Gardening Advice from Family and Friends

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I have received some great gardening advice since I posted my cry for help so I thought I would share all the information with you. You just might find something that will help you!!
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“Don’t panic. When my husband and I planted our first garden we spent lots of time preparing the bed, which was a good thing to do of course, while our neighbor just dug some holes and planted some tomatoes and peppers. There garden did ok even without all the preparation and they got lots of good veggies.We have had gardens for many years, and this year we’re doing something different – the Square Foot Garden. I recommend the following book: http://www.amazon.com/All-New-Square-Foot-Gardening/dp/1591862027/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236802221&sr=8-1 It tells how to build 4 x 4 boxes and put planting mix in it and grow more with less work and less square feet. I’m following it 100% this year and have my garden all mapped out. This weekend we’re going to mix our soil and put it in the beds and plant some seeds. To put it in a nutshell, you build 4 x 4 beds, put in a combination of vermiculite, peat moss and compost and then plant. The book tells you how many of your desired plant to put per square foot. We got the peat and vermiculite at Pikes and got free composted horse manure from a nearby horse farm.Some things easy to grow in Georgia include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and yellow squash. I haven’t had much luck with melons. This year I’m trying something new – lettuces, spinach, snap peas and okra. I’ll post the results on my blog.Good luck with your garden. I’m sure you’ll love it! God bless, ”
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Don’t fret….just because you didn’t prepare the garden last fall doesn’t mean you can’t have a garden this year. Two things about the Strawberries & Muscadines (you need lots of room and full sun. The strawberries can do well in a container, but the muscadines will need an arbor. Also, where you are located, I must warn you that deer and rabbits are going to be a problem. The birds will love the muscadines, but you can cover the vines where the birds can’t get to the fruit. You are on the edge of too late for the potatoes & carrots and such. Your talking to an old hippy….when I loved in Forsyth, I had a half-acre garden with everything. Eggplants do very nice in this weather and are right tasty when fried & covered with cheese so you don’t recognize them as eggplant. I can come over and help if you want.
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I am certainly not an expert on gardening, but I will tell you some of the things I learned from Daddy. Peppers are fairly easy to grow. Just follow the instructions on the plants ( you buy them in small containers) to know how deep to plant and how to space them. Okra needs lots of sun. You start them from seed. Cucumbers are pretty easy too. You start them from small plants in containers, but they need something to run on so they will stay out of the soil. Any kind of rack that you can prop against something will work.Green beans are started from seed. Daddy always planted the kind that had to be staked. I have some stakes if you want them. The beans run up the stakes. There are also bush beans that don’t have to be staked. I have never grown carrots or lettuce but I would imagine they wouldn’t be too hard. You better plan on lots of space if you plan to have all of these things. You really need space for grapes and muscadines and I think you have to have male and female plants. Not too sure about them but I think it is a little complicated in the beginning. Strawberries need a good bit of space too I think. I have never planted them. I have a gardening book if you would like to borrow it.
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Beans are very easy to grow and fun. If you make a ti-pi of bamboo poles you can grow pole beans on them. Leave a little opening and the boys can hide out in them. I have grown them in freshly tilled soil with little to no prep. Tomatos need a little more prep and some bone meal. Strawberries need good prep and usually have tick infestations. Lettuces are a cooler weather item if you had them in right now you could harvest some before summer. We usually grow beans, tomatos, peppers, and herbs like parsley, basil, sage, oregano, rosemary, sorrell, thyme etc for the summer. You could plant pumpkins also and sunflowers are extremely easy to grow.
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You can do it now! It’s not hard at all. All you need to do is till the ground to soften it up and make yourself some walkways so you don’t walk on the ground you are planning to put your plants in. Then, on the spaces you separated for planting, till in lots of whatever old leaves, brown discarded plant material you can get your hands on. If you can afford it, add lots of humus or peat. You will need lime to bring your ground to proper PH (GA soil is very acidic).If you have a feed store nearby, buy bulk cow manure, alfalfa meal or pellets, dry molasses (I get them here at 50 pounds for $8), and throw in some Epsom salts.Put in your seeds or baby plants. Once they are established, spray them with a mixture of fish emulsion, liquid kelp or sea weed or black strap molasses (if you didn’t get the dry molasses). Let me know if you have any questions. You should have a gorgeous garden. Happy gardening!p.s. Next fall you can cover the plot with tons of whatever leaves or garden refuse you can find. Till it in just before planting again. If you don’t want to till (because it kills the earthworms), use your pitchfork and turn it in. You don’t want to till but once… when you first put in the garden and you should not have to if you didn’t walk on it.
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Anyway, gardening is not hard. My husband has a big garden pretty much every year. These past few years we have had a hard time with the drought but hopefully now that we have had to have our well drilled to about 550 feet we can water and it will do better. The soil does need testing but you can wait until fall if you want. You take a sample to the county extension service and they send it to UGA and they will send you a report in the mail telling you what you need to add to it if anything. If this is the first time you are plowing up the soil for a garden he said the soil should be fine. After you plant a few years it can wear out the soil and that is usually when you need to add certain things. Compost is great for a garden no matter what. All that chicken litter after it is composted is great for the garden. Don’t put fresh chicken litter on your garden. It has alot of ammonia in it and it will burn your garden up. We keep all kitchen refuse (no eggs, dairy or meat)egg shell, bread, fruit, vegetables, newspaper, ashes from the fire place, tea bags, etc. We may even try earthworms this year. We read in a magazine that someone used eggshells for their seed cups and then just squished them a little when they planted them in the garden and they did great.Do you know what you want to plant? We start some things as seedlings and other we sow directly into the ground. My husband has a great book called Organic Gardening by Geoff Hamilton that he uses alot. I made him stop using chemical fertilizer several years ago. He puts the organic fertilizer in the furrow and then the seeds. Be careful not to plant the seeds to deep or they won’t come up. We found a great organic fertilizer recipe the other day when we looking at how to make a cheap greenhouse. http://westsidegardener.com/howto/fertilizer.html We are going to but a galvanized trash can and mix this up. The mushroom compost he was using is expensive and hard to find sometimes. Tell me a little more about what you want to plant and I will ask him what is best to do. I’m not sure if this has helped. If you need book suggestions or more questions let me know. I will be more than happy to share what I can.This also turns into a great school project as well. Isn’t it great we can turn something that feeds our family into school as well? My son and husband keep a notebook of everything they do as well as the rainfall.You would probably laugh at all the things we grow and we add something new every year it seems like. This year it is eggplant and herbs.Have fun. The seed catalogs are treated like the Sears Wishbook here. I’ll look around and send you the websites for the ones we use. My husband uses a Farmer’s Almanac. It tells you when last frost dates are and when to plant what seeds or plants. He also uses non-gmo seeds. Heirloom seeds only.
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