The Survival Garden: How To Start And What To Prep.

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by DirtDiva, Aug 30, 2021.

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  1. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    TMT this is for you per your request and I hope the other gardeners on here will join in to help.

    If you were starting out with a brand new garden what advice would you give to get started? This needs to be an ongoing thread on how to and what to prep for a newbie with little to no gardening experience. The posts will differ for different parts of the country, climate differences and just personal preferences.

    I would pick a site that gets at the least about 6 hours of full sun as most vegetables require that as a minimum. When I started my garden I had to cut the overhanging limbs off a couple large trees to give my garden area plenty of light. You also do not want to locate your garden in area of standing water so good drainage helps. If the area is low you can always build raised beds to help with drainage. Then decide what kind of gardening you want to do. When I moved to this property I started with raised beds because where I wanted to put my garden away from trees was at the lower part of the property with shallow and poor sandy soil with lots of rocks.

    If you want you can simply lay out an area and have it plowed or tilled adding soil amendments such as compost and manure to improve the soil. I would also suggest getting your soil tested at the local Extension office and they can give you suggestions as to any additional amendments that need to be added.

    Start small and you can always increase the size of your beds or garden as you get comfortable and build experience gardening. Be realistic with yourself about what you have time to care for.
     
  2. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard ! Staff Member
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    DirtDiva, Thank you, thank you and thank you again for starting this thread. I am really looking forward, with great anticipation, to reading and learning from these posts.
     
  3. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Yep I will keep adding to it. Hurricane Ida moving in to TN right now. Not sure how much longer I will have internet. Warnings until Wednesday so don't give up on me. I'll be back.
     
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  4. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Legendary Survivalist
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    In addition to traditional straight-necked yellow squash, we really like growing and eating Italian striped zucchini.

    Squash is relatively easy to grow and if you can keep the water going to your garden, squash plants produce a whole lot of food. Year before last, we grew way too much squash and had more produce than we could eat. We were eating squash bread on into the winter.

    Everybody likes breaded fried squash, but you can also make a whole lot of squash bread from just a very few plants. Gotta watch out for squash grubs lest they destroy your crop.

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=growing+squash&atb=v140-1&iax=videos&ia=videos

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=zucchini+italian+striped&atb=v140-1&iax=images&ia=images



    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=squash+bees&atb=v140-1&iar=videos&iax=videos&ia=videos

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=squash+vine+borer&atb=v140-1&iar=videos&iax=videos&ia=videos

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=killing+squash+vine+borer&atb=v140-1&ia=web

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=making+squash+bread&atb=v140-1&ia=videos&iax=videos


    .
     
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  5. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    1-100_6902.jpg


    1-100_6636.jpg

    Gardening In Ground

    There are many different ways to garden. Directly in the soil, in containers, in raised beds, in strawbales and the list goes on. I grew up in the country and my parents and grandparents gardened in ground. They just picked a site and usually fenced it in to keep the stock out and usually amended the soil with a load or two of barn litter, disked it into the soil and planted the next spring. Pros of this way is that there is very little preparation such as building beds etc but the con is that it can be labor and equipment intensive usually requiring a tractor and disk or tiller to turn (till) the soil before planting and most people till between the rows of plants to control weeds.

    In a survival situation truthfully I think a great deal of your time will be growing food and preserving anyway. If you plan or gardening or farming this way then you will have to prep fuel for your equipment as well as oil, tire repair supplies and spare parts for your tractor and tiller or both.

    I gardened for years this way before going to my raised beds as I aged and was less able to fight that big tiller and as my children grew up my garden got smaller. I am now a firm believer in not only no till gardening but raised beds.

    If there is lawn grass where you want to garden then you can lay a tarp or cardboard down to kill the grass first before you till your soil. You want to pick an area where you have access to water and avoiding things like tree roots and sewer laterals.
     
  6. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    If I were like you and planning to start a new garden in ground this would be the way I started. He is an English market gardener but the concept is the same. An excellent site by the way. This type of gardening resembles French Intensive gardening which is also very close to the way I garden as well.

    The great thing is that he is adding a layer of cardboard to smother the vegetation underneath which can be found free and a layer of organic matter (compost) directly to the soil surface. Time is his friend and as his winter progresses the grass/weeds die from lack of light and rot and the compost leaches nutrients down into the soil beneath while earthworms make their way up to feast on the compost carrying it to the layers of soil below. It is a process and every year he tops up an inch or two of compost over time improving the soil below. Given enough years he ends up with fertile beds of loose soil for planting. Since he is not turning the soil he is not turning up weed seeds to germinate in the top of the beds. Therefore less weeds and less work.



     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2021
  7. poltiregist

    poltiregist Legendary Survivalist
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    A survival garden most likely should be based on no fuel for equipment and not many people have a trained draft animal or the plows and such for the draft animal to pull . This presents a different set of problems than what gardeners 200 years ago experienced . The amount of ground that is reasonable to try to grow a crop using human labor and hand tools comes into play . This dictates what crops to grow to produce the most food in the smaller spaces and less labor intense involved . Preservation of the chosen crop is to be considered . Without a power grid furnishing an endless electrical source for deep freezes , electric dehydrators and electric stoves for canning another set of problems may arise for some . Even propane could become a thing of the past . All the above potential problems can be overcome with thoughtful planning .
     
