Garden types

RpR_(3-4)April 20, 2012

I am just curious after reading this site how many people have what type of garden

A: How many have what is to me a standard garden such as I have where beyond rotation, and tilling plant debris back into soil to save labor of removing it, could go on growing for years and years and years without adding much of anything. I.e. compost, fertilzer or what ever?

B: How many have a true raised bed that if not attended to yearly would slowing shrink down to a level of soil x inches high?

C: Who has other types.?

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I don't have a garden anymore but when I did it was a standard garden.

I do have a fruit orchard and I grow cereal crops.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 2:08PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I have 3 gardens.

#1 has been gardened for 70 years. it is a combination of raised beds [wide and unbordered] and level areas. All residue is chopped up and lightly tilled in. All areas get some well rotted horse manure [except lettuce and such areas], composted leaves, and some organic and not "organic" fertilizer. The raised beds are fairly permnant because the main amendments are sand and local sphagnum moss.

#2 has been gardened for 40 years. It too is a combination of level and wide raised beds. All areas get some enrichment and get lightly tilled.

#3 has been gardened about 10 years. It is all raised beds that run parallel with narrow dirt paths.

I wish you all could have seen the soil I planted the second sweet corn planting in like a dream without one clod. This is with a clayey loam base.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 2:55PM
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scotty66(8 Hutto TX)

This is my 2nd year at my current residence. I have 5 raised beds made from 1"x 8"'s of various lengths.

Last year I tilled compost into the native soil where the beds sit. Once I put the frames in place I added some miracle grow garden soil and more compost... all that was turned/mixed together to fill the frames.

This year I topped off (too over-flowing) all the beds with homemade compost. I am very satisfied with the results so far.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 5:26PM
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Sandy soils don't tolerate yearly cropping "without adding much of anything". Not sure what you mean by rotation. If a given area gets one year out of two where the total growth is left to rot or get tilled in then in a good soil type probably one can get away with little or no outside additions.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 7:07PM
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I have 18 raised beds, 6' x 4 1/2', and 10, 4' x 2 1/2'. These beds are only fertilized with compost from 3 bins, 4'x 4' x 5'(shredded leaves, horse manure, lawn clippings, kitchen waste, hay, wood ash with included burned bones, and human urine). I apply heavy doses of compost on the beds both in the fall and spring. Although I no longer till, I do dig the compost into the soil. I have gardened this site for almost 40 years and I seldom change the location of individual crops. I'm happy to say, at this point, the garden's production has been excellent.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 6:12AM
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A. Not adding anything such as compost or other sources of organic matter means that the soil in that garden will become depleted and require fairly large amounts of synthetic fertilizers to grow sickly plant that are attractive to insect pests and plant diseases, which then would require the purchase of poisons to control them.
B. Same thing.
C. Whether it is with a flat planting bed built on the soil you have, a raised bed, containers, or even hydroponics you need to have available to the plants you are growing balanced nutrients.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 6:57AM
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My gardens:

1) New this spring I have a 15' x 45' "standard" (i.e. not raised bed) vegetable garden. It was tilled in February and surface amended with 10 front end loaders full of composted horse manure/stall leavings. I suspect come fall we will till the plant debris back as well as a significant amount of more compost.

2) I have a kitchen garden, also not raised, that is two 5' X 15' beds with a sidewalk through the middle. It was double dug and heavily amended with compost last spring. The soil level has sunk about 4" since last year, but there has been a major improvement in soil texture. I grows herbs in one bed (and won't amend it as heavily since herbs often have better flavors on less rich soils.) The other side is growing lettuces and other early spring crops and won't be amended until those are pulled out in another month and annuals are planted for the summer.

3) I also have perennial gardens. They were amended and double dug last year with structural shrubs planted. Compost was added again last fall, especially in areas that were more heavily clay. The majority of perennials and roses have been planted this spring. I have used 2"-3" of compost as mulch on these beds. I have also use the compost as mulch on my foundation plantings on the front of my house.

Unlike most I have a continuous supply of compost, tractors with implements, as well as plenty of arable land. So doing raised beds does not seem to be as logical a choice for me as it would be for the suburban gardener! I did not amend my former perennial gardens anywhere near what I've done here, but the few things I grew last summer were pretty amazing. In hindsight I realize that the lack of appropriate amounts of organic material was a big hole in my former process.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 12:36PM
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Rotating crops is the same as farmers do, i.e. one can only grow a certain item in one area so long before that area will give depreciating returns due to being "worn out".

I rotate corn, potatoes and various vines no less than once every two years.

I have found that burying potatoes vines in the hole the potato came from does wonders to keep the soil loose.
Even when I do mulch covering potatoe growing I dig a hole to put the vine in.

