RUNuts 2018 Garden thread (attempt)

RUNuts

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We started a discussion in Fruit trees, so I'm encouraged to ask for input on the garden. I need help. Mostly mental, but financial and physical would be appreciated too! :)

Got a different job and the kids in college so I have more time to get in trouble. As a good start, I ordered 25 Asian ground parrots earlier this year. Think chicken, but HOA friendly. You know, pets not livestock. <wink, wink, nudge, nudge> I am at 18 egg laying demons. They are doing wonders producing fertilizer. I will be redoing their area, but for now let's say they aren't in the garden.

Bad news, heavy clay and poorly draining. Dying trees due to oak root rot.

Good news, I have a pallet compost bin that heated wonderfully and will be used this spring. The county dump provides shredded yard waste and I've found the year before's mostly composted pile and have been hauling it home. Been picking out the logs and getting a lot of garden ready stuff. With the oaks dying, more sun on the ground.

An Asian ground parrot play pen is in the works (search chicken tractor for pictures) to exercise the pets, disperse waste (spread fertilizer) and eradicate undesirable flora. But as of now, I have a 10' x 10' area covered in 6+" of composted wood chips in an attempt to kill the grass I've been getting to grow for the last decade and the primrose as fate would have it. This is the better drained, sunnier location in the backyard.
Plan is, as of now and subject to change with no notice, to scrape the wood chips off in planting lanes to plant a spring garden. The heaped wood chips will go the next garden expansion area right next to this one. The woodchips between the lanes will be left at an elevated level, ~2" compost to go in the planting lanes and start raising the garden. I live in an old rice paddy swamp. Heavy clay soil. My previous garden attempts ended in mass drownings, poor performance, and weeds due to neglect (actually lack of time for gardening, family and work first!).

Back garden goal is soil building. Planning on sunflowers and peas with squash on the outside. Probably put a tomato and pepper on the south side. Am I on the right track?

Kitchen Garden is a keyhole raised bed. Half filled with last year's compost - all we had. The zucchini took off! Beautiful plants. Huge leaves and a few fruit before this week's frost came. Covered, so let's see what survives. Already back to 60°F. The zucchini was an experiment and it worked. Radishes in January?

Plan are to add more compost. Work some of the spent soil from the barrel planters in and buy more soil for the barrels. I think I will be short on compost. This will be the salad garden. Working on layout.

The section that I piled in the woodchips isn't growing anything. One reason is that after I filled the bed last spring, it heated up and composted for 2 months. I've got 12" of chips with grass clippings under it sitting since last summer. I think I'll pull 6" of chips out. Add the spent soil to cover. Top dress with compost and plant in February (last frost date). This will be greens. Lettuces and spinach.

What am I looking for when I pull the woodchips (mulch at this point) off to prep it for seeds? Is 6" enough or too much is what I'm asking.

Comments please.
 

baymule

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Since your soil is black gumbo goop, you are looking for composted, loose soil type stuff. The gumbo will suck it down over time, so just keep adding mulch. It will take time, but you will wind up with some good soil. Adding the chicken compost is great too. You are on the right track.

Post pictures! We love pictures!
 

RUNuts

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Peas - we eat a lot of black eyed peas and cornbread. I know I can just plant the grocery store ones, but is it better to get seed peas? For those that know, what is the taste difference between black eyed peas, purple hull peas, cow peas and anything close? What tastes best and why?

Alternative would be red beans. Crazy Lady will eat pintos, but only refried. I'm looking for an easy, early success. Mostly because the black gumbo mud keeps winning. She has already crossed lima beans off the list due to what her mother did to her. Do sugar peas or snow peas do well here? Zone 9a. Off to google.

I think writing all this has helped the ideas take root. First goal is to use the accumulated seeds in the cabinet from past delusions of grandeur. Have 3 piles, the pile I bought, the pile crazy lady bought and the ones the kids came home with. Hmmm.
 

RUNuts

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Thank you very much! I appreciate you telling me that Thistlebloom. It will be an interesting year. I am enjoying learning a new subject. New solutions. And a lazier approach. Give a hard job to a lazy person and they will find an easier way to do it.

Learning a bit through reading forums and youtube. That place is dangerous. Never ending videos. If you like that, watch this... WOW. Food forest is a big keyword. Permaculture and no till gardening. A bit different from Grandpa's garden. He had an acre. But I didn't understand then. Now I'm the grandpa. Don't blink.

Glad I found this forum. I enjoy how everyone is supporting and encourages new ideas. Topic of the moment: Peas.
 

digitS'

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I live just north of the "dry pea & lentil capital" of the US. They also have lots of garbanzo beans :). That doesn't mean much for your situation, RU. The soil is windblown loess. That doesn't mean a lot to my situation, either ;).

I find snow peas, snap peas and shell peas easy to grow ... sorta. Generally, they need trellises. And, they are low-yield crops considering the square feet they take. However, they are in early and out early leaving the option of planting something in that ground. That's here, and my choice is usually - green beans.

Of course, you are trying to build the organic content of your soil, RU. Don't be complacent about it ;). It never seems like we have enough compost and uncomposted material cannot quite take it's place. Until microorganisms break down the material, plant nutrients are not available. It may even tie-up nutrients already in the soil as those beneficial microorganisms "robs" them for their own life needs. Once broken down ... completely ... the result is ... dust!

Fresh peas can be low-production but that's okay. They are high-value. So are salad vegetables. So are stir-fry vegetables. They may take extra attention and planning. You have chickens and those critters can make quick use of an extra 20# of lettuce that is a week away from bolting. But, laying hens don't live (& make eggs) from lettuce alone. Besides, they can get by on machine-harvested feed and should be appropriately honored to have a taste of the crops homegrown, by the ever attentive RUNuts.

Steve :)
 

Smart Red

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Like, Thistle, your garden and mine have little in common, but I have gardened in Wisconsin clay.

Might I suggest planting some Chinese Daikon Radishes interspursed with your desired plants as well as during any time you leave a garden bed fallow. They grow deeply into the soil and can help break up hardpan grounds. Other than that, raised beds are a good thing if they drain well, double digging is a lot of work but well worth the effort in the end, and mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulch is the gardening word of the day.
 

baymule

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Peas! True Southern Peas! Them little green thangs we call English Peas are good too, but Nawthurners refer to them as Peas. Cowpeas is what Nawthurners call our beloved Peas. Cowpeas? Ain't no durned cows going to eat MY peas!
Don't let @seedcorn mess with you about peas!

Even the seed catalogs refer to the Southern staple as cowpeas. Here are two links to peruse at your shopping pleasure.

https://www.rareseeds.com/store/vegetables/cowpeas/

http://www.southernexposure.com/veg...eas-c-3_121.html?zenid=eX3jjhtydoe0tcqWfHqA22

You asked for black eyed peas and purple hulls!

Sugar snaps and snow peas will do well for you as a fall/winter crop. You could probably plant in January for a spring crop. I planted English Peas in January when we lived in Livingston. I got several pickings before the heat killed the vines.
 
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