Author Topic: TBR Gardening Thread for 2/11/18: The Homestead Garden, Part II - Things To Think About  (Read 1051 times)

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Online Free Vulcan

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If you're thinking of starting a garden to provide for you and your family's needs for home grown produce, there's a number of things to consider before you till up a patch of lawn and start planting. Producing a large enough amount of food to live off of is not a small affair, thought there are many tricks and techniques that will allow you to grow as much as you can in the smallest space possible.

Before you till.

A list of of factors to consider in planning a garden are as follows:

Tillable space. This is the most limiting factor to any garden. Whether it's due to property lines, buildings, terrain,  rocks, trees, city or county ordinances, drainage, easements, or other factors, the area you have to till and realistically use is going to determine the space you have to grow stuff.

This can be optimized with things by season extension structures like greenhouses and tunnels, double and other intensive cropping methods, fertility building, and the like, in the end you'll be limited to what's on your property.

What you eat. Obviously nobody's going to eat what they don't like, so that's an easy factor to quantify as to what to plant. That's pretty easy to determine when going thru catalogs and online stores to decide what to buy.

How much you eat. How much is a different story. Whether it's a matter of keeping a long of what you eat and how much, inventorying the freezer, pantry, or keeping track of store receipts, the better you can estimate you usage, the better you will know how much you will need to plant.

Your budget. While gardening can be done on the cheap, the reality is that there is an upfront cost. Tillers or wheel hoes, garden tools, seed, fencing and stakes, canning and freezing supplies and other items cost money. Except for seed, hey can be bought used to save cost, or borrowed, and many other things can be repurposed, but it can't be done for free.

Determine what you need and your budget beforehand to decide it is feasible to do what you want to do right now, or if you need to build up to it.

Time. There are a number of tricks and techniques to lower the amount of time needed to be working in the garden in a given season. Like costs, most of the work can be done up front in the spring and steady maintenance after that, but if you don't have a solid day's worth of hours a week, it's going to be difficult to keep up, or mean a much smaller garden.

Help. You can of course garden by yourself and your own efforts, but the more the merrier. Two people can do the work of three separately. Spouses, kids, other families, or bartering produce for work will force multiply and cut the work down significantly.

Storage space. Putting up all the produce is going to take some room. If you don't have that room, or it's not conducive for storage, like an unheated garage, it's going to make your enterprise much more difficult. It may be a matter of acquiring shelving, reorganizing, cleaning out, or other tricks to give you the right kind of space you need. There's also a need for space to store tools and machinery.

Other indirect factors are good recordkeeping, learning, observing, experimenting, especially with the growing process, as well as good discipline and persistence to manage things from the first spring till to harvest. Ingenuity and creativity are important too. 

This is the starting point to a successful homestead garden, considering all these factors before the tiller hits the sod will make your efforts more successful.
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Online thackney

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This weekend I purchased 2 avocado trees, an Improved Meyer Lemon, a Key Lime, and a blackberry and a blueberry bush.

The local Master Gardener's Association and the Ag Extension office put on a fruit tree sale one day a year.

https://brazoria.agrilife.org/event/2018-citrus-fruit-tree-sale/

They work with Texas A&M to determine the varieties that work best in our area.  Those are the only ones included in this annual sale.

If I don't kill any of them, I'll see if the wife will agree to an enlarged budget for next year.

In April, they also do a plant sale, vegetables, ornamentals, etc.
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Online mystery-ak

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I am glad to see this up and going.'

I have a question re hydrangeas...Hubby and I differ on this..I have read never to cut back but Mike insists on doing it. All of my plants are several years old and have beautiful/bountiful blooms,,until last year when he cut them all back...not a bloom from any plant. I need to know if that was the cause of the bloomless plants as he is apt to do it again this spring.
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Offline Sanguine

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This weekend I purchased 2 avocado trees, an Improved Meyer Lemon, a Key Lime, and a blackberry and a blueberry bush.

