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Victory Gardens! How-to, what to grow, and so much more!

 
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 3109
Location: Gulf of Mexico cajun zone 8
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Figured this is a good place to share another hugel project.

 
Posts: 6
Location: Chilean now in Northeast PA
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Hi, newbie here and also in PA!  We just expanded our backyard garden from last year.  We're going into our second season.  We do raised beds, with wood leftover from the roofing company I work for.  During the winter, we buried the kitchen scraps directly in the beds.  The beds are laid out so that we can comfortably work without compacting soil.  Keyholes are also incorporated into the design for maximizing water infiltration.  

We rent the property, so we've kind of limited how much we do keeping in mind that we might end up converting it back to lawn depending on what the landlord wants.  

These photos are from last week of March when society shut down and the garden season started up.  
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Alex Torres
Posts: 6
Location: Chilean now in Northeast PA
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These are from last week (April 23ish?) - so you can get a sense of the progress in one month.  It's been a bit cool here but things are growing slowly but surely.
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Alex Torres
Posts: 6
Location: Chilean now in Northeast PA
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And these are from last year when we started - plus how the garden looked at its peak to get an idea of where we hope to be headed with this.
The-first-beds-2019.jpg
This is the closest thing I have to a "before picture." Just imagine standard lawn.
This is the closest thing I have to a
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Taken from second-floor window
Taken from second-floor window
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intensive vertical growing
intensive vertical growing
 
pollinator
Posts: 153
Location: Oregon zone 8b
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Those are great pictures, Alex. It's helpful to see your setup at the beginning of the season, then all the growth! Those sunflowers are spectacular.
It's easy to see the effort and love put into these gardens.
 
pollinator
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Location: Lehigh Valley, PA zone 6b
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Alex, those gardens are absolutely brilliant! Looks like you get a ton of production out of a pretty tight space. And kudos for getting your child involved, too. I struggle with that a bit (but they are twins, so everything is a bit hairy).
 
pollinator
Posts: 406
Location: Vermont, USA
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The pandemic has prompted buy-in from my DH, who treated my gardening and chickens as annoyances last year (until he tasted the food). Suddenly he is Mr. Self-Sufficiency and happily built new raised beds and welcomed the wood chips instead of protesting mightily. I am not one to buy a lot of soil for raised beds, so mine are filled with rotten wood, chicken bedding, leaf mold, and compost.

In addition to the new beds, I’ve added two mulberry trees, an apple and a plum tree, elderberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. And ground cherries!  Mustn’t forget them!

I’ve mulched a much larger area around the raised beds for more flowers and herbs. I’m going to plant a moringa in a container; it will have to come in the house for the winter in Vermont, but it’s worth an experiment.

DH is helping me build an arched trellis to maximize the garden space. This is all so exciting that I almost forget there’s a horrible, frightening pandemic going on. I moved to Vermont to live like this, and having his support is a big help. He has gone from calling my wood chip pile an “eyesore” to asking when we can get a new delivery. <fist pump>!
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Sorry sideways. It keeps snowing!
Sorry sideways. It keeps snowing!
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Last fall
Last fall
 
pollinator
Posts: 1376
Location: Zone 6b
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For all the bad, there are some good things coming out of all of this.  My middle daughter has always hated gardening, but she and her husband built several large container gardens on their deck this spring.  I know several other people who are either starting gardens, or increasing the size of existing gardens.  And I’m milking a goat again.  I’ve had goats for most of the last forty years (gosh, hard to believe it’s been that long!), but after hurting my back a few years ago I thought I was done with that.  I got my current goats after we moved here a couple of years ago, primarily for weed control.  Really wasn’t expecting to be milking again.  But here we are!
 
master gardener
Posts: 6624
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:

I’ve had goats for most of the last forty years (gosh, hard to believe it’s been that long!), but after hurting my back a few years ago I thought I was done with that.

There are lots of things people can do to change the height we need to do jobs. I've seen ramps up to raised milkers, for example, or those special chairs some dental hygienists use that support you as you lean forward. If your back hurts when milking, think about the position, possibly get someone to observe your position, and see what sort of creative ideas you, or our fellow permies can come up with. I've not milked personally, but it seems like it should be a sort of zen thing to do - not give you pain afterward!
 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
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Jay Angler wrote:Kathleen Sanderson wrote:

I’ve had goats for most of the last forty years (gosh, hard to believe it’s been that long!), but after hurting my back a few years ago I thought I was done with that.

