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Post by carla on Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:24 am

Hello everyone, my name is Carla and I am Sonshine's Aunt. We live in Northern IL. My daughter and I want to start a garden this year, but neither of us have a yard we can dig up so we are looking into above ground gardening. We are new @ this and really don't know what we are doing, so I'm sure I will have a lot of questions for you all after I study the forum.
My daughter's boy friend is going to make some wooden crates or something for us to make a garden in. I am praying this works, so we can prepare for rough times. We have 3 daughters and 4 grandblessings that I would like to be able to feed if the need araises. We are looking into growing evrything we can to can & freeze. I am looking forward to communicating with all of you and picking your brains. lol. We have never done any kind of gardening before.

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Post by Rohn on Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:00 am

Welcome from Eastern OH. Glad to have you on board here. You will do fine in your garden I'm sure. Although I can't give you advice since I plant all my garden in the ground. Last year though my daughter did plan some lettuce, carrots and tomatoes in porch boxes and they did real good on our deck.
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Post by dizzy on Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:15 am

Last year, I saw some raised beds-about waist high-made out of pallets. But, hubby was driving, and I couldn't get him to stop so I could take a good look at them.

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Post by 12acrehome on Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:46 pm

Hi Carla, and welcome. Always glad to see new faces here. Perhaps the greatest miracle God has given man control of is seeds for growing food. We like to make growing a garden a lot more complex than it really is. Very simply, you need 8" of good soil or growing medium. You need good quality seeds, and you need a consistent water supply (keep the soil evenly moist) The hard part about a container garden is keeping it from drying out, and not over watering it. Lots of good folks here who will be glad to answer your questions

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Post by carla on Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:09 pm

Thank you all, I am very excited about starting this journey. I have been studying this forum this evening and feel more confident now. I believe this is what the Lord intends for us to do, to try to become as self reliant as possible. I'm getting excited and keep bugging my daughter to get the boy friend going on our raised beds. Thank you Dizzy for that definition.
Rohn, thank you for the encouragement.
12acrehome, thank you for the advice. Wondering since I am doing raised bed, what kind of soil to start with. Would potting soil be advisable? Also thinking some of this will be done inside so wondering about fertilizer?

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Post by Sonshine on Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:47 pm

Hey Carla, good to see you finally able to post. If you can give me a call or shoot me an email on what vegetables you want to grow I'll get some seeds out to you. So far you've gotten some good advice. 12acrehome brought up a good point about container gardens do tend to dry out, so that's something to watch for. As for fertilizer, make sure it's organic so you aren't filling it full of chemicals. If you know anyone with cattle, chickens, etc, see if you can get some manure from them. Mix that in with the soil. Be careful with chicken manure, although it's great, it's also full of nitrates, so it has to age a bit before using it so it doesn't burn your plants.
Here's some links that may help:

http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1647.html

http://gardening.about.com/od/vegetablepatch/a/ContainerVeggie.htm

http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/vegetable/container.html

That should get you started. Start out small this year till you get the knack of it, and add more as you feel more comfortable.

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Post by dizzy on Wed Mar 20, 2013 7:16 am

If you own a pet rabbit, they'll give you some great fertilizer. It doesn't need to age like other manure does.

And, if you don't have a pet rabbit, as long as you're legally allowed to have one, you might want to get one so you have your own manure plant. They're fairly easy to raise, and don't cost a lot to feed.

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Post by Rohn on Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:35 am

dizzy wrote:If you own a pet rabbit, they'll give you some great fertilizer. It doesn't need to age like other manure does.

And, if you don't have a pet rabbit, as long as you're legally allowed to have one, you might want to get one so you have your own manure plant. They're fairly easy to raise, and don't cost a lot to feed.

I agree with dizzy. Rabbits are fun too. My daughter really enjoys hers (so does her dad). They take little care just regular feeding, watering and occasional cleaning of the nesting boxes and under their pen. The don't make any noise and the grand kids love them. The fertilizer just keeps piling up and we only have two. When the manure is used it really makes the plants do good.

I am thinking about getting some more for meat.
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Post by PATRICE IN IL on Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:14 am

Welcome Carla Smile from a fellow Illinois resident. I'm about 30 miles from Chicago's southwestern border, I'm actually closer to Joliet than Chicago.

Check out square foot gardening on the internet or look for the book at your library for ideas to grow in small spaces. You can grow in any container that will hold enough soil such as plastic coffee cans for growing herbs, lettuce or radishes etc.

I've sewn grow bags from landscape fabric to grow potatoes in on my gravel driveway. I've seen people turn discarded dresser drawers into grow boxes. Just make sure any container you plant in you make drainage holes in the bottom so excess water drains out. For containers add some rocks in the bottom to aid in drainage as well.
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Post by PATRICE IN IL on Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:18 am

If you have room for a child's plastic wading pool you can put holes in the bottom of it and get a fairly large growing area. Half deep Rubbermaid totes can also be used for growing in as long as you put drainage holes in the bottom.
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Post by Sonshine on Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:07 pm

PATRICE IN IL wrote:Welcome Carla Smile from a fellow Illinois resident. I'm about 30 miles from Chicago's southwestern border, I'm actually closer to Joliet than Chicago.

Check out square foot gardening on the internet or look for the book at your library for ideas to grow in small spaces. You can grow in any container that will hold enough soil such as plastic coffee cans for growing herbs, lettuce or radishes etc.

I've sewn grow bags from landscape fabric to grow potatoes in on my gravel driveway. I've seen people turn discarded dresser drawers into grow boxes. Just make sure any container you plant in you make drainage holes in the bottom so excess water drains out. For containers add some rocks in the bottom to aid in drainage as well.

