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What have we learned since last year?

 
Posts: 44
Location: Suffolk County, Long Island NY
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This is a spin-off of the "What died in your garden"  thread last year.  I would like to know what you learned fro, last year's failures and mistakes.  I will be posting many, but I will start with this:
I swear I will never attempt to grow a brassica again without row covers.

 
master steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I won't try to grow brussels sprouts without starting them in pots first.  Direct seeding didn't have enough time to grow in my area.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1336
Location: Victoria BC
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I won't bother with large volumes of rootcrops now that I know I have a massive wireworm population... not until I have reason to hope countermeasures have had some impact.
 
Susan Mené
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I also learned that I should have tested my soil before fertilizing.  Yes, I am blushing profoundly.
 
Posts: 664
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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Trying to grow typical Summer vegetables here is increasingly difficult due to extreme temperatures, high UV, hot winds and absence of rain. Followed by torrential rain, hail and more rain. This creates the need for high inputs. And, the flavour/vigour of the vegetables takes a dive – things start to taste like dirt, particularly leafy greens, and the rain/humidity promotes rot and mould.

Lessons Learnt - vegetables and fruit:

• be better prepared for the worst weather
• soil MUST be prepared for everything – friable, well drained, but capable of holding moisture and biota
compost spread and seeds planted in pots in late Winter, irrigation lines cleaned and checked and seedlings in ground in early Spring, mulch spread and shade cloth supports ready in late Spring (when ground has warmed), shade cloth installed early Summer
• Shade cloth 360 to stop desiccation and hail damage

Lessons Learnt – livestock:

• keep the chooks well fed/watered for eggs and manure, free-range for protection from sun and wet down their pen for cooling and stop dust pathogens
• the compost bins filled and dampened
• worm farms in the shade, moistened and protected with damp hessian
• leave several trays of water out for wildlife, particularly birds and reptiles – not only because it’s the right thing to do, without it they would invade the vegetable garden!

After all that prep work, and a bit of fiddling around the edges, sit back and do ‘lazy gardening’, avoiding the heat of Summer.
 
pollinator
Posts: 312
Location: Central Texas
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Last year taught me quite a few useful things:

1. I cannot afford to irrigate with municipal water all summer; therefore it's important to implement strategies to store water in the ground/soil. (Which is actually led me to Permies! )

2. Aphids may be tiny, but it doesn't take them long to ruin stuff.

3. Instead of 2 or 3 rows of okra, I only need 2 or 3 plants to provide more than I need.

4. The term "full sun" means something different in Texas than it does in many other parts of the country. By July/August, even the "full sun" crops appreciate a little afternoon shade.

And, finally, #5. I still have so much to learn.
 
pollinator
Posts: 477
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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Don't ignore spidermites! Their population seems to be able to triple in a day, and they do kill things!
 
gardener
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Kc Simmons wrote:
3. Instead of 2 or 3 rows of okra, I only need 2 or 3 plants to provide more than I need.  


This is one of my lessons from this year: I grow for my family. Generally, just a few plants is enough. Considering my space is small, that is good newsl, because I can stick all sorts of cool stuff in the garden. I have two passionfruits, two yard long beans, three mulberries, three tomatoes, maybe 7 okra (been a terrible year for okra, just not yielding), etc etc.
 
pollinator
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I learned I need more garden beds so I rectified that some this year.  I’m sure I’ll have this same lesson this year too...😀
 
Posts: 467
Location: Southern Illinois
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Like Susan,  I need to get better at testing my garden soil.  I also forgot to harden off my potatoes after I harvested them.  Actually, I didn't forget, I was really pressed for time. At the time I was traveling a great deal.
 
Posts: 43
Location: Ohio, United States
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1: Better fences to keep the wildlife out since they think I'm growing a buffet for them.

2: More perennial crops (ex asparagus, berries, etc) since the unpredictable weather makes it more difficult to get annual plantings in the ground.

3: Increase numbers of raised beds to help cope with wet/flooding weather cycles.
 
pollinator
Posts: 156
Location: Southern Germany
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I was searching my mind when I came across this thread as I thought I haven't really learned anything.

Then I remembered that I successfully overwintered Asia greens under a low tunnel.
And after a disappointment with the overwintered physalis I decided that newly sown plants are more vigorous - which turned out to be true.

Lately I have learned but not yet put to praxis that I will be more determined to get out veggies after harvest even if there are still some pods or tomatoes or similar - not worthwhile and occupying the patch which otherwise could get a succession planting. I will really try out to make the most of my little veggie patch.
 
