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oh gosh, where to begin now that we've already begun

 
Posts: 1
Location: Larue, TX west side of the gloriousity known as East Texas
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First off, many many blessings to all of you who post and share and indulge here!  Thank you immensely!
I have fond memories of garden-fresh tomatoes, juice dripping down my arm and loving it. I also remember we canned a bunch of tomatoes. and green beans and carrots also. In hindsight, this was actually only 2 years, but i am forever inpressed with this amazement.  And I've been longing for thiatsensation for YEARS, but every garden I've had has failed.  Last year was the most productive of them all, but the critters were relentless, poking holes in nearly every single tomato , swarming my zukes, scarfing my melons (they knew EXACTLY when they were ripe enough, monsters!,) something chowed the leafy greens and peas before they could even get 8 leaves.  even worse, the plentiful peppers, banana, anaheim-ish, wax, poblano and piquillos were rarely indulged by the fair lady who is the resident pepper conniseur (Hungarian, of course.)

Long story made short, we are nearing the last potential frost date. I turned the larger part of my patch into a modest L-shaped hugel (about 4' wide X 3' tall, maybe 20' long.) this is in a space very proximate a beloved cedar that sits just to the west and shades the entire bed by 3pm.  This spot was chosen just for this because the east Texas (2hrs ESE of Dallas) sun is brutal and it stays very hot with some lengthy dry spells.  The other hugel is 3'X3'X3' where I had my most thriving tomato-cucumber combo last year.  Those cukes and 2 other locations grew yellow, bitter cukes, no matter how soon they were picked.  There was one cucumber, which I had trellised to 6', directly under the cedar that was productive and yielded good, green cukes.

so here I am now, having come across Permies.  can I just say OMG OVERWHELM!!  Also, there is a lovely lady doling out FREE ebooks (high-polish, btw, very nicely done,) at plantonce.com, who has really inspired the perennial bug for me.  And there is so much more to this story that I don't want to get into, but it all plays a part in what I hope to build as a much-less-work-yet-highly-productive-in-harmony-with-nature garden.

My goal is to plant these 2 hugels with appropriate 1st year stuff that I can leave in the care of my sister and return to next spring when I get back to Texas and plant the 2nd year-and-likely-forever stuff.  I am very interested in several of the collards, runner beans and maybe everglades tomatoes from plantonce.com, and I know there should be plenty of biomass producers as well as pollinators and pest deterrents.  My hugels got a bunch of compost, fresh live sticks from the Texas holly and american beauty (not leafing yet, sadly,) and are based on oak, hickory, maybe a sweet gum/sycamore/sassafrass (really dont know, but likey only a couple chunks.)  The added native dirt is sandy loam, which is what the whole area seems to be.

I don't have the capacity to develop this as food forest, although if this were my property that is definitely what it would be.  This is Pops garden, which has been rather sucky every time I see it for the past, well, forever.  However, it does border a modest orchard, maybe 20 tree-ish things that are presumably fruit-bearing apricot, peach, plum, pear, 1 fig, 1 chestnut in the far corner and 1 struggling cherokee almond in the other far corner.  Don't know if this helps the garden any, but it's there.

I tend to want to grow the things we can't source locally and what are the favorites and what consume bigger parts of the grocery budget.  Yes, we are still in grocery store land, but I, for one, am bucking this with all I've got.  So our "must" haves are:
english cucumber
zucchini-fordhook is fave
cubanelle and red/orange/yellow bell pepper
piquillo pepper
butternut/acorn squash
TOMATOES!! (I lean towards san manzano/roma, wife likes beefsteaky/heirloom uglies)
potatoes would be awesome (have another ground-level patch i could use for this (and carrots maybe)
few scallion, dill, parsley, basil, cilantro, culantro, savory
green beans and english peas

other favs and woud-really-like:
kohlrabbi
chard
spinach
lettuces
canteloup/water melon
radish

soooooooo, where to start??!?  i've been reading a lot about soil building, biomass/green manure, variety, water and air flows, and way way too many different cultivars of everything and no single "go-to" "old-reliable" "ace-in-the-hole" "matches-my-known-description" of things I know i want.  like just a simple "english cucumber that grows well in western-edge-of-east-texas," or "fordhook zucchini."  on top of that, i feel i'm totally in between the benefits and style of more perennial foods and the familiar faves of the "till/amend/plant" annual style.

