2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try?

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chuck_n_grace
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2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try?

Post: # 256640Post chuck_n_grace
Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:00 am

Hi,
Our 3rd year gardening officially begins. We always establish gardening goals and consider new things to try. I'm curious what's new for you this year?

Here are our goals for 2012:

* Grow only what can be placed in a garden salad (except for experimenting). Don't worry about canning, storage, etc.
* Integrate what we've done with our aquaponics experiments with our raised beds and organic gardening. Use 'fertigation' liberally (we have lots of high nitrate fish water).
* Grow more edibles in the front yard...keep it looking nicely.

So, here are the experimental and/or new things we have done so far this year.

* Ten days ago I placed several seeds in a damp paper towel and placed inside a zip lock bag. Repeated this for 20 different types of plants. This past weekend I inspected them for germination. Moved most to small pots. If the seedling emerges I place the pot into our tiny greenhouse for more sun. We struggled with 'leggy' plants last year. So, 95% of our veggies begin this way. Don't know if its better than just placing in soil.

* I have a 10 gallon aquarium with several goldfish outside on the patio. There is a plastic container with gravel on top. A pump moves water through a strainer into the grow bed. Several of the zip lock bag seeds were placed in small bits of cotton and placed on the top of the stones. Today several cucumbers were shooting up nearly 2".

* Placed a black plastic sheet on top of one 4'x8' raised bed after mixing our compost into the soil. Cut small Xs spaced apart in plastic. Sunk a 4" diameter piece of PVC 6" in length halfway down. Added tomato plants (from fish tank grow bed and volunteers from last fall in the green house). The plants are 12" to 24" tall. This setup is experimental. Plastic to serve as a cheap mulch to keep down weeds and to hold in moisture. The PVC serves as a point of adding water and monitoring the amount of water that is being added.

* Used a lot of fish water to fertilize our veggies.

I'm curious what "new" and "experimental" things you may try this year.

Regards,
Chuck

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Re: 2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try

Post: # 256641Post safronsue
Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:07 am

Morning! the setup with the fish tank and seeds sounds fascinating! i would be interested to see some pics.

* solarizing the soil is the experiment for the weekend for us. i laid a double layer of clear plastic down and weighed the edges and plan to seed a cover crop when all weeds are nuked.

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Re: 2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try

Post: # 256643Post Jandra
Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:19 am

That sounds interesting, Chuck. How come you have the fish water? Don't the plants in your aquaponics system 'eat' it all?

I just ordered a few easy2grow plant containers. They are self watering pots of the nifty kind. Expensive, but it's my birhtday soon :-) Since we had a concrete slab in our garden where we couldn't do anything else with, that's where our greenhouse was placed. Everthything is grown in pots. I'm still eating canned tomatoes from last year, but the growing in pots is still a challenge.

So that's my experiment of this growing season.

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Re: 2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try

Post: # 256644Post boboff
Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:33 am

I have a bit of rough ground at the front of the house which has a spring most of the year going into it. I want to try Watercress....Hmmm.
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Re: 2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try

Post: # 256676Post chuck_n_grace
Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:03 pm

Hi everyone,

@Sonfronsue - nuking weeds! I'm curious if black plastic might be more effective than clear plastic at killing the weeds. Perhaps there is no difference. It would be could if you could cover a patch with black plastic (or some opaque covering like a tarp) to see what yields the best results.

I'll post pics soon.

@Jandra - Unfortunately, the sun light (lack thereof) in the garage is a limiting factor. So we now dip a bucket a few times into the fish tank to water our plants in the greenhouse. We then replace the water with fresh water in a storage tank.

Congrats on your birthday coming up. I'm curious about the 'easy2grow' containers. Do you add water to a reservoir and then the level adjusts automatically for watering the plants?

@boboff - I've seen photos of water gardens. It would be interesting to find plants that produce veggies/fruit that appreciate all that water moisture. Conceptionally, one could dig a hole and create a goldfish pond. You could pump the water up through a series of PVC pipes (gutters) , nicely decorated, and grow veggies along the fish pond perimeter. The water would return to the pond. That's a concept I wish to explore once I get up the gumption to dig a 1mx2mx1m hole.

*Update*
Transplanted tomato plants are recovering nicely. Fish survived overnight outdoors. No evidence of predator. Plants are popping up in the grow bed. The Tilapia tank is finally clearing up. I had to drain about 1/2 and then refill. I think I've been overfeeding. I'll try to throttle that down.

I'm working on an interesting experiment using a toilet valve. My friend had done this several times with his barrelponics. The goal is to pump water to a tank placed above the grow bed. When the water level rises the toilet valve opens, and dumps water into a grow bed...the bed immediately drains. This will be a significant improvement over existing loop syphons.