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    1. DirtDiva
      Very wise and valid points! I garden with hand tools. No equipment are needed for my garden.

      A mule was the animal of the day. Ever heard about the 40 acres and a mule of the past?

      Crop choice is very important. 1) Grow what grows GREAT in your area. 2) Grow what is easiest to preserve and that does not necessarily mean canning. Learn to dry, dehydrate (solar) and ferment along with that canning. The canning lid shortage has been an excellent example of why to develop other methods of food preservation as well. 3) Develop simple recipes from what grows and preserves best in your given area and stock those ingredients. 4) Don't be afraid to try new things. Instead of the traditional apples and stone fruit that struggle in my area due to late frosts I switched to lots of natives ( pawpaws, blackberries, juneberry, mulberry, native plum) that require little to no spraying and are not bothered by those late frosts as a general rule.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 1, 2021
  8. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    There are lots of variations on this theme of adding some form of organic matter to the top of the soil. You will see this referred to as sheet mulching. Everybody has a book to sell so therefore we end up with :

    Lasagna gardening (1998)
    Which is basically just adding layers of differing organic matter to the top of the soil in layers. Leaves, paper, grass, compost, straw, animal beddings and manures or maybe trimmings off your garden plants. (By the way the lady that wrote this book started this procedure not far from where I live in the Appalachian mountains where soil is notoriously shallow and rocky)

    [​IMG]

    Ruth Stout Method (1955) which is simply gardening in straw! Adding layers upon layers of straw to the top of the soil and gardening in it as it decomposes.

    [​IMG]

    Straw Bale Gardening ( 2012) How about just growing your whole garden directly in straw bales stacked on top of the soil!

    [​IMG]

    Back to Eden Garden

    This method is based on gardening beneath a mulch of woodchips



    All of these gardening methods are based on the concept of adding layers of various forms of organic matter to the surface of the soil.
     
    1. DirtDiva
      Of these 4 methods Lasagna Gardening is probably the most useful. With both the Ruth Stout and the Straw Bale Method not every part of the country produces grain and straw can be not only expensive but hard to find in many areas. When I lived in the Midwestern US I could get wheat straw free from farmers when it got wet from pop up storms or barn leaks. All I had to do was haul it off.

      The Back to Eden method works great! IF YOU COULD FIND THE DARN THINGS! Everyone wants wood chips and as the popularity of this method grew the supply of arborial or horticultural wood chips decreased. Every now and then I can get a load from the power company when they clean out lines and chip the limbs and trees in my area.
       
      Last edited: Sep 1, 2021
      DirtDiva, Sep 1, 2021
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    2. Old Geezer
      Had never heard of this.
       
      Old Geezer, Sep 7, 2021
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  9. lonewolf

    lonewolf Legendary Survivalist Staff Member
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    300 square yards is a large enough area to enable the average family to grow their own fruit and vegetables , according to the British Allotment society, by "average family" I'm assuming they mean 2 adults and 2 children. having had allotments most of my adult life I can tell you that is quite large enough to have to deal with.
    on top of that you will probably need room for sheds and greenhouses or polytunnels plus any hutches/runs or pens for any (small) animals you might require.
     
  10. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Raised Beds

    Several years ago after living on a large farm in the midwest my husband and I downsized to a smaller holding and milder climate 12 hours further south in Tennessee. The kids are all grown, educated and gone out into the world. None of them were interested in farming.

    First thing we did was establish the beginnings of a garden. We started out with raised beds. With 40 years of gardening experience this is where I began.

    [​IMG]100_5475 by Dirt Diva, on Flickr

    We simply built boxes with native lumber from the local mill. Nothing treated. Most from 6 to 8 inches high and 3 to 4 feet across so that I could easily reach across them.
     
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  11. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Notice what they were filled with!
    Grass.

    [​IMG]100_5476 by Dirt Diva, on Flickr

    Then Leaves. With 8 large oaks and 4 mature hickory I always have plenty of these!

    [​IMG]100_5471 by Dirt Diva, on Flickr

    Then my husband went to the local stable and hauled a pick up load of horse stall droppings ( hay, manure, bedding) all this was mixed together and we let it rot all winter.

    Come spring we hauled in a pickup load of mushroom compost for $30 and mixed it in and planted.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2021
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  12. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    [​IMG]07-100_7083 by Dirt Diva, on Flickr

    These same boxes this week. 6 years later. We got about 5 years out of the original wood and when we redid the sides we filled in between the beds making them continuous rows.
     
  13. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Taking a break! Need to go can tomatoes. I'll be back :rolleyes:
     
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    1. Old Geezer
      Ha ha ha! Git'er'done!
       
      Old Geezer, Sep 7, 2021
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  14. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard ! Staff Member
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    For all those posting and especially for DirDiva starting this thread. Thank you all. These posts are extremely helpful. I am in the process of selecting growing spaces and need all the information I can get. I will be using raised beds, as I am too darn old to be working on my hands and knees. I have already started collecting yard clippings and and will soon start collecting food waste to add to the raised beds. More updates as I very slowly progress.
     
