• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Starting over.....again  RSS feed

 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi there! I have always had a green thumb since I was a kid but I didn't start trying to grow edibles until about 3 years ago. I have two 6x8 raised beds and have not had any luck producing anything worth eating. I live on acreage but I feel I should start slowly by getting the raised beds to produce before I overwhelm myself trying to work my available space. I was just introduced to permaculture and I would love to implement those principles in my beds. Can anyone give any advice as to what to plant? Can I plant a dwarf fruit tree in the middle or towards to back of the bed and layer to edibles out from there? I have been reading everything I can find but I seem to be confusing myself with all of the information.
 
Rose Pinder
Posts: 410
Location: Otago, New Zealand
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What did you try to grow originally? Do you know why it didn't work? Where did you get the soil from?

Are you in drought country? Did the beds dry out? How are you watering?

What are you wanting to grow?

Those beds don't seem very big to grow a tree in but you could do a guild type of planting in one, where you have the tree and layered species under it that are both beneficial to the tree but give you some produce. However if you live in a hot dry climate, you'd be better putting the tree in a hollow in the ground and doing a guild that way.
 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 244
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
23
bike books dog food preservation greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello!

I'm new to permaculture as well, and have a new yard and climate to play with. I understand you completely when you say you don't know where to start, and think you're right about just starting with your raised beds. I've started very small myself, with three small sunken beds, some shrubs, and plans to eventually take over the town with vintage vegetables expand as I grow more knowledgeable and comfortable with what I'm doing.
I'm sure that there will be a lot of people here with lots of great advice about what to start with.
But I think the most important thing is to start with something you know you will enjoy watch grow, and that you like to eat! I planted watermelon, because I've always wanted to try growing them, but previously lived in an area where it was quite difficult. I have one fruit this year, and it's an enormous expenditure of space and water to get it to grow, but I don't care, because I'm just amazed that I've managed to grow one so far. I've also planted more "practical" things, like green onion, lettuce and some native flowers, but it's the watermelon that inspires me the most.
So, my suggestion is to grow one thing that you love, following the permie practices that you can afford to do.
And grow from there!

Oh yes, if you want to hang out here and gather more advise, you're going to have to let people know where you are!


 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So, to answer a few questions. I am in south east Texas in zone 8. I think I might have tried to grow it all, tomatoes, strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, sugar peas, pole beans, squash, green onions, basil and rosemary. I didn't plant these all at one time but over the three years. I got the soil from a soil company and have used their soil for other beds with ornamentals and had luck. I have amended it over the years with compost. We were in a drought but have gotten out of it over the last year.

I thought a tree would be too big for the bed but that is part of my confusion. I thought that was the whole idea behind permaculture, working from high to low. I would love to have a salad garden. At this point I will take whatever I can grow. 😊
 
Blake Wheeler
Posts: 166
Location: Kentucky 6b
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Gotta ask, why 6x8 raised beds? In general raised beds should be a bit more narrow, allows you to reach all areas of the bed without having to walk on the bed to get to it. I'm short, so maybe it's no issue for you, but it still seems a stretch to say the least.

Are you irigating the beds? Raised beds by their nature dry out MUCH quicker than surrounding soil. Personally if I were in a dry climate I would avoid them. I actually had the opposite problem this year, it literally rained practically everyday for the first half of our growing season. My squash seeds either rotted in the ground or I got a bad batch, the rest of the things I got out too late. Needless to say my garden was a complete failure. The pole beans did fine, but I opted to save them for seed for next year, and hopefully better results. Now that it's dried out my raspberrys and grapes have literally exploded with growth, so I'm taking the good with the bad lol.

I guess you could plant a tree in the bed, but just seems like an odd choice. Most fruit trees tend to be shallow rooted. Planting annual veggies underneath them, along with the constant soil disturbance in the planting and have resting doesn't seem like a good idea for the trees sake, and let's me honest, it's the priciest item there. With trees I'd focus more on planting perinneal crops beneath them. I opted for gooseberries and currants. This fall I intend to pop some comfrey root cuttings within the (future) drip-line, and intend to plant a ring of daffodils around them. Basically guild them up more so than they currently are.