The local Master Gardener's Association and the Ag Extension office put on a fruit tree sale one day a year.

https://brazoria.agrilife.org/event/2018-citrus-fruit-tree-sale/

They work with Texas A&M to determine the varieties that work best in our area.  Those are the only ones included in this annual sale.

If I don't kill any of them, I'll see if the wife will agree to an enlarged budget for next year.

In April, they also do a plant sale, vegetables, ornamentals, etc.

@thackney, I'll be very interested in hearing how your blueberry bush does. 
Cui bono?

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See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.

Offline InHeavenThereIsNoBeer

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I'm rather fortunate in that I'm cheap and stubborn.  If I can get something going in the garden, especially perennial or heirloom, I'll find a way to eat it and like it.  I've got a canner, vacuum sealer, deep freeze and dehydrator.

I have a ~75 gallon aquarium in front of a south facing window I use to start seeds.  Tried to set it up for aquaponics at one point, but the humidity seemed to be too much for the seedlings.   Recently I added a hanging fixture with two 4' T5HO bulbs.  Wow, huge, huge difference.  Next project will be to set up similar in the guest bedroom closet for growing some things like lettuce and spinach which I really can't grow outside most of the year due to temps.

Most of my projects fail, but it's fun to try and so satisfying then they work out.
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Online thackney

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@thackney, I'll be very interested in hearing how your blueberry bush does.

This year I will likely keep them in containers.  I need to improve my drainage and build up some spots before deciding where to plant.

From the tree sale literature:
The Brazoria County Master Gardeners have been growing “blues” at the B.E.E.S. (Brazoria County
Environmental Education Station) Demonstration Garden for several years. Blueberries are one of the few fruits
native to North America. Only highbush and rabbiteye blueberries are recommended for this area. Southern
highbush blueberries are the earliest blueberries to ripen in North America. Berry yields of 2-5 pounds per plant
can occur by the third or fourth year, provided pollination is good. Yields increase up to 7-8 years of age.
Blueberries should be spaced at least 20 feet from any building. Space plants 8-10 feet between each
other. Soil pH needs to be 4.0 to 5.5; very acidic. Soil can be acidified by thoroughly mixing a small amount of
granulated sulfur into the soil before planting and/or mixing soil and planting with sphagnum peat moss. Fertilizers
produced for azalea’s can be used to maintain soil acidity. Blueberries need companion species to ensure
pollination; two plants are recommended. 150-300 chill hours average.

The variety I bought:
Climax—Rabbiteye. This variety is generally taller than their northern highbush cousins and are commonly
planted on 10 foot row centers with bushes 5 to 7 feet apart. Cultural needs for rabbiteye are similar to highbush.
Two different varieties are needed for cross-pollination and fruit set. Galveston County Master Gardeners exhibit
this variety in their demonstration gardens. Produces a medium-sized berry that is very sweet. Great source of
antioxidants. Flowers in January/February forming large clusters of berries in early May. Readily planted in large
(24-34 inch) pots. ’Climax’ are acid lovers so treat them like azaleas.

With the horses and cows, we have a lot of large containers from protein feed tubs.  At the tree sale, they were selling the same for $10 each.



I drill holes in them, put sand in the bottom and soil on top.  I'll read up on the right potting soil before moving them out of the originals pots and into the tubs.  The tubs filled weigh ~200lbs, but will fit in the front loader bucket.

Many of the different counties hold these sales, search on your county + Master Gardener Fruit Tree Sale.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2018, 08:06:22 AM by thackney »
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Offline Sanguine

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Thanks, @thackney.  Lots of good information.

I've got two of those containers, but they've got kale and oregano in them right now.
Cui bono?

Walk in Wisdom
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.

Online thackney

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Life is fragile, handle with prayer

Online roamer_1

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*SIGH*

All y'all are making me sad.
I'd love to say I am getting ready...
But that would entail shoveling snow off the patch, and a jackhammer to get through the frost.  **nononono*

But I AM fixin to cut in a new patch this year... Back-to-Eden style...  And three berry patches will be added (blue, elder, and razzle)... That'll all start some time around April... So wake me up then, m'kay?


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