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  15. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    [​IMG]07-100_6835 by Dirt Diva, on Flickr

    After awhile your beds will look like this. The termites and wood ants will take advantage of the moist wood. Therefore my beds are not close to my house. My philosophy is termites are a natural occurence in the environment and I expect them. I do not use treated wood or treat my wood in any way. I don't want that in my food supply. Therefore I am fortunate that I live where logging is plentiful and there are lots of lumber mills around me. I buy seconds many times That may have a bad spot or a bit of bark still on them. I am helping providing jobs for my local community lumber industry and try to use these small local mills as much as possible and stay out of the big box lumber stores. At the end of a couple years I simply change these out and burn them.

    [​IMG]05-100_6831 by Dirt Diva, on Flickr

    When I changed out the boards this year I allowed my flock of ducks to forage in the soil eating grubs and bugs and helping with insect control. I had less insect problems this year than I have ever had.

    [​IMG]100_6850 by Dirt Diva, on Flickr

    Another tip along the edges every 4 to 6 feet we added a piece of steel rebar driven down into the ground along the outside edge. This prevents your sides from bowing out from the pressure of the soil pushing outward over the years. The steel rods are held on to the sides with simple plumbing straps.
     
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    1. Old Geezer
      Hate the termites. They will travel 50 ft straight down to find water. They will travel just as far to eat your house.
       
      Old Geezer, Sep 7, 2021
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  16. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    [​IMG]1-100_6972 by Dirt Diva, on Flickr

    These boxes don't apply to just vegetable boxes. I use this same concept of bed building on perennial crops such as the asparagus bed above. I recieve heavy rainfalls with about 5 feet a year being the norm. I use lots of compost and mulches. The kicker board around the beds prevent my mulches from washing out into the grass during torrential downpours.

    [​IMG]100_6975 by Dirt Diva, on Flickr

    Here in the picture above are beds of blueberries, rhubarb and gooseberry bushes. Again those kicker board give me a good mowing edge as well as holding in my composts and mulches during heavy rains.

    [​IMG]100_6978 by Dirt Diva, on Flickr

    And again raised beds with 4 fig trees emerging in the spring.
     
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  17. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    1. Old Geezer
      Go UT!
       
      Old Geezer, Sep 7, 2021
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  18. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Once my beds have decomposed for 6 months to a year then I like to double dig my beds. In my instance I am pulling the sand up from underneath the compost in my beds and removing stones and mixing the sandy soil underneath in with the new rich compost and soil to add organic matter and improve soil structure and water retention.

    This is where the work comes in and those arm and leg muscles start feeling it.

    https://www.easydigging.com/spades-forks/articles/double-digging.html

     
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  19. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard ! Staff Member
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    I plan to use corrugated Sheetmetal to form the new raised bed box and have all the wood supports on the outside of the raised bed box. The new raised beds will be about 3 feet off the ground and about 12 inches deep. The ground level raised beds (already in place) on one side of my yard will be used for tall plants, corn & climbing plants as those beds are located next to my side yard fence. Easy to add support lines. On the opposite side there is another raised bed but it is made from plastic fake wood. As I learn more from all the great advice and tips being posted, I will try and expand my growing area.
     
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  20. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    I have seen pictures of the sheet metal beds you describe. I have never had beds with sheet metal but it makes sense as it would take a very long time to rust through I think. I wonder if they would get hot in the afternoon sun though. You will have to post pictures and keep us updated on your progress.
     
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    1. TMT Tactical
      I will post pictures but it will be a while before I get to this project. Lots of yard work to make room for the rain harvesting system before I can do the raised beds.
       
      TMT Tactical, Sep 2, 2021
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  21. lonewolf

    lonewolf Legendary Survivalist Staff Member
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    one of the reasons I have used tyre towers for growing potatoes is the rubber heats up in the sunshine and retains the heat, I have never had any problems with this in all the years I have been using this method, not sure if this is the same with metal sheets as I have never used them for growing.
     
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  22. arctic bill

    arctic bill Master Survivalist
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    I have been gardening for about 15-20 years, my advice is to improve the soil. start composting , put in all kitchen straps, grass cuttings , leaves, eggs shells, gardens waste,
    I have seen spectacular results by adding compost. take a soil sample and adjust accordingly .
     
    1. DirtDiva
      I agree! I think compost is the singular best thing you can do for your garden.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 7, 2021
  23. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Gardening : What Works For Me

    My garden I consider a supplemental nutrient garden. I store large amounts of dried beans, rice, oatmeal, pastas, dried potato flakes and the usual dry foods that most preppers store. My goal is to provide fresh food to add to the nutritional value of those stored foods during the year, provide not only fresh fruits and vegetables during the 7 to 8 months of my growing season but to additionally provide food for canning, dehydrating and to stock the 2 large freezers that I own thus increasing my pantry stores through the year . My garden also provides additional nutrition to my small flock of backyard hens, a small flock of Khaki Campbell ducks and several rabbits.