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Location: South Ala 30' Latitude zone 8b
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I learned that if the nut grass (sedges  grasses) take over a row not to just let it be and wait for the cold to freeze it back. Do something to fight it ASAP, start digging it up.
I learned again, that I need a better rotation system in my garden.
 
gardener
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Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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I learned that i am a salt and pepper guy. Herbs in my limited zone 1 garden took too much space,  and was rarely harvested.

I learned that fall plantings of brassicas do well, and spring planting of the same is a risk due to bug invasions before they are ready to harvest. I learned that a vacuum cleaner is the best solutuon for these bugs.

I learned that you can double and triple your blackberries by digging up the spring suckers and relocating them to increase your plant numbers.

I learned that there is always a new unknown(to me) fruit, tree or vegetable to grow.

I learned that the more i THINK i know about ponds, the LESS i actually know.

I learned that I CAN grow blueberries.

I learned that terraces trump swales.
 
gardener
Posts: 2275
Location: Southern Illinois
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I learned (really re-learned) that deer can be a real nuisance.

I tried growing tomatoes and sweet potatoes in the same bed.  Actually I succeeded in both, but I failed to harvest much, especially the sweet potatoes.  For reasons I don’t understand, the deer leave the tomatoes alone until they actually set tomatoes.  The sweet potatoes on the other hand got munched on from the moment they popped their heads above ground.

In the end I did actually get some tomatoes, but not nearly as much as I should have.  But the sweet potatoes were about the size of my finger.  I plan to put up a series of gates to hold back the critters this year.

Eric
 
Susan Mené
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I learned that the more i THINK i know about ponds, the LESS i actually know.



I know that the more I learn about growing food, the less I know.
It is a frustrating yet exhilarating feeling that I enjoy thoroughly.

 
pollinator
Posts: 288
Location: La Mesa, Cundinamarca, Colombia
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This year I learned that everything is about creating habitat. In permaculture we know that we have to create habitat for predators. For beneficial species of any kind. But we often forget about the creatures closest to us, humans...

If you have great ideas and amazing plans, but you fail to create a human habitat that other people feel they can fit into, you will end up sitting there in the sunset with all your plans empty and your future plans setup for failure.
 
pollinator
Posts: 241
Location: Monticello Florida
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Don't wait till August to plant seminole squash.
Amend the soil some.
 
Susan Mené
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Soil amendment...I pretended that didn't apply to me last year.  This year I am waist deep in amending.
 
Posts: 8
Location: Southern NH, zone 5a(ish)
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I learned that I definitely need more garden beds.  
I learned that at this age, I need to pace myself.
I learned that I really, really like growing things that have minimal storage requirements like potatoes and winter squash.
I learned that there is such a thing as true potato seed, and I'm looking forward to trying it out.
I learned that I am always learning. Always.
 
Susan Mené
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Amy Maria wrote:I learned that I definitely need more garden beds.  
I learned that at this age, I need to pace myself.
I learned that I really, really like growing things that have minimal storage requirements like potatoes and winter squash.
I learned that there is such a thing as true potato seed, and I'm looking forward to trying it out.
I learned that I am always learning. Always.



Amy Maria, pacing oneself, more beds, and always learning--I agree with all!  
 
pollinator
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The newest thing I learned (I learned a lot!) is: don't feed the plants, feed the soil! Adding compost and mulch is feeding the micro-organisms in the soil, and then they pass it through to the plants.
 
Posts: 58
Location: Central Arkansas zone 7b
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What I learned:

1. Overthinking/researching can lead to paralysis and too many time delays which leads to doing nothing. This spring I feel confident to go more by my instincts and dive in.

2. I can finally see where the natural contours are on this piece of flat land because I've walked and walked it during and after all this rain we've had. The little mini pond locations have shown themselves.

3. That hugel beds work and I need more of them.

4. And most of all, doing my part to change the world in my own backyard matters. It doesn't seem like such an insignificant drop in the bucket anymore.
 
Posts: 42
Location: Near Libby, MT
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I learned that I need to keep the tomato hoop house covered all summer, secure indoor seedlings from the cats (!), Do not feed the beets a molasses solution (they just quit growing), and there's really no way to grow corn successfully in our ninety day growing period. And a new generation of deer are able to jump over our six foot fence, saw one do it today.
 
Susan Mené
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Carol Denton wrote:What I learned:

1. Overthinking/researching can lead to paralysis and too many time delays which leads to doing nothing. This spring I feel confident to go more by my instincts and dive in.

2. I can finally see where the natural contours are on this piece of flat land because I've walked and walked it during and after all this rain we've had. The little mini pond locations have shown themselves.

