smokeeater360
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Questions for this upcoming summers garden

Have a couple of questions about the garden for the upcoming summer........

First question I have is about weed control. Short of tilling every other day, putting a mulch of some sort down, or using a herbicide of sorts, is there something I can do to help control the weeds in my garden? I know I cant get rid of them all but sure would like to find a less time consuming way of doing so.

My second question is how do I get a better stand with the plants that I plant? The last couple of years my beans, peas and corn have come come up very spotty, nothing consistent. I do have an Earthway seeder that I used to plant everything with so that it is at a consistant depth unlike planting with a hoe. My seed was new seed bought at Menards.

imafan26
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Re: Questions for this upcoming summers garden

Till your vegetable patch water it everyday, let the weeds come up. When they have at least 3 leaves pull it. Make sure you get the roots of cut and come again weeds. Repeat tilling watering,weeding, until you don't see many weeds coming up. Do a soil test if you have not done one. Add your amendments 4-6 inches of a blended compost, 1/2 inch of manure on the garden bed . Add the recommended fertilizer and adjust pH if necessary.

Spotty plants will provide more light and soil for weeds to germinate. Try wide row or French intensive gardening which does not leave much open space for weeds to grow.

If your seeds are good, then the soil prep needs to be better. Water consistently with a sprinkler or drip system on a timer. Seeds need even moisture or they will die.

Since you live in Wisconsin, some of your plants can be started indoors prior to setting out. Grow a few extra to fill in for the ones that fail. you can start all your plants indoors and harden them off to plant outside or plant a few extra pots at the same time you plant outside so you can fill in the blanks with your extra plants that will still be the same age. Corn, plant every 8 inches instead of every foot. Plant in a block. If it is too crowded you can take some plants out.

When you buy seeds make sure they were in the temperature controlled store and not outside exposed to the sun, moisture in the garden, or temperature fluctuations. Keep the seeds in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator until you need them. Put the seeds in a bowl of warm water over night, toss out the floaters. Plant the rest. Make sure you put a barrier over the seed bed. Birds and rodents will come around and dig up the seeds to eat them.

Corn and beans will do better after the weather warms up a bit. Peas can be started earlier. Pay attention to your local planting dates. You can look it up on the Farmer's Almanac. For corn and beans they will do better once the temperatures are consistently warm for your varieties and the days lengthen. Where I live I plant most warm season crops on Mar 1. Before that they dampen off more and the ones that do germinate grow very slowly. Peas can handle cooler weather. I also grow tropical corn and flat beans because they don't require long days, but they like it in the 70-85 degree range.
Corn is a heavy feeder and usually needs side dressing of nitrogen. Beans can follow the corn since it does not need to have additional nitrogen. I follow my corn with Asian vegetables and cabbages since they will scavenge any excess fertilizer. I rotate my beans with tomatoes in pots. It is where I have a permanent trellis for cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, and peas.
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applestar
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Re: Questions for this upcoming summers garden

I agree — peas, corn, and beans are prime targets for rodents like field mice, chipmunks, squirrels, as well as some species of birds depending on where you live.

I absolutely cannot plant corn without chipmunks carefully digging them up one by one. I’ve resorted to planting pre-started seedlings (but I only have a small garden and grow small patches of corn mostly for fun).

Beans and peas are also subject to being plucked out from the ground just as they sprout by even non-seed eaters like robins and other birds that are looking for worms and grubs. These birds realize their mistake and leave the sprouted seedlings on the ground to dry up and die. :roll:
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SQWIB
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Re: Questions for this upcoming summers garden

Intercropping, succession planting, living mulches.
I have had success with oregano, no weeds got through the oregano, but you need to be on top of it. I try too keep most of the soil either shaded or filled in with plants, whether it be flowers, strawberries, herbs, smaller veggies, anything to keep the weeds down. I'll be messing with some comfrey this year if I can get some seeds.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Questions for this upcoming summers garden

You said "short of putting down some kind of mulch," but by saying that, I think you eliminated your best option. You do understand that mulch does not have to be purchased? It can be grass clippings, fall leaves, pulled weeds, shredded paper, etc or any combination of them. Putting down a good layer of organic mulch (at least 3", more is better), you suppress the weeds and then it breaks down to feed the soil. Assuming you are talking about garden beds, not acres, it is cheap, easy, effective, and good for your soil and your garden.
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jal_ut
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Re: Questions for this upcoming summers garden

first question: Hoe, hoe, hoe...........

Second question: Put those seeds in two inches deep and then walk on the area to pack the soil down tight. This gets rid of soil pockets and brings the seeds into good contact with the soil.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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jal_ut
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Re: Questions for this upcoming summers garden

applestar: I agree — peas, corn, and beans are prime targets for rodents like field mice, chipmunks, squirrels, as well as some species of birds depending on where you live.

Yes, the critters and birds can at times decimate our gardens. If we are to be successful we must do something to protect from the critters. I have found that a radio in the corn patch tuned to the local radio station keeps the raccoons out. At times a shotgun works wonders. You will just have to see what you can use and what you find acceptable.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

imafan26
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Re: Questions for this upcoming summers garden

I remember when I lived in a townhouse and did not have cats. I planted a very small patch of corn in the courtyard and nothing came up. I replanted again and watched a mouse dig up every seed and pack it in its mouth, then come back for more. I set up a rat trap and baited it with corn. The mouse went right over the trap and nothing happened. I asked my neighbor how come the trap did not spring! He asked me what size the mouse was ( it was about 3 inches not including the tail). He said I needed a mouse trap not a rat trap. I never had to put out mouse traps before because I always had cats bringing me presents. I got a smaller trap and put it right in the path the mouse took and then I got it the next time it came to steal my corn seeds.