I am completely in the information overload zone, but I'm daring an invitation for more.  specifically, what and how would anyone recommend these 2 hugels be planted?
specific cultivar recommendations for the tricky stuff like the english cukes and STRINGLESS green beans?
lastly, comfrey.  i keep seeing it at the top of every list for green manure and the amazing things it's taproot does, and then also warnings about the seed producing variety and even the russian block version tending to kind of take over an area.  do i just play it safe and plant it off to the side somewhere outside the veggies?  maybe in between those fruit trees with the wildly viney watermelons and canteloups?

oh, and one other little menacing monstrosity of a thing...
squash/stink bugs.
i waged war last year, religiously inspecting and incising eggs clusters, smooshing/neeming/soaping instars and adults, and when I could get Pops to back off the sprinklers, lots of DE.  i may have won a few tiny battles, likely when I abandoned neem and soap in favor of gloves and smooshing.  strange thing is that a lot of these seemed to arise from one lonely zuke in the far corner of the orchard. i prepared the bed a year prior with compost comprising ground leaves mostly and kitchen prep scraps.  in spring i weeded and turned the compost in, laid cardboard and 6" of mulch.  the leaves and mulch came from our trees, mostly oak and hickory.  the zuke went in just past where I laid the cardboard, kind of as an after-thought. the cardboard and mulch were for the fastly spreading canteloup and watermelon that i seeded directly into this compost bed.  there have been more than a few stinkers in Pops side of the garden the year prior, but they seemed very keen on that particular zuke, almost like that's where they had been hiding over winter.  i can't describe my disappointment when i found them everywhere, poking tiny holes in every single tomato and taunting me with every smoosh that there are 5 others right behind the squished one, just lurking and waiting for another fruit to set.  funny thing is that these (vines) were all put in the orchard for weed mitigation and green manure with the hopes that something might also produce something edible.

I had hoped to attach a few images, cuz who doesn't like a story with pictures?  Alas, my rig is being fussy.  I'm running Ubuntu 20.04 on a RaspberryPi 4, 64 bit.  I think it's the Mate desktop that gives me the most trouble, but Libre Office likes it's own format for things and I can't seem to copy and paste an image to this post.  I'll keep trying, but for now I'll let it ride and keep offering up thanks and praise to and for the open source community and PERMIES!!! my new and favoritest galactic sized wormhole...




Staff note (Jay Angler) :

Have you found this thread about posting pictures? https://permies.com/wiki/61133/Post-Image-Permies
If that doesn't help, post your info in the tinkering forum: https://permies.com/f/11/tnk and some helpful person who isn't a dinosaur like me, will give a hand! Welcome to Permies!

 
master pollinator
Posts: 4639
Location: Due to winter mortality, I stubbornly state, zone 7a Tennessee
1976
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Welcome to Permies!

...way way too many different cultivars of everything and no single "go-to" "old-reliable" "ace-in-the-hole" "matches-my-known-description" of things I know i want.  like just a simple "english cucumber that grows well in western-edge-of-east-texas," or "fordhook zucchini."
AND
...on top of that, i feel i'm totally in between the benefits and style of more perennial foods and the  I am completely in the information overload zone, but I'm daring an invitation for more.....



Well, here ya go. First a short story...

Some guy who lives in the high desert of Utah decided he wanted to grow okra. Okra did not like to grow in his region. He got a bunch of varieties of okra and planted them all together. A few survived reaching maybe 2 feet tall and produced seed. He planted those seeds next year. Repeat. Maybe again? At any rate, he now grows enough okra to sell at market!

Joseph Lofthouse is one of our Permies and literally wrote the book on Landrace Gardening, in which he explains his process in detail. It is currently available on Kindle for 99 cents. If you have some cash to throw around, he has several physical options available.

If the idea of a landrace appeals to you, you could get a jump on it by ordering free landrace seeds from Going to Seed, which is an organization Joseph is involvd in. They accept donations. Hint, hint.

Going to Seed also offers a free course on Adaption Gardening. Blub from site:

This self-paced course blends video with text, drawing inspiration from Joseph's book, "Landrace Gardening". It also features insights from seasoned landrace gardeners and offers a wealth of supplementary resources.



As to adding photos to your posts, follow the "how permies works" link in my signature line, the how to is somwhere in there.

I hope to see you around Permies for a while!
 
master steward
Posts: 14893
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Welcome to the forum.

Best wishes for success this year.
 
master gardener
Posts: 2849
Location: Upstate NY, Zone 5, 43 inch Avg. Rainfall
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Hugels and plants and soil, Ohh my!

Welcome to Permies!

I would recommend just from an understanding aspect to break up your questions into different posts, in the appropriate forums, but I would encourage you to utilize the search function to glean what information is already out there.