3. That hugel beds work and I need more of them.

4. And most of all, doing my part to change the world in my own backyard matters. It doesn't seem like such an insignificant drop in the bucket anymore.



What an awesome post!
 
pollinator
Posts: 263
Location: N. California
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I don't think it's an exaggeration to say I have learned more about soil, gardening, & plants this last year then all the years before, thanks to permies.  The two stand out lessons are 1. The little things matter.  It's the baby steps that will get us to healthier gardens, more nutritious plants, be healthier, and heal our planet.  It can be overwhelming.  You think I am one person, I couldn't possibly make a difference.  Permies has opened my eye to the fact that it all counts.  Every small change in the right direction can make a difference.  If we keep making our small changes and share our knowledge with others, together the impact can be so much more.  That brings me to #2 Permies seems to attract amazing people!  I am a pessimist by nature, I don't think that will ever be stomped out of me,  but this site gives me hope for the future, it has taught me the world is still full of people who care, and want to be better people and help others learn and grow to be better as well.
 
Posts: 172
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When deer master the 6 foot fence add a couple of runs of fishing line (attach bamboo/sticks to existing fence posts) at 12 and 24 inches. Every couple of feet (alternate btwn the two strands so it's every foot or so) add some sort of ribbon (surveyors tape?) that dangles 10 inches. This creates a "visual barrier" that will inhibit the leapers.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
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I should point out a better lesson I learned from last year.  When I first looked at this thread I saw it though the eyes of failure, essentially meaning “well I will never try that again.”

But I had one huge important positive lesson I learned.  I learned just how important life is to soils.  In fact, I am going to go so far as to say that life MUST be present in order for soil to exist at all.  Otherwise you just have dirt.

I am referring to my experiment with wine cap mushrooms and my woodchip/garden bedding.  I used to look at soil and see a bunch of chemicals (NPK, etc) with a little bit of life.  I now see that same picture but turned on it’s head.  I see soil as a LOT of life with a little bit of chemistry thrown in.  Last summer, the crops that grew the best were those that grew in my mushroom compost with the fungi still active and growing.  I don’t think I will ever see soil the same way again.

Eric
 
roberta mccanse
Posts: 42
Location: Near Libby, MT
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Thanks. We have ribbon tied along the top of the fences. Will just have to raise them a bit, as you suggest. My friend who is a bear manager can probably help me electrify them, grant money available. (We don't see the bears but she sometimes lets me know when a collared bear comes through my property.)
 
Posts: 76
Location: Leeds, United Kingdom
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Carol Denton wrote:What I learned:


3. That hugel beds work and I need more of them.

4. And most of all, doing my part to change the world in my own backyard matters. It doesn't seem like such an insignificant drop in the bucket anymore.



Yes, I feel the same re #4.

How long have you have your hugel beds? I don’t know if mine have been a success, although after this winter or rain which turned my dry region into a soggy one, perhaps this year things will be different.
 
Helen Butt
Posts: 76
Location: Leeds, United Kingdom
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What I learned last year:

Don’t water tomato plants with water which a sheep’s fleece* has been washed in. The fleece seems to add large amounts of nitrogen which then causes blossom end rot.

* The fleeces were shorn and being washed to spin.
 
Catherine Carney
Posts: 43
Location: Ohio, United States
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Thanks Helen. I haven't used the wastewater from my fleece washing on tomatoes, but have usually poured it either around fruit trees or onto fallow portions of the pasture. I'd never really thought about the nitrogen content of the water--my concern was potential contamination with bacteria (E. coli) and soap/detergent on my vegetable crops.

 
Helen Butt
Posts: 76
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Catherine Carney wrote:Thanks Helen. I haven't used the wastewater from my fleece washing on tomatoes, but have usually poured it either around fruit trees or onto fallow portions of the pasture. I'd never really thought about the nitrogen content of the water--my concern was potential contamination with bacteria (E. coli) and soap/detergent on my vegetable crops.



Now, I hadn’t considered E. coli. Fortunately, we survived 😊
 
Catherine Carney
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Location: Ohio, United States
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One other thing I learned last year: the sheep make a great fall garden clean up crew. I turned part of the flock into my garden and let them eat all the leftovers at the end of the season. The did a great job eating down the perennial weeds like pokeweed and dock that I find difficult to eradicate, they left a nice layer of manure spread pretty evenly over the space, and didn't pack down the soil too much.

Unfortunately I can't turn them out where there are fruit trees, berries, or grapes since those are all on the menu for my breed (Shetlands really DO think they're goats), but I wish I could!
 
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