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Old 04-08-2008, 04:30 PM   #1
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New Gardener. Help!!

Hey all!

So today was, by far, THE nicest day of the year up in Glastonbury Connecticut. I got out of school and just took a nap near a fountain in the center of town... so nice!

Anyways... I'm really looking forward to all spring and summer have to bring (gastronomically) and, after looking through this forum, I've got an urge to start my own herb garden!

I'm a COMPLETE novice at this and ive never grown anything in my life but i think itd be really rewarding to grow some of my own herbs, veggies, and fruits out in the backyard.

Does anyone have any tips or guides for me? I'm very intimidated haha

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Old 04-08-2008, 04:45 PM   #2
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Don't be intimidated. Gardening is a wonderful thing to pursue. Start small. You might want to do "container" gardening with a few herbs. As you gain experience and see success you will be encouraged to do more.

Go to your local garden center and talk to the folks there and explain that you are a novice and ask for recommendations on easy things to grow.

You might also check your area university extension service. Lots of good, and free, advice can be found there.

Lastly, there's always the library.

Happy gardening. Have fun!
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Old 04-08-2008, 05:51 PM   #3
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Drummer, I STRONGLY urge you to buy plants, rather than start most things from seed.

I grow everything - herbs, vegs, flowers - in containers because I live on a ledge with just enough topsoil to hold down a lawn. The best part is that I have very little to weed, and turning over soil, and adding more, is easy. The hard part is watering every day to avoid wilt.

Katie's advice is sound - start with things that you like, that are easy to grow. Corn is not easy for the backyard gardener, but tomatoes, beans (I grow beans from seed), peppers and eggplants are very easy.

Melons, squashes, and pumpkins take more room.

Lots of sun is key.

If you are interested in growing specific things, maybe we could help with more detail.

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Old 04-08-2008, 06:12 PM   #4
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Wow thanks guys, this is all very helpful!

In response to specific things id like to grow: Chile peppers, bell peppers, herbs like... basil, thyme, cilantro, and rosemary. (is there anything else i could do?) The thing is, I tried these in pots on my deck last summer and they all ended up failing miserably. I would water them when they looked dry and they had plenty plenty plenty of sun... but for some reason, all of the herbs died, and my tomatoes turned out hard on the outside and mushy and tasteless on the inside. Any suggestions?

Thanks again!
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:17 PM   #5
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Well, larger pots, with rocks on the bottom, and holes for drainage work well.

The herbs do well with partial shade, half day or more. Tomatoes and peppers like full sun.

And water at least once a day. I don't know the answer about the tomatoes, but it may be the variety you chose? I've had some mediocre cherry and grape tomatoes, but I've never had a bad slicing tomoto.

As Katie suggested, ask at a gardening center what are the best-tasting tomatoes they carry.

Good luck, Drummer!

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Old 04-08-2008, 07:32 PM   #6
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I'm not a gardener either, especially indoors, so I decided to try the AeroGarden to grow herbs indoors since I don't have to do much of anything. Great success so far. I'm now setting up some grow lites next to it to try other plants.

Outside I went to the local nursery and bought 3" pots of Tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and cucumbers. I replanted in the backyard where it is sunny most of the day. So far they are growing like weeds (next to my weeds). The tomatoes I'm actually growing in an "upside down" planter on the patio.

Last year was slightly successful, but I have to remember to "water" the plants and fertilize occasionally. Minor details I hope to do better this year. One year I got so excited when I grew corn down the side of the yard. It grew and I had corn!!

Try it, you'll like it.
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Old 04-08-2008, 08:43 PM   #7
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Actually, most popular culinary herbs grow naturally on hillsides around the Mediterranean and need quite a lot of sun. My herb garden is in the middle of my backyard and gets direct sun for about 10-12 hours each day. This picture is from a few years ago:

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Old 04-09-2008, 05:54 AM   #8
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Wow, beautiful garden, GG!

My herbs have to be in pots, and I've found that they do FAR better out of the direct afternoon sun.

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Old 04-09-2008, 06:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drummercook
The thing is, I tried these in pots on my deck last summer and they all ended up failing miserably. I would water them when they looked dry and they had plenty plenty plenty of sun... but for some reason, all of the herbs died,
I'm not a container vegetable gardener...but would offer these ideas: Get your pots off of the deck/patio...If space permits put them in the yard on the ground. If space does not permit you to do this, then try to raise the pots up 12" + off of the deck/patio surface. Lastly, try bigger pots.

Luck!
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Old 04-09-2008, 06:56 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Drummercook View Post
Wow thanks guys, this is all very helpful!

In response to specific things id like to grow: Chile peppers, bell peppers, herbs like... basil, thyme, cilantro, and rosemary. (is there anything else i could do?) The thing is, I tried these in pots on my deck last summer and they all ended up failing miserably. I would water them when they looked dry and they had plenty plenty plenty of sun... but for some reason, all of the herbs died, and my tomatoes turned out hard on the outside and mushy and tasteless on the inside. Any suggestions?