    When I read most forums the first thing that people tend to rattle off as preps for gardening are tractors, tillers and gasoline powered equipment. I own none of that any more. My own personal belief is that in a survival situation I cannot depend on having access to fuel to power that equipment. I garden with shovels, forks, rakes, hoes, spades, wheelbarrows, wagons and a broad fork. I am so low tech it is not funny. Yet my garden produces reliably from April to November producing enough food to eat fresh and store for 2 people and a huge amount of additional calorie dense food to store canned, frozen and dehydrated for years to come. My garden is worked by 2 elderly people in their 60's and 70's on less than an acre of gardens.

    I do this with a combination of raised beds and in ground beds. My soil is very sandy, shallow and with an abundance of rocks.

    I do not till my soil. I do occasionally double dig to break up sandy sub soils in beds and remove large stones that constantly work their way up in my mountain location. When I double dig new beds I sift the soil to get out as many stones as possible. Stones are the most prolific crop on my place.

    I compost almost year round and even plant crops specifically to feed the compost piles at times. I use the beddings and manures from my small stock to also feed the compost piles. I prefer hot composting but will occasionally cold compost during the winter months. I also cover crop. In addition I maintain a large worm bed that I harvest the worm castings and use in the soil as well as providing fishing bait.

    I grow specifically open pollinated varieties and save seeds religiously therefore I am not dependent on retail availability for buying seeds. I always have a supply of viable seeds at my finger tips.

    I use mulches extensively! Straw, arborists wood chips, composts, sawdust or shredded leaves can be found through the gardens. Soil is not meant to be bare. Cover it with plants or mulch or both at all times. If you don't cover it Mother Nature will and usually with weeds.

    I use succession planting. By planting crops successively I can harvest 8 months out of the year. I do grow some crops vertically on fences and trellises.

    This is what works for me and my family, location and lifestyle.
     
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  24. poltiregist

    poltiregist Legendary Survivalist
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    I simply throw things to compost into a 55 gal. barrel and leave it to rot . That normally takes a year or so for the matter to decay . I have no idea what category this type of composting would fall under . My question is - what is hot composting ?
     
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    1. DirtDiva
      Compost happens naturally, wherever plant debris accumulates and is exposed to insects, soil organisms, and rainfall. It’s nature’s way to recycle the old to make the new.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 8, 2021
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  25. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard ! Staff Member
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    Great post with much needed info. I have discovered my ground has an over abundance of rock covered with a small amount of dirt. I currently have two semi raised beds (about 8 inches high) and several small patches for future real raised beds (30 inches off the ground and and 30 inches wide and about 12 inches deep). I will be building a second storage shed to house my tools and soil treatment. I do not currently have any critters or critter waste to add to the soil. That may change in the future but I will have to wait and see how thing progress or more likely falls apart. The rest of this year will be devoted to clearing space and building the rain water harvesting system and the the other raised beds. I hope that by spring, I will have the systems in place and ready to see how bad a gardener I really am. The next trick will be to talk the wife into saving the organic scraps for composting. Wish me luck on that one. LOL
     
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    1. DirtDiva
      Since you do not keep animals you need to get a large garbage can and prep soybean meal as a source of nitrogen to add to your piles.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 9, 2021
  26. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Cool compost or static composting

    When you build a compost pile, the process can be cool or hot, depending on the size of the pile, as well as the size and mix of compost ingredients that go into the pile.

    Cool, or Static Pile Composting, is the easiest way to make your own compost, and the best composting method for beginners.

    Materials are layered onto the pile—chopped, or unchopped—as your kitchen and garden generates them.

    Chopping whole plants into smaller pieces increases surface area, speeds decomposition, makes turning the pile easier, and results in a finer-textured finished compost—but it isn’t necessary in a static compost pile.

    The pile is kept covered, to keep it from drying out, or getting saturated in a heavy rain. When the pile is big enough, it’s turned to one side and allowed to cure.

    Although static pile composting is simpler than other composting methods, and takes less effort and attention, it develops less compost heat, and therefore has some drawbacks:

    • Weed seeds remain viable. Compost heat in the middle of a static compost pile may be sufficient to kill weed seeds, but seeds in the periphery of the pile remain viable.
    • Plant diseases are not destroyed by compost heat. For the same reason, diseases in the middle of the pile may cook out, but those in the outer layers remain.
    • Static compost piles may attract rodents, opossums, and raccoons. Kitchen scraps take several days to break down in a static compost pile, and as they break down, they give off fermentation odors that attract rodents and other animals. Once rodents know there’s a regular food source available, they’ll treat your compost pile as a feeding station and come back every night. Some compost bins and compost tumblers are designed to discourage rodents.
    Hot Composting is a lot more work, but eliminates these problems.
     
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  27. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Hot Composting is a form of accelerated composting that yields finished compost in 3-6 weeks (longer in winter), instead of the 3-6 months needed for static pile composting.

    This compost is dark, rich, and free of viable weed seeds and plant diseases.

    In a hot compost pile, the size of the pile—and the particle size and mix of materials that go into it—are optimized to generate high temperatures.

    This steamy heat kills weed seeds and plant diseases and dramatically accelerates the composting process, but it has to be managed carefully.

    Temperatures in a large, poorly-managed hot compost pile can reach 180° (82° C). On hot days, the dry materials on top of these piles can spontaneously combust!

    Apart from the fire hazard, at temperatures above 160° (71° C), all of the oxygen is quickly used up, and the compost pile “goes anaerobic”. That’s when you get problems with odors, nutrient losses, and toxins.

