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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First i would like to say that i just love reading through everyone's gardening post that were stickied.

now onto why i am here.

I am a 23 year old guy that really doesn't eat many veggies or fruits but I am trying to learn to grow my own so that I can enjoy them more. I know i should be eating them but i just don't but i am hoping that with growing my own fruits/veggies I will be happier to eat them. I would at least want to give it a try.

I am from California (socal to be exact). we have a pretty big back yard but we also have a dog that loves to get into things.

I have a few pics of our back yard and it needs some work to be honest i have no clue how to start on this project. so any help would be great.

now onto the pics i can get better pics of the back yard later today or tomorrow, but for now here is these


yes i know i could start by cleaning all the trash that is found around and the weed's have been cut down since the pic was taken.



for now these are the only pics i have of the back yard so any help is greatly appreciated.
 

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Start with the soil. In NC we have a county extension office that can provide you with a soil testing kit and analyze it for you. Tell them what you want to grow and they will provide you with a list of amendments needed. Or, stick a shovel in the ground and look at the soil. Did the shovel go into the ground with only a little effort? Is the soil dark and rich? If the answer is no then you probably want begin amending your soil.

Pick a small spot in the yard that receives at least 8 hrs of sunlight and dump grass clippings and leaves. Let it compost for a few months and keep adding anything you can get to it. Soon, you'll begin to see stores clear out old inventory of soil that you can get cheap. In my part of the country its time to start planting the fall harvest. If you were here I would say don't worry about the garden this year just get the soil ready.

Again, check with the locals in your area. Find the Extension Office (or equivalent) and a local feed and seed shop. Talk to them to find out what grows well.

I till my garden once or twice in the winter to help kill the grass and weeds. Then spray in February.

Starting with plants from your local feed and seed shop will be much easier to begin with than sprouting your own seeds. Get some seeds anyway. Start some indoors and wait till the soil is warm (search last frost dates for your area) to start seed outside.

That should get you started.
 

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Start with the soil. In NC we have a county extension office that can provide you with a soil testing kit and analyze it for you. Tell them what you want to grow and they will provide you with a list of amendments needed. Or, stick a shovel in the ground and look at the soil. Did the shovel go into the ground with only a little effort? Is the soil dark and rich? If the answer is no then you probably want begin amending your soil.

Pick a small spot in the yard that receives at least 8 hrs of sunlight and dump grass clippings and leaves. Let it compost for a few months and keep adding anything you can get to it. Soon, you'll begin to see stores clear out old inventory of soil that you can get cheap. In my part of the country its time to start planting the fall harvest.

Again, check with the locals in your area. Find the Extension Office (or equivalent) and a local feed and seed shop. Talk to them to find out what grows well.
 

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Actias Luna
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I can't stress enough the value of raised beds. I had a tradional garden 4 years ago. It went horribly. My daughter and I would weed for an hour and only get a small amount cleared. I live near a river and our lawn would not give up. It almost cured me of having a garden.

Last year I decided to give raised beds a try. I am so glad I did! Now we have 4 raised beds and they are so easy to take care of. The people near me with traditional gardens are having a rough year with spindly crappy plants. My tomatoes are between 6 and 7 feet tall and all are full of fruit. The cucumbers and pumpkins are so wild I have to cut them back every couple days (I don't like runners on the lawn).

Here is my raised bed recipe:

Make an 8x4 rectangle with boards
layer newspaper or cardboard all around inside
layer straw
layer composted material
layer coffee grounds collected from Starbucks
Repeat
Top with a couple 5 gallon buckets of sand
Cover with composted cow manure
Mix the sand and the manure with a hoe

This works like a charm in the midwest, anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
gypsymoonfarm: i like the idea of the raised bed i think that would be an easier way for me to get started rather than trying to get my ground right and i would be able to start sooner.
 

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You may want to dig in and see what your soil looks like first. You can contact your Extension office for a soil testing kit too. They will analyze it and give you "for dummies" instructions on how to fix your existing soil with products you can pick up at any garden center.

I just think raised beds are overused and make gardening seem inaccessible because of their cost. They also have other drawbacks like drying out quickly, which I think would be an issue in your hotter climate.
 

