been farming organically for 12 years and have never had higher germination rates or more beautiful produce.
Bio-dynamically raised produce and grains command a premium price for the excellent quality and keeping abilities. Some record yields/acre have been set using it as well. Definitely worth researching and trying, we'll never go back.
Thanks for taking the time to post about biodynamics. Yours is not the first testimonial I've heard about planting with the moon and planets. Given the ancients' preoccupation with cosmic cycles, as evidenced by stone structures that align with various planetary movements, I am highly intrigued by the concept. I am having the growing suspicion that our modern idea that we are highly "advanced" in our agricultural technology is just so much arrogant poppycock, and that ancient cultures were far wiser than we. (Which raises the question of whether this wisdom has been intentionally obscured, but that's a subject for the CT folder).
I tried to find the book you're alluding to, but all I come up with is items referring to soil erosion. Would you kindly post some more info, such as the author or publisher? I'd sorely like to get my hands on that book . . . Thank you, in advance.
It's hitting the Northeast and Altlantic states according to what I have read. It was front page news here in Lancaster PA this morning. I went right out to look at my tomato plants and sure enough...5 or 6 of my plants have something begining. I have small black circles all over many bottom leaves which then seem to turn yellow and wilt. However, according to what I've read there are other signs to look for.
SIGNS 'Water soaked lesions on leaves of tomato or potato plants with white fungus on edges;brown to black lesions on stems and fruit."
DANGERS:"Reduces yield,eventually kills plant, airborne spores can infect gardens miles away."
WHAT TO DO:"Cholorothalonil fungicide to protect plant. Once plant is infected, pull it out, bake in sun for several hours in plastic bag, then throw in garbage, not in compost pile."
Oops! After consulting my friendly local librarian I discovered the title of that book is Secrets of the Soil. It was co-authored by Peter Thompkins and Christopher Bird. Published by Earth Pulse press. My short term memory loss got the best of me again.
This is an excellent book which I'm sure you will enjoy. Most of the chapters are concerning bio-dynamics, the remainder are other forms of natural agriculture.
I agree with the use of the square foot garden source and most especially with getting to know the soil quality/character. Most of my life throughout the world I have had a garden. In south Florida Poinsettias grew to 8 feet and everything flourished with little effort. Then, I moved to central Texas and everything changed. Gardening required research and I am not patient to suffer loss through trial and error, certainly after many failures. All of this is to make the point that in successful gardening one must consult locally written texts. Gardening books written for Vermonters does not cut it in Texas where it is in the 100s by early June. Furthermore, our soils are very calcareous(alkaline) and many deep South favourites prefer acidic soils. Another example, the peach tree I planted in Orlando never bloomed or bore. Well, of course we didn't get enough chill hours there. Bottom line: consult local experts (county extension agents in Texas, local gardening club, local non-chain nurseries, nearby university ag authorities) whom I have found to be overwhelmingly desirous to assist you. Happy Gardening. chris
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We are lucky because we live in a place where it is easy to grow things. However, I had very little success until I took a permaculture class and changed my strategy. Now we have rocking success!
Look at the 'getting started' page. it gives you guidelines on how to get your soil healthy quickly. It will work anywhere. My teacher was from the Pacific Northwest in Eastern Washington where it is much drier and much colder than the island where I live.
Build your micro herd in your soil of worms, mushrooms and microbes. They will do the heavy lifting of creating a long lasting nutritious soil for your plants.
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