There are lots of things people can do to change the height we need to do jobs. I've seen ramps up to raised milkers, for example, or those special chairs some dental hygienists use that support you as you lean forward. If your back hurts when milking, think about the position, possibly get someone to observe your position, and see what sort of creative ideas you, or our fellow permies can come up with. I've not milked personally, but it seems like it should be a sort of zen thing to do - not give you pain afterward!



It wasn’t milking itself that was the issue.  At the time I hurt my back, we were living in the high desert and buying most of our feed, and lived on a steep slope.  So hauling bags of grain and bales of hay around was an issue, and carrying water in the winter was an issue.  At the worst point, I couldn’t even get out there to take care of them - it was all I could do to get from my bed to the bathroom.  My back is somewhat better now, plus our property is mostly more level, and the climate is milder.  Those of us who are getting older, and/or have physical disabilities, have to think about those things, and, if necessary, sometimes even relocate to a different property that is more suitable for our limitations.  Another decision I made was to get smaller goats (Kinder goats instead of Nubians).  They are a little easier to handle.  I have made one adaptation to my milking stand - it is higher than the others I’ve had, because of the goats being shorter.
 
Mike Barkley
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 3109
Location: Gulf of Mexico cajun zone 8
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This is the same lawn smothering victory gardenish area I showed here a while back. The buckwheat is the most predominate thing so far. It grows fast. The first round of beans planted at the same time got hit with a late cold snap last week. You win some, you lose some. Have no fear. There are plenty of peanuts that haven't sprouted quite yet. With a fresh batch of beans carefully planted. Plus a round of rowdy grex beans were thrown onto it when this week's rains started. It also has an experimental sweet potato or two & sunroot seeds that look promising. There will almost certainly be a lot of relatively easy food coming from what was lawn.

Less lawn, more food. It can be done. I hope everyone who started brand new victory gardens this year is doing at least this well. The recent pix from everyone look great!!!






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Update ... harvesting greens (all sorts) and french breakfast radishes (which are super mild compared to any other radishes I've had previously).

Tomatoes and peppers mostly transplanted but off to a slow start with this cool spring and late frost Mother's Day weekend. Actually covered them with pickle jars that weekend.

Started sweet potato slips and am working on building a "window" box to grow the off the ground inside our waterfowl pen. I figure they can nibble at any greens spilling over within reach.
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organically grown french radishes
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french red breakfast radishes
 
Anne Pratt
pollinator
Posts: 406
Location: Vermont, USA
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Aren't those radishes pretty!  I just planted some, and I can't wait to try them.  And the hoops!  Just beautiful!
 
pollinator
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A few random notes that may interest:

Many seed suppliers, faced with CV19, initially thought the year would be a complete disaster. They wondered if they would have to shut down or even close their doors forever.

- McKenzie Seeds, reputable supplier out of Brandon, Manitoba, saw a 100% increase in seed orders over their projected sales.

- Vesey's Seeds, long-standing (and excellent) supplier out of Prince Edward Island (maritimes) saw an increase in orders of 450%.

- We bought started plants many weeks earlier than usual from our local greenhouses, and kept them inside. Good thing we did: when we went looking at the appropriate time to plant, the pickings were slim. Talking to the owners, it turns out that newbie gardeners bought stuff and put it in the ground because it seemed nice out. Then late frosts hit as they always do, and killed everything, and they bought again. When experienced gardeners showed up, the cupboard was pretty bare.
 
Mike Barkley
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 3109
Location: Gulf of Mexico cajun zone 8
1427
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This is yet another lawn smothering project. It's where a nuisance small hole (potential ankle breaker) was that I added some wood to mostly just to fill the hole. Then layered on corn husks, bean vines, straw, & other assorted compostable materials. Followed by a thick coat of leaves for winter. Today I dug up a few potatoes started there last fall & removed any weeds. Added about 6 inches of well composted manure & worms down the center. Lots of worms. It will be finished within the next few days. The main goal is to have more watermelons but I also planted some corn, pumpkins, cilantro, purple beans, sunflowers, lavender & wildflowers. I worked around a few existing squash & watermelons & some small comfrey & elderberry plants plus one lonely sunroot. Almost no digging has been done. We'll see what wants to grow.

I'm calling it a victory garden because I didn't have to move the poo for a change. A neighbor brought it over. Victory!!! It's quite strenuous to get my wheelbarrow up & down hills across thick grass & bumpy terrain into the pasture. This was super easy today. Less lawn more food. That's still the plan.


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pollinator
Posts: 134
Location: Zone 8B Blackland Prairie, Tx
82
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This is my little patch of happiness!
We lucked out when we bought our house and ended up with one of the biggest backyards in the neighborhood (Almost 3500 sq ft)! I've got plans to put in a landscaped butterfly bed, a rock garden, and more. We want to do it right and will be xeriscaping all the new beds using waterwise native and adapted plants.