I'm interested in how you grow the potatoes in fabric. Can you elaborate on that? I've heard of people growing them in trash cans using hay instead of soil too. Not sure how that works though. How do they get the nutrients they need?

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Post by PATRICE IN IL on Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:16 pm

I sewed a cylinder shape from the landscape fabric and added a circular bottom. Into the bottom of my bag I added a bag of potting soil, then I planted the potatoes. As they grew I added more potting mix until it was about 12 inches deep. After that I just kept mulching the plants with straw to conserve moisture. They actually grew fairly well, better than in my garden and harvesting was much easier.
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Post by Sonshine on Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:19 pm

I'm thinking about giving this a try. We do grow potatoes in our garden, but I had heard that they can actually do better in a container like this. Would the same thing work with other root vegetables?

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Post by PATRICE IN IL on Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:29 pm

Probably, I just haven't given any others a try yet. I actually got the idea from a gardening catalog that was selling the grow bags. I figured the landscape fabric would hold up pretty well and would let any excess water drain off without any problems. The catalog was for Gardeners Supply Company www.gardeners.com They have a bunch of different sized bags for things like tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, carrots and lettuce. Go check them out, they are under the section pots and planters.
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Post by PATRICE IN IL on Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:37 pm

BTW I've grown potatoes in garbage cans too and the bags were better and easier to harvest from. After the growing season I emptied the potting mix into the garden and folded the dry fabric bags and stored them in my shed.
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Post by 12acrehome on Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:44 pm

carla wrote:
12acrehome, thank you for the advice. Wondering since I am doing raised bed, what kind of soil to start with. Would potting soil be advisable? Also thinking some of this will be done inside so wondering about fertilizer?

Fertilizer is one of those touchy subjects we tend to make more complex than it should be. For the first year, if you are going to buy either a top soil (in a bag or truck load delivery), and compost (bagged), or potting soil or potting mix, you will most likely not need to amend the "growing medium" with anything. The second and following years you will need to do something to replace what the plants took out to grow your veggies. Think of soil like a savings account that you inherit. You start out with a certain balance of nutrients, as you grow things in the soil the plants make withdrawals. When you harvest the plants you then take the what they withdrew from the soil. Before you can expect to withdraw that much again, you must make deposits to the account (add fertilizer to the soil). I recommend adding all the compost (kitchen scraps and manure) you can fit into the container, along with a 4 to 6 inch layer of chopped up leaves worked into the soil. The leaves will put the trace minerals into the soil that the plants need to produce a healthy food crop. Also, if you chop up and bury the plants that grew in the soil, back in the soil, they will decompose and add back some of what they took out when they were growing there.

As for what to put into your containers, I am sorry that I cannot offer first hand experience, since I have several acres spread across three properties at my disposal. I did find this article that seems to have a valid comparison, and from a logical point of view I agree with the conclusions offered.

http://smallspacegardening.rockingchairwisdom.com/container-gardeningpotting-soil-vs-potting-mix.html

Best wishes...

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Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
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Post by carla on Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:41 pm

Wow! Thank you all for some really great ideas. I am getting some 5 gal. tubs from work and going to get started as soon as I get the seeds Sonshine is sending me. Also have to get the soil and rocks.
Patrice you are not far from us, we live in the Rockford area.

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Post by PATRICE IN IL on Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:14 pm

Carla we are about 3-4 hours away. My neighbor is from Rockford and told me it usually takes that long to get there.

Glad to hear you are acquiring some tubs, they should work well. Happy gardening! Smile
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Post by Sonshine on Sat Mar 23, 2013 3:15 am

Carla, I have the seeds gathered together and we'll get a package off to you probably tomorrow.

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Post by carla on Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:58 am

Going to get my tomatoes and peppers started this weekend. Can anyone tell me how many seeds to put in each hole? Told ya all I know absolutely nothing about gardening. I am so praying this works out and we have a good harvest. Don't know when to start beans and peas. Any suggestions? Remember we are doing container gardening.

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Post by carla on Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:00 am

Thank you Sonshine & Joe for providing me with seeds and a brand new canner. Love you guys so much and really apprciate your help and most of all your Love for God!

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Post by Sonshine on Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:44 am

The seeds I sent have a pretty good germination rate, so you should be ok with only one seed per hole. I haven't done any gardening as far north as you are, so I'm not sure on when to start the beans and peas. I'll try to find when your last frost date is, but for most things I would suggest not starting them in their permanent containers until you are assured of warm temperatures. I know that tomatoes need soil temps of 70 degrees, so as a rule of thumb I try not to put my plants outdoors until the soil temps hit that 70 mark. Of course, things like sweet peas, root vegetables and certain greens do better with the cooler weather.

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Post by PATRICE IN IL on Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:46 am

Our frost dates are Mother's Day/2nd week of May. I usually put my peas out the middle of April and wait until the end of May for my beans. You can start your tomatoes and peppers now and transplant them into larger pots but don't set them out until the middle to end of May. An old wives tale is not to plant until the oak leaves are the size of a mouse's ear. If you start your seeds ahead of time you'll have to harden them off before transplanting them into their permanent home.
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Post by carla on Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:28 pm

Patrice, I'm sorry but what do you mean by " harden them off?" I am checking some other sites also to get some ingo. I think you all for your help. May the lord bless each and everyone of you with a great harvest.

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Post by PATRICE IN IL on Sun Apr 07, 2013 2:47 am

Hardening off means to bring your seedlings outside for short to longer periods of time to get them accustomed to the bright sunlight, wind and temperature. It's best to get them out in a protected place as soon as weather permits.
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