I have curated some content to hopefully get the cogs turning into overtime for you.

Hugels
https://permies.com/t/12206/Hugelkultur-good-wood-bad-allelopathic
https://permies.com/t/76359/quickly-plant-hugel-beds
https://permies.com/t/29249/Plant-list-locations-hugel

Bugs
https://permies.com/t/238056/Leaf-legged-stink-bugs
https://permies.com/t/112291/Growing-Squash-Naturally

I hope to see you in future threads.

 
master steward
Posts: 6378
Location: Isle of Skye, Scotland. Nearly 70 inches rain a year
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Hi Terry, Welcome to Permies.

I think you've had some good pointers already. As regards Comfrey, I think the invasiveness is a bit site dependant as well as variety dependent. It can struggle in hotter drier areas. I know Texas is a big place, so don't know how that might be for you.

Following from Joylynn's post, images can be embedded in a post if they are already on the internet somewhere, or attached at the end as a file. You can't see them until the post goes live. Start a new thread in Tinkering with this site forum if you need help with that - or anything else to do with navigating Permies or site policies.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 492
Location: Wabash, Indiana, Zone 6a
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Welcome to Permies and the information overload!

Two things that might help. You say you have stink bugs (and probably some others). Toby Hemenway would say to find out who their natural predators are, and put out a welcome mat. Think some species of birds, bats, maybe assassin bugs.

Second, look at how the light plays across your property during the day, in conjunction with where your hugel beds are. Look for the shadiest hillsides in your hugel and plant things that don't like the sun and heat. On the hot side, plant sun-loving plants. Easy peasy? It's a lot of trial and error. Maybe look to David the Good on Youtube on soil amendments to instantly turn a spot into fertile soil within a year or two.

Keep pursuing it!

j
 
pollinator
Posts: 116
Location: Vancouver, Washington
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Hi Terry -

Welcome to permies!

I do have a few thoughts for you -

Regarding the food plants you've listed, some of these are warm season plants (like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and basil) and some are cool (like lettuces, chard, spinach and cilantro), meaning they want to go in the go in the ground and grow at different times of the year. I'd make a schedule of what you'd like to grow, then do some research on when they need to go in the ground in your area.  You may find that you could pretty much have a garden year round!  (You don't have peas on your list? I love peas. They can go in pretty early as they are a cool season crop and they add lots of nitrogen to the soil because they are nitrogen-fixing.)

Irrigation - Is your Pops overhead sprinkling your food beds? Drip irrigation is much better for your plants. Most food plants don't like overhead watering (especially tomatoes!). Getting the leaves wet, especially late in the day, can encourage all sorts of diseases, like powdery mildew, to name just one.

Borders - Planting the borders around your beds with native wildflowers, or even just flowers to which beneficial insects are attacted, can really bring in a lot of beneficials. Weeds, on the other hand, can attract bad bugs and give them a place to overwinter, lay eggs, etc., so attending to what's around your food garden is pretty important.

Row covers - I've used row covers pretty effectively to prevent my seeds from being eaten and to protect some of my plants from insects that want to lay eggs by my plants. The timing of when you put on the covers is important and depends on the plants you are growing and the insects you are hoping to deter.

Stink bugs - I haven't had a problem with stink bugs, but I have with others. I think your tactic of trying to locate and handpick the eggs and get 'em early is a good one. I'd also say that, although neem and insecticidal soap are considered organic, you could easily be killing beneficial bugs that eat stink bugs and their eggs, or that are parasitoids (even more fun, IMO). Killing off the beneficials just gives the bad bugs more of an opportunity. And I think diligence will pay off, although it's not easy! :)

Other pests - Many come out at night. Visiting the garden with a flashlight and a bucket of soapy water to deposit your finds in could be productive.

Gardening is all a big experiment :) It sounds like you are ready to learn. Don't expect perfection. Learn from what works and what doesn't, and your garden will improve each year.

Good luck and happy gardening!
 
author & steward
Posts: 6908
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I loved the okra project!
2012-09-0047.jpg
Grew knee high. Barely survived the growing season, but made seeds.
Barely survived the growing season, but made seeds.
2012-09-0037.jpg
95% didn't survive the growing season.
95% didn't survive the growing season.
okra-foot-taller-than-farmer.jpg
A few years later it's a foot taller than the tall farmer.
A few years later it's a foot taller than the tall farmer.
okra-2015-08-29.jpg
Honored guest every week at the farmer's market.
Honored guest every week at the farmer's market.
okra-harvest.jpg
All made possible by genetic diversity.
All made possible by genetic diversity.
 
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