Growing your own.
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16-09-2012, 01:06 PM
Growing your own.
A couple of months ago I applied for Three allotments near to where I live, not to take on all three but because of waiting times I want to get one ASAP... Fingers crossed this time next year I will have one.

Over that time I have been doing a lot of reading and a lot of watching youtube videos to help get me prepared and to teach me a few things.

Ive got a basic idea of what and how I want to achieve the allotment but I know a year is a long time and my ideas will have hopefully evolved by then.... in the meantime Id like peoples opinions about.

1: Double Digging.

I hear a few people mentioning double digging.... and from I gather it sounds/looks like hard work but apparently the results speak for themselves. Im not afraid of hard work and want it to be a success so I think I will probably double dig all of my beds.... do people agree with double digging or does anybody have any alternatives???

2: Pest Control.

Im not keen on using pesticides on anything that I grow... although I imagine because im new to this I may need to at some point..... I have heard that you can have "companion plants" for certain crops that have natural predators for aphids etc etc and id like to know what other alternatives/methods there is to pest control.

3: Weeding.

When I eventually get my allotment I realise that it may have been left for a while and that it will probably be overgrown. I have allready learnt not to jump straight in and to strim everything down and rota-vate the ground as this will do the opposite of what I want to achieve.... A lot of people use sheets of dark tarpaulin to deprive the weeds of light and I think I may do the same (instead of putting weights along the edges of the tarpaulin to keep it down I plan on burying the edges about 1-2 feet into the ground) so Id like to know what people do themselves to combat this.... any hints/tips welcome.

4: Raised Beds.

I can see why people use raised beds, however seeing as im not exactly made of money I would like to keep things cheap if possible (although that doesnt mean I will not spend money when I have to) So what are people opinions on raised beds... pros and cons???

5: Seed suppliers/buying

Again I want to remain as natural as possible so id prefer not to buy any GM seeds.... is there anything in particular I should be looking for when buying seeds.... can anybody reccomend any good supliers???

6: Greenhouses/polytunnels

If the allotment I take over hasnt got a greenhouse then I will get one myself.... so any advice on greenhouses would be appreciated. Im also toying with the idea of building a polytunnel to house some of my crops. Any advice... pros/cons of polytunnels would be appreciated also.


I think that covers the main block of my thinking up to now.... if anybody has any advice not covered in any of my questions then I would be more than pleased to hear it Bowing

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

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16-09-2012, 02:20 PM
RE: Growing your own.
I thought this thread was about growing your own marijuana. Nevermind. Blush

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16-09-2012, 03:44 PM (This post was last modified: 16-09-2012 03:53 PM by Dom.)
RE: Growing your own.
(16-09-2012 01:06 PM)bemore Wrote:  A couple of months ago I applied for Three allotments near to where I live, not to take on all three but because of waiting times I want to get one ASAP... Fingers crossed this time next year I will have one.

Over that time I have been doing a lot of reading and a lot of watching youtube videos to help get me prepared and to teach me a few things.

Ive got a basic idea of what and how I want to achieve the allotment but I know a year is a long time and my ideas will have hopefully evolved by then.... in the meantime Id like peoples opinions about.

1: Double Digging.

I hear a few people mentioning double digging.... and from I gather it sounds/looks like hard work but apparently the results speak for themselves. Im not afraid of hard work and want it to be a success so I think I will probably double dig all of my beds.... do people agree with double digging or does anybody have any alternatives???

2: Pest Control.

Im not keen on using pesticides on anything that I grow... although I imagine because im new to this I may need to at some point..... I have heard that you can have "companion plants" for certain crops that have natural predators for aphids etc etc and id like to know what other alternatives/methods there is to pest control.

3: Weeding.

When I eventually get my allotment I realise that it may have been left for a while and that it will probably be overgrown. I have allready learnt not to jump straight in and to strim everything down and rota-vate the ground as this will do the opposite of what I want to achieve.... A lot of people use sheets of dark tarpaulin to deprive the weeds of light and I think I may do the same (instead of putting weights along the edges of the tarpaulin to keep it down I plan on burying the edges about 1-2 feet into the ground) so Id like to know what people do themselves to combat this.... any hints/tips welcome.