Give annuals their own spot where you can work the soil as necessary without upsetting other more permanent plants.

I'm honestly surprised you had peas and beans fail. They tend to be practically foolproof. Keep in mind this is coming from a guy that managed to screw up both himself, though it's solely my fault lol. Let's just say management went by the wayside as I've had many much more important tasks on my plate.

A salad garden should be easy enough, best part is it should start to cool off enough in your area to get a crop in. Salad greens tend to prefer the cooler weather of spring/fall as summer heat will cause them to bolt quicker (ie attempt to go to seed). It's the more expensive option for sure, but go to the local garden center and buy some started plants. Better shot at a success, and you could use a victory. If those fail, and they're tended to properly and water adequately I'd start to get suspicious of other factors. Heck, try growing some mint plants, it's usually harder to keep mint controlled than alive lol. If they don't work there's definitely something else going on and I'd take a good hard look at the soil itself.
 
Rose Pinder
Posts: 410
Location: Otago, New Zealand
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kempy Dupree wrote:I thought a tree would be too big for the bed but that is part of my confusion. I thought that was the whole idea behind permaculture, working from high to low. I would love to have a salad garden. At this point I will take whatever I can grow. 😊


growing veges is a subset of permaculture. I think learning how to grow a salad garden for instance will give you the skills to then learn how to grow a guild or layering etc. But some permie skills you could put into play now would be how to use the existing beds (seeing as how you have them) to grow what you want and to get a yield soon (so you are encouraged to keep going). I agree that raised beds aren't the best in a hot climate, but you can probably find ways to make them work. Mulching to retain moisture will be important.

Figuring out what went wrong in the past seems important too. Did plants die? At what stage? Do you think they didn't get enough water? Or was it disease? Too hot? Did everything go to seed quickly? Or did they just not thrive and produce?

Lettuces are pretty easy to grow from bought seedlings, but in a hot dry climate can be tricky. Can you put some shade over the beds for next summer? I live in a hot-ish climate and I've ended up growing lettuces in the shade in the past.

Can you get advice from someone local about what works where you live? Local knowledge is very helpful (it's early spring here and I can't quite figure what you could be growing now where you are which I assume is early autumn?).

Another option for a salad garden would be to plant perennials now that can help shade the annuals in the summer. Again, seeing what people are growing locally is important.
 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Blake, I don't have any problems with the beds as far as being able to reach in. We chose raised beds since that is what most people around here use and since I had never done veggies I thought that was what I needed. We had a wet winter last year and the summer was typical, HOT. 😊 I am the irrigation when needed. The peas and beans did produce a little but didn't take long to die back. Everything I plant will grow it just doesn't produce. That is what seems so weird to me. I will have a beautiful green bed the whole time just nothing to really eat. I will say the basil and rosemary are doing just fine. I don't want to get rid of the beds if I can help it.

I was going to ask the local garden center but I wanted to be sure they used non gmo plants first. I guess I could just use them for their knowledge if they don't sell non gmo.
 
Zach Muller
gardener
Posts: 778
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
36
bike books chicken dog forest garden urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kempy are your raised beds in full sun? If things grow but dont produce it could be lack of light hours.
 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
Posts: 1273
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
127
food preservation greening the desert solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've seen in gardening books that too much nitrogen can stimulate leafy growth but not fruiting. Eg for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant
 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes they are in full sun. Now that they sun is shifting more to the south for fall and winter it gets more shade then normal.

I guess I need to test the nitrogen. It seems all I get is the greenery.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
181
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How have leafy greens and root crops done for you? They can be easier to grow than tomatoes and peppers, and can grow in part shade and during cooler weather also.
 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have never tried leafy greens, isn't that a winter crop? I tried carrots this year and they did fine but we pulled them too soon.

Do you think I should pull the beds apart? The hubs probably won't be to happy with that since he built them for me.
 
Sher Miller Lehman
Posts: 15
Location: Hawaii
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kempy Dupree wrote:Everything I plant will grow it just doesn't produce. That is what seems so weird to me. I will have a beautiful green bed the whole time just nothing to really eat. I will say the basil and rosemary are doing just fine. I don't want to get rid of the beds if I can help it.

