I Want to Try Something Else

so lucky

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My garden has been getting to be way more trouble than it is worth the last few years so I have been trying to figure out what is wrong. I think one thing that is a major problem is the insects that I can't seem to get rid of. I have had pretty deep mulch, added to yearly, and I think insects use it for cover. And the weeds! Oh the weeds that manage to come up where the cardboard isn't!
Yesterday I was pulling up what ever dried flowers and veggie stems remained and burning trash. I decided to rake the whole garden bare and let it dry, freeze, air out for a while. Do you think this will help kill off a few critters?
I also have to get a tiller. I loaned out my tiller to someone a few years ago and now it doesn't work. I have been digging the rows by hand and I am getting too old to do that. So a tiller is needed. Also I need to be more pro-active on fighting weather issues.
If you all have any suggestions, I welcome them.
"Gardening" is part of my identity. If I can't, or don't have the energy or will power any more, it takes part of me away.
I probably will be adding to this thread as I figure out what to do.
 

Ridgerunner

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Weed management is a huge issue. The best response I have for that is mulching. But it can be a big time commitment to mulch and that is usually when I am really busy. In Arkansas i never got as much mulching done as I wanted. I think I created a problem down here with my newspaper and wheat straw mulch. In the wet conditions I think it created a mold problem, similar to damping off when starting seeds but with mature plants. So this year I'll try pine needles, no newspaper, and leave an area right at the plant bare so it can dry out better.

With the insects it depends on what kinds. Some do overwinter in the soil. If you can till it a couple of times this winter you may turn them up so they freeze or birds eat them. Where you are the soil should not stay frozen but the problem may be finding a time when it is dry enough. And yeah, that means no mulch to protect them. For some other types of insects that won;t matter, depends on where and how they overwinter.
 

digitS'

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Nearly everywhere I go, things look and feel different. Natural vegetation is different, soil looks different, weather is different. Sometimes, I have only traveled a few miles.

How can gardening be all the same? And yet, we are often trying to grow the same crops. Grandma had columbines, we want columbines. We have discovered creamed peas and new potatoes, we want them every year. Big, heirloom tomatoes! Japanese cucumbers! Habanero peppers!

It's a very good thing if what we want to grow has some adaptability, or the varieties someone has bred fit with our gardening circumstances. If they can't be grown successfully, should we be surprised? If we move a thousand miles, can we practice gardening the same way as before? I once had gardens separated by about 30 miles. About the same climate, very different soil.

Mulch in 2' paths over certain weeds hardly detered them. They traveled to the beds. Deep mulch over potato beds meant I had the most amazing crop of voles and rodent-damaged potatoes.

Rototillers jerk me around and are heavy to turn. My back becomes sore. What little hearing I have, deteriorates, at least, temporarily. A spading fork tills to 11" quietly and quite easily in my garden soil.

Even "best practices" aren't always possible because of expediency, physical limitations, etc. Experience hopefully leads to "the best we can."

Steve
 

flowerbug

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My garden has been getting to be way more trouble than it is worth the last few years so I have been trying to figure out what is wrong. I think one thing that is a major problem is the insects that I can't seem to get rid of. I have had pretty deep mulch, added to yearly, and I think insects use it for cover. And the weeds! Oh the weeds that manage to come up where the cardboard isn't!
Yesterday I was pulling up what ever dried flowers and veggie stems remained and burning trash. I decided to rake the whole garden bare and let it dry, freeze, air out for a while. Do you think this will help kill off a few critters?
I also have to get a tiller. I loaned out my tiller to someone a few years ago and now it doesn't work. I have been digging the rows by hand and I am getting too old to do that. So a tiller is needed. Also I need to be more pro-active on fighting weather issues.
If you all have any suggestions, I welcome them.
"Gardening" is part of my identity. If I can't, or don't have the energy or will power any more, it takes part of me away.
I probably will be adding to this thread as I figure out what to do.
it would be really good to know which specific insects you are having trouble with... :)

to me it takes much more effort to till than to use a shovel to turn over a garden (i don't dig up an entire garden that often - my normal routine disturbs about 5-10% of a garden when i'm burying garden debris at the end of the season - i may surface scrape the whole thing but i'm only skimming the surface and in the harder clay areas i'm just cutting off weeds at the surface). tilling also may not really bury the bugs/stuff but spread it out through the whole soil layer being tilled, so if you are trying to get rid of things by burying, well it may not actually accomplish that.

that all said, if you are going to till the sooner the better IMO as that gives any of your mulch and buried stuff time to break down and for the soil community to sort itself out again.

the vegetable gardens i keep here are mostly left bare soil during the winter months. not because i think that is a good idea, but because Mom thinks this is how it has to be to look tidy. to me it looks sick. i want cover crops, i want to leave plant debris and mulches on top of the soil as it will protect from the wind and the rains and ...

if you can get it tilled quickly enough and get it planted with winter wheat or winter rye (the grain not the grass) it might get a chance to grow some before spring. then turn it under several weeks before your spring planting has to happen.

my own vegetable gardens have a few bugs here or there that i don't particularly like, but they are not annoying me badly enough i care to do much about them. i hand pick Japanese beetles here or there, but i'll never get them all.

i also don't think it a good idea to use pesticides or other biocides including many that people say are ok for organic crops. well, no, i like the various creatures i have around so i don't want to put something out in the gardens that might harm some of them that i care about. i'm willing to do things selectively and very targetted (manual removal only) or just change what i grow if i have to.

i also have areas in the gardens which are spaces used to protect the beneficial bugs during the off season since i have no cover on many gardens for the winter. as of yet i do not have aphid problems. i don't have too many other problems with too many bugs either. squash borers and squash bugs, yep, we got those, i try to grow resistant enough types and rotate plantings to different areas when the populations get to be too high.
 

Zeedman

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"Gardening" is part of my identity. If I can't, or don't have the energy or will power any more, it takes part of me away.
Well stated, and couldn't agree more. As frustrating as gardening can be some times, I can't imagine a year without those fresh home-grown veggies.

About the mulch. If it has become a shelter for insects or rodents, it should be tilled under, or at least removed from the garden. You might also consider burning it in place, if that is allowed & can be done safely. Burning would kill anything present on or in the organic material, including disease spores.
 

Gardening with Rabbits

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I also have to get a tiller. I loaned out my tiller to someone a few years ago and now it doesn't work. I have been digging the rows by hand and I am getting too old to do that. So a tiller is needed. Also I need to be more pro-active on fighting weather issues.
If you all have any suggestions, I welcome them.
"Gardening" is part of my identity. If I can't, or don't have the energy or will power any more, it takes part of me away.
I probably will be adding to this thread as I figure out what to do.
I will be interested in all the advice you get. I am also in the same situation. I do not have a tiller and no DH. DS will help, but we have been turning by hand, and it is just more trouble than it is worth. It makes me start too late. Gardening is also part of my identity and I have no idea what I would do if I did not garden.
 

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