4: Raised Beds.

I can see why people use raised beds, however seeing as im not exactly made of money I would like to keep things cheap if possible (although that doesnt mean I will not spend money when I have to) So what are people opinions on raised beds... pros and cons???

5: Seed suppliers/buying

Again I want to remain as natural as possible so id prefer not to buy any GM seeds.... is there anything in particular I should be looking for when buying seeds.... can anybody reccomend any good supliers???

6: Greenhouses/polytunnels

If the allotment I take over hasnt got a greenhouse then I will get one myself.... so any advice on greenhouses would be appreciated. Im also toying with the idea of building a polytunnel to house some of my crops. Any advice... pros/cons of polytunnels would be appreciated also.


I think that covers the main block of my thinking up to now.... if anybody has any advice not covered in any of my questions then I would be more than pleased to hear it Bowing

I can only tell you what I do.

Raised beds - yes, yes, and yes!!! Screw all that digging and weeding and hard work, I'm into picking veggies, not digging holes.

Pest control - there are some organic sprays that can be used if necessary. Just because they are organic doesn't mean that they are totally harmless, so only use if you are threatened with extinction of veggies and BENEFICIAL INSECTS didn't do the trick. Since I have my own garden, I employ peahens. (Since most people look at me vacantly - these are female peacocks). They keep it picked over for any insect population explosions. Moderate numbers of insects are good. Explosions are bad. Find a place that sells beneficial insects and ask them what to use for the damage you have. For the heck of it, just release a bunch of them in the spring once the plants have grown a bit. I always release lady bugs and praying mantisses.

Weeding: When you get an overgrown plot, spread black plastic over it and weigh it down good so it stays in place. Rocks will do, use pegs if you have no rocks. Leave in place till everything is dead. OR - put in raised beds and drown the weeds under the soil you put in. When you add soil, get a weed barrier to lay on the bottom - it's just a fine meshed piece of cloth that doesn't decay very fast. Keeps out the gophers, too. Mine has lasted 5 years and counting. Then all you do is pick a few tiny plants here and there as you go.

Seeds - I am mostly picky about tomato seeds and will buy only heirlooms because their taste is miles above all others. They are not disease resistant though, some years you may lose a bunch. Plant as many different varieties as you can to guard agaist wipeout by weather or whatnot. That's a good rule of thumb anyways - plant one plant of any variety to make up your planned amount of veggies. There is something bad out there most every year, but it will only touch one or two varieties. So I plant like 8 different types of tomatoes, 4 different kinds of cucumbers, and you see where that is going. Besides having different flavors etc. makes it more fun.

Growing from seed isn't all that hard but takes indoor space. Call your local Master Gardener's office and ask them if they are growing and selling any organic veggies. Make a note of what they will have and when and where to pick up and go that route. You'll get super advice specific to your area to boot. Call them with any questions too, that's what they do, help people grow stuff. BTW. genetically engineered seeds are generally only available in large bags for farming, you are not likely to run into them in the little seed packets you buy for your garden.

I spend very little time and grow all my veggies myself. In the spring I add compost , plant and feritilize. Then I wait and maybe once a week pick a few weeds. Maybe not. Smile Then I pick and eat stuff. When it's all done in the fall, I tear it out and throw it on a heap with the paper from my shredder. I always throw that on the heap and wet it when I empty the thing. Also, coffee grounds go there. (I call that composting, lol. It works. But you can make a science of composting if you like. Worm farms work well too, but I don't want to spend the time.) I do some beds for winter crops, dunno about where you live. Ask your master gardeners. I cover things only when I can't wait to grow stuff and frost may still come. Greenhouse stuff doesn't taste as good.

You forgot water. Do not water the leaves, water the roots!!!! You can put in soaker hoses on a timer if you have your own bib. Your plants will love it, and it's care free.

