Montana
 
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2003 09:02 pm
I'm fairly new to vegetable gardening and I could use any advice any of you could give me. When I moved to Canada three and a half years ago I started the vegetable garden I always dreamed of having when I lived in the city with no place to plant. I decided to build raised garden beds since there were so many rocks in the soil where it was impossible to till. I built one garden a year that are 16ft by 16ft. The soil mixture is made up of organic top soil, cow or sheep manure, and peat moss. Every garden I built did great the first year and then not so hot the next. This year I built and filled my 3rd garden and planted my tomatoes, some peppers, and beets in that one which are all doing awesome. My problem is that the stuff I planted in my other 2 gardens seem to be stressed. I do rotate my garden every year, so I know that's not the problem. My onions and garlic were doing great at the beginning, but now they have turned yellow. My peas are doing good for the most part, but in the middle of the row I have the same yellowing problem. I have peppers in my new garden as I mentioned that are doing great, but I also have some in one of the other gardens that are not doing so great. Lots of the bottom leaves have fallen off and they are not a dark healthy green like my other peppers. My cucumbers and zuccini are growing very slow along with everything else in those 2 gardens except for my beans, those are doing great. Any advice would very much be appreciated.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 2,038 • Replies: 17
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2003 09:07 pm
"Bedding" your raised bed before the winter snows would help. Put yard waste--leaves, twigs, grass trimmings, pine straw, etc. about two or three inches deep on top. Wet it down so that it doesn't blow away. It is possible that you're far enough north that the soil bacteria are dying off in the winter, and many nutrients only become available to the root system when they are active. We had a compost heap (it was more than thrity years old, when i was a boy--it started out as a compost pit in 1920), and if you went out there to dig it up in the winter, steam would rise, because the active bacteria below the frozen surface were generating heat. I noticed this when living in Illinois, further north than i had lived before. You're far enough north that you may want a thicker layer of compost on top. The reason we dug up compost in winter (late winter or early spring) was to get soil for potting tomatoes. They in particular will do better if you start them in organically degradeable pot liners, and take them out of the pots and plant them after the last frost has hit.

Good luck, Boss.
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2003 09:13 pm
Well, if that's the case, the feed stores around here sell little packets of black stuff to inoculate the legumes with their nitrogen fixing bacteria. Setanta is probably right. This past winter, I think you mentioned something about sea water freezing. That's pretty cold.

From the yellowing, I was inclined to guess some sort of mineral deficiency, possibly iron, but after just one and two years, this sounds like a weak guess.
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2003 09:17 pm
Thanks Setanta. Now that I'm done breaking my back building the gardens I can consentrate on giving the soil what it needs. Would I be able to use the leftovers from my garden to do that, such as my tomato stalks, corn stalks, etc? I'm going to start composting next year since I've read nothing but good things about doing that.

Thanks for the advice and good wishes :-D
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Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2003 09:20 pm
Compost, Soil Building and Amendments
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2003 09:20 pm
Yes, all yard and garden "trash" is useful. For a compost pit, use crushed egg shells, any vegetable trash from the kitchen, newspapers are good if shredded (this can be done one folded sheet at a time in the evening while watching tv--when you wet down the bed, the paper begins to rot more quickly), coffee grounds, and if you're near a forest, the mast is good (mast is the detritus of a nut bearing tree--the husk of the nut combined with the leaves and twigs which have fallen; anciently, in Europe, hogs were herded into oak forest to feed on the mast).
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2003 09:21 pm
Thanks Roger. It does get very cold esspecially during January and February. This past winter we had 3 freezing rain storms where everything was a sheet of ice for quite some time, so that can't be good. I never even thought of starting a compost pile right on top of my gardens and that sounds like a very good idea.
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2003 09:29 pm
Butrflynet
Thanks very much for the link. As usual you are here to the rescue ;-)

Setanta
That helps a lot and I will be doing just that. How about pinecones. We have tons of spruce trees and pinecones are very handy. I'm not sure what you mean by nut trees though. I think I lived in the city too long, lol. There is a local store that sells big bags of compost as well that is loaded with crushed shells from lobsters, shrinp, etc and I wondered if that would be good as well.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2003 09:44 pm
I don't know a thing about gardening where you are, in raised beds or out of them. I wonder, though, about drainage. Are there different drainage situations regarding the different beds? (Are those plants in the poorly performing beds drowning ..or something?) Or sun (light) exposures?
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2003 09:52 pm
No, the drainage is fine. I actually have to keep a good eye on things when we don't get much rain since raised beds dry out much faster. The gardens did great the first year I built them, so I do know that they are lacking in something. Next year I'm planning on using a straw mulch throughout the garden to keep the moisture in and control the weeds. I also need a PH test kit which will probably help me out.
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Mr Stillwater
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jul, 2003 10:55 pm
'tana - sweetness.

