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newbie: East coast Organic Gardening questions

 
                              
Posts: 23
Location: Monmouth County, New Jersey
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Hey everyone,

I'm trying to get started with Biointensive Gardening in my backyard.  I've bought and read John Jeavons' book, bought a bunch of organic seeds, some fertilizer, tools, bird netting, and other stuff.

Could anyone offer me some simple advice on how to get started?

What's good to start growing in the spring on the East coast?

I have about a million questions! Help! 

- Pete
 
ronie dee
Posts: 612
Location: NW MO
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So what plants do you like to eat? How much room do you have? What kinda seeds did you buy.? What is your hardiness zone? What do you want your garden to do for you? What is the winters like there?
 
                              
Posts: 23
Location: Monmouth County, New Jersey
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Wow, thank you for all the questions.  It's the exact kind of dialogue I need to be having before I start this project.

I have about an acre of space in my backyard (huge tulip tree on the eastern side of the yard, so it blocks a good portion of sun in the summer time - brings up issues of direct sunlight there, but otherwise I have an open yard.)

I like to eat any and all plants, fruits, and vegetables.  I'm really just trying to rebuild the health of my soil and to learn how to become a good gardner and grow food in my backyard.

The winters in Jersey have been pretty mild lately, but it definitely dips down below freezing from December through March.

What is a 'hardiness zone'?

I'm just going to use the book I bought as a planning guide: "How to Grow More Vegetables"

I've cut out (1) 100 square foot garden bed so far.

Here is what the spring looks like according to Jeavons' book.


-- SPRING 2010 --
_______________________________________________________________
Cucumber    P                     Zinnia                                O     C        Peas         L
                   e                                                              n      a           B           e
                   p       Regular                       Potatoes         i      r            r           t
                   p       Tomato                                            o      r            o     P    t
                   e                    Zucchini                              n     ots         c      e   u
                   r                                                               s     Cabbage  coli  a   c
Pumpkin  Basil                                                        Radishes Beets           s    e
_______________________________________________________________

-- SUMMER 2010 --
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __________________________________________


                                          Bush              Corn                Early Corn            Bush
                                          Beans                                   (first planting)       Beans


_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _________ Cosmos __________________________

-- FALL 2010 --
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ______________________
                                                                                 Peas             Lettuce
                                                                                                     
                                                                                 P     Radishes
                                                                                 e                Stocks
                                                                                 a     Carrots         Broccoli &
                                                                                 s                            Chard
                                                                                                  Calendulas
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ______________________


So here are a few of my questions ...

--- How many flats will I need for the spring if there will be nearly 375 seeds involved?

--- Should I use dirt from the garden bed to grow the seeds into seedlings or do I use better soil from the local nursery / garden center?

--- Where is the best place to grow garden flats - inside / outside?  (I don't have a greenhouse.)

--- How much and how often do I need to water seed & seedling flats?  What is a good way to tell?

--- I've tested the pH of the soil its slightly acidic like an 8 on a scale of 14.  What is the best fertilizer to use - limestone, blood meal, etc.?

--- How much is too much fertilizer?  How much is just enough?

--- Should I put the fertilizer on the dirt before I double dig the garden bed or after?

--- Has anyone heard of the use of BioChar in their gardens?  I watched a documentary on it and it looks like "black gold" in your garden bed.  Should I try some of that?

--- How can I best prep the garden bed(s) and its dirt to get rid of grubs and other unwanted pests?

--- How should I protect my garden? (I do have deer in the back, so I'm thinking deer fence.) What about critters that can crawl or dig under the fence like moles, squirrels, raccoons, possum, birds, rabbits?  (I bought some bird and shade netting, but I don't know what to do with the little guys that dig.)

Just a few questions ...   
 
                              
Posts: 23
Location: Monmouth County, New Jersey
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My bad Paul, sorry bout that ... I'm new to the site.    HAHA
 
ronie dee
Posts: 612
Location: NW MO
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There are several posts in Organic Practices  that answer  many of your questions.. The [i]Seed Starting[/i] thread has a link with much helpful info. There is a Grub thread that discusses ways to deal with grubs. There are posts discussing soil pH and soil building.

You can google hardiness zone and get a US map that tells your zone>>>Some seed packets and many Seed catalogues have US maps showing hardiness zone.. It helps tell you when to start a plant and what plants can or cant be grown in your area...

If money is not an issue buy a big bale  of peat moss and big bag of vermiculite to make starter medium and also to use in yer garden beds mixed with the soil to loosen and aerate the soil.

When starting seeds indoors you need to keep things as sterile as possible or things will grow that you dont want.  I take some dry garden soil and put it in the oven on a cold night and keep it moistened with a water spray (moist heat penetrates). I bake the soil overnight at 300 degrees and then when it cools i mix the soil with vermiculite and peat moss and use that as a seed starter medium.. I plant one or two seeds in each little pot and cut one off when they get bigger. I use plastic gloves and try not to touch the sterile medium.

Seed packs will usually tell you how early to start your seeds indoors x amount of days before the last frost date for your zone.

Gardening is a lot of reading books and making errors and it is basically putting a seed in the soil and treating it like a little baby - giving it everything it needs to keep it healthy.

A fence will discourage critters but the hungrier the critter the more they try to get in and eat. I cant grow corn because of coons...but there are ways to make a fence to keep them out...

good luck
 
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