Grow your own veggies?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 01, 2008 2:16 AM GMT
    I just finished planting my first ever veggie garden. I built the box, dug deep, filled it with nice rich soil and quality compost, and put in my plants and seeds...tomatoes (slicers and plum), zucchini, lettuce, chard, radishes, dill, basil, italian parsley, and serrano peppers. We have two growing seasons here in Austin so I'll have some different things for the early fall. But this is a start, and the box is modular so I can expand or contract it depending on how well things go.

    Building the garden only cost me $1 per square foot, and buying the plants and seed was the expenditure equivalent of one trip to my neighborhood's farmer's market. But I think you have to enjoy this sort of thing to make it work, as the guides and books say to spend a little time in the garden every day for good results. For my garden, that probably means only about fifteen minutes a day. But being a meditative sort of thing, I'm sure it'll be a nice stress-reducer. Plus, the more I connect with plants the better I will be at work (I do ecological restoration).

    But my main reasons are as follows:

    1. I want to be a better cook, and there are two routes I feel I can go on this front. I could go heavy on the salt, spices, and fats (the “Paula's Kitchen” approach), or include more fresh, premium ingredients. Nothing could be fresher than the stuff that grew 40' away from my kitchen counter.

    2. I've been reading “The Onmivore's Diemma” by Michael Pollan, and am frustrated by the industrial food that is dominating my consumer choices. A $5 basket of industrial veggies from the supermarket (as low quality as it is), would cost me $25 at the non-industrial farmer's market (or Whole Foods if attempting to match quality with their rather industrial offerings). So either I gobble up corn and petroleum based products (as Pollan contends), or I break the bank.

    3. Perhaps this is an extension on the last point, but I feel an increasing personal resistance to American corporate culture, which is becoming more and more pervasive and beginning to define our lives (and not necessarily to our benefit, but to the benefit of a handful of very rich folks). My much younger brother shares this sentiment and has begun homesteading for his family on his five acres in New Hampshire. I seem to be very slowly heading in this direction myself.

    4. My grandad, who was an avid veggie gardener, passed away last week. I am his namesake (III). He'd always grow the best tomatoes. My brother and I would eat them like apples (sprinkling a bit of sugar on them as kids will do). I could not get up to Boston to say goodbye or attend his funeral, but I promised him I'd start my veggie garden so that I could always be reminded of him and carry on the tradition of him and my Dad (also resting in peace) growing wonderful veggies. During my grandad's last days I asked (by proxy) that he share his secrets to good tomatoes. Of course he said “rabbit poop” since he raised rabbits as well. I don't have bunny rabbits, but really in the veggie world poop is energy, so the lesson there is good organic fertilizer. He also said “Better Boy” tomatoes were what we ate as kids. I can't wait to taste them again. Anyway, I took photos of myself building the garden and emailed them to my family so they could print them out and show my grandpa. He liked it. It's not like we had a super close relationship, at least on the surface, but we had a certain quiet bond.

    I'd say this is a “perfect storm” of circumstances that led me to get this started. So this is gardening to me...nutrition, flavor, tradition, economics, self-reliance, exercise, connection to my past, and a sort of spirituality.

    If I had a blog on this site, I'd leave it at that. But since we just have forums, I'll include some food for discussion.

    Are you demanding when it comes to good veggies? How do you find the best veggies? Do you have a veggie garden?

    Looking forward to some friendly, thoughtful responses.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Apr 01, 2008 2:28 AM GMT
    I've grown my own tomatoes and I always grow herbs for the bf in a planter box.

    If I can suggest, plant some marigolds in with your veggies. They are a natural deterrent for many bugs.
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    Apr 01, 2008 2:52 AM GMT
    Ooh...good idea. Thanks! I was also going to experiment with hanging some garlic bulbs to ward off certain garden pests (and of course the bats flying around my house that might turn into vampires while I sleep haha).
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    Apr 01, 2008 2:59 AM GMT
    You planted tomatoes and didnt ask me how!!! ... icon_eek.gif ... Well, you still have time to replant them; they wont have taken root. But if you want to know, you have to ask....lord knows, I dont force my opinions on anyone ... icon_rolleyes.gif

    April 15 is last frost date here in northern Va so I have some time.

    This year I will have:
    Oregano
    Cilantro
    Basil
    Sage
    Taragon
    Thyme
    Parsley - flat leaf, stronger flavor than curly
    Chives
    Dill
    Cress - not water cress...let's see what it does
    spearmint

    I grow all the above in the holes in cinder blocks placed around the on end of the garden. Along with lavender which survives all winter.

