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Romans 3:23
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Hello,

My wife and I moved into our house fall of 2018 and have been slowly working on our property. We self-contracted and build the home ourself so lots of projects to do before spending the time gardening.

We have a place about 20x60 that we plan to till up and plant this spring. My mother-in-law lives on the property behind us and has a good deal of gardening experience. We plan to do a 4 foot picket fence around our garden (pickets will not have spaces between to prevent rabbits from entering). We are in zone 6.

Anyways, we are wanting to plant tomatoes for sauce making, various squash, green beans, peppers and potatoes. I also plan to plant a few types of apple trees. We eat various things and her mom is teaching us to can and has a freeze drier. I also plan to create a compost pile built with pallets that we have lying around.

I have a few questions that I cannot find an answer on in my research.

When tilling up my plot, should I put anything around the garden to separate it from the yard around it?

Are there any soil tests I can purchase online in order to get a baseline of my soil parameters?

What is the best way to keep animals off of small trees to ensure they have time to grow?

Any other easy to grow vegetables that you’d recommend that I didn’t include?
 

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Wrong Side of Heaven
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many varieties of radish some are quite large and mild compared the the red globes you usually see, and they are fast and do well early. lettuces and those work well in containers away from varmints, carrots do too.

Also think about attracting pollinators, I dont know your area but you want the locals to stop and spend time there.
 

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Bugged out already
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Welcome to gardening. You have already touched on some important items, the zone, your soil, and some of the pest that you need to deal with.

My advice, look up the agriculture extension for the university system in your area. They would have the best experience of what works in your area and can probably test your soil and advise you for free. They can surely give you high quality and location specific advice on each of your questions!

Even with expert advice from the university, it will take some experimentation and you will always find areas to improve upon.

Just typing this, my mouth waters thinking of corn, cucumbers, tomatoes...

Some fruit trees, particularly those of the apple variety should do well in your zone. I’ve lived in zone 7 and zone 4 and 5, so I am no expert on zone 6. So call your extension!

Good luck!
 

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I sometimes use 3 or 4 pallets to protect baby trees from wind, rabbits and deer. Just stand them up to form a square or triangle and wire them together.

It would be nice to have something under your fence to keep grass from coming through and rabbits from digging under, but a lot of work. It would need to be rot proof and probably at least 6" deep, a cement curb would be ideal. I just spray the weeds that are trying to breach my fence with roundup. Eventually the fence grows into the soil and rabbits quit trying to dig under.
 

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Romans 3:23
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Discussion Starter #5
I sometimes use 3 or 4 pallets to protect baby trees from wind, rabbits and deer. Just stand them up to form a square or triangle and wire them together.

It would be nice to have something under your fence to keep grass from coming through and rabbits from digging under, but a lot of work. It would need to be rot proof and probably at least 6" deep, a cement curb would be ideal. I just spray the weeds that are trying to breach my fence with roundup. Eventually the fence grows into the soil and rabbits quit trying to dig under.
I like the pallet idea a lot. Especially considering I have a few lying around. Thanks for the tip. My mother in law’s garden plot has buried chicken wire and it is nice. She actually had a baby bunny get in the garden at the beginning of the season while she had her gate open and it lived there all year until I finally went in with gloves and removed it. He grew quite a bit snacking everyday on veggies.
 

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Romans 3:23
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Discussion Starter #6
many varieties of radish some are quite large and mild compared the the red globes you usually see, and they are fast and do well early. lettuces and those work well in containers away from varmints, carrots do too.

Also think about attracting pollinators, I dont know your area but you want the locals to stop and spend time there.
I do like radishes a lot. Thanks for the tip. I’ll check my catalog for seeds. I am considering having a small beehive. Would that work? Guy at work is a bee keeper. I’m all about using friends as resource lol.
 

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I have to fence in any fruit or nut tree that I plant, or the bucks will tear them up in the fall. I use wire fencing formed into a circle, it works well for me. I also gave up tilling years ago, and now have a bunch of raised beds. Fenced in of course. The eye appeal of the beds are great too.
 

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When tilling up my plot, should I put anything around the garden to separate it from the yard around it?
I think this will largely depend upon what kind of grass you have in your yard.

For example, I have Bermuda Grass, which is a very aggressive spreader. I ended up putting steel landscape edging around my vegetable garden beds, just to help keep the Bermuda Grass out.

It helps a lot, but the grass still tries to go over and even under the edging. I always have to dig some of it out of my garden beds every year.
 

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I use (and am a big fan of) raised beds.

Less work once done, you avoid the grass issue, and when it's too wet (last year) for others to till I was already harvesting early crops!
 

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I use (and am a big fan of) raised beds.

Less work once done, you avoid the grass issue, and when it's too wet (last year) for others to till I was already harvesting early crops!
So am I, but I live on the top of what geologically, is a 500' high mound of gravel so all my dirt I have to haul in or make myself.

Currently I am using cloth grow bags which seem to be working very well.
 
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I use (and am a big fan of) raised beds.

Less work once done, you avoid the grass issue, and when it's too wet (last year) for others to till I was already harvesting early crops!
Agreed... I am not going to get rid of my current in-ground garden beds, because I've put too much work into improving the soil over the years. Besides, there's something intangible I feel while working those same plots year after year, some kind of connection with the soil. That's the best I can describe it.

