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Let's talk about gardening!  I know we have quite a few gardeners around here.  I'm sure we all have advice to share.  Post what you're growing and let us see some pics!

 

I'll edit this initial post over time and add any gardening links or resources that are relevant to our region. 

 

 

Some links:

 

University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Publications

- Warm and cool season vegetable growing guides tailored for our area

- Pages and pages of information on soil management and pest control

- Good ideas for planning your garden

 

USDA National Center for Home Food Preservation

- THE source for proper canning guidelines to ensure food safety

- Also covers drying, smoking, pickling, etc.

 

Old World Garden Farms

- An excellent source of information on vegetable gardening, canning, recipes, pallet projects, and other DIY

- I'm a big fan of their "post hole digger" planting method, I've had great success with it

 

Back To Eden Film

- This film drives home the benefits of wood chip mulching and organic gardening in general

- If you can stomach the religious stuff (not my thing) you can learn some good gardening methods that work

 

 

Carvers Links:

 

http://www.southernexposure.com

http://www.seedsavers.org

http://parkseed.com

http://www.sandhillpreservation.com

http://www.johnnyseeds.com

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/victorygarden/

http://leapingwatersfarm.com/?page_id=16. (Our meat CSA...highly recommend this.)

http://www.seedsofchange.com

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I've dabbled in vegetable gardening for many years but only got serious about it in about the past 5 or so.  It's gotten very addictive and each year since 2008 I've expanded my space.  Historically I've just done the usual summertime tomatoes and peppers but I ventured into cool season stuff spring 2013 that got me hooked in a big way.  Now I'm growing and preserving everything I possibly can.  It's bordering on getting out of control haha.

 

I did not start out using an organic approach but have migrated to that over time simply because I've found I have much better results using those principles.  For me, hands down the two main keys to success with vegetable gardening are composting and mulching.  We focus heavily on building compost year round using neighbors' grass clippings, leaves, kitchen waste, yard debris, wood chips, and straw.  I plant everything in deep compost and mound it up around them regularly to fertilize.  For the mulching, I've been getting large loads of free wood chips from the tree service people.  This has been a massive improvement to my gardens as I've left no soil exposed and everything stays nice and wet.  I rarely even have to water anymore and weeding is easier than ever.  The chips break down overtime and combine with the compost to build good rich soil. 

 

I've found preserving to be very rewarding.  In the past I've water bath canned garlic dill pickles and tomatoes that we've enjoyed year round.  I never had enough from my own garden to put up what I wanted to so I supplemented with farmer's market goods.  This year, barring major disease, pest, or weather issues, I should have more than enough produce to put up over 100 quarts of various things.  My primary focus at the moment is salsa.  I hope to put up 50 quarts or more of salsa using all homegrown ingredients.  Then, garlic dill pickles.  I like them very garlicy and very dilly.  Then whole tomatoes for soups and chili then some pasta sauce as well.  I recently bought a pressure canner to ensure I can safely can anything else.  It worked very well for doing mustard greens and chicken stock last month.  Looking forward to using it for green beans and corn as well as soups later on.  We will also be freezing a bunch of stuff.

 

My current gardens consist of a series of raised beds, some built with landscaping logs, some with old pallet and fence wood, and some with large pine stumps.  I have 3 raised rows that I've been building soil into slowly over time.  And finally a new decently large plot (for suburban standards) for putting excess seedings and tomato suckers, basically just overflow space.  I'm fortunate to have a good sized yard for suburban west Knoxville at 3/4 of an acre.  My gardens are all currently in the back yard but I will be expanding to the front yard for more veggies next spring as well as the side yard for berries this fall.  Hope to get some fruit and nut trees started too at some point.

 

For last fall/winter I had the following in the ground:  Garlic, onions, spinach, mustard greens, collards, swiss chard, lettuce, and a crimson clover cover crop.  The spinach, garlic, and onions made it through winter just fine.  The spinach got waste high, the garlic was harvested last week, and the onions are still making.

 

This spring I had kale, lettuce, collards, and mustard greens.  Only the Kale remains.