    In the area surrounded by the herbs will go:
    Spinach
    Romaine lettuce....the nutrition in these two make them varitable living vitamin pills

    ...followed by sweet peppers and something else I havent decided when it gets too hot for lettuce

    Next to all that go the tomatoes

    Next to the tomaotes go the cantaloupes.

    Rosemary is an evergreen shrub so I dont have to plant that every year. It is in bloom right now. Pretty pale blue flowers
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 01, 2008 3:05 AM GMT
    Cinderblock planters. Brilliant! And here I was building a 6'x20' box out of landscape timber.
  • olden

    Posts: 194

    Apr 01, 2008 3:22 AM GMT
    Like Rugger I have about 20x6. This year I have two heirloom tomatoes and a Big Boy (is that Freudian?) plus a red and a yellow pepper plant. Then two varieties of spinach (my absolute favorite) and three varieties of lettuce. I tried radishes last year but they ended up looking like miniature red carrots.
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    Apr 01, 2008 3:28 AM GMT
    I've got four Better Boy tomato plants and four plum ones. Assuming I haven't crowded things, I may have more than I can eat. I will try sun-drying a bunch so I can have some for winter, and maybe freezing some tomato sauce as well.

    Yeah...f*ck Prego™. Haha.
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    Apr 01, 2008 3:43 AM GMT
    Well, I have been gardening this patch for over 40 years. Each Fall a ton of leaves are added for composting. One part of the garden is two cinder blocks tall. But you cant see the first story of cinder block because they are so deep.

    So just how did you plant your 4 tomato plants?

    What is your soil like? What was there before your made it a garden? What direction does it face?

    My mother's husband who is now 90 usually cans our extra tomatoes. I think he made 14 quarts last year.

    But I share my garden with my neighbor. She is welcome to partake of anything in the garden. She loves the fresh herbs...and of course everyone loves the fresh tomatoes...you cant beat a garden tomato.

    Here are a couple of my favorite recipes:

    15 Minute Salmon with Mustard, Dill Sauce

    The fresh tasting zesty mustard sauce in this recipe is a perfect complement to the rich flavor of salmon. We are repeating this recipe because it was a favorite among our readers: "I have begun changing my diet eating salmon, nuts etc as a result of what I have already been learning from your website. I tried salmon dill sauce recipe and it was great!" - AN

    Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes

    Ingredients:
    1½ lbs salmon filet cut into 4 pieces, skin and bones removed
    2 medium garlic cloves, pressed
    1 TBS Dijon mustard
    1 + 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
    ¼ cup chicken broth
    1 tsp honey
    1 tsp chopped fresh dill
    salt and white pepper to taste


    Directions:

    Prepare all the ingredients for the sauce.

    Preheat broiler on high and place an all stainless steel skillet (be sure the handle is also stainless steel) or cast iron pan under the heat for about 10 minutes to get it very hot. The pan should be 5 to 7 inches from the heat source.

    Rub salmon with 1 TBS fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. (You can Quick Broil with the skin on, it just takes a minute or two longer. The skin will peel right off after cooking.)

    Using a hot pad, pull pan away from heat and place salmon on hot pan. Return to broiler. Keep in mind that it is cooking rapidly on both sides so it will be done very quickly, usually in 7 minutes depending on thickness. Test with a fork for doneness. It will flake easily when it is cooked. Salmon is best when it is still pink inside.

    Add garlic to a stainless steel skillet and stir for half a minute. Add mustard, and whisk in 2 TBS lemon juice, broth, honey, salt and pepper. Cook on high heat for a minute to reduce slightly and add dill. Pour over salmon and serve.


    15-Minute Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Mustard, Tarragon

    Mustard and tarragon are the perfect complement to chicken. Using our Healthy Saute method, you will not only have a delicious dish you have one that is healthier because it uses no heated fat.

    Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes

    Ingredients:
    1 medium onion cut in half and sliced medium thick
    5 medium cloves garlic, pressed
    2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
    3 TBS Dijon mustard
    1 TBS chicken broth + ½ cup
    2 tsp honey
    1 TBS chopped fresh tarragon
    2 TBS chopped fresh parsley
    salt and white pepper to taste


    Directions:

    Slice onion and press garlic and let sit for 5-10 minutes to bring out their hidden health benefits.
    Heat 1 TBS broth in a 10-12 inch stainless steel skillet. Healthy Saute onion in broth over medium heat for 2 minutes.

    While onions are sautéing, cut chicken into pieces. Add chicken pieces and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently to seal chicken on all sides. Add garlic and continue to sauté for another minute.

    Add mustard, ½ cup broth, and honey. Mix thoroughly and simmer uncovered for about 7-8 minutes on medium high heat stirring occasionally to cook chicken evenly. This will also reduce sauce.