Start praying to the sun, nothing like sun kissed veggies. Bowing

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16-09-2012, 04:21 PM
RE: Growing your own.
Thanks Dom. Id never heard of "Master Gardeners" until you mentioned them and there is a group in the UK but they are not local to where I live (yet) but their website has a mass of information for me to add to the allready massive list I want to get through Big Grin

You seem to have swung me towards the idea of having a couple of raised beds Consider I think now that if I did a few raised beds that will get me going a bit quicker and take a bit of the load off me preparing so much ground. Ill budget some money towards them.... plus ive recently seen some raised beds with small poly tunnels added to them with hinges.... Might build one of them and see how that goes Big Grin

Id not considered diversifying on different crop types.... will give that some studying Consider

Thanks Thumbsup

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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16-09-2012, 04:51 PM
RE: Growing your own.
Cool Bemore - you're gonna be a gardener! IMO one of the great joys in life. Sometimes, you can work your ass off out there, and it will be just as satisfying as sitting on that ass with a cold beer doing nothing but looking at a juicy crop of tomatoes. Ooh... or smelling fresh dill. Heart Mmm.

Where will your lots be located -what kind of weather will you be dealing with? How large will your allotment be? Will you have water and electricity available? Are there trees -will you be dealing with shade or full sun?

When you apply, do you get to pick the lot location or... how does that work? What kind of veggies do you like to eat most? Will you be selling any of your bounty or is this for personal consumption only? Have you purchased garden tools and equipment, yet? Will pics of your land management project be posted? Shy

Oh. Did I ask too many questions? Dodgy

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
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16-09-2012, 04:52 PM (This post was last modified: 16-09-2012 04:57 PM by Dom.)
RE: Growing your own.
(16-09-2012 04:21 PM)bemore Wrote:  Thanks Dom. Id never heard of "Master Gardeners" until you mentioned them and there is a group in the UK but they are not local to where I live (yet) but their website has a mass of information for me to add to the allready massive list I want to get through Big Grin

You seem to have swung me towards the idea of having a couple of raised beds Consider I think now that if I did a few raised beds that will get me going a bit quicker and take a bit of the load off me preparing so much ground. Ill budget some money towards them.... plus ive recently seen some raised beds with small poly tunnels added to them with hinges.... Might build one of them and see how that goes Big Grin

Id not considered diversifying on different crop types.... will give that some studying Consider

Thanks Thumbsup

You can just source some used windows with frames - easy to do in the states, dunno about the UK. Then you can build the raised beds with the frame a bit higher than you want the soil, and put the windows up top on hinges, on a slant to let the rain run off and possibly the snow if you get any where you live. Make sure though that you can remove the windows from the hinges easily. That way you can start your crops earlier and they will be in a green house, and you can grow fall crops til late if you put the windows back on. Much better than Poly. You can open the windows when the weather is nice and prop them up on wooden legs, then close them again when it cools off.

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16-09-2012, 05:37 PM
RE: Growing your own.
Hee hee, just my kinda thread. Lol

First things first.....cold frames:

Cold frames are pretty much what Dom described. An old window sitting at an angle on a raised bed. The key is deciding whether to custom build your raised beds according to the size of windows you find, or to forgo windows for a hoop house/poly tunnel. My advise is to use windows. Poly is a pain to work with, hates the wind, and looks terrible. On the other hand, glass will trap more heat (better greenhouse effect), tolerate weather better (even hail IF it's half decent glass and at a steep enough angle), and some old restored farm widows will look great. Very rustic.

So basically, I say yes, use raised beds, but first find yourself some old widows. The raised bed can be super cheap. Don't be afraid to screw together some reclaimed lumber. If it looks like scrap then great! Plus, to be honest, after a month it will all be weathered evenly. Oh, try to avoid using treated lumber.

Next....diversity.

Diversity can help you with weeds, bugs, water retention, nutrient uptake.......the list goes on.
Find a few companion planting lists online. Take note of what works well together, but keep things mixed up. Square foot gardening may be a good idea for you, depending on the size of garden. My vegetable garden is over an acre, so for me it's not a good method, but in a couple raised beds it will increase your harvest and keep the soil healthy. After you've decided what goes where, add in some ther plants. Ones that attract predatory insects. Chamomile can be sprinkled among a cucumber patch. They'll reach up above the cukes, they are fine so they won't block sun, and they'll act like a beacon for some great bugs. Consider too, adding some potted plants around the garden. Grow things like mint in them. You won't have to worry about it taking over the garden (and it will), you'll have fresh mint, and bugs like aphids and mosquitoes will skip you're garden in favor of the next. Same goes for the mice, since they hate mint too. There's tons of other ideas too.