Kimmsr is absolutely correct though as no matter how rich the soil is, if you do not put some vegetative materieal back in, eventually you will be force to use fertilizer and deal with hardening ground.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 4:52PM
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It's a clear issue of how much biomass is taken off a given area. The amount that can be taken without running down the life system varies by soil type and climate. Of course, rotating plant species is smart practice and gardening 101, but no amount of rotating will compensate for heavy annual cropping.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 7:04PM
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I have stated here before that crop rotation works when you can move those at least 300 feet, but in the backyard garden rotation will not really help that much. Theoretically crop rotation is to aid in control of plant diseases and insect pests, as well as with the nutrient levels in the soil. However, if the average gardener applies simple soil building principles to the garden then nutrient replacement is happening without crop rotation and if the soil is made into a good, healthy soil insect pests and plant diseases will be less of a problem because the plants will grow strong and healthy and be better able to ward them off. Another aspect of crop rotation seldom done in the average backyard garden is to allow the soil to lay fallow one year in seven.
Since perennial beds are not rotated, there does not seem to be much need to do that in the small backyard plots either. Someone once tried to tell me that perennials grow differently then annuals which is why we did not need to rotate perennial beds.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 6:50AM
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Insects move so rotating does nothing to stop that, whether you move it thirty feet or three hundred, it will reduce some disease problems and I know this from first hand experience.
To say rotation only works at farm level is just a bit silly.
Corn is a heavy, heavy user of the soil I have seen it cause nitrogen deficiency in short order.
I put manure in the garden but do not have time or access to always do this so rotating is one way to avoid yellow corn plants.

The area of the garden where I grow vines is mostly sitting fallow so that also helps that area.
Some times that is done in the same area two years running.

I do not have a compost garden, I have a black dirt garden, so what works for me may not work for other types of gardens and vice-versa which is why I am interested in what others are doing.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 3:33PM
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No, not many have MN black gold, not too light nor too heavy, and probably flat to boot, aye?. Come out here and see my field! Not quite blowing sand, but close. I have to leave about 50% fallow at all times.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 5:29PM
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Carrie B(6B/7A)

I have a very, very small (500 sq ft, +/-) urban ornamental garden. I use two plastic, commercial stationary compost bins in addition to a multi-level commercial vermicompost system in the basement of my row house. I get 3-4 finished batches of compost a year from my outdoor bins, plus a few shelves worth of vermicompost. I topdress with compost whenever I have a ready batch - roughly once in May, July, August & October.

My garden (almost in its entirety) with bins visible on the left.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 8:07PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

All of my garden areas were started on a NM limestone based clay, naturally low in organic matter and low rainfall.

1. My perennial beds were all amended well before planting and the ones where plants are established are pretty much self-mulching, i.e. the leaves and stems from the plants themselves are left where they fall. An occasional side dressing of compost here and there.

2. Orchard areas are being developed with mulch around the trees drip line. Much of the area will be seeded with wildflowers and we may be experimenting with plant guilds. The mulch is made of dead cholla cactus that we have smashed in a wheelbarrow with a sledge (tedious but free).

3. The vegetable garden is done in a potager style with permanent, double dug beds that are heavily amended and I am using cover crops to build the soil in addition to compost. I amended the native clay soil with a variety of composts with the intent of trying to get a good mix of nutrients. I then add worm castings and homemade compost to the beds as well.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 9:56PM
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If organic matter is not put back into the soil periodically that soil will become unable to grow much of anything without large inputs of synthetic nutrients that grow unhealthy plants that then need large amounts of pesticides to control plant diseases and insect pests.
Many of us have found, over the years, that putting compost and other sources of organic matter into our soils will add the nutrients plants need to grow into strong and healthy plants that are better able to withstand plant diseases and insect pests.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 7:20AM
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1) I have 3 beds-40'X4',4 beds 20'X4' all raised beds unbordered & 5 years old. I add coffee,leaf,grass compost after every season of garden at least 3 times a year.
2) is a flat 12' X 15' tilled bed with tomatoes & peppers in shallow dish like beds to hold water. the dish is dug out to 12-18" dia by 24 inches deep & mixed with compost, then filled with water to pre sink the soil & compost, then the plants are planted to the first true leaf. Later the dish will be filled in from 6 inches deep to 3 inches
deep.Then the plants will be mulched, and bamboo pole will hold the large tomatoes up right.
3) is new tilled bed of 20 X 24 that I am still working the perennial grass,dew berry & wild garlic out of, then I will make loose raised beds add compost & to plant beans, late corn, squash,cukes, onions,okra & maybe some sunchokes.
4) is two perennial asparagus beds, one 8 years old & one 6 months old.
I have fruit & nut trees & berry plants too.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 7:36PM
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