Birds will steal pepper seeds out of my nursery pots so I have to have the pots covered with another tray. They will also eat the orchid buds, flowers and sometimes the leaves as well as the ripe papaya and mango on the trees.

Mulching is a good way to control weeds. I don't have a large planting space so I also do not plant in rows. Rows of open soil would just be an open invitation to weeds. That I why I offset plant so that while the plants get the required spacing, there is very little space between them as the leaves will shade the ground. I use stepping stones in my garden so I have a place to step when I do have to go into the garden beds to weed or work it. stepping stones don't allow weeds to grow on them and it limits where the soil gets compacted from traffic. I used a few layers of newspaper for mulch. I planted the seeds through the newspaper and it would take a couple of months for the newspaper to break down, but by then the plants would be big enough to compete with the weeds and could shade out some of the nasties like nutsedge which does not grow well without shade but is nearly impossible to totally eradicate in my yard. I don't have easy access to other kinds of clean mulch, but I have a lot of newspaper.
In your off season you can use a winter cover crop, cardboard, straw, old carpet or plastic sheeting over the beds to keep the weeds from sprouting until you are ready to start working the plot again.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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lakngulf
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Re: Questions for this upcoming summers garden

question 1..Good Question. I fight this every year and did not win last year. I have used black cloth with some success, and better luck with cardboard down the rows. Of course, among the plants only option is to pull pull pull

question 2..My planting of corn and beans is small enough that I can start in greenhouse and transplant. For large garden you could start some inside to fill in the gaps. Soil must be warm for seeds to germinate in the garden
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Ksk
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Re: Questions for this upcoming summers garden

3 + inches of straw suppresses weeds. Straw not hay! I use organic straw and put it in between rows. Works very well.

I have done experiments with corn after reading an article that recommended growing it in a large stand. A few rows in a small garden may not have enough “tassel action” for good pollination. If there is no wind shake the plants but I have discovered square patches of corn produce more than a few long rows. Corn will also deplete soil quickly and is a heavy feeder. Not always worth the work but it tastes great! For beans and peas use innoculant for heavy production. You can use floating row covers to protect seedlings.

For rodents, start traps in late February/early March at the very latest. They nest in spring and where there are water and food (ie your seeds) they will infest a garden and be destructive very quickly. In the high desert we have packrats too. I spray seedlings with a deer repellent and it holds off rodents until plants are woody. Works for rabbits pretty well. Note: snap any traps early in the morning or you will kill or injure birds. Move bird feeders far away from garden.

You can see when a pack rat is around because they try to roll tomatoes to their nest or anything else of interest. Look for these and other signs to trap and dig out the nest. If you trap without removing nests new critters will move in like a hotel. Also, for mice and rats, before you start your garden, leave out a pale of water after a dry spell. If you give them a path they will jump in and drown. Very gross but you can get your populations under control pretty quickly. I only do this if the numbers are very high like during drought conditions. Also, organic methods encourage natural predators like owls, hawks, snakes and lizards to reproduce and take care of business. I think this is the best way but it takes a while for them to move in. Once you have the balance it will work out. You will never get rid of all pests but a balance will let plants get established. Compost on the ground is also a critter magnet in our area. I was forced to move to drum composters.

For birds, I put shade cloth up on hot hot days and hang old cds or shiney tape around after planting.
I find birds look for water in mid summer and will poke at tomatoes and other fruit at the top for water with rodents stealing toward the bottom. A shade cloth at the heat of the day helps in mid summer with a bird bath to draw them to other sources besides your precious plants.

Rodent control is ongoing as they reproduce in waves. I read mice live most of their lives in a about a 10-20 foot area with babies expanding to their own territory. If you see then in the daytime it is an infestation. As you can see I fight the good fight but respect the resilience of these little guys. So much depends on the weather and your area. Good luck!

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Gary350
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Re: Questions for this upcoming summers garden

Your soil is already full of 1000s of seeds. If you can make most of those seeds germinate and die you will have very few weeds in your garden. I till my garden then wait about 2 days and till again. Seeds near the surface germinate from the heat of the sun. Till every other day it kills the seeds that sprouted and stirs more seeds to the surface to germinate. Every time you till again it kills the seeds that germinated and brings more seeds to the surface to germinate. In about 2 weeks most of the seeds have germinated and died from tiller damage. Now it is time to plant my garden. I don't have weeds or grass so I never need to mulch or do anything to prevent weeds. Loose surface soil dries out any seeds that blow into the garden do not germinate in dry soil. I never water my garden that waters weeds and grass too. I don't have a weed problem. You need to be smarter than a seed to win the battle against weeds.

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jal_ut
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Re: Questions for this upcoming summers garden

Weed seeds come on the wind. In my case they come in the irrigation water. Lets face it: You are going to have weeds. Pulling weeds and hoeing them out is part of the gardening game. Have fun!
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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