Brettmm92
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Post inviting people to share bits they learned this year

I definitely learned a lot more about gardening this year, more than any other. I'll share a few things that I wish I knew when I started, and I hope ya'll do too!

I have homeade tomato cages, I now think thats the only way to go, made with wire that I staked. Instead of placing the wire on the ground, the wire cage elevates a foot or two off the ground because the tomato plants do just fine without support then and also makes it easier to trim the bottom later on. Also when my indeterminate tomatoes overgrew the smaller unelevated 5 foot cage, I just let them fall from their own weight, and trained them to grow back up it after some heavy trimming. Worked very well

Also with the use of simple trellising I seriously did some damage on garden space efficiency. And I look forward to seeing my trellis growing stuff next year

Making clones of the vertical garden tower project are great, especially great for growing lots of lettuce in a small space.

Seeds at https://migardener.com/ are all only 99 cents! And I haven't used much fertilizer but their stuff worked stupid good.

Apparently tree cutting companies love when people get wood chips from them, there are ways that you can get them for free and they dump a load at your address. I used woodchips heavily around my rows and it looks great, stops weeds, helps retain moisture, is slowly degrading into what I think is a great soil amendment, and from what I noticed a great habitat for spiders and fungi. They are feeding the soil while looking great and where very cost effective.

Growing radishes or small herbs in between plants as they mature worked well too!

https://www.gardenate.com/ is a great reminder of what's in season

imafan26
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Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

Nice tips
I learned long ago to use CRW for tomato cages. 7 ft cages still get topped by 8 ft vines, but the wire is strong enough to hold the tomatoes. I do however, have problems with the birds eating the tomatoes and tomato netting does not reach the ground on a 7ft cage so I use orange construction fence on the bottom of the cage to keep the birds from getting under the netting.
It does make it more difficult to harvest the tomatoes since I have to undo some of the netting to get to them.

Plant spacing is important if you want optimal growth. You need to space plants so they have enough room at maturity and in the meantime you can grow short crops in the space between until the larger plants need it.

Not all cultivars or plants do well in all areas. Select varieties that are suitable for your zone and microclimate. There can be surprises. Asparagus does well in Hawaii if it gets enough summer water. Vidalia onions don't always taste the same in another climate with different soil and weather conditions

Some plants are seasonal and you need to choose the right cultivars. Onions and garlic need to be selected for the region you live in and planted at the right time. Daylength and temperature matters to some plants like onions, garlic, strawberries, perilla, corn, and some hot peppers.

Soil testing is invaluable. It can take the guesswork out of fertilizing and save you money on fertilizer you don't need. Too much fertilizer is bad for the environment and can lead to less than optimal growth in the plants. For example too much nitrogen and you don't get much from the root crops. Too much phosphorus can interfere with micronutrient uptake and can take years to correct. You can overdo things even with organic fertilizers.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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jal_ut
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Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

Keep a notebook. Write down planting dates. What you planted. Name, variety. Weather conditions. Storms. How did it grow. Harvest, dates and amounts. Weeding and watering . Next winter when the snow is on you can go over your notes and see what did well and then make plans for Spring planting. Go through your seed box and see what seeds you need to obtain for planting. Have fun!
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

Ksk
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Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

I learned that sometimes you need to get ruthless with tomatoes. I am always so worried I will lose tomatoe plants to wilt or other problems, I seldom pull out volunteers. This year they grew like wild and soon I was overgrown with tomatoes. The truth is I haven’t lost a plant in a decade. So I think I need to be more tidy early on and cage much earlier. This ties back to the spacing issue. They all did taste great however.

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

I cleaned out my seeds. It takes up a whole shelf and 2 drawers in the refrigerator. I had some seeds from 1999.
Make sure if you save seed, you store them cool and dry in the refrigerator or freezer and label them well with a label that will not wash out or run. It extends their life.
Most seeds will be o.k. 3-5 years, but there are exceptions. Some seeds need to be planted immediately like chayote, cherimoya, cacao. Papaya seeds have short viability. Make sure you ferment seeds that have a membrane or gel like those on papaya, tomatoes, and peppers or it can hinder germination. Beans and dill were still good after 12 years. Take out only as many seeds as you can use. It is not good for seeds to go from cold to hot and back again too many times.
When in doubt, do a germination test.
Succession planting is good, but you need to have some leeway, because sometimes the plants don't cooperate and they are not finished on time. If you have a larger space, you can leave a section fallow or in a cover crop and rotate it so succession plants can go in on time. If not, you have to choose whether to pull the plants out so you can get the next set in on time.

It is nice to try something new once in a while instead of planting the same thing year after year. This year I grew Kohlrabi.

I have now got basil downy mildew so I can only grow holy basil and tomato yellow leaf curl virus so I need to grow resistant varieties or something else.

