A newbie's plea
I'd LOVE to start gardening organically in my backyard, and I think I've got enough time to put some real love into it. But here's the thing: everything I've tried to grow, dies. Bugs get it, I overwater, I underwater...it doesn't get enough sun...I'm just NOT a natural. I over AND underthink the whole thing.
So I'd love to know of any beginner gardening resources: websites, classes, books, DVD's...anything that will help me and educate me on the matter.
I live in Southern California with VERY dry, hard soil....but the soil in my backyard has never been treated with chemicals or anything like that, it's pretty untouched.
So ANY advice would be appreciated :) Thanks!
(When do I start planting? How small should I start? Should I do seeds, or pre-nurseried plants?)
I'm with you. I started on the internet. I looked up square foot gardening and got some ideas from that site. I know that's what I want to do but I have no idea how much to plant for all raw. I want enough to last but not too much! I'm glad you started this thread. Will be checking back for everyone's info.
You might try Organic Gardening magazine. I am thinking about subscribing. I had a preview of the magazine and in it was an article about composting. It sounded fairly easy to do. I had a good size garden last year, but I didn't compost. It also was over run by weeds by the end of the summer, but I did get a lot of chemical free produce.
Well... I had never really gardened before and thought I had done my research, so I planted a nice size garden last year 25X40ish. My suggestion would be start small if you have a track record for killing plants, I successfully killed a whole garden But this coming spring I will probably only plant a few things and see if I can get that to go well, then the following spring add more. This is my new plan. We'll see.
Hey you know an easy way to start that is almost foolproof . Container gardening - you can grow anything in containers/large pots from tomatoes, cukes, lettuce, eggplant, squash, etc. Since you are dealing with horrible soil you can get some of your own organic soil and not only will it be pesticide free but not the sandy medium around you. You can make wooden trellises and even wooden window boxes for greens,lettuces,herbs...If you have a lot of bugs learn which herbs to place in pots near certain plants. Marigolds are great to deter bugs near tomatoes, too.
You could also do a raised bed and add soil to a small plot and keep incorporating your compost (the best ever from raw) to get an even healthier soil.
I would do some reading and start with easy plants that you see thriving in your area.
Good Luck ! I love plants !Florida soil sucks too !!
kiwi dreams & mango pies
Here's an idea.
Check out your local county extension office. You can call them and ask them about anything. They should have classes of some kind. And check into the Master Gardener program.
Another thought would be earthboxes. Just keep it filled with water and the plant does the rest.
I have been gardening the natural way for 10 years. It is so easy!!! It is simply following nature's way...
Nature's way is all about the health of the soil, just like the health of our bodies. Duplicate nature's way by adding lots and lots of decayed matter to the existing soil, especially compost (nature's fertilizer). Fruits and vegetables need much richer soil than most plants, and most do require a minimum of a half day of full sun. We dumped a huge truckload of compost when preparing the garden (after solarizing the grass to kill it) and also added lava sand, greensand, molasses, cornmeal, earthworm castings, etc. These sands are not dead sands like most common sands - can read about what they do for the soil on the dirt doctor's website, link below. The molasses really helps to stimulate the biological activity in the soil, and the cornmeal helps to prevent disease.
The best news is that once you have properly prepared the soil, maintenance is just adding a little more every year, and the soil gets healthier and healthier over time. As the health of the soil improves, the life in the soil thrives - lots of life in the soil (bacteria and billions of organisms that we cannot even see as well as well as the gardener's best friend, the earthworm), and it becomes easier and easier.
We are so fortunate to have Howard Garrett, The Dirt Doctor who has had the #1 gardening talk show in North Texas. He just recently expanded his show called 'The Natural Way' to radio stations all of the US. Can also listen to his show on his website I believe - www.dirtdoctor.com You can print out these handouts that tell you how to get started - http://www.dirtdoctor.com/view_question.php?id=1575
Companion planting make everything work even better - monoculture is not nature's way. For instance, I plant carrots, basil, parsley around my tomatoes and peppers. I intersperse green onions all over the garden. Also, include lots of different herbs. Herbs are usually very easy to grow such as rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, sage, etc. Carrots Love Tomatoes is a great book to learn about companion planting - http://www.planetnatural.com/site/ca...-tomatoes.html You can also just do a search on companion planting and find lots of information.
Purslane is one of the healthiest and easiest plants to grow in the heat of the summer - http://www.wildgardenseed.com/index.php?cPath=49
Kale and many other greens do really well in cold weather. In North Texas, some plants grow pretty much year round - parsley, green onions, and many herbs.
Gardening the natural way really helped me to understand how everything works as it was designed if we follow nature's way and how everything is all related. Fascinating and so much fun!
You could get or built Earth Boxes.
You can also purchase nice hanging planters or plant your tomatoes upside down in hanging planters, which works great in Los Angeles.!
O.M.G. Thankyou SO much everyone!
I'd never heard of earthboxes, but they sound and look like the perfect thing!
I think the basic thing I need to do is this: just READ. Just spend a few months sucking up as MUCH info as I can. I'd really still like to find some classes to get some hands on, but books are awesome too.
I had read the other day about "pest repellant" companion planting from P. Allen Smith's website...so i'm definetly doing that, this time around. Maybe I'll just start a WHOLE garden of pest repellant plants first!
A few tips that I've used
I too have a garden spot that has been untouched by chemicals etc and I love knowing that what I'm eating is even better than what I can buy because I pick it and walk into the kitchen and use it. Nothing compares to the spinach I grow in my own garden, there really is a very big difference. A few tips I've found are: put a 3-6 layer of fall leaves on your garden and till them under, forget the manour (sorry, I'm sure how that's spelled) also you can put left over produce, leaves etc. from your garden under the leaves to till into the soil. Last year I tilled in all the tomatoes I couldn't consume and this last summer I was picking tomatoes plants like they were weeds, so be careful tilling things under with seeds in them. Also, plant a couple rows of different lettuce and my favorite, spinach.....then be sure to leave plenty of room to plant another crop in about 3-4 weeks. That way, when the first planting is gone you have another crop almost ready. I have loved having a garden.....it's lots of work but so enjoyable. Good luck!!!