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Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:31 pm

New at Gardening and Failing Miserably

Hi There.

I'm having a very difficult time getting any yield from what I've planted so far this year and I must be doing something wrong since I am new at gardening.

This year I planted:
1. Lettuce -
2. Corn
3. Cucumbers

I grew all in raised boxes that I built from pallets since I live in the southeastern US and most of the soil is sandy.

The lettuce was growing fairly well, however I think that I planted the corn too close together, however the corn that I did get was very dry and infested with bugs.

The cucumber plants seemed to grow well on a trellis that I placed in the box, however produced only one cucumber that had worms..


Any help would be appreciated.


User avatar
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: New at Gardening and Failing Miserably

I know it can be VERY frustrating. Hang in there. It can take time to get a garden going well.

We will try to help, but all the info you can give will let us be more helpful. For example what is the soil like in your raised beds? (How tall are they; what is the soil like underneath them? How much hours of sun do your beds get? I am in No. GA. Have you been having the same super hot and dry weather as we have? It takes tons of watering to keep things going through that.

Plants that are stressed are more vulnerable to things like the corn ear worms. The corn kernals being too dry sounds like you might just have waited to long to pick them.

Here's a little article about corn ear worm control:
https://www.planetnatural.com/pest-prob ... m-control/

In the long run, what you are aiming for is a balanced garden ecology with lots of beneficial insects like the lacewings, minute pirate bugs, trichogramma wasps, etc. To have that, you need to have the flowers that provide nectar and pollen for the adults. Many of these have their nectar in tiny florets.

https://permaculturenews.org/2014/10/04/ ... l-insects/

Hang in there and keep us posted and we will keep trying to help!

Welcome to the Forum and Best Wishes!
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

Posts: 11261
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: New at Gardening and Failing Miserably

Welcome to the forum. As you have learned gardening can be hard work. It makes you appreciate more exactly how much effort it takes to put food on the table.

You said you are from the Southeast. It would help to know your exact location and zone.

I don't know when you planted your crops and how the soil was prepared.

Sandy soil will dry out quickly so it is good to add organic matter to help hold moisture in.

Most raised beds use a combination of soil, compost and drainage material. If you have sandy soil you could probably get away with adding enough multisouce screened compost to make up half the volume of the bed. I would throw in a bag of well composted steer manure for every 100 square feet. (10x10) space. 1/4 of a bag for every 4x4 space.

Lettuce is a cool season crop and grows well early in the year but once the temperature exceeds 86 degrees it will bolt. Lettuce should be spaced 8-10 inches apart for a loose leaf lettuce. Most gardeners don't even attempt to grow anything like an iceberg lettuce or a heading lettuce. They require double the space to grow and they are not easy.

Cucumbers is a warm season crop. They like to be planted when the temperature is at least 60-70 degrees. There are different kinds of cucumbers but the ones with the best yield are parthenocarpic varieties like Diva. If you plant monoecious or gynecious cucumbers you have to plant more than one and you have to have a polinator variety to produce male flowers. Cucumbers will require bees to be polinated to make fruit and you need to have male and female flowers open at the same time. Parthenocarpic cucumbers on the other hand produce almost all female flowers that don't require polination, so you get more fruit. If pickle worms are a problem. bag your fruit. The moths usually lay their eggs at night so bag your fruit as soon as they are polinated. I make bags out of tuille. and a purse string tie. Bt can help with caterpillars before they burrow into the fruit. If you suspect your fruit have already been infested destroy the fruit down the garbage disposal to make sure the worm does not mature. If the fruit are large enough to eat, you can cut around them.

As you noticed corn needs a lot of space. Corn likes it warm. You can plant 8-10 inches at the closest but you must plant in a block for good polination. At least a 4 x 4 block, but a 10 x 4 foot block is better. Corn is a heavy feeder so you will need to give it extra nitrogen about 3 weeks in.

Plant a diverse garden with habitat to attract predators. This is includes shrubs and nectar flowers like alyssum, fennel, Queen Anne's lace, Penta, cosmos, zinnia, sunflowers, marigolds. Provide water in a shallow dish filled with pebbles. Shelter, hollow logs, bat houses, artificial beehives.
If you establish a diverse garden and have a lot of predators around, you won't have as many problems with pests. It will not be zero, but the natural predators will do a better job in the long run if you don't spray.
https://bonnieplants.com/library/how-to ... l-insects/

June-August is the worst time to garden, it is hot and the bugs are in high numbers.

Plant cultivars that are recommended for your climate and plant at recommended times. You can get that information from publications from your local extension office.

Add compost every time you plant to continue to build up the soil. Organic fertilizers like bone meal, manures, take time to work so you want to get those things in the soil a couple of months before you plant. If you use synthetic fertilizers. Only add what is recommended. I would get a soil test from your local extension so you know how much and what you should add.

Now is a good time to start collecting for a compost pile. The simplest pile would be a pile that is 3ft wide, 3 ft long, and 3 ft tall.
You can make a corral out of pallets on three sides. We use a simple plastic sheet that is 36 inches in diameter and 3 ft tall. We have a pvc pipe drilled with holes to provide aeration. We fill the container with chipped mulch that we have stockpiled and alternated with vegetable scraps we get from a restaurant, grass clippings, and fresh leaves. We end with chipped mulch and we water everything well. We cover it with a plastic cover or we could use natural burlap. Once a week we move the plastic bin to an area right next to it and scoop the material back in to the container. We have compost ready in about 6-8 weeks.

In the meantime we stockpile more browns. It works better for us to build it in a day rather than add to it gradually. It starts cooking sooner so it finishes sooner. It is hard to get enough greens if we only depend on what is left from the garden or kitchen and it is easier to pick up bulk waste when arrangements are made with a restauarant. We just have to make sure we are consistant with picking it up on time. We provide them with the buckets. The restaurants don't want to stockpile the stuff either so we pick it up while it is still fresh.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

User avatar
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Re: New at Gardening and Failing Miserably

Guess its too late this season to grow much? It would help us if we knew where you are gardening?
Corn is a big plant, it needs space, yet it needs company too so it gets pollinated. Rows spaced 30 inches with plants 8 inches to a foot apart in the rows works well. You need at least three rows to get the desired pollination. It also needs sufficient water, and some added fertilizer is good.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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