    Smell ammonia wafting from your compost pile? That’s your nitrogen, the element most important for plant growth, venting into the atmosphere.

    Smell a hint of rotten eggs? That’s your sulfur, needed for critical plant enzymes and plant immunity, dissipating as hydrogen sulfide, rotten egg gas.

    See a ghostly, pale image floating over your compost pile? That’s your phosphorous, needed for root and fruit formation, floating away as phosphene gas—the “swamp gas” that floats over boggy areas and landfills, and sometimes results in UFO reports.

    All of these nutrient losses are due to anaerobic bacteria taking over your compost pile, starting with the hot core.

    This can happen occasionally in a static compost pile, but it will happen in a hot compost pile, if you don’t turn it when the temperature exceeds 155° (68° C).

    Why hot composting?

    It produces a richer compost, faster and more of it! It is work though.


     
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  28. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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  29. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    [​IMG]
    Compost bins

    [​IMG]
    Grass clippings


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Chicken bedding from chicken run and house. A mixture of straw, pine shavings, feathers and chicken poo.
     
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    1. DirtDiva
      DirtDiva, Sep 9, 2021
    2. DirtDiva
      An excellent blog for the newbies among us:

      Lee Reich, PhD is an avid farmdener (more than a gardener, less than a farmer) with graduate degrees in soil science and horticulture. After working in plant and soil research with the USDA and Cornell University, he shifted gears and turned to writing, lecturing, and consulting.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 9, 2021
    3. DirtDiva
      DirtDiva, Sep 9, 2021
    4. DirtDiva
      Easiest way to collect grass. They run about $250.00 to $300.00


      [​IMG]
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 9, 2021
    5. DirtDiva
      How I personally chop my leaves. We have 2 of them, his and hers! They cost us about $150.00 each and we bought the pair at a spring gardening sale one year from Tractor Supply. Cost to maintain spark plugs, oil and a new set of blades every other year. Low tech at it's finest. While I have owned several shredders I have yet to own one that was NOT junk. Cardiac workout free!

      [​IMG]
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 9, 2021
  30. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    I am off to can green beans and tomatoes, snap beans and vacuum seal some seeds for carrots and zucchini that I have dried. Be back!
     
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  31. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard ! Staff Member
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    Again DD, you have provided a world of information. I am learning a lot. Please keep up the great posts and links. I have read about using a rotatable barrel for turning the compost. Have you tried this method or do you have an opinion regarding this type of composting?
     
  32. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Legendary Survivalist
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    The Brown Mountain Lights

    https://northcarolinaghosts.com/mountains/brown-mountain-lights/

    http://brownmountainlights.com/

    I've parked my car and watched the Brown Mountain Lights come out the mountain and float up. Takes a clear night. I guess I was looking out at like four miles away (?) -- I don't know. Where I was watching from is where everyone went to watch.

    In the 1930s, my dad was a teenager riding in the car with his dad during the night. This was in Tennessee or North Carolina (?). We are from Southern Appalachia right on the border. There's a place where Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina touch borders. I've been hunting and wander betwixt states. Roads back then were crude gravel affairs. You were always surrounded by trees and nature. Communities were but little openings in the forest hollers. So, while they were heading down that mountain road, a huge ball of glowing light (the size of a car) bounced down the mountain in front of them, crossed the road, then bounded on down the side of the mountain. There is no doubt in my mind that it was a Brown Mountain Light phenomenon.

    Charged gasses glow. Fascinating stuff.
    .
     
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    1. DirtDiva
      While I was born and am a daughter of Appalachia I grew up in the bayous of South Louisiana. Literally in the swamp. Lots of light sightings are attributed to swamp gas.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 8, 2021
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  33. Max rigger

    Max rigger Master Survivalist
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    Thanks for the thread DirtDiva, some good info here for newbies like me.
     
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  34. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Here is a link to some good info on compost tumblers. No I have not made or used one. I have always just made piles or built bins. The bins were more to keep the chickens out of it than anything. :rolleyes:

    https://www.gardenmyths.com/compost-tumblers-do-they-work/

    Here are their pros and cons

     
    TMT Tactical likes this.
    1. TMT Tactical
      DD, again you have responded and provide great info. I am liking the concept of the compost tumbler. I do have limited useable space and I also like the idea of more easily turning the compost. I think the vent holes in the drum would also allow the prime compost to drop out below the drum as it was rotated. A tarp below the drum would allow for easy collection. Thank you again.
       
      TMT Tactical, Sep 9, 2021
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  35. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    1. TMT Tactical
      My original post about using human waste was mostly directed at a major post shtf time frame. When the economy and the transportation systems have completely broken down and commercial soil treatment is no longer available, I think all options would be on the table. DD has once again come trough and provided us (me) with a lot of very valuable info. Pathogens can be baked out with high enough compost temps and the pharmaceutical issue will be a limited problem as very few people will have medications in their systems after a shtf event. The same will most likely also apply to heavy metals, as dietary consumption will most likely become very basic. Thanks DD for the wonderful and informative links.
       
