Ask the A2K Gardeners

Reply Sat 3 Dec, 2011 04:29 pm
We have an Ask the Cooks topic for all those miscellaneous cooking questions and many scattered gardening topics. Thought I'd start an Ask the Gardeners topic so we can ask all those gardening questions of each other.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 4,210 • Replies: 29
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Reply Sat 3 Dec, 2011 04:34 pm
I ran into this article on Facebook and thought I'd share it here and also ask what are some of your favorite and most reliable vegetable garden seed companies and catalogs.


Here's their list. Click the link for links to the seed companies, the criteria that got them on the list, and the rest of the article:

Our Top 15 list (toward the end of this article) is based on how often the vegetable seed companies were ranked in gardeners’ top three. For our survey takers, it wasn’t just about the seeds. In addition to an array of varieties with consistently high germination rates, they wanted seed companies that provide detailed variety descriptions, growing advice and interesting stories. Genetic integrity was also a top priority. The gardeners we surveyed were deeply concerned about genetically modified (GM) food crops, so we made sure all of the companies here have signed the Safe Seed Pledge — a written commitment to sell only non-GM seed — or made public declarations that they will not knowingly sell GM seeds.

The Top 15 Vegetable Seed Companies

Johnny’s Selected Seeds (Winslow, Maine)
Seed Savers Exchange (Decorah, Iowa)
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (Mansfield, Mo.)
Burpee Seeds and Plants (Warminster, Pa.)
Territorial Seed Company (Cottage Grove, Ore.)
Seeds of Change (Rancho Dominguez, Calif.)
Ferry-Morse Seed Company (Fulton, Ky.)
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (Mineral, Va.)
High Mowing Organic Seeds (Wolcott, Vt.)
Fedco Seeds (Waterville, Maine)
Nichols Garden Nursery (Albany, Ore.)
The Cook’s Garden (Warminster, Pa.)
Botanical Interests (Broomfield, Colo.)
Renee’s Garden Seeds (Felton, Calif.)
Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply (Grass Valley, Calif.)

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Reply Sat 3 Dec, 2011 05:05 pm
Thanks for starting this.
Hardiness Zones for the United States:
Reply Sat 3 Dec, 2011 05:53 pm
Me, I like the Sunset zones, which tune to heat as well as cold.

They have mattered in my neck of the woods, generalizing.

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Joe Nation
Reply Sat 3 Dec, 2011 06:08 pm
When you are planting tulip bulbs, is the pointed end supposed to be up or down or does it matter?

Joe(putting them in the ground on Sunday)Nation
Reply Sat 3 Dec, 2011 07:19 pm
@Joe Nation,
It doesn't really matter. As they've done for thousands of years before humans started intentionally planting them, they'll figure it out when it is time to start growing.

But, if you want to be technical, there is a pointy side and a flatter side to the bulb. The pointy side is where the green shoots sprout from and the flatter side is where the roots grow from. Think of it as an onion.

What is more important is the depth that they are planted. Tulips need the deepest planting depth of most popular bulbs.

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Reply Mon 5 Dec, 2011 06:59 pm
I really wanted to plant a small vegetable garden on the side of the house but we have too many critters here in Florida. My neighbors orange tree attracts fruit rats. Gardening is one of my favorite pastimes. This is the time of the year I will trim everything back for the winter but just wait until spring, my gardenias will take off and bloom like crazy again!
Reply Mon 5 Dec, 2011 07:03 pm
I'm hoping our garden plants will survive this early deep freeze and the rest of what is coming this winter. They barely made it last winter and took a lot of TLC to get them thriving again. Amazingly, the snapdragons I planted a month ago are loving the snow and ice.

I'm already anticipating getting to work the soil again. Have been browsing seed catalogs and placing orders for Spring shipping.

I have to rotate the crops around this Spring. They've been in the same positions for two years now.
Reply Tue 6 Dec, 2011 07:30 pm
I own and lived in a condo before Morgan and I decided to live together so I didn’t have any garden. When I was a kid living in Puerto Rico my mother had a house on two acres near Ponce, the opposite side of the island. We grew just about everything from Banana’s to tomatoes.
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Reply Fri 9 Dec, 2011 06:13 pm
Interesting analysis of vegetable garden costs. Do you agree that growing your own veggies saves you money?


Can growing vegetables really save you money?
By Reeser Manley
Posted Nov. 25, 2011, at 3:33 p.m.
Can I lower my food costs by growing vegetables in a home garden? This is a simple question with anything but a simple answer.