Double digging:

Ugh. Unless your soil is super compacted I wouldn't waste my energy. Double digging loosens soil, and mixes in nutrients, but it has negative effects too. First, you disturb soil structure. The microbes that are two inches down live there because that's where they need to be. Same with the ones ten inches down. Mix them up and you loose a whole shitload of those valuable little buggers.
If the soil is really compacted, nd you want to really improve things, I'd consider the next step up from double digging. Instead, go the extra mile and build a hugulculture (sp?) bed. Google it, and if it interests you, we can talk more about it.
Just remember, if you want to grow good plants, you need to grow good soil first.


Shit, I really rambled there. Sorry. Got all excited. This stuff is my passion not to mention my job!

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16-09-2012, 05:43 PM (This post was last modified: 16-09-2012 05:47 PM by bemore.)
RE: Growing your own.
(16-09-2012 04:51 PM)kim Wrote:  Where will your lots be located -what kind of weather will you be dealing with? How large will your allotment be? Will you have water and electricity available? Are there trees -will you be dealing with shade or full sun?

The three allotments ive applied for are all within 15 minutes cycling distance from me, I did consider applying for ones further out but then thought against it as it wouldnt really be realistic and wouldnt reduce my waiting time. The weather im dealing with is typically british, which means that your guess is as good as mine ha ha. Im not sure on the allotment size yet, the average is around 250 sq meters, I have told them all I realise the amount of work, time and effort it will take but they have said because im new that I may be offered a half size plot as they have a lot of new people who then abandon the plot because of the work involved. Im not sure on trees although there is allways the chance I may inherit one or two, from what I have learned you are allowed anything as long as it doesnt grow any higher than 6 feet high.

I dont think each individual plot has access to electricity and im not sure how they would meter it if they did, however they have a "trough" system which basicly collects rainwater for people to use.

(16-09-2012 04:51 PM)kim Wrote:  When you apply, do you get to pick the lot location or... how does that work? What kind of veggies do you like to eat most? Will you be selling any of your bounty or is this for personal consumption only? Have you purchased garden tools and equipment, yet? Will pics of your land management project be posted? Shy

Well like ive said ive applied for three different locations.... they put your name on a list and they work down the list. At one particular place I am number 24 on the waiting list, I thought "great thats about two years waiting" but Sheila, the woman who I spoke to said that by the time she gets round to her list and she rings people sometimes they change phone numbers, have found and accepted other plots, have changed their minds altogether so she can easily wipe ten people off before coming across someone who says yes.

I want to grow potatoes, garlic, onions/shallots, suedes, carrots, sweetcorn, tomatoes, strawberries, rhubarb, leeks, runner beans.... there are more I just cant think of them at the moment.... depending on my size plot I also would like to grow some flowers, maybe start off easy with some daffodils.

Everything will be mainly for me and again depending on my yields I have family and friends who I will give a lot away to. I have also been studying how to make jams and preserves etc etc to help cut down on any wasteage and to keep me stocked up. Ive been learning a lot of that stuff from this guys youtube channel.... he is awesome Thumbsup

http://www.youtube.com/user/jonathanwallace

Ive not bought any tools yet however when I get paid on the 25th I am going to try and start my own herb garden in my kitchen windowsill, maybe not the best time of year to begin but I have itchy green fingers.

I may post some pics... gotta get the plot first though (impatient me)

(16-09-2012 04:51 PM)kim Wrote:  Oh. Did I ask too many questions? Dodgy

Almost.... but they are matched by my enthusiasm Dodgy

(16-09-2012 04:52 PM)Dom Wrote:  You can just source some used windows with frames - easy to do in the states, dunno about the UK. Then you can build the raised beds with the frame a bit higher than you want the soil, and put the windows up top on hinges, on a slant to let the rain run off and possibly the snow if you get any where you live. Make sure though that you can remove the windows from the hinges easily. That way you can start your crops earlier and they will be in a green house, and you can grow fall crops til late if you put the windows back on. Much better than Poly. You can open the windows when the weather is nice and prop them up on wooden legs, then close them again when it cools off.


