Cpetrie
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:47 pm
Location: Michigan

Starting an Organic Garden

Hello All,
I am almost completely new to gardening, my experience is limited to helping my Grandmother weed her own garden. I intend to start a garden and grow vegetables and other edible plants and herbs, not really anything perennial or ornamental. Anyway, I have a number of questions:

1. I am living in Southern Michigan, in a semi-urban area with a temperate climate. We are coming up on Fall pretty quickly here, but it is still warm, in fact, we just had the warmest day of the year yesterday (92F with a 102F heat index). What can I grow, if anything at this time of year?

2. The area I plan to use is currently a sorely unattended and underutilized yard. It has fairly tall grass and weeds. What would be the best way to clear this area and prepare it for Fall or Spring planting? My plan right now is to lay down a weed mat over the area I want to use, kill the current plantlife, naturally fertilize the area and then till it all together.

3. My last question has to do with which plants to grow from seed. I understand some can be quite difficult, such as corn, and others are much easier. Which plants would you guys recommend that I purchase germinated and which should I purchase and grow from seed?

Thank you for your time!

Cornfed
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Location: Wash St.

Hi Cpetrie,

For question 1 you might want to check out the thread on fall planting in the "Vegetable Garden" section, here is the link to the thread. https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17772

For preparing the plot, If you can mow it with a mower that has a bagger you could remove the grass and some of the weed seed. Then I would get it tilled up as soon as you can. Even if you don't plant anything in it this season you can start adding leafs and manure if you can find it for next year.

I hope this helps a little, I'm sure others will give you some more ideas.

Best of luck,
Cornfed

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

My favorite method of creating a garden bed is" sheet mulching" and "no till gardening". Type that in the search box to the upper left and see what you get. I tried it just now and see a lot of my own posts in which I said just that! :shock: OK I may have to dig up the good threads later -- let me know if you can't find any. A quick description is to mow, fork/aerate the ground, water well, spread compost/manure + pH amendments, cover with 4~5 layers of newsprint or craft paper if planting right away or a single layer of cardboard if planting in spring, water well, spread layers of no weed/seed compost/grass clippings, dry leaves/straw (not hay), top with 2~4" no weed/seed topsoil/compost.

DON'T USE SYNTHETIC WEED MAT. It'll break down over time and cause problems for you. Also will catch on tillers (if you till), garden fork, shovel. Very frustrating.

Growing from seed: I'm finding corn to be actually pretty easy to grow from seed. Also most curcurbits -- cukes, pumpkins, squash, beans, peas, leaf lettuce, carrots and radish (of course). Potatoes are super easy to grow from seed potatoes (small egg sized potatoes and big potatoes cut up). There IS timing involved. You need to sow some early in spring, some in mid-spring, and others AFTER all danger of frost.

For beginners, I would recommend getting tomato, peppers, eggplants, cabbage family, and heading lettuce as transplants. Again time to plant is important.

Fall gardening -- the thread recommended is perfect.
Last edited by applestar on Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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rainbowgardener
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Location: TN/GA 7b

fall and winter gardens

Here's an article about what to plant when in spring and in fall. It's currently set for zone 7-8, but there's a menu on the left hand side, you can switch it to other zones (it looks like Michigan encompasses a big range of hardiness zones from 3 to 6). (If you don't know what zone you are in just Google USDA hardiness zones Michigan and you will find a map that shows you)

https://www.thevegetablegarden.info/resources/planting-schedules/zones-7-8-planting-schedule

And here's a general guide to fall winter veggie gardens, showing how to count back from average first frost date and lots of good tips
https://www.humeseeds.com/falwint.htm (If you don't know your average first and last frost dates, you can Google that too!)

And if you want to do organic gardening, START A COMPOST PILE!! There's a whole section on compost in this forum, do some reading if you haven't done composting. You won't have compost for your fall garden, but if you start now, you will have plenty of good compost for the spring garden. Absolute best thing you can do for your garden.

Definitely check out the sheet mulching mentioned above.

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Jewell
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Location: South Puget Sound

I just want to second the "no till" gardening. :D It has been great! :D I layed down the cardboard two winters ago and planted the first garden in five years last year. I piled leaves, a little manure and seedless yard mulch (lawn mower chopped orchard and hedge trimmings) on top of the cardboard. The first season I had to cut/peel through some of the cardboard to plant, but I have never had any weeds in my beds this last two summers/winters. Never any heavy digging or tilling and the soil is gorgous. I just keep adding the organic matter that I have and the beds and plants just keep looking better. Best gardening practice ever.
Jewell
My Vegie Gardens https://picasaweb.google.com/Jewell2009/ ... arden2009#
Zone 7b or Western Gardener's Zone 4
There are fairies at the bottom of my garden~Anonymous

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Diane
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Location: Mass

Your garden looks great Jewell. The soil too.
Gardens are a little bit of heaven on earth.

https://s600.photobucket.com/albums/tt87 ... G00047.jpg

earthenwings
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Location: Casselberry, FL

Thanks!

RG, thanks for the links! You just got me started in my first gardening attempt. ;)

This link [url]https://www.thevegetablegarden.info/cooperative-extensions[/url] was really helpful. The Extension Services staff was very friendly; I almost couldn't get the Master Gardener to stop barraging me with information! :D

lilypotter
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Im also going to start organic gardening. Thank you all friends, for your links and advices. This really is like guide for me. Hey Jewell your garden is pretty good.

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Jewell
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Location: South Puget Sound

lillypotter I just finished giving a light turning of the soil to even it in the old tomato bed and put the broadbeans in. I am sold on the no til method. I really keep my beds producing year around, and have so much better garden than I ever had before. The only hard part is I have to keep starting plants to get them big enough the 6 inch slugs don't mow them down (especially this time of year with the cooler damp nights).
Jewell
My Vegie Gardens https://picasaweb.google.com/Jewell2009/ ... arden2009#
Zone 7b or Western Gardener's Zone 4
There are fairies at the bottom of my garden~Anonymous

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