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soleiri Donating Member (913 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 01:00 PM
Original message
I planted a garden and it didn't die
Now what?

I planted a garden, fully expecting that with my past history of killing everything green, It'd be dead by now. But 2 months later, it's not only NOT dead, it's producing tomatoes, zucchini and spaghetti squash.

I planted 2 tomato plants, 2 blueberry bushes, 2 blackberry plants, zucchini, Spaghetti squash, bell pepper (upside down flowers?), edamame, strawberry (which doesn't seem to be growing, but it's green) and various herbs.

Any advice for a first time gardener?
I'm in Southern California, zone 9b.
Any really good and easy to understand websites you recommend?
How do I know when to pick the zucchini and spaghetti squash? Do I wait until it's the size of the ones I see at the store? seriously, stop laughing.
Someone said to pinch off the blueberry buds the first year, true?
Is the same tomato plant going to give me tomatoes next year? or does it die and I have to plant a new one?
should I be watering the different plants at different times in different ways?
Is there anything I should plant now?
Or in the fall?
I need a chart!
I need help!

Thank you for your time and patience.

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WhiteTara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 01:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. If food is there, harvest it!
Every day, take the small this or that and fill your kitchen table with your daily harvest, then eat. Store the rest or give it away.

Tomatoes are annual, strawberries are better second and third year. Trim your herbs daily and tie them up in little bundles to dry or put them in the freezer to add to cooked foods later.

One of the best books I ever knew for the west coast was the Sunset Gardener's books. You have a virtual 12 month growing season, enjoy.

Water as needed. Mulch for better water retention.
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soleiri Donating Member (913 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 02:45 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. Thanks
I usually water every day, 2-3 minutes for the whole garden.
If I don't, I notice droopy-ness.
Because I had such a horrible time keeping flowers alive in the space, I'm using a mix of containers and in-ground planting.
Thanks for the strawberry knowledge, I can't wait for next year.

I think I might actually have an old copy of Sunset Gardener's book.


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WhiteTara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 03:23 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. Try drenching the plants
so that the soil is wet all the way through to the bottom roots. I usually water about 1/2 gallon per plant per 2 x week. I have a drip system with 1/2 gallon per hour emitters and I run it for an hour. It depends on if there is rain or if it's really hot. Mulch is a wonder, it makes everything better.
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Retrograde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 02:16 PM
Response to Original message
2. The Sunset Western Garden Book is a must
It has a different zone series than the USDA, one specifically made for the western states. I always check the author's bio in any garden books to see where he or she gardens - if it's the East Coast or Midwest you have to adapt their advice to your local conditions, since "full sun" and "drought tolerant" can mean drastically different things. And if the author's from the UK just look at the pretty pictures and treat the text like a fantasy :)

One of the advantages of growing your own is getting baby vegetables, which are more tender and IMHO tastier than the ones you get at the store. I'd pick the zucchini when it's about half the length of of what you see sold. If you're getting too many zukes, remember that the blossoms are also edible!

Tomatoes are actually perennials in their region of origin, Central America; mine here in the Bay Area produce until the first frosts in late November, but that kills them. I have, though, kept pepper plants alive for up to three years outdoors.

How much you water depends a lot on exactly where you are, and what your soil is like. I have heavy clay soil, so I usually water deeply every three days, and I use a thick straw mulch.

What to grow when again depends on just where you are, since California's notorious for having lots of microclimates. I go by a guide put out specifically for my location by a local organic garden store. I've also learned over the last decade that no matter when I start my tomatoes they're not going to have any fruit to speak of until September. Rule of thumb: things that produce fruits like tomatoes, peppers, squashes, eggplants grow best in summer, and leafy crops like lettuce, kale, cabbage, brocoli and mustards do better in winter.

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soleiri Donating Member (913 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 02:51 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. no such thing as too many zukes.
:)
How do I know what kind of soil I have?
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Retrograde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 09:12 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. Soil types
There are three basic types: sandy, loamy and clay. A quick test is to grab a handful of damp to wettish soil in your hand and squeeze. If it forms a ball that holds its shape you have a soil with a lot of clay. If it falls apart when you open your hand it has a lot of sand. Loamy soils are in between, and additional have a lot of organic matter. Ideally you want a loamy soil with sand for drainage and clay to help retain water, but if you have clay or sand you can work in organic materials (I compost vegetable scraps, leaves, etc.) to improve the soil.