My latest webcam link: http://myfish.camstreams.com

Regards,
Chuck

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Re: 2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try

Post: # 256678Post gregorach
Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:13 pm

My goal for this year is to go completely peat-free and not buy in any compost at all.
Cheers

Dunc

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Re: 2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try

Post: # 256680Post Jandra
Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:37 pm

The easy2grow containers are connected to a water container (also has the nutrients). They use a nifty valve system to fill the saucers under the pots with e.g. 1.5 cm waters.

When all the water from the saucers has been taken up by the plants the valve will allow the saucer to fill with another 1.5 cm water. This http://www.autopot.co.uk/autopot/3d-ani ... -animation animation shows how it works.

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Re: 2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try

Post: # 256682Post sarahkeast
Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:36 pm

Hmm, I like that system [easy2grow] but out of my price range.

Had been toying with the idea of trying to make something similar with an old hose attached to water butt with a small drip hole drilled into hose at each plant pot. Anyone tried this ? got any suggestions. Serious trial and error to get flow rate right of course....

As for trying new things ? soya beans to make edamame, globe artichoke I started from seed last year and over wintered in pots, and [dare I confess] brocolli as we eat loads and I havent grown it much till now. It is also my 3rd year so still settling in, starting a few perennials and seeing things settle in and get established is good.
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Re: 2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try

Post: # 256687Post safronsue
Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:07 pm

nuking weeds and seeds with clear plastic is apprently more effective than black plastic... http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Ga ... nted-grass is what i found and it seems to make sense.
depending on sunlight of course...we have pretty predictable sun light here from here on in now.
but i will of course report back with how it goes. we have standard breathable black garden fabric down too and i should lay down some regular black plastic to compare i guess

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Re: 2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try

Post: # 256716Post chuck_n_grace
Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:00 pm

Jandra,
Thanks for the link and explanation. That animation made sense.

Sarah,
Here's an idea. Take the lid off of your toilet tank and look at the valve that allows water to enter the tank. When the big valve opens and flushes, the water level lowers. The float in the water control drops and opens the valve allowing water in. In the link Jandra provided, you can see this is the same concept.

Here's a concept: Imagine a 1/4" poly tubing (found with drip systems) is feeding the container at the base of the plant. You might be able to use a float and level to "pinch" it closed. As the water level drops, the float and level "unpinches" the tubing and allows water to flow.

I'll give it some thought.

Greg,
Do you mean you won't 'buy' any compost/peat this year? How about home grown compost?

*Update*
The Tilapia tank has really cleared up. You can see a lot of detail now. The males are approaching 5-6" in length...females are at 3-4". Big difference. I hope to buy a 55 gal tank soon so I can get some breeding happening.

Regards,
Chuck

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Re: 2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try

Post: # 256717Post gregorach
Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:30 pm

chuck_n_grace wrote:Greg,
Do you mean you won't 'buy' any compost/peat this year? How about home grown compost?
Yes, that's exactly what i meant. Only home-made.

I might make an exception for one small bag for in the flat as I'm not sure I can be bothered bagging a compost mix and hauling it home from the allotment... But no bought in grow-bags or potting compost.
Cheers

Dunc

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Re: 2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try

Post: # 256719Post oldjerry
Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:06 pm

If you can be bothered Dunc,that has the makings of a regular update,sucesses ,cockups,etc.It's something I've always wanted to do. Maybe the bigest deal is going to be the seed compost,though I suppose JI would be OK if you have a soil sterilizer.

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Re: 2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try

Post: # 256721Post Green Aura
Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:43 pm

Will you bring in any sort of feed from outside, Dunc? I worry slightly that any local deficiencies will be magnified by re-using only stuff you've already grown in - if you know what I mean.
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Re: 2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try

Post: # 256744Post gregorach
Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:58 am

I don't have a soil steriliser, no... I've been toying with the idea of some kind of solar oven arrangement, but I'm not sure how effective it would be and I probably won't get around to it. Weediness isn't the end of the world though.

I missed the manure group buy at the allotment this year, so the only outside additions will be in the form of leaf mulch (we get loads of it from the council every autumn) and seaweed meal.

I did a lot of experimenting last year and did quite well. Didn't keep good enough notes though... I seem to recall I ended up using a 2:4:1:1 compost : loam : sand : perlite mix for seed sowing. The tomatoes and capsicums did just fine in re-useable grow bags filled with a 1:1 mix of compost and topsoil - the results were indistinguishable from the premium grow bags I used side-by-side with the same varieties.
Cheers

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Re: 2012 gardening goals...and new experiments you might try

Post: # 257644Post sleepyowl
Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:36 pm

My goal is to be stump free & I'm using a mattock to try & do it. I would also like to be croccosmia free & do more to attract bees & butterflies by planting even more flowers than normal making it look more like a conventional garden
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