      TMT Tactical, Sep 9, 2021
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    2. DirtDiva
      I will say that in that same situation I will be right behind you on that concept. Of course I will admit to also being of an age to actually remember using a real outhouse and even pumping and toting water. While I have the normal plumbing right now I think humanure is a viable alternative on certain crops and under certain conditions.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 9, 2021
  36. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    On the subject of humanure I will leave you with a story. Mid 90's my husband and I bought a 72 acre old dairy farm in the midwest about 15 minutes from my husbands home town where his elderly mother lived. We relocated to care for her in her final years as my husband was the last of her living children.

    This was a gnarly old place but full of history with a burned out farmhouse, lots of hand dug wells, cisterns and silo pits. With a pony express station ruins next door and fields full of arrowheads the former inhabitants had left their marks. Where there was top soil there was the richest blackest prairieland topsoil you could possibly want to garden in.

    As I gardened through the first couple years I turned up civil war belt buckles, native american hide scrapers and arrowheads and one day a Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph token. I donated the token to the local museum in town and the local paper did a writeup on it. Lo and behold the original family came forward and filled in the blanks. Their grandpa had worked for Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph and when he retired it had been presented to him. He wore it his whole life on a fob hanging from his belt until he lost it. So the question of the day was " How did it end up in my little garden spot?"

    The family with tongue in cheek informed me that my absolutely beautiful little kitchen garden spot sat directly over the old outhouse location o_Oo_Oo_O
     
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  37. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    My last point on composting is that everyone needs to read this artile if you plan to use compost in your gardens post SHTF or in a survival situation.

    Too Much Compost – Is It Poisoning Your Garden?
    https://www.gardenmyths.com/compost-is-it-poisoning-your-garden/
    And a couple points to highlight

    • The truth is that too much compost, especially manure compost, is harmful to your soil and plants.
    • Compost based on manure tends to have a higher relative amount of phosphorus.
    • Assume you follow the advice of most references and you add some compost to your garden each year. If you use your own compost that is made mostly from plant materials the nitrogen level will be about 7 times that of phosphorus, which is what your plants want.

      However, if your compost is made from manure, or you use commercial compost which is based on manure the ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus is closer to 1:1. In this case, once all of the nitrogen is used up by plants, most of the phosphorus is still left in the soil.
    • Phosphorus on the other hand moves very slowly through soil at a rate of an inch or two a year. It does not wash away easily, nor does it get converted to gasses that escape. Excess phosphorus accumulates in the soil and for the most part, it stays put.
    • High phosphorus levels make it more difficult for plants to take up manganese and iron resulting in deficiencies of these nutrients in the plant. This shows up as interveinal chlorosis of the leaves. Some people try to solve this problem by adding more iron to the soil, but if the problem is caused by too much phosphorus in the soil, the last thing the soil needs is more iron.

      High phosphorus levels are also toxic to mycorrhizal fungi which are very important to landscape plants. They provide phosphorus and water, as well as other nutrients to the plant. Without mycorrhizal fungi, plants need to expend more energy making larger root systems. Less energy is then available for growing, flowering and fruiting.
    • Native top soil contains about 5% organic matter by weight (10% by volume). More than this will start causing problems for plants by providing nutrient levels that are too high. In response, plants grow too fast and don’t produce enough natural pesticides which leads to more pests and diseases.

      If you are going to use compost, it is better to use plant based compost than manure based compost since the former contains relatively less phosphorus.

      Keep using compost, but don’t add more than an inch or two a year on your landscape plants. Because you harvest from a vegetable garden and remove nutrients in the form of food, you can use up to three inches there.

     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2021
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    1. TMT Tactical
      DD, are there home test (kits) for us garden Dummies? Next week I start cleaning out and turning over the soil in my existing minimal raised beds and I tend to be one of those "More Is Better" type individuals. It would be very beneficial is I could test my soil vs sending it out for testing, especially after a shtf event. I know I have been asking for a lot of your time and efforts but I trust your input. I don't trust most of the "Internet Experts". AND Now for more of your time, is there a garden tool that is good for sifting out the rocks when turning over the soil. My land has more rocks than dirt. I use an pick ax to break up the soil and then pick out by hand, all the rocks. These are throwing sized rocks, not gravel sized. In fact I used a bunch to fill in around my walk ways. LOL
       
      TMT Tactical, Sep 9, 2021
    2. DirtDiva
      Last edited: Sep 9, 2021
      DirtDiva, Sep 9, 2021
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    3. DirtDiva
      I have several different sizes of these. One to fit my wheelbarrows and some to fit the width of my beds. I simply slide it along the top of my bed as I go.

      [​IMG]
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 9, 2021
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    4. DirtDiva
      I will consistently try to link to reputable sites or scientific or academic sites as much as possible.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 9, 2021
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  38. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Absolutely basic info for the completely new gardener. Below you will find a link to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

    https://www.thespruce.com/find-your-usda-zone-3269819
    [​IMG]


    It is simple to use. Find the location where you live.

    [​IMG]

    They even break it down into states. I live right on the edge of zone 6b and 7a. I buy plants that survive between minus 20 to minus 17 degrees. Always err toward the colder zone. This is especially important when buying fruit trees and ornamentals. Or even perennial vegetables.
     