Before bringing in all of the complicating factors, we can look at this question in its simplest form: Will organic vegetables grown in a home garden cost the gardener less money to produce than the purchase price of the same organic vegetables at the local farmers market?

Let’s begin by creating a hypothetical garden for a family of four. Because many home gardeners work relatively small plots, this garden will be an area 8 feet by 10 feet divided down the middle by a walkway 2-feet wide (see diagram of Spring planting plan). This creates two beds, each 4-by-8 feet, a total of 64 square feet of growing space with every plant accessible from the garden edges or from the walkway.

The garden is in midcoast Maine, enabling the family to garden intensively through three distinct cropping seasons: spring, summer and fall. New crops are planted as space becomes available and weather permits. The spring garden (March to May) and the fall garden (September to mid-October) are dominated by fast-growing frost-tolerant crops such as spinach, broccoli and peas. The summer garden (June to August) consists of crops that love it hot, as well as heat-tolerant lettuce.

The following data show, by harvest season, the potential income obtained from this hypothetical garden. Cost-per-pound figures for spring, summer and fall were taken from the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Organic Price Reports (Retail Data) for June, August, and October 2011, respectively.

(Crop, number of plants, square feet, total yield in pounds, cost per pound, total cost)

• Broccoli, 16, 16, 8, $3.95, $31.60

• Cauliflower, 8, 8, 12, $4, $48

• Cabbage, 8, 8, 20, $1.45, $29

• Spinach, 54, 6, 13.5, $8.60, $116.10

• Snap peas, 200, 16, 20, $5.15, $103

• Lettuce, 40, 10, 60, $2.50, $150

(Crop, number of plants, square feet, total yield in pounds, cost per pound, total cost)

• Tomato, 8, 16, 48, $3.36, $161.28

• Pepper, 8, 8, 16, $3.66, $58.56

• Zucchini, 3, 12, 18, $2.56, $46.08

• Lettuce, 12, 3, 18, $2.50, $45

• Beans, 24, 6, 8, $3.42, $27.36

• Eggplant, 3, 3, 9, $3.14, $28.26

• Cucumber, 12, 12, 96, $1.94, $186.24

• Onion, 36, 4, 7, $2.13, $14.91

(Crop, number of plants, square feet, total yield in pounds, cost per pound, total cost)

Asterisks indicate crop included with summer harvest

• Tomato*, 8, 16, 0, $0, $0

• Pepper*, 8, 8, 0, $0, $0

• Spinach, 72, 8, 18, $8, $144

• Lettuce, 16, 4, 24, $2.50, $60

• Broccoli, 10, 10, 5, $3.25, $16.25

• Eggplant*, 3, 3, 0, $0, $0

• Cauliflower, 5, 5, 7.5, $3.17, $23.78

• Cabbage, 10, 10, 25, $1.21, $30.25

Assuming that all of the harvest was either consumed or preserved for later use, the garden provided the family with $1,319.67 worth of produce over the course of a year. If this was the first year of gardening, the family would have needed to purchase basic tools. Let’s set aside $100 for these supplies, keeping in mind that these tools should last many years. Other expenses would include compost and other soil amendments estimated at $60 for the season as well as seeds and transplants costing $90 for the year. Total upfront costs for the year will be $250.

For the first year, the family’s garden provided approximately $1,069 in produce after costs. Since some of the start-up costs such as tools are nonrecurring, the return rises to approximately $1,169 in subsequent years. Considering that the average family of four spends approximately $11,200 per year on food based on data reported by the USDA, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, September 2011, the garden harvest from this plot of 64 square feet represents an average annual savings in food cost of 10.4 percent.

There are a lot of wrinkles in the fabric of this analysis. First, the cost of the garden’s produce was calculated at organic farmers market prices. The total value of non-organic supermarket prices for these same crops would have been much less and the annual savings much less, perhaps cut in half. Still, reducing the grocery bill by even 5 percent with the yield of 64 square feet of garden space is, I think, significant, particularly when you consider that the average U.S. home garden is 600 square feet.

What is the cost of the health benefits derived from eating fresh vegetables that have not been doused with pesticides? Or the health benefits of exercise from working in the garden? Or the cost of a healthier environment when sustainable gardening practices are used? How do we factor these elements into the bottom line?

What seems clear is that in order to make vegetable gardening economically worthwhile, you must garden intensively, maximize the amount of produce harvested from each square foot of garden area. This is accomplished by replacing rows with wide beds, providing each plant with just enough room to thrive while eliminating room for weeds to grow, conserving space with trellises for cucumbers and other climbing plants.

