akirasovan
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Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2015 11:43 am

Second year gardening. Advice very much appreciated.

Hello,

This is my second year gardening. Last year I did container gardening with miracle grow...it was a decent start, but this year I'm doing quite a bit more. I have done a lot of research and did not want to bother people with my problems, but I am a bit overwhelmed at this point.

I've built two raised beds for my elderly parents. I want them to have a nice garden, but I need some insight on a few things. I live in the Southern California mountains at 5,500 elevation. The native soil I am working with is not rocky, it is partially brown clay and simple dirt. Half of my plants are starting from seed, approx 5 weeks ago. Most of them are doing well, but I am having trouble hardening them off.

First: I could not find a definite answer on my garden bed construction. Regarding sealing the bottom with chicken wire to prevent gopher invasion... I used two layers of galvanized chicken wire, sealed tightly and properly. I'm sure this will break down over a few years with constant soil/water contact. Is there a plant-safe coating spray I can use on the wire to prevent rust? Will the galvanized chicken wire even keep gophers out or will they eat through it? Stupid question I know!

Second: Building my soil. I've done a lot of research and some purchasing of materials to mix with our stubborn California clay soil. I am running out of steam though, as I have a very bad back. This limits a lot, including my patience...

-----So far I have purchased the following to amend/build up my native soil:

3 large bags of fully composted chicken manure.

2 bags of Kellogs Amend

1 large bag of worm casings

2 Bags of Miracle Grow Peat Moss (I plan to return, I've read it makes soil soggy.)

1 Bag of Vermiculite and 1 bag Jobes Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer.

1 Bag of seed-starting mix (for direct-sowing seeds in the raised beds?)

1 Bag of Bonemeal (for blossom end rot, yes? last year I had quite a bit of blossom end rot on my Early Girl tomatoes. Very disappointing. Is this a good solution to preventing rot? I've read that a scoop per transplant in the intended hole works.)

I plan to grow Tomatoes such as: Early Girls, Brandywine, Roma and Fourth of July Hybrids. Eggplant, Zucchini and various edible lettuces. What quick release fertilizers do you recommend? I've heard fish is good, as a steady not-so-strong fertilizer you can apply each watering.

-----I do not need perfection here, but just estimations. I am trying to figure out a good mixing ratio of the products I have purchased. That is, if these are even the proper materials for my garden bed. Should I add more organic material like composted leaves from LeafGro? More or less composted manure? More Kellogs Amend? Just need some basic answers here on a mixing ratio and I would be oh-so-appreciative!

Lastly: Starting from seed. Any recommendations here? When I transplant, should I do follow certain steps to ensure my transplants get a strong start?

I will check back on this tomorrow after therapy and do everything I can to clear up any confusion. Thank you very much!

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rainbowgardener
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Second year gardening. Advice very much appreciated.

Hi and welcome to the Forum! There's a lot here, some I can't answer (re the galvanized wire etc) and some would take more thought and care than I can do right now.

But just to get things started, can you tell us a little more about what your climate is like there in your mile high location? I'm thinking about things like starting tomatoes from seed. Tomatoes are more or less four months from planting a seed to first ripe tomato. That puts it to beginning of October, before you see a single ripe tomato. And tomato plants are done when the first hard frost hits. I know that parts of SoCal are frost free, but I also know there is skiing on Mt. Baldy. So if you are where you are going to have freezes even in November, it is probably not worth trying to start tomato seed now. If you can find a big well started tomato plant for transplanting in a good local nursery, that would be worth doing.
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