WOW, I never thought of anything like that and one of my best mates works for a company that fits UPVC windows so im sure with some notice he can get me some Bowing

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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16-09-2012, 05:55 PM
RE: Growing your own.
(16-09-2012 05:37 PM)Stark Raving Wrote:  Hee hee, just my kinda thread. Lol

First things first.....cold frames:

Cold frames are pretty much what Dom described. An old window sitting at an angle on a raised bed. The key is deciding whether to custom build your raised beds according to the size of windows you find, or to forgo windows for a hoop house/poly tunnel. My advise is to use windows. Poly is a pain to work with, hates the wind, and looks terrible. On the other hand, glass will trap more heat (better greenhouse effect), tolerate weather better (even hail IF it's half decent glass and at a steep enough angle), and some old restored farm widows will look great. Very rustic.

So basically, I say yes, use raised beds, but first find yourself some old widows. The raised bed can be super cheap. Don't be afraid to screw together some reclaimed lumber. If it looks like scrap then great! Plus, to be honest, after a month it will all be weathered evenly. Oh, try to avoid using treated lumber.

Next....diversity.

Diversity can help you with weeds, bugs, water retention, nutrient uptake.......the list goes on.
Find a few companion planting lists online. Take note of what works well together, but keep things mixed up. Square foot gardening may be a good idea for you, depending on the size of garden. My vegetable garden is over an acre, so for me it's not a good method, but in a couple raised beds it will increase your harvest and keep the soil healthy. After you've decided what goes where, add in some ther plants. Ones that attract predatory insects. Chamomile can be sprinkled among a cucumber patch. They'll reach up above the cukes, they are fine so they won't block sun, and they'll act like a beacon for some great bugs. Consider too, adding some potted plants around the garden. Grow things like mint in them. You won't have to worry about it taking over the garden (and it will), you'll have fresh mint, and bugs like aphids and mosquitoes will skip you're garden in favor of the next. Same goes for the mice, since they hate mint too. There's tons of other ideas too.

Double digging:

Ugh. Unless your soil is super compacted I wouldn't waste my energy. Double digging loosens soil, and mixes in nutrients, but it has negative effects too. First, you disturb soil structure. The microbes that are two inches down live there because that's where they need to be. Same with the ones ten inches down. Mix them up and you loose a whole shitload of those valuable little buggers.
If the soil is really compacted, nd you want to really improve things, I'd consider the next step up from double digging. Instead, go the extra mile and build a hugulculture (sp?) bed. Google it, and if it interests you, we can talk more about it.
Just remember, if you want to grow good plants, you need to grow good soil first.


Shit, I really rambled there. Sorry. Got all excited. This stuff is my passion not to mention my job!

Dont apologise dude ha ha... ramble away, im like a sponge soaking all this information in at the minute, I just need the experience to match it.

What you said about the soil regarding double digging is what I have heard people mention before on the con side of it.... do you think I should just have raised beds instead???

Ive had a quick look at Hugulculture beds and because I work as a binman for my local council I reckon I can easily get my hands on reclaimed timber and possibly some rotten timber as well Thumbsup

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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16-09-2012, 06:06 PM
RE: Growing your own.
Well, my raised beds are six inches to two feet above ground, depending on what I need them for. Thing is, if irrigation isn't and issue, then you don't need it very high. SO, if you are doing the raised beds, dig down a good few inches to put the bed into, but not reall a need to dig any deeper. Then fill with some good compost mixed with the soil you dug out to redistribute the organisms native to that section of the garden. That's really all you need to do. The more you leave mother nature alone, the less she needs to fix all the stuff we fuck up.

Check out Gene Logsdon. This is his blog......
http://thecontraryfarmer.wordpress.com/
........but you really gotta read his books. The contrary farmer and Holy Shit are the two I'd start with.

But be prepared....by the end of all this my goal is for you to be tempted to save your own poo. Continue at your own risk.

And in the mean time, grow some tomatoes in a south facing window. Seriously. Like right now.

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