 

Here are a few cool season photos:

 

Garlic patch:

rHOKJPh.jpg

 

Garlic harvest last week:

aSMK3uN.jpg

 

20uFbtV.jpg

 

Spinach beginning to bolt

9RcdpQX.jpg

 

Mustard Greens:

5KtwbXd.jpg

 

Some of the Crimson Clover planted as a cover crop to fix nitrogen:

qbilrpo.jpg

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For this year's warm season I've got the following in the ground:

 

Tomatoes - around 90 plants: Brandywine, Century, Roma, Beefmaster, Early Girl, Red Cherry, and Sun Cherry

Peppers - around 50 plants:  Green Bell, Red Bell, Cajun Bell, Tabasco, and 4 varieties of Jalapeno

Potatoes - around 20 plants

Cucumbers - around 20 plants:  4 large burpless hybrids and the rest Boston Picklers

Strawberries - 8 plants

Green Beans - maybe 30 bush beans

Cabbages - 8 plants (planted early spring, still making)

Eggplant - 2 plants

Sunflowers - around 30 plants, mostly Mammoth

Herbs:  Basil, Sage, Thyme, Cilantro, Parsley, Rosemary, Dill, Fennel, and Oregano (including spicy hot variety)

Onions and Kale still growing

Various flowers

 

About 75% of the tomato and pepper plants were started from seed under grow light back in February.

 

I'll take some pictures tonight.  Looking forward to hearing about and seeing everybody's stuff!

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That is impressive stove! I don't have near that much stuff this year, but I have before. Just don't have the time for a nice big garden. I've got about 15 tomatoes, 3 cayenne peppers, 3 squash, a couple of watermelons, a little corn, a row of okra (Clemson spineless) and a few vine okra. Has anyone ever tried that before? I have no experience with it. Actually got it from a customer last year. I planted it and it's up, but am scared bc with my little 15x30 garden plot, the word vine has me wondering if I'm gonna have enough room haha. The vine okra seed look a lot like watermelon actually.

How could I forget. I also have 7 cucumber plants. I also make garlic dill pickles, but I use the sun to do the work for me-my great grandmothers recipe. Don't have to boil them using this method to can them.

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That is awesome, Stovepipe! This the first year I have grown anything in a while...we have started out small. 3 tomato plants 4 pepper plants and a cucumber...we also have small barrels with basil and cilantro...I think my wife will really get the bug if we are successful but we kept it very small this year. Definitely goiing to get the mulch to help with weed control and soil moisture.

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That is impressive stove! I don't have near that much stuff this year, but I have before. Just don't have the time for a nice big garden. I've got about 15 tomatoes, 3 cayenne peppers, 3 squash, a couple of watermelons, a little corn, a row of okra (Clemson spineless) and a few vine okra. Has anyone ever tried that before? I have no experience with it. Actually got it from a customer last year. I planted it and it's up, but am scared bc with my little 15x30 garden plot, the word vine has me wondering if I'm gonna have enough room haha. The vine okra seed look a lot like watermelon actually.

How could I forget. I also have 7 cucumber plants. I also make garlic dill pickles, but I use the sun to do the work for me-my great grandmothers recipe. Don't have to boil them using this method to can them.

 

That is a nice sized garden, I like the variety!  I've not ventured into okra yet but I'd like to.  Let us know how aggressive that vine becomes.  :)

 

That is awesome, Stovepipe! This the first year I have grown anything in a while...we have started out small. 3 tomato plants 4 pepper plants and a cucumber...we also have small barrels with basil and cilantro...I think my wife will really get the bug if we are successful but we kept it very small this year. Definitely goiing to get the mulch to help with weed control and soil moisture.

 

Sounds good Bob!  If you need wood chips, I'm right down the road from you and have WAY more than I can use right now.  PM me if you want a load.

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Here's some pics taken this afternoon.

 

Wide shot of the southwest side of the yard, lots of tomatoes and a few ornamentals:

photo2_zps7754e340.jpg

 

Overflow plot built recently.  It'll be a year or two before the soil gets ideal but so far sunflowers and tomato seedlings are doing ok along with some strawberries.  Saving some space for tomato sucker plants later this summer for fall goodness:
photo52_zpscbccf98a.jpg

 

Raised rows that catch water off the porch.  Bottom row has cucumbers and little jalapeno seedlings, top row is various peppers with kale in between, upper box has sun cherry tomatoes.  Dill bush barely visible in the background:
photo34_zps4cf74d12.jpg

 

Herbs and flowers on the deck:
photo44_zpsd4fed9e5.jpg

 