I was going to ask the local garden center but I wanted to be sure they used non gmo plants first. I guess I could just use them for their knowledge if they don't sell non gmo.


If your plants are growing but not producing you don't need to test for nitrogen, you are feeding them too much. Overfeeding nitrogen not only causes growth at the expense of flowering and fruiting, it brings in bugs and pests. Master Cho (Korean Natural Farming) calls this making your plants "FAT". Fat plants attract aphids, scale, beetles, snails, slugs etc. as well as diseases. If a tiger enters a village where children are playing, is the tiger going to try capture the lean strong kid or the plump one? Master Cho likes to compare things to humans to explain concepts. No children were harmed in the making of this answer.

Another thing to consider is harvesting. Take beans, for example, probably the easiest thing to grow. Think of their lifecycle. They live a short time, reproduce, and once they have successfully preserved the species in a new generation the plant dies. So you have to fool the bean a bit. As soon as you start seeing little beans form (...if no flowers form see above paragraph) start picking them. Then keep picking them every day or two. This will make the beans think that they still need to do the only thing they live to do--reproduce. So they keep making beans. This literally makes the difference between a handful of beans and gallons! This goes for all all food producing plants. The more you pick, the more they produce.

This happens for another reason as well. Plants pump water and nutrients up from the roots, and the fluid travels out each branch, each leaf, and each flower or fruit. If ripe fruit (or a bean) is hanging on the plant, it still receives un-necessary nutrient solution from the plant-----until the fruit or bean gets overripe, rotten, and the"veins" of the plant collapse. If you pull the ripe bean or fruit off the plant the extra nutrition has to go somewhere, so it forms more flowers then fruits and beans. Yay!

Your problems are not from GMO plants. You don't want them but they not why your plants are not producing. Good luck, and more importantly, have fun! Plants know when you are unhappy.
 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my plants. I'm the crazy person that walks around talking to everything. I'm wondering if I am not planting the right things next to each other. I'm trying not to get frustrated, I know it's possible to produce veggies around here. I have neighbors that grow with no problem. They use the typical rows though and I am trying to stay away that.

I'm sure I have tons more research to do. 😊
 
Rose Pinder
Posts: 410
Location: Otago, New Zealand
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Don't pull the raised beds apart, they're an asset. You just have to figure out how to make them work in your situation.

I wonder if you are making this too complicated. It's more likely to be basic things suggested like you are feeding the plants too much.

Try planting things in rows until you get the hang of it. It's a pretty tried and true technique. Permaculture seeks to improve on that in terms of efficiency, but there's nothing wrong with rows per se. You still have to have the basics in place.
 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I do tend to overthink everything I do. 😄 maybe I am trying to put too many different things into one bed at a time. I guess I should just focus on two or three things and get those to produce.
 
Blake Wheeler
Posts: 166
Location: Kentucky 6b
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kempy Dupree wrote:Blake, I don't have any problems with the beds as far as being able to reach in. We chose raised beds since that is what most people around here use and since I had never done veggies I thought that was what I needed. We had a wet winter last year and the summer was typical, HOT. 😊 I am the irrigation when needed. The peas and beans did produce a little but didn't take long to die back. Everything I plant will grow it just doesn't produce. That is what seems so weird to me. I will have a beautiful green bed the whole time just nothing to really eat. I will say the basil and rosemary are doing just fine. I don't want to get rid of the beds if I can help it.

I was going to ask the local garden center but I wanted to be sure they used non gmo plants first. I guess I could just use them for their knowledge if they don't sell non gmo.


As long as the size is appropriate for you, that's all that matters. I asked out of curiosity, as they would definitely be too deep for my short arms lol. I agree though, raised beds are great. They allow you to control soil quality and moisture much more easily, just wanted to make sure you understood the drawbacks that come with the positives.

If you're getting plenty of green growth, it definitely could be an issue of too much nitrogen. A $10 soil testing kit from lowes/homedepot can give you a basic idea of what's going on with the nutrient levels.

