Sunday, January 25, 2015

how to get your first year garden to harvest

How to make sure that you get a harvest from your garden, just print this one out
many people fail the first 2 to 3 years of growing a garden,
others do well the first year but fail after that,
here are my ideas of how not to fail when you really need your garden

There are lots of things that will eat your garden. Insects, bacteria, fungus, squirrels, birds, and other humans are your biggest worry.

Watering things wrong can take out your garden, so can the weather, lack of water, to much water, and many other things.

Your job as a gardener is to keep the plants happy and safe, and this turns out to be quite a task.

The biggest threat are insects that keep the seeds from turning into plants.
I have many plants not even get to one inch tall.
The insect amounts changes from one area to the next, and often year to year.
In the Sierra foot hills it dries out in the summer, if you are watering anything at all, all the insects descend upon the plants, this happens at the end of spring when you are likely planting all the frost free plants,
corn, beans, and squash usually sprout fast enough to not have this issue,
but pretty much everything else needs protection.
To avoid this problem the commercial growers will start plants inside and then transplant them all outside,
so a screened in area is a great idea to have if you have this issue.
If you have a long enough growing season, just wait till everything drys up and the insects are gone, and then plant.

Nets can keep birds from eating things like grapes, but don't put the nets up to early or the insects can get out of hand.Other insects later in the season usually need to be hunted.
Feeding birds in your garden (like growing a few sunflowers) can get the birds to hunt for you.
The tomato worms are best hunted by people. they hide well. you can spot the leaf damage to see that they are on the plants.

Having a cat can solve the squirrel issue, but I have seen people fence in the sides and top of a garden to keep them out. you can't have any gaps at all or they will get in.

Birds will eat small plants entirely. Trash (like last years plant remnants, leaves, straw, and other things will make it harder for the birds to find your newly planted seeds.

You can just stay out in the garden for a week and keep them away if you feel like it.

Bad weather can be hard to deal with.
Wind can dry up and kill plants fast. Run your rows at 90 degrees to where the wind usually passes by and that will slow down the wind some.
A solid fence can slow down the wind, so can putting your garden on the other side of your house from where the wind comes from.

If a plant can't take frost, and you are likely to have frost, then water them first. Water is harder to freeze than air or dirt.If they do frost, you can sometimes water the top of the plants before it warms up with the morning sun and that can save them.It works for vegetables at least and is worth trying if you need to.

The biggest way to keep frost from plants is to plant them at the correct time of year.
The other thing to do, if you might get frost, is to plant things that can take frost. Beets, turnips, parsnips, peas, wheat, potatoes just resprout from the roots.

There are plants that can take frost and extreme summer heat, but there are not that many. Parsnip is one of them and bugs don't really eat them either.

There is not much to do with low humidity and high heat other than to plant things that can take it,
corn can take any heat I have ever seen, some squash plants and there are others. test things if you can.
setting up the ground to hold more water can help to some degree.

gophers can be a total pain, they have been known to climb into a pot or a raised bed that you have screened in the bottom of (they are easy to catch in a pot, but be careful as they bite)
gophers would rather be eating the weeds, but at least here in the summer there are no weeds, and just watering a plot for the gophers would take more water than most gardens, the only way to get them on a large scale is the metal snap traps that kill them, your cats will love the fresh meat if you have any, and if not you might like it after you cook them up.
be sure to use a chain and stake to keep the traps from vanishing, the cats and other animals will take the gopher trap and all, and you will never see the trap again.
never touch your traps, the gophers can smell you on them and you will catch nothing, so use gloves or rub your hands in the dirt lots before you touch them if you till your garden they will all run away, so all you have to do is trap the edges, trap crops on the edges can help you not loose the plants you care about, use bitter things like dill or mint to make the gophers think there is nothing worth eating inside, but either way you need about 10 foot of boarder and watch for the dead or missing plants to know where to start digging to set the traps, I will use a metal rod shoved in the ground, by the pressure you feel you can tell if it is solid dirt or a gopher tunnel, if a gopher sees the outside, it will just fill in the tunnel without getting trapped, so make sure you block off view, you can do this a few ways, I usually just clear the hole with a matching size trowel and stick the trap quite far down the gopher hole, then blocking the view with cardboard that I never touch or bring inside.
good luck, you will need it.

most animals can be kept out from your garden with a good fence, so at least start there, humans end up taking a fair amount of your food if you are in the wrong place, you should think about how you want to deal with this.

the idea that you can just grow 5 times as much food as you need to deal wtih other things eating is is just wrong, I have tried.

