dwillmer
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Getting into gardening now (October).

Hello everyone! I've been interested in starting gardening for a while but I never seem to have the right timing. THere's always some reason for not taking the plunge like the time of year or how much free time I have. But I'd like to just get started now.

How can I start gardening considering the time of year and my location?

I'm in Wisconsin (zone 5A) and I've read that there isn't much to do now with outdoor gardening, but I'm not sure if I want go big into indoor gardening given some of the cost of doing grow lights and other materials. I read about straw bale farming which seems super cool and it seems like the heat generated by the composting straw would be helpful if I covered the plants (maybe not a whole greenhouse). Is it possible to start that now and keep things going into November with some colder weather plants? I have some issues maintaining my interest in something if I don't get started with it and stick to it. Come spring I might have forgotten about how interested I was now.

If not, what options do I have for indoor gardening that isn't too expensive? Is it possible to do with only minimal light as I'm not even sure where in my house I could put some plants that the cats wouldn't disturb.

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applestar
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Re: Getting into gardening now (October).

In Zone 5 I'm not sure how much you can grow outside now unless maybe if you put up a poly tunnel. I wouldn't do anything experimental like strawbale gardening at this point -- much more of a spring/summer project... especially if you are thinking of using high N chemical fertilizer.

But that's not to say there's not much to do outside -- You could definitely start planning next spring's garden and sheet mulch raised beds or start lasagna beds or till the area before the ground freezes. You could build and start maintaining one or more compost piles so you would have plenty of compost to use in spring. If you could get a bed ready, you could still plant garlic which will be harvested next summer.

Lots of reading and armchair gardening to do in the Compost forum.
For indoor growing, you could check out the Seed starting forum.

I have on going threads with details and photos about growing tomatoes and peppers indoors during winter in their respective forums. But realize these are plants that were started earlier. (But I AM starting some tomatoes from seeds even now and one pepper seedling -- I wouldn't recommended the pepper now, they need heat as seedlings -- it's still warm enough here).

My kitties don't bother the tomato or hot pepper plants. But they will munch up then THROW-UP anything remotely resembling grass. My lemongrass are overwintered in a room that is off limits to them, as are African violets (for some reason, they love to eat African violet blossoms).
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dwillmer
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Re: Getting into gardening now (October).

Thanks for a quick response. I think what I need to get started is to actually get some plants growing and hopefully harvestable soon which is difficult. I have some issue sticking with hobbies if I don't see results soon enough, so just planning for next spring probably wouldn't keep me interested at the moment.

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applestar
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Re: Getting into gardening now (October).

:D I know what you mean. When I have an idea/project in mind, I want to jump right in. :D
For something quick, I can suggest a couple of sure eatable fun.

One is sprouting seeds like alfalfa, mung beans, azuki beans. You can just use a canning jar with nylon window screen or muslin cloth held down with the jar ring or buy a sprouter (I like EasySprout).
You'll have harvestable sprouts in less than two weeks.
Subject: Experienced sprout growers -- I have questions!

Another is pre-inoculated oyster mushroom growing kit.
You'll get harvestable mushrooms in a month to 6 weeks.
Subject: Growing Edible Mushrooms - from kits, spawns, and plugs

Neither require supplemental light.

If you want to grow something in soil or hydroponic, then you do need some kind of supplemental lights especially in these darker months. I really suggest you do some reading in the Seed Starting forum. :wink:

I think it would be a good idea to get a compost pile started in case you would still be interested in gardening next spring. And new garden beds are better prepped in the fall. You will see much better results. Vermicomposting is also a hobby you can get into during winter.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

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applestar
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Re: Getting into gardening now (October).

Subject: Growing Edible Mushrooms - from kits, spawns, and plugs
applestar wrote:Do you remember
SP8 wrote:If you want fast maturing crops for kids you can't leave out radishes.
in https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 198#101198 ?

Well, I've discovered something better than radishes -- you guessed it! Mushrooms!! :() Shiitake harvested in just over 2 weeks! First Oyster is growing well and will be ready to harvest in a few more days, so let's say 4 weeks! :clap: And look at ALL these clusters getting ready to grow! (pictures coming soon! :wink: ... having some technical difficulties :roll: )

And guess what? Mushrooms taste WAY better than radishes :>

--
Gixx, I really think the growing kits are worth it. They grow so fast you're eating mushrooms within a month! Also, it hasn't been difficult at all so far to basically triple or quadruple the original amount of spawn. And I fully intend to mix the substrate into pasteurized straw (for more mushrooms) and sterilized sawdust (for inoculating logs and outdoor patches) to keep the mycelium going. (I'm planning to do this after first flush with some, before fruiting with others, and also with spent -- i.e. finished growing mushrooms -- substrate). I'll also experiment with stem butts and spores. So it's not just a matter of breaking even.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

dwillmer
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Re: Getting into gardening now (October).