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www.chemflame.com
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I'll double the recommendation of what Gypsymoonfarm said. I tried planting right in the ground the first year and had ok results. I tried a raised bed the next year and my plants grow like crazy. I use cardboard, coffee grounds, worms, a mixture of different dirt (including cow manure) from Homedepot and some worm castings and Vermicultie from a different place (when I first put it togather). I also tried again in the ground the next year. Everything has grown 4 times as much in the raised bed compared to straight in the ground.

It's more of better dirt I think with tossing different kinds together and the raised bed allowing the water to drain while the Vermicultie keeps enough to allow both air and water to the plants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
question for the raised bed gardens. in a picture i saw that some one put a tarp looking thing under the bed, my guess is that it is to keep weeds from popping int the garden, what is it called?

here is a pic
 

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Tell the truth, coward.
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First i would like to say that i just love reading through everyone's gardening post that were stickied.

now onto why i am here.

I am a 23 year old guy that really doesn't eat many veggies or fruits but I am trying to learn to grow my own so that I can enjoy them more. I know i should be eating them but i just don't but i am hoping that with growing my own fruits/veggies I will be happier to eat them. I would at least want to give it a try.

I am from California (socal to be exact). we have a pretty big back yard but we also have a dog that loves to get into things.

I have a few pics of our back yard and it needs some work to be honest i have no clue how to start on this project. so any help would be great.

now onto the pics i can get better pics of the back yard later today or tomorrow, but for now here is these


yes i know i could start by cleaning all the trash that is found around and the weed's have been cut down since the pic was taken.



for now these are the only pics i have of the back yard so any help is greatly appreciated.
Okay ignore the scary posts with big words about soil testing etc.

is it sunnier up against your house? find the sunniest spot but not in the middle of the lawn.

I recommend building a bed because the dog won't be able to jump into it: if and only if you have the $. Build this bed 41/2 or 5 ft wide depending on how long your arms are. You have to be able to reach into the middle. How long it is is up to you.

Get back to us when you've worked out your spot. And remember KISS - don't let anyone complicate it for you to the point where you think 'oh blimey i think i'll just chuck the whole idea in.'

:D:

oh -see if yu can build a 2 ft bed (avoidance of dog) and do NOT i repeat do NOT put plastic down. use newspaper if you have to but avoid plastic on the ground.
 

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It's landscape fabric. It keeps the soil purchased and added to the square foot from migrating out of the bed. It also keeps the roots of plants from growing outside of the raised bed, which doesn't work well for some plants. Starting raised beds requires a very large initial investment, and the soil will continually need to be amended over the seasons and years.

In your area, you may have very nice soil. After years of container gardening, I am doing an in-ground garden this year, and other than bugs and non-soil quality issues, my plants are doing fantastic. I used my rototiller to tear up the grass and loosen the surface, then for each plant, I dug a very large hole (the size of a gallon pot or bigger) added peat moss, lime (to reduce acidity - check with your local extension service about whether you need to do this or something else), a big handful of bone meal (about a cup), and whatever grass clippings or other mostly composted stuff I had. I loosened up the soil I dug out by hand and mixed it in with the other stuff. I built up mounds to plant into, and added a little more bone meal right under the transplant.

I "mulched" with newspapers, so weeding has been minimal. It has also kept moisture in, which has been very important this year.

My initial investment was very low, and my plants are doing very well. My efforts will be even easier next year, as I won't have the heavy sod layer to deal with.

While many people are thrilled with square foot gardening, many others are not. To me, if you have good soil underneath the raised beds, putting the barrier down seems like a waste to me. Most plants want room to send out their roots. Tomatoes can put out very deep roots, and other plants, like cucumbers, have deep tap roots. Weeds won't come up from underneath 6" or dirt. Some people use newspapers, which plant roots can penetrate more easily.

Eventually, roots will get through some of the fabric, but I don't see the point in making them work harder to do it, and it means the roots may not be able to get down into the soil area where water can be obtained, so SqFt may mean a lot of watering if you're not getting rain. Because my plants are in the ground, I haven't had to water as much, and we've had no rain in weeks. With rows, it's also easier to set up soaker hoses to water.

Also, you can do raised beds without doing the SqFt method, or combinations from it. If I had money to blow, I would set up a few raised beds and add good soil, sand and compost over my own soil after loosening it up, to grow root crops like carrots, which like looser soil.

I've talked to people who are into the third or fourth years of their square foot gardens and their original soil mixture is now compacted and mostly depleted of nutrients. The vermiculite is left, but they have to replenish a lot of the other stuff more thoroughly.

