curiouscat
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Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:36 pm
Location: Alberta

New Guy, need a mentor!

Hey all, I hope I can find someone that has their own sustainable organic garden. By that I mean using things like compost piles and compost tea, maybe having a worm garden for castings...

I basically want to have the least cost to me and use mother earth and maybe my food scarping to good use!

I am just outside of Calgary Alberta Canada. I have an open slate and a bunch of room. I don't want to start TOO big, but i would like to have something that could feed at least one person for a week to start. Tomaotes, sweet potatoes, red onion, spinach, cucumber, brocolli and esparagus... those are my faves...

I would really love to have a mentor, someone that has done this and can point me in the right direction to start!... thanks!

i posted this same thing in intorduce yourself... saw that first... ;)
Thanks for your time!

The Helpful Gardener
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Organic is about soil. What's your like? Are you composting?

HG
Scott Reil

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rainbowgardener
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mentor, etc

lots of us here have been doing organic gardening to one degree or another (there's always more steps you can take to improve your "purity" :) ), some of us for many years. You get better help if you ask specific questions and give lots of information about what your garden site is like. But figure that especially getting started, its going to be a considerable investment in time and some investment of money -- cheap tools are a pain, you need good ones. Looking at your list, the asparagus if you plant it now, you (with luck) will be eating your first asparagus in three years. The rest could all produce this year, but onion, spinach, broccoli are cool weather crops. I don't know what your growing season is like up there in Alberta. If you are close to done with snow and frost, you should go buy plants of those three and put them in the ground NOW. The tomatoes don't go out until the soil is warmer and danger of frost is past, but unless that is two months from now, you will be better off to buy tomato plants also. If you want something started from seed, you could start cucumber seeds indoors now. It's a fast grower and will be ready by the time your ground is warm enough.
You are right about starting small. Without a lot of garden experience starting too big is what leads a lot of "newbies" to disaster and discouragement. Start a compost pile, turn over a couple of beds and ask some more questions! Good luck and good gardening! :)

curiouscat
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Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:36 pm
Location: Alberta

I have not started composting yet. i am infact moving in a bout amonth and have a clean slate to start with... kind of looking for someone to help me design my garden as well as my schedule.

i have just heard that i should pay attention to my compost bin...

i have also heard of certain flowers that are organic insecticides..

i would like to start a worm bin...

cycles? how many harvest can i have?

i am really willing to learn the OPTIMAL ways...

what is a perfect setup... I have a 10x10 area to work with, going to use a raised bin style...

what would YOU do?
Thanks for your time!

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rainbowgardener
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planning a garden

well, see it really helps the more information you can give us. Like is your ten by ten area in full sun all day? And re cycles, and harvests, what is your growing season like there--average last frost date in spring? average first frost date in fall? Mine is April 15 to Oct 15, but I'm assuming yours might be shorter on both ends? But the raised beds sounds like a really good way to start. Your 10x10 area (assuming that's the garden space only and you have somewhere else you can put compost bins, etc) would fit 4 raised beds, two 4x4 and two 2.5x4 with paths around and in between them.

Your trouble is it's past the middle of april right now, if you are moving in a month, that's past the middle of May. Just building the beds and paths is going to take some time. I don't know if you are a hobby gardener/ wage slave like me or if you could devote full time to this and how much help you might have. Lets say idealistically you could have beds ready to plant by first of June. That will give you around four months to grow veggies this year. If you have a way to do it, it might help to buy yourself some tomato plants once the garden stores have well-grown ones and grow them in containers somewhere, until you have a bed ready to put them in. In June it will be too late to start the cool weather crops -- eg spinach and broccoli--for spring, but you will be able to plant some by seed around the first of August (again depending on when your fall frost date is) for a fall harvest.

Some flowers that are helpful against pests are nasturtium, marigolds, chrysanthemum, tansy.

Hope this is enough to move your thinking along a little. Keep giving us more information and asking more questions and I'm sure other people will jump in....

curiouscat
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Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:36 pm
Location: Alberta

Great! that helps a lot!

the compost bin will not be in the same grow area, unless it should be (?)

frost is May 23 and September 15

what would be the ideal veggie for me to start with this kind of schedule...??

the 10x10 area is actually a large outdoor fenced kennel for two large dogs, not being used at all... i will be on several acres but the area is to keep pests away... i also plan on keeping some sort of light blockage for wind..

there is sun ALL day, quite literally nothing to shade over it...



thanks for all the answers... anything you tink i should be careful of?

how about fruits??
Thanks for your time!

2cents
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Curios,
Always listen to the other guys that have given you replies, they are about the best in this forum and know more exact science about this stuff than I.
Rainbow is smart, but the asparagus(26 foot row, 24 plants) I put in last spring, was picked saturday it just gave me one serving. I will get 2 or 3 more 1-2 serving picks this year before I let them go. The root need to store up a lot of energy from the plants to be better producer the next year. Like I have now, the picking of asparagus isn't much the 2nd year but it is enough to let you know you have something to look forward to the 3rd year.
Asparagus harvest rule of thumb(2 weeks 2nd year, 4 weeks 3rd year, 6 weeks 4th year, and so on) you can stretch the harvest out to 10-12 weeks with good care of the beds, most folks will tell you 6 maybe 8 weeks of harvest, but my dad did it for 30 years and with some fertilizer in the fall you get good production.

curiouscat
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Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:36 pm
Location: Alberta

do most of you grow your own veggies? How much do you buy??

should i maybe pick one type of veggie or should i mix it up??
Thanks for your time!

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Faythe
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Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 7:59 pm
Location: Michigan

Hi, curiouscat!

Let me just suggest that when you first start out don't make the common mistake of biting off more than you can chew. All that weeding, watering, turning the compost, and so on is a lot of work. So start small with just growing your favorites, and if that goes well, expand next year.

I would definitely mix it up. There are benefits to growing certain types of plants together (carrots with tomatoes, for example), plus mixing in herbs and flowers not only confuses the pests, but looks very pretty. Keep in mind, though, that some plants make bad neighbors (like onions and beans, or so I have read). Usually, I plant my cucumbers with nasturtiums, tomatoes with basil, and a lot of people like to plant the "three sisters' together--beans, corn, and squash.

There's a lot of good info on this forum, but I think the best teacher is experience. Don't be afraid to experiment. You'll make mistakes sometimes, but that's the best way to learn. Good luck!
To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves. ~Gandhi

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