    While chicken is cooking chop herbs and add at end with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 01, 2008 3:49 AM GMT
    Caslon: "So just how did you plant your 4 tomato plants?"

    I made some holes, sprinkled a little compost on the bottom, buried a ways up the stem, and placed a cage anchored by rebar around each one. I'll have them wrapped in plastic for a couple of weeks as well. We have short growing seasons, and the mini greenhouses help speed things up.

    Caslon: "What is your soil like?"

    Sandy loam over very soft limestone bedrock. I added a cubic yard of garden mix from the local soil farm and some extra compost.

    Caslon: "What was there before your made it a garden?"

    Weeds and sunflowers, then St. Augustine grass, then nothing while it sat under a black tarp for 18 months.

    Caslon: "What direction does it face?"

    Southwest. It's the sunniest part of the yard.
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    Apr 01, 2008 3:57 AM GMT
    XRuggerATX saidCaslon: "So just how did you plant your 4 tomato plants?"

    I made some holes, sprinkled a little compost on the bottom, buried a ways up the stem, and placed a cage anchored by rebar around each one. I'll have them wrapped in plastic for a couple of weeks as well. We have short growing seasons, and the mini greenhouses help speed things up.

    You have a short growing season in Texas?

    You got the planting right! But sounds like you could have buried them deeper...and just left the top leaves showing. That way the original root ball is as deep as possible to fend off drought...and you get a large second root system from the buried stem


    Caslon: "What is your soil like?"

    Sandy loam over very soft limestone bedrock. I added a cubic yard of garden mix from the local soil farm and some extra compost.

    what is garden mix? what was in the compost? Will you start making your own compost? I love to compost! In fact, I was thinking of starting a thread on here to see if others do it....and I was trying to justify such a thread on a sports site

    Hmmmm...how about sports require good nutrition...organically grown foods are the best...and the best organically grown foods are fresh...and what's fresher than from your own garden...and to garden you must have compost...so QED: composting is part of sports


    Caslon: "What was there before your made it a garden?"

    Weeds and sunflowers, then St. Augustine grass, then nothing while it sat under a black tarp for 18 months.

    Caslon: "What direction does it face?"

    Southwest. It's the sunniest part of the yard.

    The first year here in this house when I was about 14 or 15, I planted the garden on the south side and the tomatoes cooked on the vine. So I moved it to the north side which is perfect.

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    Apr 01, 2008 4:05 AM GMT
    I'll make my own compost now. I want doing this to be as cheap as possible. The compost I bought was livestock manure and probably some plant matter...bark, clippings. I sort of trusted the company I purchased it from, which has been doing organics here for 40 years.
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    Apr 01, 2008 4:18 AM GMT
    Hving an acre garden that's equal to 43.560 square feet. So One has lots of room for a kitchen garden. But so many of my veggies go into the compost, and I let the parrots eat most of the fruit off the trees. But good on you anyway, and enjoy.
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    Apr 01, 2008 4:22 AM GMT
    XRuggerATX saidI'll make my own compost now. I want doing this to be as cheap as possible. The compost I bought was livestock manure and probably some plant matter...bark, clippings. I sort of trusted the company I purchased it from, which has been doing organics here for 40 years.


    That sounds like a great start. If you work on your compost pile for next year, you wont have to spend anything on soil stuff.

    I have always just composted leaves...but with all the veggie waste from my increased organic veggie eating, I am trying to figure out how to compost it. The big problem I expect is keeping it aerated so nothing in the pile goes anaerobic and starts producing alcohols. I had a plastic bag of orange peelings, banana skins, onion cutting and other stuff. All this is very fresh and wet. I probably collected it over a week in the kitchen. The damn stuff was already heating up. The bottom of the bag was warm.
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    Apr 01, 2008 5:08 AM GMT
    I grow crawfish.
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    Apr 01, 2008 5:12 AM GMT
    Luckydog76 saidI grow crawfish.
    Yummy, yummy. Now were talking..... What times dinner?
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    Apr 01, 2008 8:18 AM GMT
    Hey Rugger -

    Gardening in Austin is fun if not a bit challenging. I started a couple years ago in large bins that I built and have expanded to now cover a couple hundred square feet.

    You are probably a little late in putting in lettuce. The heat here will cause it to bolt fairly quickly. I have the most luck with lettuce by putting it in in October and then pulling it in the spring. Everything else you are going with should be good. I have a lot of luck with chard. I have had a few plants that I have actually kept alive for well over a year.

    If you haven't yet I suggest checking the Natural Gardner www.naturalgardeneraustin.com. The website has a good month by month growing guide for Austin and the people there are really helpful should you have any questions. They are all organic which sounds like what you are looking for. If nothing else go and check out there gardens.

