petalfuzz
Green Thumb
Posts: 632
Joined: Sat May 31, 2008 7:37 pm

Totally new here; check out my lettuce patch!

Hello everyone!

My name is Carolyn. Me and my DH live in North-West Ohio (zone 5) and I started gardening for the first time this year. I have about 100 sq ft total, in 4 small plots.

I am growing 2 kinds of tomatoes, 3 kinds of peppers, 14 kinds of lettuce crops (bought mixed seeds), as well as mustard and chard.

For my lettuce patch, I sowed 4 sets of 3 rows, each 2 weeks apart. In the pic you can clearly see that the mustard has been nibbled on by slugs. I'm dealing with the slugs gradually but don't really care much because the mustard is soley for our pet rabbit and she doesn't mind.
[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3140/2549186916_01c8a66374_o.jpg[/img]

Here's Chestnut (Chessie), the creature that inspired my lettuce patch in the first place:
[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3088/2309676775_674952a52f.jpg[/img]
She likes the mustard, but her favorite is still dandelions.

I'm pretty proud of myself because my previous experience gardening includes growing 1 sunflower by accident, and one pitiful tomato plant that I rescued after it was thinned out of my dad's small patch.

I had to ammend our soil, which is heavy clay, with peat moss, manure, and fertilizer. I hand tilled it to about 12" with a pitch fork. "Tilling" means chipping out a shovel sized chunk of clay and then beating it to bits with my pitchfork over and over again. To till out 100 sq ft took me about a month working 2 hours/day 3-4 days/week. I never want to do that again! (That is, unless I decide I need more garden space next year :lol:)

Anyway, see you around on the forum. I hope to have more updates as my plants grow. Thanks! :D

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

The only advice I have for you is to use something other than peat, harvesting peat from peat bogs is a current environemental nightmare as these ecosystems are being destroyed and the biodiversity contained therein is being lost.

Furthermore peat contains no available nutrients for plants and is impossible to to wet totally. (At least impossible to be sure.) Even if you have the top and bottom of the peat wet, the center may be bone dry.

If you don't have any dogs in your neighbourhood cocoa beans are an alternative as a brown, so are mulched up leaves, straw, non cedar based saw dust (Cedar is toxic to a lot of plants) and so on.

I'm so happy to see that you used a pitch fork! I know it's a lot more work but, your soil will thank your for it.

Unfortunately with soil (and especially clay soil) nature builds it up by continualy adding things to it every year and this is what we must do as well.

Try planting some green manures like Rye and buckwheat as soil builders and clover and vetch and peas as nitrogen fixers. Mow them into the soil (don't collect the clippings) thoughout the summer.

Mulch the whole area is using trench composting and sheet composting with leaves and manure, used coffee grounds , grass clippings or blood meal.

I do several layers of leaves with an alternate layer of of manure, etc.

Also, I try to have as many different kinds of leaves as possible to increase the nutrient content as much as possible.

Adding organic matter is definately the way to go to alleviate the clay propterties in your soil. In the long run you will have very nice, weathering resistant soil but, it'll take a few years to see any major changes.

Stick with it! You're off to a good start.
Feed the soil, not the plants.

Addicted
Full Member
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 1:13 am
Location: Ma

Cool,I just started gardening myself too...and i have some bunnies!!...I have since moved so the pics are out dated,But the bunnies are the same!

[img]https://i134.photobucket.com/albums/q108/kbones_/Img_0150.jpg[/img]

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Cute!
Feed the soil, not the plants.

petalfuzz
Green Thumb
Posts: 632
Joined: Sat May 31, 2008 7:37 pm

Thanks, opabinia51.

I know peat doesn't add nutrients, I was trying to add organic material to help keep the clay from re-clumping.

I have started a nice compost pile and will add that to my beds at the end of the season. I didn't want to plant cover crops cause I wanted to use my beds right away.

The plots used to be lawn, so I had to remove the sod in order to till the soil to 12". If I was doing raised beds, I could have done the "lasagna" method, I guess. But they're not my style.

I'd like to go organic, but this soil is so terrible, I want to give my plants a head start. In a few years, my soil should be good, in the meantime I'll settle for okay.

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Since you have a rabbit, be sure and add rabbit manure to that compost! She can help raise her own food that way. :)

And very cute bunnies, guys...

Cynthia H.
USDA Zone 9, Sunset Zone 17

petalfuzz
Green Thumb
Posts: 632
Joined: Sat May 31, 2008 7:37 pm

Since you have a rabbit, be sure and add rabbit manure to that compost!
Oh definitely! I just wish she'd eat more hay so she'd make more poo poos (my DH calls them 'cocoa puffs')!

She also loves bell peppers--she can eat 2 per week. So I hope my pepper plants are productive :D

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