As the thread title says, I am new to gardening, so I am going to need lots of help.
My mother always had a large vegetable garden in Canada before we moved down here to Florida, but the dirt there was extremely good, and just about anything seemed to grow really well. Once we moved to the land of sand and sun, though, she never managed to grow anything to speak of.
Well, she is getting older, and I am looking for ways to keep her active (as I am selfish and want her around for a long time yet), so I decided that I would get her a garden going once again. So I hauled home a pickup truck load of clay and several bags of compost from HD, and mixed that in with the native sand. We planted radish, squash, pole beans, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, beets, and cucumbers.
I liked the radishes. Everything else was pretty much a bust. Several things hardly grew at all, others grew but haven't produced much, some seem to have been attacked and murdered by nematodes, the carrots were small, hard, and fibrous, etc.
So NOW I have went at this gardening thing with a vengeance. What I want for everyone to do is to lie and tell me that everything that I have done is perfect and that I will be blessed with monstrous and tasty vegetables.
What, no liars in the house? What kind of forum IS this?!?
OK, so then tell me what I have done wrong.
The original soil was good old Florida sand, with a very minimal amount of organic material. I have, in total, added probably 5 cubic yards of red clay to a 20'x20' area, then tilled it in till the dirt was a slight orange color and there were no large chunks of clay left. Then I had a friend who was demucking something somewhere dump me a couple of dumptruck loads of black muck (I think that this is very comparable to peat), of which I have tilled in probably 4 yards into the mix. Then I got about 2 1/2 yards of compost (still steaming hot) from a local mushroom factory and tilled that in. So what I have is a mixture of clay and sand from 9 to 12 inches deep, an mixture of muck, clay, and sand from 6 to 9 inches, and a mixture of compost and muck, with a little bit of clay and sand thrown in for good measure, in the upper six inches. This stuff looks so good that I was tempted to bypass all of the growing hoopla and eat the dirt itself.
Now, to address the nematodes, I raked the garden area level, dug a shallow ditch around the outside of it, and, while chanting "Die, Nematodes, Die!", stretched Bisqueen across it (2 layers), and threw the dirt back into the ditch on top of the plastic. This, I understand, if left in place for 30 days or so, will raise the temperature enough to kill off those rascally little devils. When this comes off, the first thing that I intend to plant is a row of marigolds around the outside edge, to slow the inevitable reinvasion.
When I get the plastic off, I intend to run a Ph test on the soil, but the question is, what is the target point? Does it differ for different vegetables? Should I till any lime that is neccesary into the soil, or should I just spread it on top?
I am sure that I could come up with many more questions, but I don't want to wear out my welcome quite yet, so I will abstain for now.
And finally, if you have read this far, thank you very much for taking the time to do so. And if you actually decide to post an answer to any of my questions, I'll send you a radish in the mail.
Dreaming of a big ole' mess of collard greens,