Eventually we're gonna pour a nice concrete patio and build a sun-shade/gazebo thing over it, put in a small pond, and have a nice fire pit.

The whole left half of the yard is set aside for gardening beds; we've only got a few small ones in now, but are starting to gather up the necessary supplies to build more.
We're trying to source as much material as possible from local Buy Nothing groups, so it may take a while.

All of our little beds are done in miniature Hugelkultur style, with a large layer of burried wood at the bottom and composted material topping that, with the garden dirt going on the very top.








 
Carolyne Castner
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Ok, let me try that again with pics as attachments and see if they actually show up!

Canteloupe-in-temporary-bed.jpg
cantelope in temporary bed
cantelope in temporary bed
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Burr oak staked
Burr oak staked
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herb pots
herb pots
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lettuce bed added thyme and oregano
lettuce bed added thyme and oregano
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middle onion planter
middle onion planter
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new bed composted
new bed composted
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oldest garden bed
oldest garden bed
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planter rack and new bed
planter rack and new bed
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panorama
panorama
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potted mint and basil volunteers
potted mint and basil volunteers
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potato pot
potato pot
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shishito with blossoms
shishito with blossoms
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tomatoes going nuts
tomatoes going nuts
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volunteer tomato
volunteer tomato
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yellow crookneck squash
yellow crookneck squash
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
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I've been doing more "polyculture" among my annuals and perennials and letting plants do their own thing as much out of being overwhelmed as by planning sometimes (often?). Yesterday I was picking the blackcurrants in an effort to get the ripe ones before the robins spot them, and I came face to face with a potato flower - literally - the potato flower was over 5 feet off the ground trying to out-compete the raspberry canes and current bush. I really must root around in the underbrush there and add a few buckets of finished compost in my version of "hilling" the potato plant in the hopes of getting edible tubers! I'd never seen a 5 1/2 foot tall potato plant before, but there's a first time for everything I suppose.
 
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I love to see all do-it-yourself creations without store bought trappings! I have a new acre that I've sadly not been able to get ready for a garden, yet. I'll be looking for ways to do some late planting.
 
Jay Angler
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Brian DuBridge wrote:I love to see all do-it-yourself creations without store bought trappings! I have a new acre that I've sadly not been able to get ready for a garden, yet. I'll be looking for ways to do some late planting.

Welcome to permies Brian!

There are lots of things you can do to prepare land for planting even if it's the wrong time of year to plant. There are good starter books like "Gaia's Garden" by Toby Hemenway ( https://permies.com/wiki/40202/Gaia-Garden-Toby-Hemenway ) or other suggestions here: https://permies.com/w/book-reviews

This is a really good time to "observe" your land and see which areas are wetter, dryer, windier, sunnier etc. If the land is worn out or has been abused, collecting anything that composts and making heaps right on top of areas you hope to plant will help the soil, and if it's mostly woody stuff, even more so if you inoculate the heap with mushrooms to encourage decomposition of the wood into things plants like.

It's also good to get a good plant ID book or ap and go and see what's already growing. Adding dock, dandelion and any other of the many "edible wild plants" (I don't like to call them weeds unless they're being *really* knotty) to soups, stir-fries or broths is a great way to start benefiting your diet with minimal work. Don't be afraid to make up some stakes and labels so you keep similar plants straight in your head if this is new to you.

Good luck! J.
 
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Brian, there's also some plants you can grow for a fall garden! Some areas are a bit more restricted in what they can grow, but you should still be able to plant radishes.

What you can also do is start making garden beds. There's lots of ways to make garden beds. If you start making the garden bed now, it'll be ready for spring, or even fall perennial planting!
 
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It’s sweet what you’ve done for your kids, Nicole.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Aww, thank you, Helen! The kids have both really been enjoying their potato patches this year. They both want me to dig up potatoes from THEIR patch for dinner, so I often have to visit both kid's garden beds for a meal. A little bit extra walking to get supper doesn't hurt, and I love encouraging their excitement for gardening!
 
Helen Butt
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That sounds absolutely great - glad to hear your kids are enthusiastic growers/harvesters :-)
 
Mike Barkley
gardener & hugelmaster
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Here's pix from the same victory garden about a month later. It did very well with zero attention after planting. It's almost done for the season now except for one pumpkin & some sweet potatoes.
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gardener
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The victory garden (here in the southern hem) is still going strong despite a crazy drought earlier in the year that only normalized in late September, and basically rain every single day since then!