However, I have decided that all new gardening endeavors will be either raised beds or containers. I am also interested in trying those grow bags.
 

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Welcome to the gardening world! Lots of great adventures ahead. Some failures too but they make the victories that much sweeter. :)

You might want to visit your local feed & seed. They carry varieties of seeds that do best in your area and they're a lot less expensive than catalog seed and no shipping charge. They're great to experiment with and once you get the hang of it, then branch out into other varieties that are oh so tempting in those catalogs. ;)

Dittos on the suggestion to have your soil tested at your local extension office. They'll tell you exactly what it needs, if anything. Here's a link to find your nearest office:
https://extension.osu.edu/lao

My last suggestion is to keep good notes on what you do; what you plant and when, etc. It's an invaluable resource as time goes by. :thumb:
 

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Tree Shelters ie Plantra tan colored have worked better than other colors work GREAT for both protection and as a mini-greenhouse.... as tall as possible. BAD: cost, and if you leave them on, then you will only get one use. I use 4' tall tubes, leave on first year or two to really get the tree a great start, but as soon as the tree starts out the top take off. Get to re-use that way, tree has had great protection and grew a lot faster.
Then for protection most commonly I have planned the trees to run along side an electric fence, just make a loop of hot wire around the tree. Otherwise I use 2x4 wire cage for protection.
NOTE: for trees / shrubs where you want side branches lower than 4' from the ground, you need to use a shorter tree protector.

Suggestion ? Make the garden that large BUT plant 1/2 to 2/3's for green manure crops and/or keep tilling in organic matter/manure the first year. A SMALL garden is much easier to take care of and can often yield more than a much larger garden that ends up full of weeds. AND, expect the first year garden to not do great and not be disappointed. new ground that was grass will most likely not make a great first garden, may be good IF there is LOTS of organic matter added.. .but OK is best you can expect.
GLAD you are getting started !
 

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I am going to raise my beds this year, not very much but anything helps my aching back. I'm going to border it with fake lumber deck boards since they will last a long time.

You have enough room to get a compost going. I used to tend 3 small plots when my yard was arranged differently. 1 would be compost and I would rotate it every year, it made great soil.
 

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I have control issues
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...We plan to do a 4 foot picket fence around our garden (pickets will not have spaces between to prevent rabbits from entering)...
Rabbits can, and WILL dig UNDER your fence to get to the garden goodies. Plan on setting those pickets a couple of feet deep if you want to keep the bunnies out. We have a couple of dogs that are quite adept at catching rabbits.
 

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Romans 3:23
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Discussion Starter #17
So in talking with my mother in law yesterday she let me know she is not planting this year so I can use her plot. I am going to till my area this year and start my compost pile so that I will be ready next year but this year I will use her previously used plot which is already fenced and has chicken wire underground to make it rabbit proof. With our properties attached, it will only be a short ATV ride away to tend the garden. I am really looking forward to having my daughter in the garden with me this year helping out. She loves being outside and kids need to play in the dirt. It’s good for the soul.
 

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Romans 3:23
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Discussion Starter #18
I have to fence in any fruit or nut tree that I plant, or the bucks will tear them up in the fall. I use wire fencing formed into a circle, it works well for me. I also gave up tilling years ago, and now have a bunch of raised beds. Fenced in of course. The eye appeal of the beds are great too.
I am considering raised beds instead of tilling. What is the most cost effective way to build them? I am reading fence pickets and corner boards driven into the ground?
 

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There are a bunch of ways to make raised beds and everybody has opinions on which way is best and which materials to use. I opted for the most simple kind I could make but yet one which could be rapidly disassembled and moved to another area should the SHTF.

I use treated 2x4x8's and 2x4x10's to make my 4' wide x 18' long beds. Why 18'? Because that's how big they can be to have two rows of beds and yet adequate walkways around the garden and down the middle between the two rows of beds. Cut a 8' long board in half and you have bed ends.

I also use 17" lengths of pvc pipe to use as pegs to hold the side and end boards up. Why 17"? Because I can get 7 pieces from each 10' length of pipe with no waste and they're long enough to pound in deep enough to hold the boards.

First I ran string to simulate the bed size and dug up the soil inside the bed area.



After making sure all was level (lots of fiddling there), side boards and ends were held up with old tent poles to "pin" them in place until the final pegs (lengths of pvc pipe) could be pounded in to hold the boards in place along the outside. The soil inside the bed was pulled to the boards to hold them from the inside.



This is the final bed. It can be quickly disassembled if necessary. The end pieces can be removed to allow a tiller to be run through it. There's room to add soil or compost and for a nice layer of mulch. By now the beds are almost topped up. I've since quit using the tiller in the beds and now use a big steel broadfork with 16" tines to keep the soil loose deep down.



The pics above are from 2012 when I started converting the garden to all raised beds. I haven't had any pvc pegs break yet from sun exposure. At the time I figured that each bed cost about $50 to make. That included two 2x 8x10's, three 2x8x8's (two sides and two end pieces) and 12 pvc pegs. Every year I might have to reset one side board that has started leaning outward a tad but all in all, these beds work just fine for me.

Eight years later I have 16 of these beds, about half on each side of the garden and thank goodness, I have run out of room for more! There's an empty area down at the end on both sides but that's for corn and runny things like sweet potatoes, etc and both need to stay open. :thumb:

 
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