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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I would like to put a garden in my yard, but haven't ever had one. I recently aquired a small tractor with a tiller so I could till up the ground. I won't have enough time to actually plant my first garden this season, but I'd like to start getting my land established for the next season. I know I've got a few things to do first, but I'm not sure exactly what. My plan right now is to fence off the area for the garden, but I'm not sure how big to make it. I've got lots of questions:

1. How big should I make it? What factors are used to determine the size of it? I'd like to grow some corn, tomatoes, squashes, carrots, snow peas, and lettuce. Maybe a few other things too.
2. What do I do about gophers? I'm sure they will eat everything I plant and I haven't had any luck with controlling them. If I trenched all the way around the garden and put in some metal mesh and then filled the trench, woudl that help? Same goes for birds. I think I can keep rabbits out with a fence, but the ravens would eat everything.
3. What steps are involved in preparing the soil? (amendments, fertilizers, etc..) Should I have the soil analyzed? I'm starting with what was once farmland, but hasn't been grown on for 30 years.
4. Once the area is determined and fenced/prepared, how do I create rows? I assume I till the ground first, do I have to make rows with a shovel? I've got a small disc attachment and a harrow attachment, but I'm not sure what they are used for? Is there a different attachment I would use?
5. Whats the best way to water the garden? Is that what the rows are for?
 

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Anything With Wheels
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Welcome sbman

I'll try to answer your question in the same order.

How big should I make it? You pretty much answered your own question here. You decide what you want to plant and how much, then you till up the required ground.

What do I do about gophers? Pretty much nothing...Gophers eat larvae and earthworms...I don't think they're too interested in what your going to plant.

What steps are involved in preparing the soil? This year would be a good time to till it and add some biomass. A good choice in my parts is buckwheat. I can get two crops of it in one growing season. In the fall I would plant winter rye. When you plant it next spring your crops would have a good source of nutrients to draw from. Check with your local count extension agency as to what is good to plant in your area.

Once the area is determined and fenced/prepared, how do I create rows? You can determine rows by staking a string line at what ever intervals the crop calls for. Information will be on the seed package.

Whats the best way to water the garden? If at all possible, drip irrigation is the best alternative. It puts water on the ground at the base of the plants.
 

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To add to what Argee said. Have you ever thought about a compost bin or two? Compost it probably the best thing you can add to a garden. And for the most part, its free if you do it your self. :fing02:
 

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I think I must have mis-named the varmints I've got. They definetly like to eat plants. They dig holes in the ground, eat my flowers and the roots off of any young trees I plant. They looked like gophers to me, but I am sure they will like vegetable plants just as well as they like the flowers I plant in the flowerbeds.

When I talked about rows, I probably didn't use the right term here either. I meant the long, straight mounds of dirt that you plant on. Are these mounds not needed for a small garden?
 

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sbman,

Welcome to the Home Garden forum, and thanks for posting. You've already gotten lots of good info from our other gardener/mod crew, and I'll just add a few more, based on what I do and my own small garden.

1. Size: As mentioned, it depends on what you want to plant, how much of each you want AND enough space to work around in, work your tractor in, especially if you are planning on fencing it it. Walking areas, max space between the rows for crops you will be planting, turn around for the tractor and implements (tiller).

Do you plan on putting in a green house, now or in the future? Plan on it now so your house is close to the garden and convenient to take material back and forth.

Will the garden be close to your house? Will you be able to bring underground water to your garden? If so, plan on one more faucet than you think you will need. Will you be able to bring electricity (green house lights, fans, heaters, watering timers and other tools) close to the garden? If you think 10 A, put in 20. If you think 20 A, put in 30, etc.

Can you post a pic of where you are "thinking" of?

2. Gofers, :ditto: what Argee said.

3. Soil prep: Again, :ditto: what Argee said and take some soil samples and test yourself or have your extension do it for you. Find out what your lack or have too much of so you can make adjustments. Do you have a college or U close by that has some programs to help?

4. Rows: I till my garden area with my TroyBilt tiller and then use a hoe to pull soil away and up to form beds. The seed packs or nursery you get starts from can help you with width and spacing. Make a few wider than necessary so you can walk down the rows as the plants grow to full size.

5. Watering: Drip is a preferred method and if you can put electricity in near your garden, include timed faucet valves in your watering scheme. I have 3 timers in my garden... 2 for sprinklers and 1 for a timed faucet. 3/4 inch PVC from your source to the garden. 1/2 inch for your area piping. With a timer(s), you can pretty much "set it and forget it" for plants that have the same water requirements, another timer(s) for others. A regular faucet for washing hands, tools, spraying off implements is also convenient, and not that expensive to put in.

http://www.cropinfo.net/drip.htm,
http://www.irrigationtutorials.com/install.htm

Composting can be fun and environmentally helpful. Check into composters...buying one or build your own. http://www.mastercomposter.com/

You say you can't plant this year (Spring) but you can plan for Fall planting as well as next year. Good luck, and keep posting!

Greg
 

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Anything With Wheels
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sbman said:
When I talked about rows, I probably didn't use the right term here either. I meant the long, straight mounds of dirt that you plant on. Are these mounds not needed for a small garden?
Those are called raised beds. They are used a lot in areas that have marginal soil quality. The problem with raised beds is getting tillage equipment in and out of them.
 

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Argee, I don't think he's talking about "raised beds" in the sense of the beds within borders. I think he only means the mounded rows like I make with a hoe. sbman...is this similar to what you are thinking?

Greg
 

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Anything With Wheels
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Neither mounds or furrows are needed for a successfull garden. Once your plot is tilled up in the spring you need to smooth it out so you can walk in it and plant. You can do this with a garden rake or, if your garden is larger, a pull behind drag. An old box spring comes to mind as something you could use to smooth it over after tilling.
 

