Garden question...who grows their own food?

lavender_lassJune 9, 2011

I know many of you like to garden, but I was wondering how many grow their own food? Do you have a vegetable garden, separate from the other gardens...or do you mix in a few veggies with the flowers?

The idea of a kitchen garden always sounded good to me, so that's been my project, for the last few summers. Combining fruit and vegetables with herbs and flowers makes the garden very pretty, brings in lots of beneficial insects and makes it so easy to go out and collect a few things for a meal. Everything is all you can pick some flowers for the table, grab a few handfuls of green beans, maybe some dill and a few strawberries for dessert! At least that's the idea :)

At some point (maybe when I get the farmhouse remodeled with the big pantry!) I'd like to have a bigger garden, for growing enough food to store over the winter. I still think I'd add flowers and herbs and maybe some more fruit on the edges. Of course, if I use deer fencing to keep the deer out of the corn...I could add some roses, too!

Here are a couple of pictures of the garden. It's more for the overall layout, but I'll try to take more pictures of the actual plants, later. What about you? Any pictures?

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does a tomato plant count? got one... hoping to do more, not sure what tho. will get some goods from my sister's 'garden'.
I'm doing container planting - I want things up off the ground so I don't have to bend.

that's a wonderful garden area you have!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 3:41PM
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LL I have my flowers up in old stock water tanks I had planed on doing my veggies in, It did not work out. I am overwhelmed with weeds so the flowers are up in the tanks and I spray the weeds around and do not have to worry about killing my flowers.

Then I have a veggie garden of sorts on the side of the bank by the tanks right out the laundry room/kitchen door. I only grow cucumbers ,melons, squash,tomatoes, peppers and artichokes. So it is a really small garden compared to what I used to do. Enough for the fresh picking pleasure. I do not count on anything and am thrilled when we get some thing. We have such a short growing season here. 90 days if we are lucky. No pictures yet this year. Will try to get some of this side of our yard. I am loving the big flower tank. Should be really pretty when it is all in bloom.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 3:42PM
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We have one tomato plant, but we have had four nice tomatoes so far. I tell me wife that that's it- we have to make those tomatoes last through the winter LOL! Tomatoes (good ones) are hard to grow around here- they can get frostbit in the winter, and summers are too hot to set fruit. The soil is terrible (sand). I'm going to experiment with the one plant and bring it into the A/C to see if I can get it to set more fruit (it's in a pot). I was told that the daytime temp had to be below 85 to set fruit- that ain't gonna happen here for the next 5 months!

We do have a huge herb garden year-round; I'm spoiled having herbs at my fingertips. We plan to have a big garden in SC, once the house is done.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 4:29PM
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Funny you should ask this today. I have a garden and today I took a picture so I could remind myself NOT to put the peas so close to the tomatoes next year. They refuse to climb a fence and are sprawling to the point that it will soon be hard to walk down the row.

I tried to mix veggies with flowers, but it just didn't work for me.

The black plastic is where I plan on extending the garden, though I did cut a few holes and plant some melons. With our heat I don't know if they will grow or not. A lot of people have great luck growing things on top of black plastic, but I'm afraid it will bake anything here.

My goal this year was to put up enough tomatoes to last a year, but unless they get busy, I'm not going to make it. I have a row of Roma tomatoes and a row of Better Boy tomatoes, a row of onions (which I have just started harvesting), a row of black-eyed peas, a row of green beans, a row of squash, and a row of okra. I'm organic except for the squash. I can't keep the worm from killing them without using Sevin.

I also have some strawberries planted outside the fence in a raised bed, but something is getting to them before I can. I need to build a screened lid for it. I have sweet potatoes planted in one of the big green planters, but I think that will be a bust. I just wanted to see if it would work.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 5:56PM
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I dabble but nothing serious. I have an herb garden where I usually mix in a few hot peppers and I am trying a 12X5 raised bed this year but so far, not so good. I have lots of yard space and tried a typical row arrangement (three years in a row) but the heat discouraged me from staying on top of the weeds and you can guess the rest. So far I have always managed to get at least two good tomato plants going each year and I manage to grow enough basil to keep me in pesto through the winter. I freeze the pesto in little Gladware containers. Bugs usually get the bell peppers before they get much bigger than a baseball. Other veggies are so darned cheap that it makes my toil, sweat and effort seem like a waste. If push came to shove and I were properly motivated I think I could do a reasonable job. I am starting to set aside some heirloom (non hybrid) seeds "just in case".

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 8:46PM
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I tried heirloom tomatoes a couple of years ago and didn't get a single tomato from them. If it were just me, I'd only grow Romas so I could make my own sauce, but mil wants slicing tomatoes - not that she helps with the garden.