You can try taking a sample of the soil to a local garden center and ask them for advice (although they'll usually recommend buying some of their potting soil).
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trud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 10:24 PM
Response to Reply #5
11. zukes
Any are too many, in my opinion :-)
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JDPriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 02:18 PM
Response to Original message
3. To improve your harvest, feed your soil with compost and manure
and get a worm bin. (I keep mine indoors.) You can get a worm bin at Griffith Park. They tell you how to manage it.

You need some mulch to protect the roots and earth around your tomatoes from getting scorched dry. You are really going to enjoy your tomatoes and zucchini. I am in your zone and just now planting green beans and zucchini.

In the fall, you can start seedlings for lettuce and when it starts to get cool, plant peas.

Remember peas and beans feed nitrogen into you soul. We need to fix nitrogen in our soil here in S. Cal. because it doesn't rain much, and my soil at least, is very low in nitrogen.

Have fun. Aren't homegrown tomatoes just amazing?
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soleiri Donating Member (913 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 02:58 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Worm bin!
I can't wait to tell my sons they're getting new pets. :)

My 2 tomato plants have about a 6-7 green tomatoes on each of them right now.
I can't wait for the tomatoes to ripen.
I have competition however, my son says that as soon as he sees a red tomato, he's eating it right then and there.
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JDPriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 03:06 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Good for him.
These days, I bring in the rare fig from our fig tree and cut it in half, one-half for me, the other for my husband.

I cut the tomatoes up for salad.

My father worked in a truck garden in college. When I was in junior high in the midwest, the school set off a part of its land and allowed students to "lease" it for gardening over the summer.

My dad and I planted beans. I learned so much for it. Although I had grown up around farmers, planting my own garden was just a wonderful, grown-up seeming thing to do. I was hooked, but never had the time and place to garden at all until recent years -- here in this very unfavorable climate and with this clay soil. So my first job is building soil. And I am doing it.

I do a lot of gardening in pots because we have a large cement area in the back yard. (Not our idea, probably placed there to prevent erosion in the rare rains that can destroy hillsides like ours.

This year was my best harvest so far. You just have to persist and keep thinking soil, soil, soil.

I bet if you dig deep enough you will find clay so heavy you think it is rock.

One year the plumbers dug in our front yard. I had a pile of what I thought was rocks to put in the bottoms of pots. When I let it soak in water, to my dismay, I learned that it was just mushy clay.

Should be a great place for making pottery. If only I knew how and had a kiln. . . . .
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Le Taz Hot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-20-11 10:47 AM
Response to Reply #6
14. Garden grazing is one of my favorite past times.
My cherry tomatoes never seem to actually make it into the house. Re: your zukes, I like them when they're young. They're more tender and I can slice them and put them directly into a salad.

Congratulations on your first successful veggie garden. Also, since you're in Southern California (I'm in Central), you can easily ease out the summer crop for the winter ones without missing a beat. I'm harvesting something 12 months out of the year.
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Lisa0825 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-12-11 04:22 PM
Response to Original message
9. I planted my second garden and am having my first measure of success.
So far I have harvested 2 servings of green beans and 4 tomatoes, with about 10 more on the vine so far. The corn hasn't come out yet. *fingers crossed*

So far that brings my cost per serving to $25. LOL! What a bargain!

It has been so dang hot and dry on the Texas Gulf Coast - I just hope I get more veggies before they burn up.
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Kolesar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-13-11 11:42 AM
Response to Original message
12. Pick your spaghetti squash when the vines are starting to die
They will be done growing at that time. Wipe off the dirt, or even swab them with a bleach solution to remove any fungus that is living on them. They will keep in a cool place for many months. I don't know if you have a cool basement in California, though.
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NEOhiodemocrat Donating Member (624 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 11:49 PM
Response to Original message
13. Don't pick the blueberry buds!
You can get blueberries as soon as the plant sets them. We have six blueberry bushes and get loads of fruit off them. I have heard of picking the first year strawberry buds, but I never had the heart to do it and worked out just fine. As long as the strawberry plants are green they should be fine and send out runners to make more plants for you. Sometime first year plants don't set fruit, that is probably what happened with yours.
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