Either method of gardening will require that you add composted organic material, and kitchen scraps aren't enough to do this. In contrast to the square foot method, it takes about three years to get ground soil up to par by adding organic matter and whatever amendments it needs to improve drainage (sand, wood chips, etc) and pH (pine needles, lime, ashes, etc), so with good practices, the soil can continue to be improved and not replaced.

Raised beds, or the SqFt method anyway, in my opinion, is great if you aren't concerned about having vegetables that are less expensive than ones you can buy. At the scale I am growing (I have about 50 tomato plants, 25 peppers, etc) there is no way to make that cost effective. However, if you have little room, or trouble bending, etc., it can work very well, but usually not with all the magic the author of that method suggests. You can also work to establish some sort of happy medium that includes your own soil and quality amendments, and you can do raised beds with or without planks framing it.

Something else you might want to look into is hugelkulture, which is basically mixing rotted wood into the soil as a growing medium. Rotting wood makes excellent compost!

Good luck with it. Gardening is learning, and you'll have successes and failures. I htink most of us probably learn more from the failures! There will be heartbreaks, too, but it's worth it and very enjoyable!
 

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Just so you know, vigilant20 makes a valid point on raised beds drying out faster in hotter climates (especially without much rain). I solved this with laying cardboard on top of my bed between the plants. You can use straw, newspaper or something else. Even without the the cardboard, when I would stick my finger in the soil, it would still be moist one to two inches down. I had a long dry spell not too long ago, so that is why I put down cardboard in mine. I also have rain barrels hooked to a drip system in my garden.
 

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an inground garden is cheaper and better for moisture, plus soil is really quite capable of growing stuff, people get too worried about it not being adequate but it's been adequate for millennia - but your dog.

Can you control your dog or organise a fence? Even a temporary one with a bit of sheep net offcut from your local friendly fencer would work.

:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
the section that i am thinking of doing the gardening in is already fenced off just need to make it more secure
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
alright here are some slightly better pics my idea is to dig up the section that is fenced in and start from there. the section is about 5-6 ft wide and about 8-10 ft long. didnt get exact measurements but i will as soon as i start.





and a couple more pics of the back yard.

yes thats a lemon tree that has to be cleaned up







I am trying to come up with a plan before i start, so now that you have seen the pics where would you start off?
 

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I tacked down some heavy duty black garbage bags over the area I wanted to turn into a garden and let them lie for a season before I tilled it up. I wanted to be sure to burn out the area and kill every last molecule of grass. I don't know if that's necessary or not, but I haven't had abundant weed issues so I'm sticking to it.

How many hours of light does this area get? Nice lemon tree. I'm jealous.
 

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Only you can decide. You need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day. This means not just at the peak of summer. In the fall or spring when the sun is lower trees may shade the area. Location is the most important decision for you right now. Also I wouldn't worry about raised beds right away. See if you like to garden first. You can always do raised beds later. Rent or borrow a rototiller, till it up, add some organic material ( compost is best),till that in, wait two weeks, re-rototill or use a hoe to kill any weeds that popped up, slap some plants in the ground, and have fun.:):)
 

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My experience here in Iowa is that the soil doesn't need a whole lot to produce great gardens. Every year, I roto-till my garden plot, and till in 50-100 lbs of peat, and about 100 lb. of compost. I Miracle-Gro the sh#* out of my plants during May and June, and then stop fertilizing in July, to allow the plants to set and produce fruit. With raised beds, water is always an issue, and the roots of larger plants cannot go as deep as they want to.
This summer, it's been hot and dry the past few weeks. I have had to water my garden once, just put a sprinkler on it for about 2 hours.
I say, find a sunny spot in the yard, till it up, add peat and compost, and plant a garden. Water and Miracle-Gro will compensate for a lot of soil deficiencies, keep that in mind. Miracle Gro is dirt cheap, and it allows you to pretty much grow anything you want in a sandbox, if that's all you have.
 

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that fenced bit looks fantastic. Just dig it and go for it. Everything you do, even what you do wrong, will add to your learning and things will grow for you.

If it were me I'd roundup the vege patch first just because it's grass and grass is about the worst enemy - it's not organic but it breaks down in the soil. Otherwise turn it all under or remove all the grass. Probably no time to turn it all under... You can remove the sod off the top and put it in a pile to die like compost. then till in some compost and plant things.
 
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