I love komatsuna
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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Gary350
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Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

TOMATOES. I have experimented with the garden for 50 years. I learned to plant more tomatoes plants than I need if plants get sick usually last week of July they are dead mid to late Aug. We need enough tomato plants to fill the pantry the first 2 weeks plants start producing. We usually get more ripe tomatoes first 2 weeks of July than I get the whole month of August. Tomatoes do not like HOT weather plant them on the east side of a tall shade tree so they get early morning sun coolest part of the day then shade the rest of the day. Plant tomatoes too close together 18" apart so they shade each other in hot weather. Don't give tomato plants much nitrogen or you will have very large plants and few tomatoes. Dig a hole 8" to 10" deep put, 1/4 cup pellet lime, and 1/2 cup 4-10 20 fertilizer in each whole then fill hole with water, tomatoes like very high K = potash = potassium. After water soaks into the soil fill in tomato plant holes with soil then plant tomatoes deep so 1/2 the plant is below the soil surface. I have experimented with every type cage there is including home made cages. I always get 2 times more tomatoes if plants are growing in some type cage vs letting plants grow all over the ground. I buy factory made wire cages then use 8 ft tall cement rebar stake to hold them up. I never remove suckers those limbs grow tomatoes too. I never trim tomato plant tops the plants will stop making tomatoes for a whole month. I like to plant 6 different varieties of tomatoes, no matter what the weather does some plants will do better than others. I don't plant heirloom anymore they are slow producers Big Beef will produce 4 times more tomatoes than German Johnson and Brandy wine both produce very good flavor tomatoes equal flavor. It will take 40 German Johnson plants to do what 10 Big Beef plants will do. Even though research shows north south rows produce more than east west rows I have better luck with east west rows. I save seeds form some of my tomatoes to plant next year. Put name and date on all seed packs.

We grow to fill the pantry so we have food all winter. Our goal is to harvest enough food quick before blite or something kills the plants then hope we have vegetables to eat all summer.

I till the garden several times in spring to kill all grass and weeds. Till every day to stir soil and bring seeds to the surface so they germinate and die. The goal is to make about 95% of the seeds germinate and die. The garden will have very few weeds or grass it is almost a work free garden. Wait until soil is dry enough to till. If you till soil that is too wet dirt balls make soil look like gravel.

Once plants are growing there is very little to do the first month. Water new plants every even at sun down for about 1 week. There will be no grass or weeds for about a month then I till only 1" deep. The loose dry soil on the surface acts like mulch. Weeds and grass dies and new seeds will not grow in that dry soil. Dry surface soil holds the moisture.

I never water my garden once plants are growing. If I water that makes weeds and grass grow. Garden plants need to develop a good root system in preparation for hot dry summer weather. Plants will grow a very deep root system in search of water if you do not water them.

I burn all the wood I can get it makes excellent low nitrogen fertilizer for tomatoes and potatoes.

When I lived in Illinois and Michigan I never watered the garden. When I lived in Arizona garden needed irrigation every night at 9 pm for 12 minutes.
Last edited by Gary350 on Fri Nov 16, 2018 1:28 pm, edited 5 times in total.

imafan26
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Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

I cannot plant too many tomatoes that are not heat tolerant. It is 80 degrees most of the time during the day. It peaks here are around 91. Good heat tolerant tomatoes are Big Beef, Florida 91, Arkansas Traveler, Sioux, most of the cherry tomatoes like sweet 100, sweet million, currents, sunsugar, sungold, grape, Heatwave II, Fourth of July, Sun chaser, Sun Master, Kewalo, Porter Pink, Super Sioux, Better Boy, Celebrity, Quarter Century, 1884, Cherokee Purple, Creole, and Roma. Brandywine did surprisingly well in the heat. I was told it might have problems with pollen clumping, but that did not happen. It is not resistant to most diseases and did need to be treated with fungicide weekly. Large tomatoes are not good producers for the most part, but it is delicious.

Many tomatoes bred for disease and heat resistance sometimes sacrifice flavor. You have to make up your mind how to balance flavor with what is possible to grow well. I find the less handsome tomatoes that are lobed, flat, and orange or yellow have much better flavor than the red round market tomato. Taste depends a lot on what you like. If you like a tangy tomato or only sweet ones. There are hundreds to choose from. Applestar puts out a list of her favorite tomatoes but I tried to grow cayote which she rated highly, but it does not do well in heat and humidity.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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lakngulf
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Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

What did I learn?
1. I probably should not grow sweet potatoes. The varmints eat the leaves at my Farm garden and I don't have room at home, even though I try and got 5 potatoes
2. Always find a cage for tomatoes, and life will be much easier. I have tried vertical and horizontal cattle panels, too much work for results. I DO NOT know how to florida weave. I proved that his year
3. I did this year plant Cherokee Purple, Gary O'Sena and Brandywine in separate locations so I could save bunches of pure seed. Tested germination and got near 84%
Nutin as good as a kitchen sink mater sammich

imafan26
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Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

I don't grow a lot of sweet potatoes because they can take over. I have problems with wireworms and maggots drilling holes in the potatoes. The leaves however, are prolific and edible if you pick the right varieties.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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jal_ut
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Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

"I never water my garden once plants are growing. If I water that makes weeds and grass grow. Garden plants need to develop a good root system in preparation for hot dry summer weather. Plants will grow a very deep root system in search of water if you do not water them."