Your problem is nutrient based (I can't imagine that drainage would be a problem in the mix you describe).

The most likely cause is either:
-nitrogen drawdown - this is a condition were there is too much carboniferous material in the mix (straw, sawdust, etc). In order to compost it the bacteria need nitrogen, they actually take it from the plants! Pour on some nitro-rich materials, composted chook manure or blood and bone - you can also get a quick hit from a liquid seaweed-based fertilizer.

-the long-term result of using too much organic material is that it will acidify the soil (for instance peat moss is highy acidic). A pH reading of -5.5 or greater than 7.0 means that nutrients that are present are unable to be take up by the plant. You can get a commercial kit to test pH or put some lime into the mix to 'sweeten' it.

You have the right idea of rotating the crops, what you might need to do is incorporate the idea of letting part of the bed 'rest' with plenty of nitrogen-fixing plants (legumes) to ensure the next crop will do well.
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jul, 2003 11:28 pm
alrighty then Mr. Stillwater. When I did build the gardens, I did add some lime to it before I added it to my garden. As I mentioned before, the garedens did very well the first year I planted, but then not so good after that. I know I didn't add much manure to them this year because I wasn't sure if I should. The last garden I just built this past summer has enough manure and that one is doing fine. What Setanta said about the cold made sense and I know I need to be adding more stuff in there. I will be getting a PH test kit before the next growing season for sure if I can find one around here. I've looked everywhere for one and the only PH test kits I can find are for ponds. Looks like I'll have to look on line.
Thanks for your advice Mr. Still ;-)
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jul, 2003 12:01 am
I remembered something today. On Setanta's comments on the detris of nut trees - don't use anything from walnut trees, especially the husks from around the nuts. They contain a substance that holds down competition from other growth. Not what you want in your garden.
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jul, 2003 12:11 am
Thanks Roger, I'll remember that. I don't think we have any nut trees around here anyway, so it looks like I'm the only nut around ;-)
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Grand Duke
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2003 04:00 am
Tomatoes
I was wondering if anyone can give me some advice about my tomato plants. I've never had my own garden before (parents used to do it) so please excuse my ignorance.

I got 4 tomato plants from a friend about 3 weeks ago. They are currently 1.5'-2.5' tall. Can someone tell me how much I'm supposed to prune from the bottom? I've taken all trusses(?) off on the first 6"-8" but not sure if that's enough A couple of the plants have got a couple of toms on low down, still v hard & green. They are just starting to flower at the top. I would also like to know roughly how much to water them. All 4 plants are in a grow-bag, with canes for support.

Any help is greatly appreciated!
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2003 06:12 pm
You're trying to grow tomatos in England?! Wow! That's ambitious!

Tomatos like hot weather. We never prune ours at all...just let 'em grow as big as they like. The hotter it is, the more water they need but they don't like soggy soil...the leaves will mildew. Just be sure to water them CONSISTENTLY or the fruit will split. Best method for staking...make a "teepee" shape out of three stakes, tie the tops of the stakes together. Fertilize generously and consistently. They like manure when we can get it. How large is the grow-bag? You may need to replant each one in its own bag...our plants really spread out.

As soon as the weather starts getting cool, the flowers won't set. Let the remaining fruit continue to ripen on the vine until the threat of frost. Then remove them all...tomato plants are the first to die in a frost. Some of the other Southern girls here on A2K can probably tell you how to make fried green tomatos with those last ones.

Best of luck!
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2003 06:19 pm
Where's ThinkZinc when we need her? She gardens in Scotland, so she might have some specific hints to add to the excellent tomato advice Eva gave you.

Montana's gardening conditions, in terms of climate, are probably somewhat like yours, Graham. I know that I was taught to pinch back the flowers at the top, so the plants can focus on the tomatoes that have already set - our growing season isn't long enough to allow the plants to grow undisturbed.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2003 07:11 pm
On drainage, it doesn't matter what the mix is if the water can't get out. But ne'er mind, I gather it can.
0 Replies
 
 

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