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  39. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    First and Last frost date finder. Simply put in your zip code:)

    (Thank you old farmer's almanac)

    https://www.almanac.com/gardening/frostdates

    Use our Frost Dates Calculator to find the average dates of the last light freeze of spring and first light freeze of fallfor locations across the U.S. and Canada. Simply enter your ZIP or Postal code in the field above to see frost dates for your location (based on the nearest weather station), as well as the length of your growing season based on frost dates.

    WHAT ARE FROST DATES?
    A frost date is the average date of the last light freeze in spring or the first light freeze in fall.

    The classification of freeze temperatures is based on their effect on plants:

    • Light freeze: 29° to 32°F (1.7° to 0°C)—tender plants are killed.
    • Moderate freeze: 25° to 28°F (3.9° to -2.2°C)—widely destructive to most vegetation.
    • Severe freeze: 24°F (-4.4°C) and colder—heavy damage to most garden plants.
    Note that frost dates are only an estimate based on historical climate data and are not set in stone. The probability of a frost occurring after the spring frost date or before the fall frost date is 30%, which means that there is still a chance of frost occurring before or after the given dates!

    Frost is predicted when air temperatures reach 32°F (0°C), but because it is colder closer to the ground, a frost may occur even when air temperatures are just above freezing. Always keep an eye on your local weather forecast and plan to protect tender plants accordingly. Weather, topography, and microclimates may also cause considerable variations in the occurrence of frost in your garden.
     
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  40. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    If there was one publication I would advise to print it is this one. I printed it off and laminated it to put in a garden binder. It is free from The University of Kentucky and is one of the best free garden guides out there I think.

    http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf

    It contains charts on
    • How much to plant per person of certain crops
    • Rates of Limestone needed to raise soil ph
    • Suggested amount of powdered sulfur to reduce ph
    • Soil test levels
    • How to figure out the amount of fertilizer to apply
    • Plant spacing and depth
    • Weeks from seeding to transplanting for both cool season and warm season
    • Succession cropping
    • Planting calendar
    • Season Extenders
    • Time charts for critical irrigation and mulching
    • Vegetable crop timetable for both growing time and harvesting
    • Plus a world of information on sprays, insect & disease ID and control
    • Plus a guide to different vegetables and when to grow and diseases and pest they are most susceptible to.
    It is a 56 page pdf but is so worth printing and keeping. AND IT IS FREE :cool::cool:
     
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    1. TMT Tactical
      Downloaded and will print out tomorrow. Wow, what a great find. Thank you DD. So much to learn and with your help I am progressing.
       
      TMT Tactical, Sep 10, 2021
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  41. Max rigger

    Max rigger Master Survivalist
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    Downloaded and on a Kindle and laptop, good link.

    I froze down 1.3Kg of cherry toms today to add to stews/spag bol type dishes, not done it before so I'll let you know how I get on.
     
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    1. DirtDiva
      Feels good doesn't it! It is empowering and somewhat addictive preserving your own food.

      I canned 11 quarts of tomato sauce on Tuesday and snapped 2 buckets of green beans. Canned 21 quart of green beans yesterday. I spent this morning peeling and chunking 2 large slow cookers of tomatoes and put on to simmer on low. Will can tomorrow. Headed out in a few to pick tomatoes yet again. Sweet peppers, cucumbers and okra also need picking. This time of year for me is never ending.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 10, 2021
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  42. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Have you ever tried roasting cherries in the oven on low with slivered onions, peppers, basil and olive oil? Dip french bread slices in it and maybe sprinkle on some fresh grated parmesan. Good stuff.
     
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  43. TexDanm

    TexDanm Shadow Dancer
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    Just a thought. Most urban gardeners plant and grow things that would be of only limited use for survival. As much as I like them, tomatoes, peppers, onions and such are just not worth much as far as calorie count. In a SURVIVAL garden you want as many calories as possible and THEN the things like garlic, onions, peppers, and such which are then used as flavor enhancers. There are a lot of different kinds of peppers and each has a different purpose in cooking and eating. Garlic, peppers, onions, rosemary, thyme,... These are the things that make a bland pot of boiling water with a little meat and a few scraps of potatoes and carrots into s good meal.

    You will want to have basically three gardens. One is an eat as it ripens garden. Then you will have a preserve and store type of garden for times when your garden isn't producing and then a spice and flavor gaeden. Read about "Three Sisters gardening." Some plants ar complementery and some don't do well together. Corn, pole beans and squash work well together planted and grown in hills with the corn in the middle then the pole beans climbing on it and surounded by squash and or peppers.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2021
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    1. DirtDiva
      Hold that thought...

      This is an excellent point and great subject to cover next. Keep an open mind and hang in there with me. I will give you some alternatives and some things gardening wise to think about! Hip deep in canning but will be back soon :D
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 10, 2021
  44. Max rigger

    Max rigger Master Survivalist
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    Certainly have, roasting off veg like that is quite popular these days in the UK. Traditionally it would be roast spuds and parsnips but in recent years the popular TV chefs like Gordon Ramsay have promoted more 'Italian' style ingredients and these foods go well with fish or meat where you don't have a sauce cooked separately, as you said just dip your bread in the cooking juices :)

    I suppose for long term survival you'd initially concentrate on planting belly fillers like spuds, parsnip, turnips/swede/rutabaga, carrots, onions, cabbage but that would be a dull base of ingredients so you need your herbs, peppers, garlic, tomatoes etc to spruce your meals up.