Tomatoes and rain barrel catching water off one corner of the house:

photo32_zps4accec81.jpg

 

Roma seedling bed with 24 plants, some cabbage and onions in the corner:

photo13_zps2159c459.jpg

 

Stump bed with 10 tomato plants put in the ground April 5th.  Got one early girl that's orange!  Should start getting a regular harvest off these within 2 weeks:

photo41_zpse158630f.jpg

 

Raised row of cucumbers:

photo23_zpsfdb0e59b.jpg

 

Back view with potato stump bed (which is sadly invaded with voles, trying to remedy that), hot peppers, green beans, and cabbage/onions:

photo35_zps1183e9ab.jpg

 

Compost bins.  The tumbler can turn grass clippings and fine wood chips or straw into usable fertilizer in 3 to 4 weeks.  The pallet bins are for rougher stuff:

photo26_zpsafbc7349.jpg

 

Never enough plants, I want MOAR MOAR!!!  :guitar:

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Red Cherry seedlings, cabbage and onions, hot peppers:

photo33_zps716447f7.jpg

 

Massive friggin load of wood chips:

photo3_zps7078118b.jpg

 

Ok, I'm done attention whoring for now.  Let's see y'alls pics!

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Here you go...early June garden pics taken today.  Stove, love the garden pics BTW!!!

 

Potatoes(trench/straw method)

post-769-0-77173400-1401926349_thumb.jpg

 

Thai Basil

post-769-0-34848200-1401926350_thumb.jpg

 

Fennel

post-769-0-36165400-1401926648_thumb.jpg

 

Garden

post-769-0-48168400-1401926370_thumb.jpg

 

Red Onion

post-769-0-93991500-1401926370_thumb.jpg

 

Sweet Potatoes

post-769-0-40603600-1401926371_thumb.jpg

 

Kale

post-769-0-96350200-1401926382_thumb.jpg

 

Marigolds

post-769-0-79243900-1401926383_thumb.jpg

 

Juliet Tomatoes

post-769-0-79479700-1401926396_thumb.jpg

 

Big Beef Tomatoes

post-769-0-08994300-1401926418_thumb.jpg

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Here is my garden log for the summer...Absolutely in no way is this to brag, just to show what you can grow in a backyard garden.....

Garden 2014

(varieties listed below cultivar)

Peppers

Giant Marconi

Hungarian Wax

Red Bell

Cubanelle

(did not plant Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers this year...but are my favorites)

Tomatoes

Atkinson

Yellow Pear

Big Beef

Early Girl

Cherokee Purple

Juliet

Sweet 100

Lemon Boy

Potatoes

Irish Cobbler

Sweet Potatoes

Puerto Rican

O'Henry

Novelty

Jerusalem Artichokes(for the roots)

Herbs

Sage

Basil(Thai, Cinnamon, Purple, Genovese, Baja)

Thyme(green and silver varieties)

Rosemary

Bee Balm

Three Varieties to enhance pollination...

Beans

Blue Lake

Triomphe de Farcy(French filet bean)

Fennel

Sweet

Strawberries

Unknown

Kale

Winterbor

Rhubarb

Strawberry

Squash

Yellow Straight

Crookneck

Genovese

Onions

Yellow Granex

Red

Lettuce

Black Seeded Simpson

Red Oak Leaf

Seed Savers Variety Pack

Romaine

Marigolds

Multiple Varieties

Chives

Unknown

Oregano

Marjoram

Blueberry

Rabbiteye

Cucumbers

Straight Eight

Bush Crop

Suhyo (Japanese)

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The wife's B-Day is coming up and she loves to get books on things she is interested in so if anyone has a recommendation on a specific book on vegetable gardening in these parts, I would be most appreciative.

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Thanks for the offer, Stove...my yard guy left me a nice pile for free after I chatted with him the other day. You have a fantastic garden...if I had time, I would love a set up like that!

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Here you go...early June garden pics taken today. 

 

Here is my garden log for the summer...

 

rrGfX1n.jpg

 

Very impressive Carvers your garden looks awesome!  So did you start most of that stuff from seed?  If so, when did you start it?  I love your fennel, that is such a beautiful plant.  I've got some that I've tried to get going from seed but it isn't really taking off.  I've searched for fennel plants but haven't seen any around here, otherwise I'd buy a few to put in the ground. 

 

Very nice work buddy!

