How (and what) does your Y2K garden grow? (Long)greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread
How (and what) does your Y2K garden grow?
For newcomers to this forum, please look back at the recent thread, Intro To Victory Garden, for a great overview of Y2K gardening.
Y2K Victory Garden
My hope with this thread is that people will share their experiences on their efforts to plant a "trial run" Y2K garden this year. What crops did you choose; of those, which ones worked and which ones didn't? What changes in your setup are you planning for next year?
My family and I live in the woods in western Missouri. The soil here is rocky and sandy. The sandy part is good for the most part- -it drains right away after the three and four inch rains we have been getting the last several springs. The rocky part is bad--the soil is not very rich or deep.
Our garden consists of two plots each about 20 by forty feet. One is partially shaded, and the other gets sun light most of the day. When we got or homestead five years ago these two patches of land were overgrown with weeds. They might have been gardens years ago. The soil lacked any organic matter and was as hard as a rock even after a good rain.
The first year we moved in a neighbor disked up these plots with his tractor. We then started bringing in two or three pickup loads of manure each summer, and the ground slowly became workable.
Even with all that manure and other compost that we added to the garden, as well as mulch that has rotted over the five years, this is the first year that the garden has shown any real promise. We "got it" about Y2K last year, so this year we wanted to see how much of our vegetable needs we could grow in the garden.
We planted peas (sugar snap and regular shelling), lettuce, beets, carrots, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, asparagus, rhubarb, sweet corn, garlic, and pumpkins.
How are things going? Its a mixed bag.
The early crops did quite well: the peas, lettuce, beets, carrots and potatoes all grew well, without any serious bug or disease problems. And I planted a bed of garlic last fall which came back quite nicely in early spring. But we WOEFULLY UNDERPLANTED. Most of our beds were only about 4 by 8 feet in size. We got enough for a few nice meals, not enough for canning.
Well, we get to try again this fall. I'm going to try and use the overall garden space more efficiently so that I can increase the beds of the carrots, beets, and peas to around 8 by 16 feet each, and the potato bed to about 16 by 32 feet.
If Y2K events are so bad next year that we don't have jobs to go to, but not so bad that bands of criminals are roaming the countryside, I guess we can cover the lawn with rotted leaves, manure etc. to make some more raised beds to increase the space we would need to grow more food.
The garlic is ready for harvest now. My small bed, about 6 by 10 feet, should yield about 30 nice garlic bulbs. I probably plant about the same size bed next year but also mix garlic throughout the rest of the garden to help keep away bugs from the other plants.
The sweet corn was planted in two successive plantings during the first half of May. The first one should be ready to pick in a week or two. It was knocked over by a big rain storm in June but amazingly enough the stalks righted themselves within about a week. If I had more room I would have made a third planting in early June. I'd also plant some popcorn.
Our tomato and pepper plants were started indoors from seed. This was the first time I tried this, and I think that I did several things wrong. At any rate, they ended up too "leggy", and so when they were transplanted I had to bury most of the plant in the ground. This probably delayed the first fruits by a week or two, but the plants did take well to the garden and are now very healthy. It looks like we will have plenty of tomatoes to can, and plenty of peppers to dry. (We grow mostly hot and mild jalepeno and habenero type peppers for salsa.)
The pumpkins were another story. Our plants were overrun by cucumber beetles, little yellow beetles that can either have spots or stripes. These ravenous little creatures ate my plants as fast as I could put new ones out into the garden. (I also started the pumpkins in the house.) Since we don't use any chemicals, I finally gave up for this year. I have ordered a row cover (a fine mesh that covers the plants) for next year.
There's an interesting twist to this pumpkin story, however. I planted the pumpkins in our sunny garden. Fifty feet away in our shady garden we have a compost heap. Some squash seeds sprouted on their own, probably earlier than the pumpkins I planted, and the plants got established before the cucumber beetles discovered them. I'm not sure if it was the timing that saved them, the fact that they were planted in richer soil (the compost), or if the seeds that "volunteered", perhaps a hybrid from the grocery store, were less attractive to the beetles. My sister-in-law who lives about a mile away planted squash and melons, also very attractive to these beetles, and her plants also did quite well.
I wrote most of this yesterday evening. For the last few days I noticed that a few of my Tomato plants were getting the leaves eaten. Black chewed up leaves covered parts of some of the tomatoes on the vines. This morning I noticed more of this kind of damage, and finally saw the bug that seems to be doing the dirty work. These bugs are about an inch long, with a long sleek, dull grey body, and are very soft and easy to squish. They are alert, but not very fast. I cannot find mention of them in any of my gardening books. I spent about an hour picking them out of my tomato plants this morning and expect that I'll be doing more of the same for the next few days. It might be time to put chicken wire around the garden and bring enlist the chickens for a little extra duty.