Interesting! Here in high dry Northern Utah we likely won't get any rain in the months of June, July and August. In order to grow anything we irrigate. My garden gets 12 hours of sprinkler irrigation once each week. Ya do what ya gotta do to make it grow.

My water comes from a reservoir up the canyon above us. It travels 3 miles in a canal. The canal banks are covered in weeds, which drop seeds in the ditch. Yes, the weed seed comes with the water. Ever heard of a hoe? Ya just hoe up the weeds. Hoe, hoe, hoe.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

imafan26
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Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

I probably water my plants too much. I have a lot of potted plants and they are in a 50/50 peatlite mix. Peatlite dries out very fast, but during the rainy season it rains everyday, so it has to dry fast so the plants don't rot. In summer, peatlite needs to be watered daily. Hawaii is a tropical savannah, so we have 2 seasons, wet and dry. When it rains, it can rain for days or weeks at a time. In summer, we will get tropical storms that will bring rain and muggy conditions about every 10 days or so. It is also 88-91 degrees and 90% humidity in summer, so plants need to be watered more. Plants that are native to the region, can live on much less water. Unfortunately, most of the plants we eat are from temperate zones. Plants grown in tropical or semi tropical zones need more shade and water, need heat and disease tolerance, or need to be grown seasonally.

I probably should add a tip, I don't follow as well. If you water plants everyday, they expect water everyday. Some plants can be conditioned to go a day or two between watering. Watering tomatoes too much makes them much more bland, but BER is not a problem.

If plants are in pots, the pots need to drain well, but also need to be fertilized and plants need to be potted up or divided before they become pot bound or split the pot. It is very hard to get a pot bound plant out of a pot once the plant deforms the pot and the roots grow through them.

If you reuse pots, the easiest way to clean the smaller pots is to wash them with a wire brush first then I soak the pots in 10% bleach solution and hot water and let them sit for a week. By then, the chlorine off gasses and the pots are clean and don't need a lot of rinsing.

Round Up is my new friend. I could not keep up with the weeds without it. If weeds are annual, and small hoe them out before they become overwhelming. If they do get out of hand, and you don't have an army or a lot of time to remove everything by hand, then, Round Up and plastic or cardboard to cover bare ground helps regain control. Perennial weeds with deep roots are futile to pull by hand since they regrow from the broken root even through the cracks in the pavers. Herbicides are the only way to control deep rooted perennial weeds. Round Up does not kill everything, it does not work well on plants with shiny leaves.

This is not something new, but by encouraging a strong garden patrol, you don't need to use a lot of chemicals. For the plants that have pests that are not well controlled, you have a choice, use selective chemicals or get rid of the plants and plant something more suitable for the environment.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

SQWIB
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Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

I think the most valuable thing I learned this year is that gardening is only as labor intensive as you make it.

ACW
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Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

I have a fair few baby asparagus plants that are still green and aparently slowly growingwe have only had 2 sharp frosts so far this winter and the next few weeks look to be frost free .
Should i keep the ferns or cut them back ,I don't expect to be harvesting from these plants for at leas another year .
I am guessing that if the foliage is still catching day light that will build the root for later .
A gardener with a small shady back garden and a balcony with containers ,
biggest problem not enough sunshine !

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jal_ut
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Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

Asparagus. In the spring you cut all the spears when 8 to 10 inches tall. Come June 1, you stop cutting and let it grow up tall. You let this growth stand all summer and come frost then you can cut it down.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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PraticalGardener
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Location: Potomac Highlands region, West Virginia, USA (Zone 6a?)

Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

Last year I learned that taller corn plants can blow down quite well in strong wind gusts. I think I will first try to hill the base of the corn plants next time whenever I grow the taller corn again.

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Gary350
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Re: Post inviting people to share bits they learned this yea

What works for others may not work for you because of different type soil and different weather conditions.

Do not broadcast the same fertilizer over the entire garden. If you throw out high nitrogen fertilizer corn will love it but tomatoes and potatoes will make very large plants with very little fruit to harvest. If you throw out high potassium fertilizer tomatoes and potatoes will love it but corn will grow very small. Learn what each plant likes. Fertilizer each plant not the whole garden,

Do not plant in hills like old timers do roots do not like to be crowded. 5 seeds or 5 plants in the same spot will grow much better spaced about 12" to 24" apart.

Soil preparation is very helpful for certain plants. Lots of mulch, peat moss, compost, makes soil soft for much better root growth. My bell peppers like this I get 5ft tall plants instead of 2ft tall plants. Other plants like it too.

Certain plants do best in hot weather, melons, sweet potatoes, okra, the hotter and dryer it gets the better these plants grow. They don't seem to be helped by any type fertilizer or irrigation.

Most plants do not like hard clay soil. Weeds won't even grow is soil that is hard as a cement driveway.

Crop rotation is good. Corn is a stripper crop it removes all nitrogen from the soil. Beans makes nitrogen for the soil. Plant corn where beans were last year. Plant beans were corn was last year.

Use pellet lime on plants that get BER = Blossom End Rot, tomatoes, melons, peppers, squash, etc.

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