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The wife's B-Day is coming up and she loves to get books on things she is interested in so if anyone has a recommendation on a specific book on vegetable gardening in these parts, I would be most appreciative.

 

A few years ago I found a bunch of Rodale's gardening books for cheap at McKay's.  There are some on organic gardening, container gardens, herbs, vegetables, ornamentals, you name it.  I highly recommend them.

 

A quick Amazon search

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What sorts of pests are you guys dealing with?  In the past my biggest problem has been birds pecking my maters right as they start to ripen.  I've lost as much as 50% of my crop due to them.  Last year I put aluminum foil around and that seemed to help some.  This year I'm putting up like 50 spinning foil pinwheels.  We'll see how that works.

 

Of course, cabbage worms are a pain in the arse.  I just last week resorted to using a product I found at Lowes for use in organic gardens.  I've not seen any worms on my cabbages since spraying them but plants took a beating before I could do that.  I had seen the white butterflies around for weeks and knew it was just a matter of time before they hatched the worms.  Two or three days after seeing the first worm my cabbages were hurting bad.

 

This year I'm dealing with something new that is pissing me off: Voles.  I first noticed I had a problem when a recently planted pepper plant just disappeared.  Planted another one in the same spot and it vanished too, only a couple of leaves remained scattered on the ground.  Then I started hearing scattering commotion in the spinach patch nearby.  My mother in west TN said it had to be voles and that she'd killed several already this year.  Apparently they love mulched areas, go figure.  Now they've invaded my potato patch and have destroyed half of the plants.  All I know to do is put out mouse traps and hope for the best.  If they start messing with my maters heads are gonna roll....

 

zfrdvIw.jpg

 

What are y'all dealing with?

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Not dealing with a whole lot of pests, but we are having issues with the tomatoes. This irregular rainfall is causing the leaves to curl up bad. I guess I should follow your advice Stove and mulch more, mine entire garden is in 100% sunshine all day, no trees and no shade. It's hard on the plants when it's hot and the rain is unreliable. I water, but it's just not the same as rain. Seems like it just keeps the plants alive, but boy, if I could get a nice rain, everything would really kick off.

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What sorts of pests are you guys dealing with? In the past my biggest problem has been birds pecking my maters right as they start to ripen. I've lost as much as 50% of my crop due to them. Last year I put aluminum foil around and that seemed to help some. This year I'm putting up like 50 spinning foil pinwheels. We'll see how that works.

Of course, cabbage worms are a pain in the arse. I just last week resorted to using a product I found at Lowes for use in organic gardens. I've not seen any worms on my cabbages since spraying them but plants took a beating before I could do that. I had seen the white butterflies around for weeks and knew it was just a matter of time before they hatched the worms. Two or three days after seeing the first worm my cabbages were hurting bad.

This year I'm dealing with something new that is pissing me off: Voles. I first noticed I had a problem when a recently planted pepper plant just disappeared. Planted another one in the same spot and it vanished too, only a couple of leaves remained scattered on the ground. Then I started hearing scattering commotion in the spinach patch nearby. My mother in west TN said it had to be voles and that she'd killed several already this year. Apparently they love mulched areas, go figure. Now they've invaded my potato patch and have destroyed half of the plants. All I know to do is put out mouse traps and hope for the best. If they start messing with my maters heads are gonna roll....

What are y'all dealing with?

I will say that the less I have used fungicides and pesticides, the better my garden has done. I break down and use Seven once in a blue moon. I quit using most of that stuff when I read how damaging to bees it was, and now that I have kids in the garden.

Cabbage worms...Have you tried bacillus thuringiensis, ie BT? Should come in a white powder and is organic. Use it as soon as you see the white butterflies. I am taking a couple years "off" with cabbage.

Voles...No idea. I have to fight groundhogs, deer, and chipmunks. Blood meal or bone meal mixed in the soil has slowed the chipmunks down - that and the neighbor's cat. Guess they are like, "Whoaa! Something died here. Better leave." Groundhogs and deer...a good fence. I will say sometimes I am tempted to go Caddyshack on the gophers.

Birds...If you have enough of them, they combat bugs. But they mess with my strawberries too. Poly nets work when needed.