It hasn't rained now for over two weeks, and our afternoon temperature is getting into the upper 90's. Every inch of the gardens that is not mulched is turning into concrete. If Y2K curtails our water supply next year were really going to have to do some extra planning to make sure we have enough water for July and August, normally the driest months here. (September can be real bad, too.) And to reiterate what Brooks said again, do lots of mulching.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Plant in more than one location. Share seeds and garden space with a neighbor. Plant more that you will need, and then hopefully you can share the harvest of those crops that did well for you for the ones that you were not able to grow. Keep a close watch out for bugs. Have plenty of organic materials on hand in case you need to convert your lawn into gardening space. Get gutters and rain barrels in case you can't get water from the tap. Get your seeds this fall.
BTW, all of the seeds we use are open pollinated. I guess we'll find out next year how well our seed saving efforts go. As a novice, you really have to be careful with the peas and beans to make sure that they get dried out properly--otherwise they mold. Were saving potatoes for next year in the basement in buckets of sand, and we've also put in a second planting of potatoes that we will bury well in the garden. In past years (of mild winters) potatoes that we have left in the ground have come back very well the next spring. We hope this will give us some extra insurance against losing all of our seed potatoes to rot in case we cannot buy any next spring.
We left several lettuce plants in the ground to go to seed. They are just beginning to flower now. The beets and carrots are biennials, which means that when we replant these crops in the fall, we will have to save some of the roots in the basement for replanting in the spring. The plants are supposed to go to seed in their second growing season.
I think that it also pays to remind everyone that none of us may be able to count on freezing our garden produce next year. That leaves us canning, drying, and root cellaring. Please think ahead and get the supplies and tools you need for saving your garden output next year. We plan to do a lot of canning, and so we've purchased plenty of jars and lids. But we are fortunate in having a propane stove and a 500 gallon tank of propane. We'll keep it at least half full this winter, and switch to heating exclusively with wood if we have to so that we can preserve the gas in the tank for canning next summer.
On the other hand, the more old fashioned methods of drying and root cellaring can be done with far less "modern" energy and tools. Even if you don't have a basement you should be able to store root vegetables in a crawl space, or in 5 gallon buckets buried in your yard. (Help me on a link, if you know where one exists.)
Also, look at the threads for making a solar food dryer. Cookie sheets or other trays covered with cheese cloth to keep out the bugs should also work in a pinch. Buy some extra Ziplock bags to keep your dried foods dry and out of reach of any bugs.
I'd love to hear what others are doing, and any suggestions for improving on what we're doing here.
-- Alexi (Alexi@not-in-the-dark.com), July 24, 1999
Sounds like you are doing all the right things. If those gray bugs are the same ones that get my squash and melons, the chickens will not touch them. Ever see a chicken spit? They do when they get ahold of one of them. Grow more garlic and put it in your blender and use it for spray. Habaneros make a good bug spray. Dawn dish soap is also good if not too strong a solution. The healthier the plant, the less the bugs will bother them. Moving from the Pacific NW to Florida has been a real gardening experience. We buy Miracle grow by the bucket..10 buckets at a time. Anything that will rot, goes into the garden spaces. I run around my fields with a cart scooping up donkey poops and put into the garden. I have cleaned out stalls at the local race horse rehab center down the road. We have beach sand for dirt. I put bags of dolomite and pelleted fertilizer on it and till it in before I plant. I repeat this for the fall garden. Spring garden is all finished except I need to get out there and collect my dried up bean and okra pods and get the seed. You cannot get too much compost on a garden. Taz...who gardens for the soul.
-- Taz (Tassie@aol.com), July 24, 1999.
Are your pepper plants interspersed with your other plants? I have been doing this for years and there are very few bugs in my gardens. Also, there's a book on companion gardening that covers this. You might check on Amazon. Good luck.
-- Eyes (eyes@wide open.net), July 24, 1999.
You might be getting blister bugs on your tomatoes. If you handle them, you will get blistered. Try dusting with DE(diatomatious?? earth)...it is "organic" and there is no resistance on whatever insect/bug that it will control. I am pooped out canning tomatoes; have given up now. All remaining tomatoes will be eaten fresh or given away. I did try a new paste tomato this year: Mama Mia. It did very well here(SW Oklahoma). Today I cubed cantaloupe and started a load in my little screened dehydrator - hung on the clothes line. It will be over 100 degrees today and for the next few days. If this works, I'm going to do another 2 or 3 loads. I believe that dehydrating foods will be the way to go in the future. They say it does preserve more of the vitamins and minerals than other preservation methods. I'm also trying cucumber chips. By next summer I hope to have a home-made dehydrator built that will hold lots at a time. This weekend I AM going to take inventory and get my seed order ready. Even though I will order open pollinated for the most part, I feel the need to have at least two years worth of seed on hand - and I really do like the hybrid sweet corns better than field corn. I think most people do not comprehend how much food is necessary if you are not able to get ANY FOOD items outside your home.
