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2/21/2020 11:35:28 PM
Posted: 1/13/2015 4:23:07 PM EST
[Last Edit: 1/13/2015 4:23:18 PM EST by DNK]
Hey all. Me and my wife want to star a small, square foot garden like many of you have to grow some extra food. I've read through a lot of the threads here, and it looks like something we'd both like doing.

But we're not sure where to start. Are there any good sources of information for how to set up such a garden? Also on greenhouse growing sprouts before the growing season?

Thanks.
Link Posted: 1/14/2015 4:43:57 AM EST
"Square Foot Gardening" is a specific method of gardening designed to raise a lot of produce in limited space; you can find the book about it here.

Others here will have to comment on that technique, though. I don't use it, since I have plenty of space so I like to spread things out where they can breathe freely.

Gardening can be pretty simple, or as complicated as you care to make it. One of the key things, though, is not to get too ambitious the first time around. A beginner tilling up a half acre and planting every vegetable suited for the Northern Hemisphere will soon be overrun by weeds and bugs, and almost certainly walk away with a "Never Again!" attitude. I'd make a short list of the plants you really want to grow, and maybe build a small, say 4'x8' raised bed or two. Fill it with some decent soil, and hone your skills babying a few plants the first year. You'll develop a much better feel for how big you want to go the next.

There are several good garden threads here to whet your appetite, including TRG's MOAGT (Mother Of All Garden Threads), Ratling's thread, and Dimmu's... plus a number of others that I'm probably doing a disservice to by not linking (too lazy to look 'em all up, but you'll find them easily enough). My own thread linked above hasn't been updated for a couple of seasons, but I'll probably do a new one this year. We were pretty successful marketing some of our excess last year, so we'll probably ramp up production a bit this spring... if this old guy can keep up with it. I could have easily sold twice or three times as much stuff as I did if I'd have had enough goodies available, though our primary goal is feeding the family and stockpiling excess.

Speaking of stockpiling, along with learning how to garden, start looking into food preservation techniques like home canning, dehydrating, and freezing. Produce tends to happen more or less all at once, and instead of falling into the "feast or famine" trap, learn how to save the bounty and stretch it out for a whole year. Pulling a few ears of last year's corn out of the freezer in the middle of February makes it all worthwhile.

Have fun! I'm sure others will be along with more (and probably better ) advice shortly.
Link Posted: 1/14/2015 10:10:54 AM EST
we're not sure where to start
View Quote


A good place to start is Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.

Once you've looked them over, try the extension service offerings for surrounding states. Some of it will be new to you, some will be a re-hash but you'll see the trends indicating what is important.
Link Posted: 1/15/2015 6:24:27 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By midmo:
"Square Foot Gardening" is a specific method of gardening designed to raise a lot of produce in limited space; you can find the book about it here.

Others here will have to comment on that technique, though. I don't use it, since I have plenty of space so I like to spread things out where they can breathe freely.

Gardening can be pretty simple, or as complicated as you care to make it. One of the key things, though, is not to get too ambitious the first time around. A beginner tilling up a half acre and planting every vegetable suited for the Northern Hemisphere will soon be overrun by weeds and bugs, and almost certainly walk away with a "Never Again!" attitude. I'd make a short list of the plants you really want to grow, and maybe build a small, say 4'x8' raised bed or two. Fill it with some decent soil, and hone your skills babying a few plants the first year. You'll develop a much better feel for how big you want to go the next.

There are several good garden threads here to whet your appetite, including TRG's MOAGT (Mother Of All Garden Threads), Ratling's thread, and Dimmu's... plus a number of others that I'm probably doing a disservice to by not linking (too lazy to look 'em all up, but you'll find them easily enough). My own thread linked above hasn't been updated for a couple of seasons, but I'll probably do a new one this year. We were pretty successful marketing some of our excess last year, so we'll probably ramp up production a bit this spring... if this old guy can keep up with it. I could have easily sold twice or three times as much stuff as I did if I'd have had enough goodies available, though our primary goal is feeding the family and stockpiling excess.