We had a massive early harvest of zucchini, I've left the plants in while the peppers that will take their place get a bit bigger, just in case I can get a few more.
We also had a few early spaghetti squash and a GREAT season for snow peas and romaine lettuce. Now we're way past both of those; first crop beans and lablabs coming up, lots of peppers (hot and bell) getting started, and I put in a lot of basil this year because I think we will need a lot of pesto (daughter moving back in for the summer this weekend, and she's my kitchen partner in crime).
We also had great spring fruit- mulberries and jabuticaba. The blueberries looked really good but in the end made nothing. The asparagus is exempt this year, since I just divided it last year (next year though, look out).
While I wait for the okra, peppers, squash, corn, and whatever else I put out there to start getting going (it's not officially summer yet), under my carport things are going wild (due to pest and fungus pressure, this is the best place). We usually get one "blast" harvest of Japanese cucumbers (maybe 5 per plant) and the tomatoes will go until the bugs/fungus are too much for them, even with regular sprayings of milk and compost tea. I think this year, again in response to pest pressure, we are only growing yellow grape tomatoes and a local variety of cherry called a "fern cherry" that is supposed to get large clusters of very small fruit.
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Jay Angler
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Tereza Okava wrote:

local variety of cherry called a "fern cherry" that is supposed to get large clusters of very small fruit.

Interesting - a friend once bought some seeds for a tomato plant called "Silvery Fern". It didn't produce well for us - not sure it liked the way she was caring for it - but as a plant it was truly beautiful. It would be a fine "edible landscaping" plant as most people would not even realize it was a tomato plant until the fruit ripened. I've always intended to try it again when I have a little extra space to see if a different location would make it more productive. How's the flavor of yours?
 
Tereza Okava
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I am just getting flowers right now, and it's the first year, so I can't tell you. So far it looks pretty normal, the foliage is a bit "curlier" than the other I have going.
but with a picture like this on the packet, how could I resist??
 
pollinator
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It has been a year since we started our victory garden! What started as this:




Has become this:



This is after I mulched following a very large potato harvest! Right as I was getting ready to finish cleaning up for Autumn planting, my first round of seeds got eaten by the birds, so I started the next round inside. I just planted it out a few days ago, I will try to get another picture.

Including seeds, trellis, fertilizers, mulch, etc. I am up to $85 total spent (including the cost of all the new seeds I just put in) on it but we have gotten over $700 worth of produce out of it thus far.

I am loving seeing the updates from everyone! Also, interestingly, those beans on the right are rattlesnake beans. I got very close to 2kg per plant of beans while also saving a heck of a lot of seed. One of my plants was off type and made pods streaked with pink instead of purple, and had white flowers instead of the typical purple. I saved the seed to see if it breeds true, guess I will find out next year. I do not like pink but it is still kinda cool. They were such amazingly productive plants, I have been trying really hard to utilize as much vertical space as possible, the climbing zucchini tromboncino has been doing that on it's own. It has done much of it's climbing on its own. I have helped when it went somewhere I did not want it here and there. It has also produced a ton but has also grown vines extending over 9 meters and a few days after that picture was taken, started pulling the trellis down and requiring additional staking. lol



 
Aimee Hall
pollinator
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
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How is everyone's victory gardens going this season? Winter here, and I am itching to get growing more than salad/cooking greens. I had snow peas but something came in and ate every single one, and many of the broad beans too.... -_-
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
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Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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I'm caught up in the Western Heat wave with crazy high temperatures, and I'm simply amazed how the punky wood at the bottom of my raised beds and 1/2 barrels have allowed plants to survive with minimal extra water.  Now if only the bunnies hadn't eaten virtually all my beans...

The high heat spelled the end to the peas, but I'd already frozen some and have a bunch in the fridge, so if it's genuinely as cool as they claim it will be today, I will chop down the peas and direct seed 3 varieties of bush beans as the bunnies can't jump that high (30" raised bed!) Yesterday afternoon in the extreme heat, I filled paper pots with soil I'd mixed up and planted purple topped turnips and purple sprouting broccoli as fall/winter crops, a cucumber for a friend which may be too late but what's one seed???, some basil which also might be too late, but if it stays hot this summer, it may produce, and a few more lettuce. I've been seeding lettuce every few weeks, but the last two lots I tried to plant just got destroyed by bugs/slugs.

With the western heat wave, many crops may have been damaged or destroyed, so I feel any sort of veggie garden is going to be just as important this year as last. If things died, look for short-season potential replacements, or things that will still have time to produce if the fall is decent. Relatively speaking, seeds are cheap! If nothing else, try and plant things that will build your soil and help you in the future. (Dried beans from the grocery store will do that with no cost of shipping!)
 
