Garden Log

What skills to learn, what tools to get
jacob
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Re: Garden Log

Post by jacob »

Russian kale (it survives our winters and regrows in April) and otherwise just covering the beds with leaves holding them down with twigs, etc. Cover crops didn't seem to offer a significant advantage of that system when work is mostly done by hand anyway.

sky
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Re: Garden Log

Post by sky »

Can you give us more detail on how much of which variety?

jacob
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Re: Garden Log

Post by jacob »

@sky - I can give you a ton of detail since I record all harvests by month and type in a spreadsheet. I was planning on posting the whole thing after the beds have all been shut down. However, currently zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes are 75% of the harvest by weight. It always seem to be a bumper crop thing with us. Last year, the winners were tomatoes, horseradish leaves(*), cucumber, and swisschard for 60% of the harvest. I don't have records of previous years. I figure the bigger the garden, the higher the chance of multiple bumper crops.

(*) Perennial to the point of being invasive. The leaves come up early but are toxic when raw. They can be made edible (we're not dead yet) if and only if they're boiled until soft. This supposedly removes or neutralizes the toxin (cyano-something) so throw out the water. After boiling, I usually fry them with onions and add black pepper. Works as an input for tortillas and can substitute for e.g. meat, beans, and/or rice. Proceed at your own risk :)

sky
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Re: Garden Log

Post by sky »

Thanks. I am trying to decide if it is worth it to fence in my garden area and cover the plants with insect screen next year. We have built a beautiful garden, but it has attracted nature to it and nature has a feast on anything we consider edible. I may just stick to flowers next year.

jacob
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Re: Garden Log

Post by jacob »

@sky - Our strategy is mostly to try to outgrow nature. That said, some areas are fenced in (rabbits, no deer) and we do kill squash bugs. Other insects get to live. Otherwise, the main problem at this level of production (just passed 200#) is keeping up with harvesting so nothing goes to waste. I think losses from that exceed our animal pressure. This means being out there every day checking. It also means that harvests determine what's for dinner. For example, I have to figure out what to do with 7lbs of tomatoes within a few days. DW is WFH due to CV, so she goes consistently now that she has the time/surplus (instead of commuting) and she enjoys it. I don't and mainly serve as "heavy equipment" during the beginning and end of growing.

Timewise, I also consider the trade-off of what else would take up our backyard. Most people here just have a lawn they run a motor clipper over once a week after inspiring/shaming each other. We inherited an overgrown inedible high-maintenance garden with a very uneven lawn that's hellish to mow with a push mower. Part of the motivation is also to avoid having to deal with that by turning everything into growing beds. A "normal person" (around here) would have rented a bobcat to level everything and rolled out some sod.

So far I've resisted cheap crops like potatoes and onions, but next year I think ambitions are higher. I'm now looking at actually feeding ourselves for a good portion of the year. First, to see if it's possible. Second, because food is our biggest non-fixed cost.

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Alphaville
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Re: Garden Log

Post by Alphaville »

potato is fairly easy to grow and totally doable but it is demanding on nutrients, so you’ll have to fertilize accordingly or plant after a legume rotation (crop rotation essential to avoid plagues). you can even grow them in a barrel or wire enclosure.

storage is a little tougher unless you have the right root cellar (and keep away from onions). i don’t know how to make potatoes last all winter. andean peoples solved this by freeze-drying the things which basically turns them into a “grain”. see: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuño

a different type of dehydration might be an option: i keep boxes of dehydrated “hash browns” in my pantry, but don’t know what process they require. i see EDIT:SODIUM BISULFITE as a sole preservative which i think is just to preserve color.

basuragomi
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Re: Garden Log

Post by basuragomi »

Potatoes can be canned using a pressure canner. Never did it myself though.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Garden Log

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

sky wrote:
Wed Sep 02, 2020 5:38 pm
Thanks. I am trying to decide if it is worth it to fence in my garden area and cover the plants with insect screen next year.
I have had to fence my garden or the rabbits will kill many plants by completely eating them or tearing them out of the ground, especially when they are small. Some plants they are not interested in (pumpkin, zucchini) but others get destroyed. You can buy 50' of 3' fencing for $25 plus $3 per stake, or could improvise with scavenged materials if you can find them.

It has been similar for Japanese beetles. They all go to one plant and eat it. I pick them off and put them in a container. Some people drown them but I prefer to smash them so they don't suffer (weird, I know). It is manageable for a small garden. I'm not sure what I would do for a larger one.