happy plants tend to fight things off better,
half of a plant is in the air and half is in the dirt where you can't see it,
not much you can do about the air other than give your plants proper sun (calories are not grown in the shade), but you can set up the soil quite easy and it is likely the more critical half, and this makes a huge change in the plants
so how do you fix messed up soil ?
easiest way is to get it to hold more water, and make more soil bacteria,
the water is easy for people to understand,
but the bacteria is less easy,
bacteria resource share with the roots of the plants, so this makes the available nutrients of the plants way way more,
the easy way to get all this going is to mix organic matter into the dirt, a mix of leaves, straw, wood chips, and charcoal is ideal, just till it into the soil, even a hoe width wide down your row will help huge amounts,
I try for about 4 inches of each on top of the soil, and till in each one at a time with the first tilling being done with just the dirt there, this works great on regular vegetables, but don't do anything like this to a tree as it would keep it's roots from going down and finding the water table

you can over water or under water many plants,
one of the ways that you can tell how well your water is getting into the ground is to water a spot of example dirt and then dig it up to see how deep the water got
you can see wilting leaves and lots of other things,
remember to change under watering by watering enough, if you have been over watering something, the last thing to do is to stop watering it, it is a sure way to kill it, try going for the correct amount, or cutting what you are doing in half, or some other thing, but taking a plant stressed in one direction and giving it the other is just going to make things worse

raised beds drain water better than flat ground,
sunken beds hold water better,
apply what you need to where you live.
(flat ground works just fine for me, and many others)

biggest thing at all is once you get your garden working well,
spend your time making sure that it continues to work well and figuring out what you did correct in the first place

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I have no plans of updating this blog again, so here is what I hope is a good final post

some key points to growing your own food:
trees are way easier than annual crops.

annual crops are needed till your trees reach the size they need to be to give you food

soil bacteria resource share with plant roots
effectively making the area of roots in the plants way bigger
mix organic matter (leaves, straw, wood chips, compost things) in the soil to make the bacteria grow better
even a hoe width strip down your row will do wonders

sunlight makes water evaporate fast, so total ground cover saves you lots of water
I tile the ground to fix this, the tiles don't absorb any water at all and also keep the wind from causing evaporation as well.

saving seeds from one year to the next gets you a local type that will grow much better,
even if you are not picky about what plants you save them from, it still works well

here is how to save your own seeds,
there are many other guides out there, but this is a pretty good one

get your seeds while you can
here is the post I did about neat seed companies

pay attention to your first and last frost dates,
plant when you should be planting, and never let this slip out of your head

once things are working well, keep working to make sure that it keeps working well.

watering with ground water can cause salt issues in the long run,
use the rain water if you can.

here is a fantastic book on how to keep your garden from running out of key elements
after 100 years it is still a popular and fantastic book
"The farm that won't wear out"
download it free here
read it online here
also at amazon

don't bother planting anything that you can't defend (window screen is my new favorite for insects)

there is nothing quite like home grown food

best of wishes and good luck 

Friday, October 3, 2014


I really started trying to figure out survival gardening fora  few reasons,

this sort of info use to be very common
so lots of people could go do it, and that is mostly lost now,
and if needed again, almost no one knows anymore

the other reason is that I wanted to help my good friends through any hard times that may show up,

there are a few fantastic people I have met in life,
and I have lost one of them,
I am quite sad
if you ever for one moment think that life is fair,
think again, it is just not true,

I need a new direction in life,
might take a while

Saturday, September 27, 2014


it actually rained here today,
like real rain, hours and hours of it, the kind that will keep the ground wet for days, and will help the trees,
I got a day off from watering,
there was snow 3 thousand feet higher than me...
it sure is an early winter like I thought,

they predict that summer will return in a week from now,
not sure about that, but 
time tells all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

daily plans

so I woke up this morning with plans,
the chard seeds have been harvested quite a while ago,
and it is past time to put them all into canning jars and remove the air for long term storage,

later in the day I got out the friction threshing hardware and threshed the sorghum seeds,
it is just amazingly quick, (by the way, when cutting grain heads, leave a longer stem as a handle than I did in the picture)
you don't need fancy hardware to process grain seeds for a family scale operation,
then I kind of winnowed and put the seeds in a jar and took all the air out
all packed and set and stored for the 2015 garden (this is not even all the grain from only 4 plants)

then I walked into the kitchen and spotted the bag with the chard seeds...

Monday, September 22, 2014


5 new fires for today,
it is kind of like living in hell this summer,
one of my friends keep telling me to move to the USA...

I really hope it all ends with winter
fires are very bad for gardens.

ever wonder what a sweet potato flower looks like,
wonder no more
that has to be one happy sweet potato as they don't flower so often

Saturday, September 20, 2014


it rained today,
and not just 5 min.
it was for a while,
the air was damp a few days ago,
it feels like fall in the air,
the polar vortex in the southern hemisphere is starting to decay yesterday,
it will be shifting back to the north soon, 
so it should only be a few weeks till fall, and no more than a few months before it shifts entirely

I was really not ready for summer to leave before,
but I am ready now,
the rain was nice,
it is time,