Most importantly, make use of available space on a continuous basis. Spring plantings of spinach and lettuce provide a continuous harvest until time to plant tomatoes. Peas are replaced by peppers. Cold-tolerant plants reappear as summer days wane, replacing cucumbers, beans, and zucchini.
Reply Fri 9 Dec, 2011 06:16 pm
I don't have the garden space they base their analysis upon. Our growing seasons are also about 2 months shorter.

It is my goal to get my vegetable garden more productive in the early Spring and late Fall months. It is difficult here in ABQ, we don't have much duration of a mild climate in Spring and Fall. Our weather seems to be either arid and hot or arid and cold and not much in between.
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Reply Fri 9 Dec, 2011 06:29 pm
This author has written more than a few informative articles on vegetable gardening. Here are links if you're interested in reading further:







Reply Sat 24 Mar, 2012 09:25 am
Hey Farmerman, any idea how many seasons you have to let pass before you can plant onions where peas were and vice versa?

Can you quicken the waiting period with soil amendments?

I'm running out of previously unused territory to plant my tomatoes and need to have the peas and onions trade places this season.
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Reply Wed 28 Mar, 2012 09:50 am
Good article at Dave's Garden site on preparing seed potatoes (chitting) for planting.


Reply Wed 28 Mar, 2012 10:23 am
what a waste of seed potatoes that artic;le was. Take a seed potato (Even an organically grown eating potato will work--big farm taters spray their taters with sprout deterrant spray). CUT your tater into 2 or more chunks with at least 2 yeyes per chunk.

Put em all on a big slab of old black and white newsprint. (no color) and let them sit there overnight

Next day dust all the seed chunks in a sulfur powder and let em sit for a week or so under the newspaper and covered with newsprint.
Then they are ready to plant
They will be a little dried out and all the strength goes to the eyes and sprouts.
I always planted mine ON a bed of straw and covered them with a heavy fresh straw mulch (not hay because hay has seeds of the grass) They will grow and when the tater plants are big and just after the flowers die, you can pull back the straw and harvest the best tasting new potatoes you ever had.
If you leave them in the ground till fall, the taters will cotinue to grow in spud size.
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Reply Wed 28 Mar, 2012 10:27 am
Can growing vegetables really save you money?
By Reeser Manley.( If this was the first year of gardening, the family would have needed to purchase basic tools. Let’s set aside $100 for these supplies, keeping in mind that these tools should last many years. Other expenses would include compost and other soil amendments estimated at $60 for the season as well as seeds and transplants costing $90 for the year. Total upfront costs for the year will be $250.

those are some seriously underestimated start-up costs, let alone annual maintenance costs
Reply Wed 28 Mar, 2012 04:33 pm
I’d really like to have a vegetable garden on the side of the house in the backyard, but I was always afraid of attracting the fruit rats. There is a lot of them around the neighborhood. I think I will do it and screen it in somehow.
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Reply Wed 28 Mar, 2012 05:39 pm
I agree with beth

Its a matter of scale when we talk about "saving money " by gardening. If you wish to really save money you should have a sizeable plot pf land and equipment to till and maintain the veggies. Then you divide the costs into the production (which are sizeable especially when you know you need a tiller or a tractor) IF not, lets just think about the fact that home grown veggies just taste a whole lot better than store bought (Unless you can buy directly from the farmer on the day f picking)
One of the reasons I do NOT grow corn or strawberries is because we have two large strawberry farms within a mile and one grows blueberries on a "pick yourself some a these" basis. Theres also about 5 AMish farms nearby that grow sweet corn so gettin gour share of sweet corn is merely a matter of biking over to one of these farms and getting the kids to pick you a dozen.
However, tomatoes are a treat that are best enjoyed with a small pack of salt right in the garden.
Reply Wed 28 Mar, 2012 05:42 pm
I've decided that this year I'm not doing the veggie garden. (other than asparagus, which grows itself...)

Ima have some big potted tomatoes and some smaller potted peppers.

the end.
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Reply Mon 23 Apr, 2012 03:33 pm
Anyone know what time of year in the Albuquerque area would be the ideal time to relocate some very mature hollyhock plants?

I'm thinking it should be done in the Fall when the foliage begins to die back to the ground. If done in the Fall, will that give them enough time to settle in before the freezing temperatures arrive?

Also thought about early Spring as the foliage begins to grow again, but this year we haven't had a Spring. We're into full blown summer high temps already.
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