-- jeanne (email@example.com), July 24, 1999.
We grow all of the tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, summer and winter squash, onions, garlic, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, dried beans of many varieties, wax beans, peas (shell and sugar pod and dried), celery, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflour, asparagus, grapes, lettuce, spinach, and chard that we eat. We do end up buying some lettuce on rare occassions, and we probably gorow some other things that I didn't remember to list. How did you get so little garlic from 6 by 10 feet area? We get bushels from a 10 by 20 area. The cloves are planted about 8 inches apart in rows about a foot or 18 inches apart. We are almost done harvesting the garlick for this year. Most of the onions are out of the ground, and tomatoes and peppers are producing regularly. We've been eating new potatoes for months. We grow over 80% of all the vegetables that we eat. Rice and nuts are two things we don't grow yet. We are in western Wisconsin, and usually get the last spring frost in late may, and the first in the fall in late september or early Oct. We've been gardening all of our married life and then some- we've been married 27 years I think, and we are still learning about gardening. Our gardens total about 1/2 acre plus another acre of fruit trees, etc. We have hundreds of gardening books, a surprising number of which are referred to frequently, and most of our friends garden and produce as much of their food as we do. We are strictly "organic" and always have been. Good luck. Good luck.
-- Jim (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 24, 1999.
Alexi, From my experence.... I would not put chickens in you garden...they love fresh veggies just as much as you do. I put a very large fence around my garden to keep them out. I do let them free roam but not in my garden. Also I think what you did with your tomatoes was not a mistake, I always plant my roots deep, at least 6 inches. It helps them in the hot summer months, its easer for them to drink. They are a vine, when any part of the plants limb touches the earth, it will send out roots. So the more you plant in the ground the more roots you will get. Your garden sounds great! Good Luck.
We planted this year...Potatoes, onions, garlic, lettice, rattishes, carrots, corn, green beans, great northern beans, peas, navy beans, pinto beans, Jacob's cattle beans, did I say beans?, broccoli, cabbage, califlower, chard, peppers, pop-corn, tomatoes, many different kinds of squash and gords, pumpkins, watermellons, grape vines, strawberrys, and a beautiful herb garden.
Busy Busy Busy!
-- bulldog (email@example.com), July 24, 1999.
Lessons From The Driver Porch-Garden '99:
Not QUITE so Close
Start them Out Earlier
Cold Frames Might Be Nice
transplant With Care (Careful there, junior, they're growing things!)
RTFP (gardening version of RTFM) to get correct amount of sun
More Water! Less Water! More Water! Less Water! (You get the general drift)
Set Up a Drip Irrigation System For The Tubs
Hydrosorb(tm) (Cracked Ice) Plastic Granules that Absorb Water Works BUT NOT QUITE WHAT WE EXPECTED (Daily watering at a minimum, but this may be something impacted by the southerly exposure and the white siding behind the garden)
Germination rate does NOT equal Growing Rate
Even Dead Tomatoes Can Come Back To Life
to Kill Sunflowers You Have to TRY
You CAN Grow Corn, Rhubarb, Berries, Sunflowers, Pumpkins, cukes, and Squash in Tubs (though the production of squash and pumpkins wil NOT equal the production of edible pod peas)
Ripe Edible Pod Peas MUST be Protected From the Depredations of the Adults in the House to Mature
Watermellons Don't Do Well in Tubs, while Tomatoes are Surprising, Though Small
When Ruthlessly Trimming Back the Coleus, DON'T Stick the Ends into a Tub!!!!(Anybody wanna buy a Long Tonne of Rainbow Coleus?)
when Shielded by Closely Growing Corn, the Squash Will NOT Grow Well
Cukes, Given a Separate Tub are Astounding!
The above is the midseason report from the Driver tub Porch (18 tubs, in 12' X 10')
we suspect that the learning curve is still on the upswing and expectr to have learned that the initial fertilisation in preparation of the tuvbs was not quite enough and we OUGHT to use the Miracle Grow..
Chuck, a Night Driver
-- Chuck, a night driver (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 25, 1999.
Probably don't live that far from you. Just returned from Chillicothe and Linneus. Have been doing this stuff for a quarter of a cent. here. This year I have produced enough food for the family and supported a whole family of groundhogs[not to mention deer, rabbits and those fuzzy tailed rats that live in the trees]. Seems a good year.
-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), July 25, 1999.