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Thats exactly the size I want to make...I wish there were some footnotes with those pictures along with tips for successful growing....I cant identify
all the crops that had....anybody know the names of some of the ground flowers?

Ducati
 

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sbman said:
I think I must have mis-named the varmints I've got. They definetly like to eat plants. They dig holes in the ground, eat my flowers and the roots off of any young trees I plant. They looked like gophers to me, but I am sure they will like vegetable plants just as well as they like the flowers I plant in the flowerbeds.
Armadillos do that here when it happen to me i stay out at night with my spot light and shotgun and wait for them to show up then blow there butt into another parish. :fing32:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I agree with Ducati996 some narration on that photo sequence would really hit the spot. Is that plow a 'mold board' plow? I see he is using a disc to make furrows after he plowed the ground. I'm curious about some of the crops too. Many of them I recognize but there are some that I don't.

jodyand: The varmints I'm talking about live in the ground. I have seen flowers in my flower beds start shaking and then dis-appear into the ground as they pulled it down for a feast. Young trees, rose bushes, shrubs, etc... wilt and finally just fall over one day because all of the roots have been gnawed off. I've tried various ways of trapping, gassing, etc... but haven't had much success. I'm still wondering about birds too. Don't they like to eat tomatoes and corn?

Greg: thanks for the tips on placement and such. I do plan a small greenhouse and will be planning for both the garden and the greenhouse at the same time. I am in the process of planning all of my yard since it is just a big piece of weed grown land right now. I think I'll make the fence on each end of the garden easily removeable so that I can just pull the fence posts out of their hole in the ground and have plenty of room to till/turn around when I need it, but not need 20 feet on each side when I'm not doing those operations. Drip isn't a problem and I would def. use timers. There are some nice battery operated timers I've used before that don't need an electricity source, but I'll run electricity out when I run the water line. I modified some of these battery operated timer units into temperature controlled water valves for mist systems for a friend. He is using mist systems to cool heat senstive animals during summer heat. Not that mist systems have anything to do with a garden.

Argee: are the mounds in the pics that are referenced considered 'furrows'? Even if they aren't required, they look cool!
 

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A day ahead of y'all..
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sbman,

Here's a pic of my garden showing the fencing I used last year for peas. This year it will be put up around the edges to keep my pup out! :banghead3 The bases are concrete with PVC pipe in the center. The fence section end tubes fit over the PVC perfectly. The bases weigh 70lbs and don't move easily! Uggh!



This pic is to show you what I started with. Nothing but old logs, weeds, berry vines, lawn clippings...yuck!



Greg
 

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Well,
Here's how I've got my garden laid out, this year.



(Sorry it's a link.... with HTML tags disabled, I'll have to learn how to post, all over again...)

Corn and beans are already 2-3" tall...

This weekend, or so, I'll see if I can get some pictures. I've got the garden fenced in with "Kennel Fence". It's got ~2" squares, with heavier wire than chicken wire (but not quite as heavy as field fence). For my gate, I built the frame out of 1" PVC and got some green plastic 'mesh' to fill it in. All of my posts are 6.5' T-posts.

I work the garden up with the 8N and 6' lift disk (works pretty good). I've got an 'antique' "push-plow" that I use to make the rows and then cover them (after they're planted). Dad always used this method, so.... so do I.

I've got 4 horses around here, so finding "fertilizer" isn't too hard... :eck22: I've heard of folks planting "green manure" where they're planning to plant a garden. That'd be something along the lines of buckwheat, wheat or rye. I've even heard an ANNUAL (make sure it's annual, not perennial) clover is good...

HTH
Steve
 

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sbman said:
jodyand: The varmints I'm talking about live in the ground. I have seen flowers in my flower beds start shaking and then dis-appear into the ground as they pulled it down for a feast. Young trees, rose bushes, shrubs, etc... wilt and finally just fall over one day because all of the roots have been gnawed off. I've tried various ways of trapping, gassing, etc... but haven't had much success. I'm still wondering about birds too. Don't they like to eat tomatoes and corn?
Hi Sbman,

I had a mental visual of your plants disappearing like in "Caddyshack" and you dropping dynamite, poison gas, and its head pops up else where :).....
Thats a major little critter you got there - I hope you catch him, take a picture and send him off to critter land in the sky? or make him a family pet..



Ducati
 

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In South Carolina, We have a problem with Squirrels getting into the corn. What we do is pull some ears off and shuck them. Then we place them away from the garden so the squirrels have a place to hang out and nibble some corn.
I would have to say that all the planning and wisdom of my garden comes from my father. He family used to grow tobacco in North Carolina to pay for the land they lived on. I am only 22 years old. Most of my friends stay at the bars and clubs throughout the nights so they cant get up early enough to work the land. :eck16:
I never really had a thing for gardens until my father bought a Bolens 1000 with a plow. I liked to work on the tractor, and once we got it working I suddenly had an appreciation for watching my hard work pay off. I spent most of my summer afternoons "watching the garden grow" and helping keep the weeds down. I dont know why I enjoy gardening but it kinda grows on you.

I will be documenting this years garden with pictures of course. We are currently working on the Bolens getting it ready for plowing, we are running out of time!

Oh, and my father has been working this plot of land since 71'. He said that he carried about two truckloads worth of brick and construction materials out of the ground. It seems that the workers tried to bury the wasted materials instead of hauling them off.

We plant annual ryegrass over the winter and then plow it under when spring comes. We try not to use many fertilizers but the corn really sucks the nitrogen out of the soil. We started our own compost pile this year mostly containing the spent plants and kitchen scraps. We plan to spread this in when plowing next year.
 
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