Sher brought up a great point about harvesting. Many plants, if not harvested regularly will stop producing. Like she mentioned, they'll invest all their energy into their fruit, leaves, pods, etc. and if left in place, as far as the plant is concerned it's done its job. Beans, peas, squash, cucumbers, lettuce, and many others need to be picked fairly regularly. You'll get better tasting, better textured (not tough, etc), produce and the plants will keep producing.

Let's be honest, sometimes things just fail. My tomatoes this year failed miserably. No rhym or reason that I can think of with. Just one of those things you have to expect on occasion. When they do I'm just glad I'm not subsistence farming in a third-world nation. I have the luxury of failing, and trying new things without my future hanging in the balance.
 
Zach Muller
gardener
Posts: 778
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
36
bike books chicken dog forest garden urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kempy Dupree wrote:Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my plants. I'm the crazy person that walks around talking to everything. I'm wondering if I am not planting the right things next to each other. I'm trying not to get frustrated, I know it's possible to produce veggies around here. I have neighbors that grow with no problem. They use the typical rows though and I am trying to stay away that.

I'm sure I have tons more research to do. 😊


Dont get frustrated ! If anything you are learning more than someone who got lucky and produced great food the first time around. When i first started gardening i drew up all these polyculture arrangements and painstakingly planted them. Guess what? Not a single one was anything like a polyculture, the hay i used as mulch sprouted more than anything else and the only produce ever collected from the area was after abandoning it for a year and coming back to find some crazy swiss chard id planted had competed and produced despite the 6ft weeds that overtook the area.

Years later, this season i have collected more tomatoes than ever in my gardening life and it is from a volunteer that i did not even put into place (it came up after transplanting a lilac) until midway through the summer. Natural things can be funny like that.

Just keep trying stuff, get the soil tested, find something that will work for your environment. Plants want to grow and do their thing, just have to find ways to work with them.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 4028
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
172
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kempy, can you post some pictures of your plants /garden beds?

Hang in there! We are here to help, just keep answering questions and maybe we will all figure it out.
 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Miles, I didn't even think about a pic. I will have to get a few for yall. We are about to get into a few days that are lower humidity so I'm sure I will be itching to get out there and work. Having heat index temps around 104-110 it makes it a little difficult to stay out there long.

I am so thankful for all of your help and comments and I am looking forward to getting more once I show you what I'm really working with.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
181
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Collards are a leafy green which can grow all year. Kale has also survived the hot summer for me. This year I grew Malabar Spinach, a tropical green, which has done quite well though I'm not sure I really like it. It's worth trying, though. But now we're moving into the cooler season (at least in theory) you might try various leafy greens and root crops, which can grow throughout the winter in our warm climate.

 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 979
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
122
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd like to give a couple of thoughts to this discussion. Perhaps this may give you some ideas,

#1- Re: raised beds. As already pointed out, raised beds drain and dry out quickly especially in the sun and heat. So consistent soil moisture is one thing I'd look at. Veggies don't produce well with wet-to-bone dry cycles. And crucial soil organisms & worms don't thrive in raised bed situations unless there is either even moisture or a 2"-3" inch layer of mulch (or something else like cardboard, plastic, etc) protecting the surface while the plants are young.

#2- Re: soil temperature. Non-mulched raised beds in hot climates often leads to soil temperatures too warm for good vegetable production. Something I'd consider in this situation. Here in Hawaii people using raised beds either paint the sides white, use cardboard mulch, or have double walked sides with an air space between the walls in order to keep the soil cool.

#3- Re: crowding. I have no idea how closely your plants are spaced, but I have experienced very poor vegetable production in my own gardens where I didn't thin the plants out enough. Crowding gave me lush greenery but very little food production.

#4- Re: plant spacing. Plants benefit from being correctly spaced. Crowding is a common problem, but conversely so is spacing plants too far apart in some circumstances. For example........when I planted bush beans 3" apart in a bed situation, I got beans but each plant was not productive. In fact, most of the plants were spindly and poor producers. When I reseeded 6" apart, I got more beans from the bed and each plant produced. When I reseeded 10"-12" apart I got even more beans from the same small bed and each plant produced heavily. One time when I seeded at 12" and lost lots of plants due to turkeys, the remaining plants were erratically spaced often 2'-3' apart. Many of those plants produced poorly even though they had excess room to grow. I discovered that beans prefer to have company but not over crowding.