Speaking of stockpiling, along with learning how to garden, start looking into food preservation techniques like home canning, dehydrating, and freezing. Produce tends to happen more or less all at once, and instead of falling into the "feast or famine" trap, learn how to save the bounty and stretch it out for a whole year. Pulling a few ears of last year's corn out of the freezer in the middle of February makes it all worthwhile.

Have fun! I'm sure others will be along with more (and probably better ) advice shortly.
View Quote
"Not a lot of space" certainly is accurate for us. For now...

We're looking to just put together one small plot to start, maybe 5'x10' or so, maybe less (yeah, 4x8 works fine too). We're right up against woodland (it'd be 5' from the plot), so keeping it all natural is probably best, since otherwise we'll be dousing it with pesticides and herbicides throughout the year. We want that challenge anyway. We've both done limited non-organic farming in the past, so our thumbs have a little green to them already, and so moving up to a bit more intensive non-organic on a small plot should be doable.

And yes, we're already looking to do dehydration and long-term storage. I've found this website which seems to be pretty decent:
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/community/food-preservation
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/community/small-farms

We're in a different climate zone, though, so we'll see how much transfers over.

Thanks for the help so far guys
Link Posted: 1/16/2015 11:18:36 AM EST
Last year was a hard year for the garden. Here in Illinois the sub-zero to 50* weather rollercoaster really messed with the plants and the bugs. So my first piece of advice is to understand that you aren't just going to plant when the package of seeds tells you and end up with a bounty.

To answer your question on reading, we love the book, "Crockett's Victory Garden" by James Crockett. It goes month by month with details on setting up, planting, and harvesting. Published in 1977, I don't know if you can find it or not. We have a dozen others that talk about other aspects of gardening, but that one will get you started well.

If you're near the woods, invest in some good fencing to keep the animals out. Deer and rabbits will eat your garden well before you do.


Find a local grow shop and talk to them about what you need. They can take you right to the shelf and show you. This year we are starting a garden at our church. The goal is to teach people how to garden, while giving a lesson on self-reliance (and tying in a little bible lesson). There are a lot of useful herbs mentioned in the bible and people don't really know what they are or how to use them. Mustard greens, dandelion, sorrel, chicory, coriander, hyssop, anise, fennel, etc, etc. They all have a use today! Not to mention all the references to gardening (reap what you sow, etc). If you are in our area, I would invite you to check it out.
Link Posted: 1/16/2015 11:27:05 AM EST
Since you also have a little experience with sprays and chemicals, and you are ready to go "organic." check out "Attracting Beneficial Insects to Your Garden" by Jessica Walliser.

It will help you with finding plants that attract predator bugs, or repel pests.
Link Posted: 1/16/2015 11:44:47 AM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Skunkum:


A good place to start is Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.

Once you've looked them over, try the extension service offerings for surrounding states. Some of it will be new to you, some will be a re-hash but you'll see the trends indicating what is important.
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Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Skunkum:
we're not sure where to start


A good place to start is Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.

Once you've looked them over, try the extension service offerings for surrounding states. Some of it will be new to you, some will be a re-hash but you'll see the trends indicating what is important.


This.

Find out your hardiness zone.

http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/

Only plant items recommended for your zone. I think Burpee has plant dates on the back of their seed packages.

Then just find you a good spot of soil with good drainage. You don't have to have a tiller, or plows, but it can be helpful if you're doing a big area.

If I was just starting out, I'd make some 4x8 raised beds, fill them with good clean soil of your choice and start there. Find a couple of independent nurseries and talk to the people who work there for ideas (while it's cold and business is slow) before you buy anything.

I gave my daughter's 5th grade class about 50 tomato starts last year. (I figured they would share with the other classrooms). They planted all 50 in two 4x8 beds. WAY overplanted, but they had shitloads of tomatoes. It was just a huge mound that produced up until the first freeze.

If a bunch of 5th graders can do it, so can you.
Link Posted: 1/17/2015 8:45:21 AM EST
http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Ways-Gardening-Dick-Raymond/dp/0882663194/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421502176&sr=1-1&keywords=the+joy+of+gardening

This book was recommended by another member a while ago and I got it last Christmas. It is amazing the amount of info there is in it. It has changed how I garden.
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