Tereza Okava
gardener
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Aimee Hall wrote:How is everyone's victory gardens going this season? Winter here


We got two hard frosts in a row! I'll be back home Thursday after a month away so I don't know for sure, but from what the husband says it looks like the winter tomatoes might have given up the ghost, the peas are loving it, and my bananas may have bitten the dust. Passionfruit were doing so well but nothing fertilizing, not sure if it was the cold snap or what. Was a great fall/winter for radishes and Chinese greens though!!
 
Mike Barkley
gardener & hugelmaster
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Weeds. So many weeds. I assumed responsibility for this garden very late in the planting season last spring. The soil is heavy clay & had been abused with tractors & chemical fertilizers for many years. Never any mulch or cover crops. It was completely overgrown with weeds when I got here. So we plowed them down one more time. Then I banned big tractors & plows forever. Planted the spring crops into bare dirt. Not soil, dirt. The soil tests confirmed that. Then it rained & kept on raining for the next couple of months. Guess what? Weeds happened. I had to mow weekly between the rows. There was one area between the mulch pile & cowpeas in the pic that couldn't be mowed. Weeds took over. A couple of weeks ago I whacked them all down. Discovered these watermelons, squash, cukes, & a couple of eggplants hiding in the overgrown mess. I'm calling it a partial victory over weeds!

Since then large amounts of mulch were added onto the sweet spot. Used a small tractor to till the top inch or two of everywhere else. Mostly to rip out weeds & rough up the top surface before adding thickly planted cover crops & wildflowers. Now those are sprouting. More mulch & more cover crops will be happening in any potential bare spots soon. There will be less weeds & better soil next year. More pollinators, worms, & goat manure too. Victory!

Due to the reported crop failures & anticipated food supply issues in the news lately I think it's wise for all of us to prepare our Victory gardens for next year.
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steward & bricolagier
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If you are starting to wonder what to grow next year, check out this thread Fall Decor pumpkins/squash that are excellent eating for some good ideas.
Try some, they are totally worth planting!!
I'd say squash grows easily (and it does!) but in the area I'm in, so far the squash beetles have grown easily too, and I'm not managing to get production off mine yet. Will be trying a different way next year.

One year in New Mexico I had a volunteer spaghetti squash plant put out 23 squash!  

 
Posts: 44
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On a little less than a quarter acre we pretty much grow what we need with a lot to share. These raised beds were put in around 10 years ago with rough cut hemlock milled down the road from our farm. Using mostly heirloom/open pollinated varieties, so we can save seed, after a few years it's been pretty much self sustaining.
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There are a total of 65 beds of various sizes, with a 6' x 75' perennial bed on the East side to attract pollinators ( along with a lot of spotted in annuals inside the garden.
There are a total of 65 beds of various sizes, with a 6' x 75' perennial bed on the East side to attract pollinators ( along with a lot of spotted in annuals inside the garden.
 
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Hi - I'm fairly new here at Permies but a long time fan of gardening. More so now with the cost of food rising. I'm learning so much from this site. I'm from Canada (zone 5) and only have a small under 400-square foot backyard to garden in but I'm trying to throw in as many edibles as I can - mostly perennials surrounded by both wood and leaf mulch so that I don't have to water as much.

For fruits and veggies, I'm growing a grafted Honeycrisp apple tree, blueberries, potted raspberries, Alpine strawberries, rhubarb, perennial tree kale (first time trying this), Hostas, mountain Hablitizia spinach , Good King Henry (no idea if I'll even like this), Egyptian Walking Onions, profusion sorrel, carrots, radishes, red beard onion, leeks, Vit Corn Salad, Yu Choi and snap peas. In May, I plan to direct sow some purple peacock pole beans, plant out the Malabar Spinach and Italian basil I have growing inside under grow lights.

For Herbs, I'm growing mint, oregano, sage, chives, french tarragon, Lavender, Thai basil, lemon, english and creeping thyme.

I'm sad to do this but I will be removing the irises this year, mint and solomon's seal from the side to move into pots so that I can make way for the asparagus roots I just received. Now after reading this thread, I think I'll intersperse some alpine strawberries around them. I also plan on adding them under the bench where not many things grow. They seem fine with a few hours of light.

I have another 100 foot bed in front where the grass has been struggling due to all the sand. I'm planning on putting sheets down, with compost covered with  woodchips so that I can later transplant out my potted lavender and some creeping thyme. Under the lavender tree (also out front), I was thinking of putting either Ostrich Ferns or Hostas (there's not much light there).
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