    Also, that city of Austin sell rain barrels for 60 dollars which is fairly cheap. I am actually planning to install some this year so that I don't have to use city water at all for my setup. http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/watercon/rbsales.htm

    As for compost, another option is to build a worm bin. This speeds up the composting process a whole lot. I had one for awhile and it was great. This reminds me that I really need to looking into using worms for composting again.

    Here is a pic of my garden from a few months ago:
    newgarden.jpg
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Apr 01, 2008 12:41 PM GMT
    I have a "real" garden at my parents, but grow planter veggies outside my apartment. Just planted the starter pots with Mom last weekend.

    This year I've got a couple varieties of tomatoes, peppers, basil, and nasturtiums. I also always grow rosemary, but that's year round.

    Garlic, curly chives, nasturtiums, pyrethrin daisies, marigolds, etc. will all help with bugs in the garden.
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    Apr 01, 2008 2:12 PM GMT
    webinfront saidHey Rugger -

    Gardening in Austin is fun if not a bit challenging. I started a couple years ago in large bins that I built and have expanded to now cover a couple hundred square feet.

    You are probably a little late in putting in lettuce. The heat here will cause it to bolt fairly quickly. I have the most luck with lettuce by putting it in in October and then pulling it in the spring. Everything else you are going with should be good. I have a lot of luck with chard. I have had a few plants that I have actually kept alive for well over a year.

    If you haven't yet I suggest checking the Natural Gardner www.naturalgardeneraustin.com. The website has a good month by month growing guide for Austin and the people there are really helpful should you have any questions. They are all organic which sounds like what you are looking for. If nothing else go and check out there gardens.

    Also, that city of Austin sell rain barrels for 60 dollars which is fairly cheap. I am actually planning to install some this year so that I don't have to use city water at all for my setup. http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/watercon/rbsales.htm

    As for compost, another option is to build a worm bin. This speeds up the composting process a whole lot. I had one for awhile and it was great. This reminds me that I really need to looking into using worms for composting again.

    Here is a pic of my garden from a few months ago:
    newgarden.jpg


    I got the "slow to bolt" variety of lettuce. We'll see. I might get some and will just have to eat it up fast. And what do you know...I get all my plants and seed at the Natural Gardner! They handed me a growing season chart too. Too bad they gave me a weird runaround when I asked that they dump a tractor bucket full of soil in my truck. They said they wouldn't deliver 1 cy, nor would they dump it in. They said I had to bag it up myself or spend on the prepackaged stuff. Then I went to Organics "By Gosh" and it was completely hassle free and only $25.
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    Apr 01, 2008 2:31 PM GMT
    XRuggerATX said[quote] I got the "slow to bolt" variety of lettuce. We'll see. I might get some and will just have to eat it up fast. And what do you know...I get all my plants and seed at the Natural Gardner! They handed me a growing season chart too. Too bad they gave me a weird runaround when I asked that they dump a tractor bucket full of soil in my truck. They said they wouldn't deliver 1 cy, nor would they dump it in. They said I had to bag it up myself or spend on the prepackaged stuff. Then I went to Organics "By Gosh" and it was completely hassle free and only $25.


    Another good place for dirt and mulch is Geo-Growers.
    http://www.geogrowersinc.com/ They are just a little further down the road from the Natural Gardner.
  • morholt

    Posts: 57

    Apr 01, 2008 2:38 PM GMT
    Do you mean to tell me that vegetables actually grow in gardens!?.... Well you learn something new everyday! icon_smile.gif
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    Apr 01, 2008 3:06 PM GMT
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    Apr 01, 2008 6:01 PM GMT
    I have a friend who grew up next door to Martha.

    TRUE

    She could hear the whimpers of the hard working children daily.

    JUST KIDDING
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Apr 01, 2008 10:05 PM GMT
    it's a good thing
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    Apr 03, 2008 6:08 PM GMT
    veggie_garden_resized.jpg

    I found this pic of my kitchen garden early last year.

    The lavender is in the front.

    Herbs along the sides

    Lettuce and spinach and peppers will go in the dirt area in front

    Tomatoes where the black ground cloth is

    Beyond tomatoes go the canatloupes

    Behind the roses is a patio where I do my wood working
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    Apr 03, 2008 6:18 PM GMT
    XRuggerATX saidI have a friend who grew up next door to Martha.

    TRUE

    She could hear the whimpers of the hard working children daily.

    JUST KIDDING


    I have a friend who really did grow up in the same town as Martha (Nutley, NJ). She says that Martha was a bitch (what a surprise!) and that Martha's mother was a super bitch.