Thanks again!
Where are you located? And what kind of pots did you use? Clay pots look nice, but unless they are soaked in water for several hours before planting, they suck moisture out of the potting soil.

Did they have enough drainage? I keep broken pot pieces and use those to cover the hole in the bottom of containers, to prevent soil from blocking the hole and keeping excess water from draining out. If they can't drain properly, the roots will rot.

If you let the plants go too long without water, the soil dries out and then added water just runs down the insides of the pot and doesn't get to the roots.

HTH.
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Old 04-09-2008, 07:57 AM   #11
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We have a limited garden space. But have had much larger gardens.

I don't know what went wrong with your herbs. Gosh, those things are like weeds. They are generally hardy and need little attention. Even during the winter we toss some seeds in pots in the house and they grow like crazy.

Agree with the precious posters, you do need drainage if you are growing in pots.

As far as tomatoes go, always start with plants. Have raised them from seeds but have very little time to do so. The ones in pots will bring more fruit if you don't start them early in the house and then make them hardy.

Peas and beans, from seeds.

You can find most plants at your local supermarket, Walmart, you name it.

The bottom line is have fun. Every year some things work for us and others do not.

And some things never do well here.

And so we plant what grows and eschew those things that do not.

Oh, yes, and fertilize.

And have fun.
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Old 04-09-2008, 08:05 AM   #12
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I'm having tons of fun starting my seeds.... but I have the time for it, and I've been doing it a few years now.
Definately buy plants first. Learn what they like and what you need to do with them.
If you go into it not knowing much and starting seeds it can get very frustrating.
Also keep a journal of your garden, the plants happenings. Keep it and look at it each year. You can learn alot from yourself!!
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Old 04-09-2008, 09:31 AM   #13
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The problem is probably your potting soil. When it comes to buying potting soil, you get what you pay for.
Miracle Gro makes a good one that drains well, yet retains needed moisture and has a 90 slow release fertilizer. Peter's also makes a good one.
You can also mix your own, with 50% peat moss, 25% vermiculite, and 25% perlite (or plain cat litter), and top dress your potted plants with Osmocote, which is the slow release fertilizer.
Certain herbs require a limey soil, so add in a handful or so of garden lime to the mix for: lavender, sage, and thyme.

After that, feed your plants half-strength liquid feed every 10-14 days.
Regardless of whether you mix your own potting soil or buy it, wet it BEFORE using, and mix it well.
If you follow these instructions, I promise you'll have better luck.

PS...I don't mean to sound like a know-it-all, but I owned a retail greenhouse business for 22 years, and grew most of what I sold.
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Old 04-09-2008, 03:05 PM   #14
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thanks guys!!

all this information is extremely helpful and i can't wait to try again!
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Old 04-09-2008, 04:06 PM   #15
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Im at it for the first time too.... actually my brothers GF sort of hijacked the seed starting but that's ok I need to not be such a control freak about the house anyway. We have tons of herbs started and a some veggies and fruits. All the edibles will be in conatiners (safely above dog leg height)as the backyard is a small concrete patio it is super sunny back there though. The front yard will be all ornamental as the doggie hangs out there and

I am hoping for the best with all the seeds...if they dont work out its off to the nursery. I bought tons of pots they are going to be filled one way or the other.

Hopefully this weekend will be time for outdoor planting.... still scared of the cold though.
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Old 04-09-2008, 04:21 PM   #16
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A nice way to grow spices on the deck or patio is get one of those strawberry pots. I did this one year growing different spices out of each hole and chives on top. The thing I hate about the pots is thy dry up easily, so really have to pay close attention to watering. Now I just have a herb garden which makes things a lot easier.

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Old 04-09-2008, 04:39 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larry_stewart View Post
A nice way to grow spices on the deck or patio is get one of those strawberry pots. I did this one year growing different spices out of each hole and chives on top. The thing I hate about the pots is thy dry up easily, so really have to pay close attention to watering. Now I just have a herb garden which makes things a lot easier.

larry
Larry, I used to have a problem keeping my strawberry pots moist, but I solved that problem. I took a 3-inch (diameter) piece of PVC pipe the height of the pot. Drilled a series of evenly-spaced 1/4-inch holes along the length of the pipe. Placed the pipe in the center of the pot before adding soil. When I wanted to water, all I did was to "fill" the pipe in the center. This made it very easy to water the strawberry pot thoroughly and not force soil and plants out of the little holes/balconies in it. You might want to give this a whirl.
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Old 04-09-2008, 05:10 PM   #18
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What a good idea!

If you plant your squash, melons and cucumbers in hills, you can do the same thing...put the pipe in the center of the hills, and the water will go right to the roots. I used to buy the tall cans of fruit juice for my kids, and I'd save the empty cans and punch holes in the bottom and sides for that purpose.
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