My big fight...is with flea beetles and blight. I do hear that there is a "tea" that can be made with chewing tobacco. Neem oil is a strong pest deterrent as well with just a touch of soap...Blight is my thorn of thorns. My garden gets noonday sun which is not optimum. Blight is best combated with morning sun that burns-off dew. I have to be careful to choose varieties that work well in the humid South.

Our plants... I used to grow everything from seed...propagation mats, lights, the works. With four kids, it just took to much time away from them. I often direct seed lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, squash, and beans. Sweet potatoes are grown from slips. Onions are slips. The taters are just from cut tubers. One problem I had with seed starting, most seeds have characteristics that favor where they were harvested. You have to seed save several generations to get characteristics for your area. So, I buy local plants usually from nurseries in this area that are locally owned. Transplants have also allowed me to get a jump on the season early.

Had an old farmer in Johns Island, SC, tell me once, "Plant enough for the animals, thieves, and yourself."

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The wife's B-Day is coming up and she loves to get books on things she is interested in so if anyone has a recommendation on a specific book on vegetable gardening in these parts, I would be most appreciative.

Mr. Bob, here are my favorites. Normally, anything published by Rodale is the best...to echo Stovepipe.

1. The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward Smith...available at Amazon.

I still read it. Super info. Sounds like a cheesy title, but it is a great book.

2. I also get Organic Gardening magazine. http://m.organicgardening.com/organicgardening/

3. Joined Seed Savers Exchange. Excellent source for seeds. Excellent periodic publications. Slightly political, but really enjoy the membership.

4. On the light side, the $64 Tomato by William Alexander is pretty good.

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I can vouch for Neem oil, it works well on aphids and whiteflies, but I hate the smell of it. It's kind of sticky too, I guess that's the soap component in it. At any rate, it has saved my tomato plants on more than one occasion

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The wife's B-Day is coming up and she loves to get books on things she is interested in so if anyone has a recommendation on a specific book on vegetable gardening in these parts, I would be most appreciative.

Mr. Bob, I encourage everyone just enjoy it. Pick manageable amounts and space. Grow interesting items, and especially grow food that you will eat. Make sure the soil has plenty of nutrients and organics. All gardens start with healthy soil - black gold the soil is. And some years, no matter how much experience that you have, the garden just doesn't do well. Just have to learn from it. Garlic is my next mountain to climb - going to be picking Stove's brain this fall.

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I can vouch for Neem oil, it works well on aphids and whiteflies, but I hate the smell of it. It's kind of sticky too, I guess that's the soap component in it. At any rate, it has saved my tomato plants on more than one occasion

It is like magic!!! I agree. Even works as a fungicide. All organic.

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Mr. Bob, I encourage everyone just enjoy it. Pick manageable amounts and space. Grow interesting items, and especially grow food that you will eat. Make sure the soil has plenty of nutrients and organics. All gardens start with healthy soil - black gold the soil is. And some years, no matter how much experience that you have, the garden just doesn't do well. Just have to learn from it. Garlic is my next mountain to climb - going to be picking Stove's brain this fall.

Thanks for all the recommendations! We are definitely starting slow...fortunately everything is doing very well right now. I would love to grow my own garlic...I use it in almost everything I cook. It is definitely on the list for next year. BTW, it does not hurt to have a good cat in the back yard...one of our cats is a noted bunny and bird killer, speaking of organic "pest"icides.

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Couldn't stand it any longer, had to put up 3 quarts of garlic dill pickles. Farmers market cucs, my dill, black peppercorns for flare. Mmmmmm mmmmmm. :)

e5e6u8az.jpg

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Couldn't stand it any longer, had to put up 3 quarts of garlic dill pickles. Farmers market cucs, my dill, black peppercorns for flare. Mmmmmm mmmmmm. :)

Bro, those look awesome. Seriously good.

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Squash and cucumbers are rolling early with this heat. Picked my first few last night.

 

Wow that's exciting!  How often have you been watering the cucumbers in this dry pattern?  They seem more sensitive to it in my yard than anything else so I've had to irrigate a couple times a week.  Mine are still tiny.

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Almost daily w/ cucumbers - very sensitive. We have had very little rain. I water every other day at the moment for everything else. The dry wind is making it tough. I water in the evening or it is gone in a flash.

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Last year very little in the garden was ready before July. Three weeks early right now. Maters should be good unless we get a prolonged period of rain. Those will roll second week of July(main crop). Juliets within two-three weeks.

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