 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ok, so here are a few pics to show you what I am working with. I hope this helps.
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ok, the first pic is the raised beds. Notice all the green. Lol the other two are of our fruit trees those ar not doing well either but they have only been in the ground for 3 year. I tried companion planting around each of them this year and only the chives and chamomile did well.

I wanted you to see the amount of space I have to work with and this is just the small spot I wanted to start in. I have plenty of property all around but I don't want to overwhelm myself.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
40
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A couple of thoughts. For your raised beds you might want to use some of the Square foot gardening concepts. Efficient use of limited space, organized plantings but not in rows, a number of benefits.

You also might want to put in a couple of comfrey plants for each of your fruit trees. Easy start on guilding around the trees and comfrey is almost everyone's favorite chop and drop mulch.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
Posts: 2573
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
499
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm blaming the trees: For shading the garden, and for sucking up the available nutrients and water... The lawn outside the raised beds is also growing poorly.

I won't farm in a field that has lots of trees nearby. Productivity seems too low to bother with. My strategy is to not attempt to grow any sort of annual vegetable within tree's height of a tree. In other words if there is a 15 foot tall shrub in the roadway beside one of my fields, I leave the ground fallow for 15 feet from the trunk of the tree. If there is a 40 foot tall tree in the corner of a field, I don't plant anything within 40 feet of the tree.

 
Dana Jones
Posts: 126
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Kempy, I lived in southeast Texas for 30 years, just moved to the Tyler area. I didn't have the wide expanse that you enjoy, I gardened in the strip of dirt between the driveway and sidewalk. Basically, plant early, cross your fingers that a late frost doesn't whallop everything, harvest and be done by August. Plant again for fall in September/October, depending when the 100+ temps die down.

I used compost, all organic, no commercial fertilizers. I also mulched the beds I planted in. I dug new ground for green beans one year and that dirt was rock hard, sorry dirt. Being the good gardener that I was, I composted the crap out of that green bean garden. I got massive amounts of vines, they raced to the top of the trellis, balled up and fell down in clumps. No Beans. None. Nada. In September they finally produced a few beans, enough for us to have a few meals and to save seed. My fault. I over fertilized the beans.

Are you getting frustrated with poor performance and giving your garden more fertilizer? If a little is good a LOT is better? NOT!! : Try again in the spring and don't add any fertilizer, see what happens. I also had to deal with lots of shade. Measure daylight hours in your garden area. I had a few beds that got sun all day and a few that were partially shaded. So tomatoes and peppers were planted for maximum sun, in some of the shady beds, I planted flowers to bring pollinators to the garden.

Hang in there, keep trying and don't give up. Southeast Texas has it's own set of gardening rules. There are two seasons, WET and DRY and both of them HOT! LOL! You can garden all year in your area. I did find that raised beds did not do well for me. They dried out daily, I couldn't water them enough. What about trying a small spot in the yard without making it a raised bed? I also mulched with paper feed sacks, held in place by bricks and rocks. They kept the weeds down and helped retain moisture. Is your ground clay or sandy?
 
Chris Badgett
pollinator
Posts: 289
Location: Whitefish, Montana
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey Kempy,

If you're looking for a starting point, you might check out Michael Pilarski's work from his How to Build a Food Forest From Scratch {ONLINE VIDEO COURSE} on what's possible on 1/8 of an acre:



If you're looking to start with just raised beds, check out Samantha Langlois's videos on raise bed production: http://organiclifeguru.com/lesson/raised-beds/
 
Ogorodnyk Viktor
Posts: 1
Location: Ukraine, Vinnytsia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello, I want to show you one of my young vineyard.
I hope You'll enjoy it. -

You also can see my another video about growing vines in Ukraine.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8L3leUYm2CCWSJbVQgdSFA

Come to Ukraine!
 
Don't mess with me you fool! I'm cooking with gas! Here, read this tiny ad:
Complete Wild Edibles Package by Sergei Boutenko (1 HD video + 10 eBooks)
https://permies.com/t/70674/digital-market/digital-market/Complete-Wild-Edibles-Package-Sergei
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!