I never thought of doing mushrooms...although my wife and I don't really eat them much. Seems pretty cool though.

Part of my desire to start gardening is to improve my diet. I'm a picky eater who never had vegetables when I was a kid. I've come to realize that I either like or at least tolerate broccoli, zucchini, squash, spinach, peppers and lettuce, but those will have to wait for next season. I think if I went through a season keeping up with my plants, my wife would let me get some indoor equipment. I'm fascinated by aquaponic systems and would love to take shot at that sometime.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Getting into gardening now (October).

What you could plant now outdoors (if you jump on it quickly) would be things that overwinter. Applestar is right about the garlic. You can also plant onion seed and spinach seed. They would sprout now and grow a couple inches and then go dormant and you can mulch around them for protection. Then in late winter they should start growing again. The spinach will give you a good early spring crop. The onions are slow and will be ready like the garlic in June-ish.

But you can't just stick seeds in the ground, especially ground that hasn't been gardened before and get good success. You do need to do that soil prep that people have been talking about. The foundation of a good garden is good soil!

Aquaponics sounds very cool, but turns out to be pretty tricky to get the balances right for both the plants and the fish and have all the nutrients. Will Allen's Growing Power (a wonderful organization that works with inner city at-risk youth, teaching them gardening skills while providing good organic food in their neighborhoods) started with traditional aquaponics, but the plants weren't getting enough of some nutrients. So they now use a hybrid system with the plants growing in soil/compost while the water circulates through from the fish tank to the plants and back. https://www.growingpower.org/aquaponics.htm
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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applestar
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Re: Getting into gardening now (October).

@Rainbowgardener. So glad you posted that link! I'm going to be checking it out. 8)

@dwillmer, since you are talking about greens and salads, do give the sprouts another thought. Alfalfa sprouts basically tastes like and can be substituted for iceberg lettuce -- very mild, crunchy, and easy to get started with. Sprouts were and ARE way to supplement the winter diet with freshly grown vitamin source in the old days and today, it's actually NOT suited for the hotter months because they can spoil more easily in the warm temps and some seeds like peas are better sprouted in the refrigerator even in winter. I'm going to start again when my outdoor garden goes down from hard frost and freeze.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

RainBird23
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Location: PNW Zone 8b except when I forget to bring the pots in

Re: Getting into gardening now (October).

This may work for you: I grew catnip last winter in a window and let it get the light from inside when we were reading. It wasn't as bushy and green as in the summer, but it was enough to air dry about 3 handfuls. The cat absolutely loved "his" window garden and it's something that won't hurt them. Catnip seems to be one of those things that even living near the heater and neglect won't kill. It's also good to sniff or make tea of if you have a headache or just had a rough day, honest. I tested it on my husband first :)

Much second the sprouting idea - I thought I wouldn't like them, but sprouts in Chinese, sprouts in chili, sprouts in oatmeal are really quite good. My next adventure will be sprouts in half wheat/half white bread, just so I can say we ate something we grew this Thanksgiving. Happy gardening.
Outwardly there's a serious adult sitting at this desk, but inside is a 7 year old who can't wait to go home and play in the yard.

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digitS'
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Re: Getting into gardening now (October).

This was the year I was supposed to grow mung beans in the garden :oops: . I can think of a few excuses but probably no one wants to read them ;).

I have grown them as sprouts in the kitchen and seed for that is readily available. More successfully, I have grown alfalfa sprouts. I don't know off-hand where I can get them with cream cheese in a deli sandwich. DW has taken more interest in cream cheese lately; alfalfa sprouts on the kitchen counter will be a natural progression :).

Sprouted grains in bread can be delicious! I've never made it altho we make bread like RainBird23 describes. Researching Essenne bread was more discouraging than helpful; an additional ingredient to our favorite bread recipe makes more sense. When I'm in for the alfalfa seed, wheat should be on a nearby shelf.

Something I would like to try this winter is soybean sprouts from my little garden crop that I've had the last several years. Once again I have more dry seed than I want after harvesting too little as edamame. Tofu is just tofu much fooling around ...

Here's something the experts say (link)about soy sprouts, however: "There is probably a reduction of soybean trypsin inhibitor activity during sprouting. . . This reduction is probably of little practical significance since the sprouts must still be cooked to give them their best flavor and texture." Antinutrients are in just about all legumes but soybeans seem to have more than their share. Heat changes that and I have been a little surprised that it doesn't appear to be a lot of heat ... I don't think I've ever had soy sprouts in stir-fry but I've got the seed :). Another idea is deep fat frying. I bet that's good but I'll have to think about the healthfuness of that. Still ...

Steve :)
who has grown a kit of button mushrooms in the basement without much bother
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

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