I know what you mean about the heat. I run a soaker hose down each row and water two rows a day, slowly, and for about 6 hours so it will go deep. It's dry as a bone between the rows, but dig down an inch on a row that was watered 3 days ago, and the soil is still a little moist.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 9:58PM
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Fantastic to hear that so many of us are veggie gardeners of one sort or another. I always mixed veggies and flowers, but DH does not like it. However, the BOOKS say, companion planting will help control insects by bringing the GOOD GUYS in to browse the nectar and also pollenate your crops, and kill the insects. They even listed the carpenter bees as good pollenators, as much trouble as those guys give untreated wood. I also learned that the veggies will be left alone by the birds and the rabbits and squirrels if you give them enough supply of easy foods. And we have lots of birds this year, lots of baby squirrels too, and a couple of young rabbits. So far, not even the turtle has destroyed a single tomato. But the worms are in the squash and that demands attention, since nothing seems to be eating those bad boys. And did you know that voles and moles are not bad for your garden, because they eat the grubs? As long as you don't have a golf course flat lawn you're proud of, then leave them alone.

Like Marti, I water every other day or so, even all night last night (I went to bed really late and turned it on then). Our hope of rain is slim to none.

We are growing jalapenos, bell peppers, zuccini, cucumbers, yellow squash, and 2 varieties of tomatos which are outrunning my appetite/diet these days. Lots of mater salads on my menu. I also put in six strawberry plants which are still bearing and blooming. They have their own bed on the west side of the Teahouse, heavily mulched with pine straw and oak leaves to keep them out of the dirt. They are already running and making baby plants which are also blooming, and they are super healthy looking.

I also have 2 cumquat trees which are blooming now, since I started watering them to keep them alive--they will bear fruit in early winter. Then we have 2 satsuma/mandarin orange trees tiny ones which have golf ball size fruit on them. The 12 mature blueberries transplanted in the spring have a light crop which was drying up until I strarted watering them too. And then we have 2 fig trees, one of which has about a dozen figs on it. My passion vine is very healthy looking, and might have maypops on it, but the butterfly eggs will hatch soon and the larva will eat up the leaves. I have some real asparagus which I hope will make a big clump before long. And, like Shades, I am hoping to grow artichokes. I have some seeds, but don't quite know where to plant them. Oh yes, and 2 pomegranate bushes/trees one of which is blooming now--in pots so they come into the Teahouse for the winter. And one banana in a pot so I can let it grow this summer and roll it inside for the winter--it takes 2 years for a banana to produce fruit so they say. I hope I can also grow papaya, I'm about to plant the seeds in a pot this week.

DH put his veggies in raised beds that are 4-foot square. I would have made them 4' wide and 12 or so long, like Scott.
Oh yes, I have a single sweet potato growing in a big flower pot, which might make something. I know the ornamental sweet taters make HUGE tubers but have not eaten those beet colored things. I plan to do the Okinawa sweet potatos that Jay makes his pies from next year when we will be in Alabama all year round.

I really love gardening, but cannot be working outside in this heat. My time around the garden is restricted to early morning and at twilight. I love it when the lightning bugs start twinkling. Even they love to come to a garden freshly watered. This weather is hard on all living creatures. Be sure to put out water for the animals and insects will take advantage of it too.

Oh yes, butterflies love rotten fruit, plus it attracts insects which some birds feed to their young. Think of sharing with other creatures.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 11:59AM
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We have had a vegtable garden for years. Grow tomatoes, sweet corn, squash, multiplying onions & garlic, peas, green beans, broccali, zuccini, cucumbers, and in the winter sometimes spinach & leaf lettuce in our greenhouse. Have blueberries & black raspberries, but the squirrels & deer eat most of them!! Did a few sweet potatoes last year.

Like some of you, we're suffering from extreme heat & drought right now. Not sure how anything will turn out, but need to do some canning this year so I'm praying for rain!!

My husband planted a row of zinnas in the middle of our garden last year just to have flowers to cut. We really enjoyed them & they did well.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 2:20PM
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You have to work really hard to see my tiny vegetable garden. Plants were just put in a couple of weeks ago. Really late this spring.

Guessing the rows are about 25 foot long. We got quite a few good meals last year from this space.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vegetable garden

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 3:43PM
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Thanks for sharing your info and pictures everyone! They've been an inspiration for me.

We started our garden this year, and the plan is to get it going to the point of producing 90% of our veggies in the next several years, as well as the makings for herbal teas. Clearly, I'm going to need more space. LOL! This year, we're growing
- zucchini
-yellow squash
-several varieties of peppers
-about 10 kinds of tomatoes (yellow, red, heirloom, etc)
-4 or 5 kinds of basil
-scads of herbs (I'd list them, but I really can't remember everything at the moment. Feeling lazy) I'm an herbaholic. It's bad.
-6 or 8 kinds of beans & peas (I love the yellow and purple ones!!)
-sweet onions
Is that everything??

I also planted a fig tree for my husband.