    I've never grown fresh ginger or turmeric but will give that a try.

    If events go to plan then no later than 15th October I'll have a heck of lot more garden to play with in the years to come, I'll come back to that if all goes well ;)
     
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  45. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    TexDanm everyone has a different thought on a survival garden and criteria differ. If you surf the internet you will find 100's of sites listing high calorie crops that you must plant to survive. Everybody is an expert any more right :rolleyes: usually at the top of that list is potatoes, beans, carrots, corn, many list rice, sweet potatoes and I see lots of ancient grains such as quinoa, amaranth and such.

    What is going to be in my survival garden? The same things that have been there for the last 40 years. Why?

    • These are the things I know how to grow.
    • These are the crops that grow well in my area and are tried and tested over time.
    • These are what I stock a large amount of seeds for and are open pollinated so that I may continue to stock seeds for.
    • These are the things that preserve well either canning, dehydrating, drying, fermenting or freezing. Or just plain old cold storage in a root cellar or basement.
    • These are all things that my family will eat and that I have developed recipes and ways of preparing over my lifetime.
    I assure you many of the things growing in my personal survival garden will not be things like rice. Rice is cheap. I have buckets and buckets and buckets of the stuff. It stores easily and forever and is a pain in the #** to grow. I'll buy and store my rice and add all my fresh goodies to that rice in storage for some killer foods.

    I will definitely be growing some potatoes because my big burly Irishman cannot live without them. Know though that if you are counting on potato harvests to survive of all the crops I have ever grown potatoes while easy to grow is the one crop that I will say has failed the most. Potatoes can be very susceptible to diseases in certain areas and in some instances can be very difficult to store long term. DO not put all your eggs in one basket.

    Sweet potatoes for me are a great crop as are beans and I grow many. I personally do not grow corn much but do prep corn seeds and some corn. Corn is a crop that takes lots of space and nitrogen compared to it's output. I will get into crops more later on but my whole point is I would personally not grow my garden based solely on calories. However I would certainly make sure that a large portion of the crop is geared toward calories with a little extra.
     
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    1. TMT Tactical
      Sound logic. Grow what you eat and KNOW how to grow.
       
      TMT Tactical, Sep 11, 2021
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  46. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    Along the same lines as my earlier post. Do a search on 3 sisters and you will literally get thousands of results. Have you ever seen anyone really be successful at it in modern times. The concept is great and is an excellent example of what modern day gardeners refer to as "companion planting" . While I do occasionally do some companion planting there is a whole lot of info out there I will flat out call B.S. :eek:

    I can do that because I am not peddling a book.

    As to 3 sisters I have grown acres of corn, beans and pumpkins/squash but I have never done 3 sisters.

    Here is a link to an interesting article on 3 sisters that I happen to agree with

    https://www.gardenmyths.com/three-sisters-agriculture-an-example-of-companion-planting/#more-5316

    And to quote the author

     
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  47. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    How about I show you some alternatives. Three gardens are not necessary I think I can cut that down and give you some ideas to help with that. I'll give you a rundown of my gardening year and it will give you a better idea of where I am coming from.
     
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  48. DirtDiva

    DirtDiva Expert Member
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    My gardening year starts in March in my zone 6b garden and my last frost date is usually around April 15th. March 17th of this year I planted my first crops and always the same crops.

    These crops are what I call cool weather crops. Most prefer the cooler and wetter conditions of spring, will grow in cooler soils and will tolerate some frost.

    These crops are:
    • potatoes
    • green peas
    • beets
    • onions ( both green onions and bulbing)
    • cabbage
    • mustard greens
    • sometimes turnips or bok choy
    They don't all have to go in on the same day but my window is mid March to last frost of mid April. My beds are made and a layer of compost over them and ready to go in the fall so that as soon as a window presents itself weather wise I am ready to go. The only thing left in the garden at this point is a fall planting of garlic and carrots that have beenleft to go to seed for saving. These are all my traditional spring crops. Closer to April 15 I will plant lettuce in a cold frame for early lettuce.

    [​IMG]
    A traditional early spring planting of green peas growing vertically, onions and potatoes

    [​IMG]
    Early spring seedlings started in milk jugs on the porch rail

    [​IMG]
    Early spring cabbage sets protected from frosts and rabbits with milk jug cloches

    In the next post I'll show you some examples of intercropping and succession planting and how they work.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2021
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  49. poltiregist

    poltiregist Legendary Survivalist
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    I noticed your milk jug cloches have the lids removed . Is there a reason for this ?
     
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    1. DirtDiva
      Good call! Yep to vent out that hot air on warm spring days when the sun pops out.
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 11, 2021
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  50. lonewolf

    lonewolf Legendary Survivalist Staff Member
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    we used water bottles on the allotment, the 1 gallon size, cut the bottoms off but leave the tops on, for mini cloches, we called them "mini greenhouses" over here.
     
    1. View previous comments...
    2. DirtDiva
      Do you prep these and keep them from year to year or do you pitch them at the end of the season and collect new?
       
      DirtDiva, Sep 12, 2021
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