samson wrote:Hello, I made my first vegetable garden this year and have learned alot, but I need input from those more experienced gardeners, with the hope of more success next year.
No matter how experienced you become as a gardener, you will *always* learn a lot each year. Thomas Jefferson may have said it best: "Although I am an old man, I am a young gardener."
samson wrote:Because there are a number of walnut trees on the property, I decided on raised beds, though they had to be near a mulberry tree. I built two 4'x8' bed, and one 4.5'x4.5' bed. I later added another 4' x 4' bed. I used pressure treated lumber for this large beds, 11"high, and some old pine 4x4's I had around for the 1st small bed, and then concrete blocks for the small additional bed. I researched the PT lumber and it seemed it would be safe. I ordered fresh topsoil and mixed in mushroom compost and cow manure. I later mulched with peat moss.
Raised beds are often recommended by forum members for those who must deal with walnut trees; good decision!
I have a concrete/cinder block raised bed myself; the blocks are only two courses tall and are simply laid on top of one another. One of these days maybe I'll reinforce them, but for now...
I'm going to assume that the "cow manure" was composted steer manure? This is usually the result of a feed-lot operation, where many, many head of cattle are crammed together and slaughtered. Not the most sanitary conditions, which is why antibiotics are used so liberally in the feed lots. I'm not convinced that all brands of composted steer manure are equally valuable to the plants.
Once you start using your own compost, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how consistent--and good--your results are.
Using mulch was a good idea, but sometimes gardeners experience difficulty in getting water to penetrate peat moss. It's hydro-phobic (not the rabies type!); it sheds rather than attracts water. Not necessarily what a gardener who's trying to grow veggies is interested in. Maybe this contributed to some of your difficulties later. I can't say for sure; I don't know how much peat you used, how thick it was, or anything. But I would suggest using a different mulch next time. (There are also environmental questions surrounding the use of peat moss, but in the case of your veggies, I'd look to peat's water-repelling quality....)
samson wrote:I started from seed, and originally intended to do organic, but realized I was not skilled enough so ended up using some pyrethrins for bugs and miracle grow.
I'm sorry someone gave you the idea that going organic was more complicated than using other commercial products.
My experience (and I have been absolutely required
to use organic methods the whole time I've gardened, due to migraines) is that organic is 1) less expensive and 2) ready to hand, usually in the kitchen. I have to know what's in the products, and Miracle Grow and other large companies don't want to tell their buyers what's in their stuff. Too high a risk for me personally w/migraines and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Maybe next time (now that you've found The Helpful Gardener
) you'll feel more confident about trying a less-industrial approach, or may work towards it over a few seasons.
samson wrote:I planted Peppers: jalapeno, red bell, banana, cubanelle; f-1 broccoli; catskill brussel sprouts; stupice tomatos; bunching onions; valencia onions; climbing gr. beans; carrots; and sucrine lettuce.
This is a mix of cool-season and warm-season vegetables. Peppers, tomatoes, green beans are warm-season veggies. With onions, it depends on what kind they are and what you want to use them for. I've never grown heading onions, just scallions (green onions), and they prefer cool weather.
But many of the plants you tried to grow were out of season in warm temps: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and lettuce. These grow in cooler temperatures and usually bolt (go to flower/seed) in warm temps, if they even survive. You witnessed--and are still witnessing--their struggle.
samson wrote:I have had some produce from the tomatos, peppers, lettuce and green beans, but everything else has mostly failed. They all looked very healthy until about two weeks ago, when the brussel sprouts began to keel over and die. I have two plants left, but they have no buds at all and seem small to me. The carrots never got more than 1-1.5 inces long, the broccoli has not started to produce heads after 3.5 months, the bunching onions never got big or even stood upright, the tomatos were all pretty small, and the peppers, while yielding fruit, are not prolific. The green beans did ok, but were mainly very leafy, with huge leaves, but produced little fruit. The broccoli also, very leafy, but no fruit.
So the warm-season veggies (tomatoes, peppers, and green beans) produced, and the cool-season veggies didn't. That's understandable. I *am* surprised that the lettuce cooperated; maybe this variety is more tolerant of warm temps than traditional varieties are. I'm not familiar with it, not having grown it.
Another factor might be root depth. The raised beds were 11" high, which can be fine for many veggies, but when growing them over a walnut tree's roots, more depth may be needed. The walnut tree exudes juglone
, a substance which will kill nearby plants, so the roots of those plants need to be protected by distance from the effect of the juglone. I don't know what specific distance is needed, and for all I know it may depend on soil type or even go plant by plant, too, but carrots usually prefer 18" or so of depth just for themselves, and tomatoes need lots of root space.
samson wrote:I can provide more detailed info once the dialogue begins. If you can begin to help answering my question: what am I doing wrong? I'll be grateful.
Started seeds plant 4-15, planted around 5-30, direct seeded plants around 5-15 (gr beans, lettuce, carrots, onions)
Other than the warm season/cool season thing and having to compete with a walnut tree (which is going to be tricky for anyone), I think you did pretty well in your first year!
you constructed raised beds which will be useful for several years. You harvested peppers, tomatoes, green beans, and lettuce. You've learned a lot about the growing conditions in your yard/garden.
Keep reading here about cool-season and warm-season veggies (right now might be a good time to put in those carrots, Brussels sprouts, and so on, depending on how long you have till first frost and how severe the early frosts are in your region), start a compost pile so that your raised beds will have as many nutrients from as many sources as possible, and keep at it.
Pretty soon, others will be asking *you* questions and you'll be able to give them some answers for your local area!
Don't forget to check online sources like your county ag extension service, U. Penn / Penn State info on gardening/horticulture, and your local public library catalogue. Most catalogues are available online these days, so check out books/watch DVDs about gardening conditions in your region.
"Well begun is half done," the saying goes, and although your beginning wasn't perfect (don't even *ask* about mine
), it was well done.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9