I'm anxious to expand the garden, but it will have to wait until we take out our pecan tree. (As much as we hate to see it go, it is getting to the "hazard" point in its life.) Then, I'll have decent sun in the backyard, which will allow me the freedom of designing what I really want: a full blown potager brimming with flowers and produce.

I'm trying to be patient. This year is all about getting a feel for the seasons down here since I didn't grow up in the area. But, I'm so anxious to get everything in place for good!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 10:11PM
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Here's a photo of our small raised bed gardens in our side yard. The bigger garden is at our son's house where there aren't so many trees!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2011 at 9:14AM
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Oooh, garden pictures!
I kind of hate to post mine but...

I think I should eat this lettuce soon but they look so pretty in the garden.

My slightly wild herb garden

I always grow mint in barrels for cold mint tea in the summer. It never survives the winter in the barrel so I have some scattered around the herb garden and just pull it out like weeds.

I'm hoping these currents will still be there on Tuesday, my DH's birthday, I want to make a special dessert.
I just grew a tiny garden this year, one 4 x 12 raised bed and then there's my herb garden and a couple of berry bushes. We have 4 other raised beds but didn't plant them because we are moving - three weeks to go. We had to do raised beds because we're on limestone here about 4 inches under the topsoil. I can't wait to move. We planted 15 fruit trees where we are building with just a shovel, no pick-ax required, cool.
Krayers, your garden is beautiful
Marti8A, did you do anything to the ground before you put the black plastic on. I would like to do something like that where we are going to have a garden next year. I usually grow heirloom tomatoes even though the yields are awful, I'm such a sucker for good ad copy in seed catalogues.
LL, your layout looks beautiful. Did you use a book to plan it out? I've seen some nice books on kitchen gardens but I thought I should wait until we have a house before I plan my garden.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 1:11PM
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momo7, no I didn't do anything, just put the plastic down on the grass & weeds. I was going to move the plastic today but I was already too hot and just wasn't up to moving the rocks that are holding it down. I'll need to till it when the plastic comes up.

krayers, your plants look so lush & healthy. What is that growing on the trellis on the right side of the picture?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 1:34PM
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Oh Lovely gardens. Ours is so sick looking. Been such a ruff year to get things going. But it is trying to grow. I am sure we will get a little bit of food from it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Progress

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 2:07PM
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It looks good to me. I'm about to rip up all my tomatoes. I already pulled the pole beans and am waiting for some bush beans to mature and then they are history too.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 8:23PM
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Krayers, your garden is lovely. You have a real black thumb...

And younggardener, you are quite ambitious, it is good to have a plan. If you need some shade anywhere, think about planting some kiwi to grow up and cover a small pergola where you can place a small table and chairs. Give yourself a nice place to sit in your garden area. After that pecan tree comes down,, you might need a small shady spot for yourself, to sit and drink some iced tea?

Kiwi are male and female, so you need several females and one male, planted in the same area. It takes them about 5 years to produce fruit, so the sooner you plant the better. They are hardy to something like zone 4 I think. Ours are almost 3 years old now, and I have 4 females and 1 male plant. If I am correct, figs are self pollenating, so you can get by with having only one tree.

Our veggie garden is looking a bit ragged too, but the jalapenos are still going great guns. Last year they had blooms still coming in December, and lasted until the hard freezes later that month. Like you, I am getting tired of watering to keep everything else alive, so I'm going to shortly pull those grungy things out.

I bought an Okinawa sweet potato at the Saigon Supermarket this week, which has sprouts on it. Maybe it will take hold in one of the raised beds and make something of itself before winter cold gets it. It is the kind that Jay uses to make his sweet tater pies, recipe posted over on the Conversation side of our board.

I discover something new at the Saigon market every time I go there. This time I was very pleased to get some dragon fruit. Weird looking, so very colorful, like something Dr. Zeuss would draw. I know it is a favorite of parrots, so if I don't like it, I think my eclectus boy from the Solomon Islands will probably relish having it. And I bought two different kinds of cabbage.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 4:02AM
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Thanks for all the kind words. The vine growing on the trellis is cucmbers. Discovered by accident that it was a great & space saving way to grow them in a small area. Have to give my DH the credit for the veg. garden. I mostly concentrate on the flower gardens - my favorite past-time

My photo was for a prior year. Our garden is late this year due to the spring rains. Just now beginning to harvest cucumbers & squash & are dreaming of sweet watermelons later!

ML - we tried the kiwi on our trellis. I really like them too. Unfortunately we were way too shaded where I planted it, but it should do well in the sun.

Shades - everything is our garden is slower growing this year too. Guess it's this crazy weather. We've gone from torrential downpours every few days to blazing hot in the upper 90's!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 9:56AM
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>Kiwi are male and female, so you need several females and one male, planted in the same area.

If you buy the plants at big box stores, they should include one male and one female in each container. There's a big difference in size and how fast they grow, so don't feel compelled to yank out the slow grower, or you won't get any fruit.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 2:44PM
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