Anyone trying to keep growing into winter, particularly in a colder area say Chicago or further north (zone 5 or colder)? I really like the idea of fresh vegetables in the winter but haven't tried it yet.

mooretrees
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Re: Garden Log

Post by mooretrees »

@GdP, I'm planting now for winter harvest. I will need to cover them to protect from cold, but I think a simple plastic cover over some bent plastic tubing will do the trick. It is important to choose veggies that are hardy enough to survive colder temperatures normally. Greens like kale, collards, mesclun, broc, etc are more cold hardy. Depending on your local climate will determine how much protection you need to provide. A good resource I've found is Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Garden Log

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

It's funny you mention Four Season Harvest, I am reading it right now! I have some plants in the ground that I'm hoping will work in the winter like spinach, carrots, and beets. I need to read more of the book but plastic over tu ing or metal frame would be easy and I wouldn't have to buy anything.

It also sounds like a cold frame could be useful. I enjoy building things and I could make one for free with scavenged materials if I look around. I actually built one for someone as a project when I was a teenager. It was never used but it grew weeds inside like crazy! I need to learn more so don't waste time and energy on something I don't need though.

mooretrees
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Re: Garden Log

Post by mooretrees »

Ha ha, that's funny. That book should get you set up just fine with plants to grow and options for protecting them.

CS
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Re: Garden Log

Post by CS »

Took four bags of cucumbers to the food shelf yesterday because I did not understand how cucumbers grow and how quickly things get out of control. It was probably well over a hundred pounds. Next year will be fewer plants (frickin' WEEDS!) and picking earlier and pickling.

It has been a learning experience for sure. Next year will go much more smoothly.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Garden Log

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

I spent a couple of hours building a cold frame over the weekend. I challenged myself to build it with only materials I already had and it came out no worse except that the glass is not hinged. If it is somewhat sunny out it picks up about 5 degrees F, if it is gray it doesn't go up at all. The book says it is mostly to block wind anyway. I plan to place it over some plants soon. It should be a good experiment.

I've been having fun coming up with wacky ideas to extend the concept. Something like making a larger, very well insulated cold frame and then heating it geothermally by circulating liquid about 10 feet underground and then through the cold frame using a wind turbine and mechanical pump. I'm guessing something about this idea doesn't work but it would be a fun low tech project that could be done for cheap if someone was committed.

CDR
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Re: Garden Log

Post by CDR »

@Gilberto de Piento, your post reminded me of a youtube video I watched along time ago, where someone heated their greenhouse using a compost pile. They even buried their compost pile and insulated it so it would stay warm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFGgZfD3G7c So, maybe your idea could work after all!

UK-with-kids
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Re: Garden Log

Post by UK-with-kids »

It reminded me of gardeners in Cornwall (in southwest England) growing pineapples in 'hot beds' but shovelling horse manure underneath.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/t ... 25988.html

jacob
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Re: Garden Log

Post by jacob »

Cumulative 2020 harvest so far: 244.5 lbs / 24 different vegetables. September added another 50lbs, mostly tomatoes and butternut squash.

The spider is gone, but the bunny is still there. The squirrels are beginning to invade. Also found what according to google image looks to be a racoon turd. Wonder if there's an app for that?

George the original one
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Re: Garden Log

Post by George the original one »

jacob wrote:
Wed Sep 30, 2020 5:00 pm
Also found what according to google image looks to be a racoon turd. Wonder if there's an app for that?
Of course there is (but note animal scat not available for Android)
http://www.mynatureapps.com/mynature-animal-tracks/

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/critter-t ... d348693372

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Garden Log

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

We have now had a couple of light frosts but no damage yet. The tomato plants are really big but many tomatoes have yet to ripen. Ripening has slowed down a lot despite removing any flowers from the plants to encourage a focus on the fruit that is already there. Still getting kale, chard, beans, and herbs too.

The cold frame is working so far. I have spinach, carrots, and beets in it, with the same outside plus lettuce. I'm curious to see how it all works out. The carrots inside are bigger than outside but it is not a clear cut victory.

jacob
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Re: Garden Log

Post by jacob »

Cumulative 2020 harvest so far: 333.4 lbs / 24 different vegetables. Added added another 89lbs as all the [still] green tomatoes and the remaining butternut squash came inside.

There's not much left out there other than a few pounds of cold-weather kale which might survive the snow for an early start in spring. Everything else is "put to bed" for the winter covered in leaves collected from the neighbors' trees.

The goal for 2021 is 400lbs.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Garden Log

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@jacob:

Turnips and beets is your fast-track ticket to 500#. Pumpkins and potatoes might work too, but you can’t eat the greens. Maybe vertical grow some watermelons?

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