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Seed Trading "HERE" at ConCen 2012 Growing Season!
05-01-2012, 09:09 PM, (This post was last modified: 05-01-2012, 09:58 PM by IanPotter.)
#16
RE: Seed Trading "HERE" at ConCen 2012 Growing Season!
OK, I'm not entirely sure I should with fouling up this particular thread with this confession but if it inspires others to give it a shot it might not be such a bad thing - and in any case, I'm tacitly soliciting your advice along the way, oh green-fingered gurus!

This is my fourth year as a gardener & it's not something that seems to be in my DNA, so you veterans will probably preempt my experience thus far with a sage nod of the head and maybe a chuckle.

Year One: Half-arsed idiot breaks soil with gusto but soon gets tired and goes down the shop for some food

After clearing a tiny patch of ground (within the rampant undergrowth on my little back garden plot) I casually whacked in a few tomatoes (bought as plants), a handful of potatoes (salvaged from supermarket leftovers) and just about grew a few lettuces from seed, c/w copious quantities of slug. Next door's chickens seemed to like them however and even I managed a sandwich or two along the way! (Lettuce and tomato, I hasten to add, not chicken!).

TBH, that year I couldn't even get regular watering together let alone weeding. I was crap. Even digging, which looked so easy when others did it turned out to be horribly tiresome and inefficient because it became apparent that my land had been used as dumping ground for some stables that were demolished when my house was built 80yrs ago.

I wondered what the hell I thought I was doing prattling around trying to act like God and all, but then I remembered I'd become poor of my own volition and that this was my penance, so I pressed on. I planted some carrots too but heaven knows where they went. I did get some onions and leeks (cos I was told they were easy and a no-brainer), but even then I wasn't sure when they were done and I ended up cutting two-thirds of them away after they rotted. Embarrassing I know, but fortunately it proved just enough to warrant undertaking my second campaign and I bought a new fork and a compost bin to celebrate!

Year 2: Well yeah, that's crap and so's that, but look at those runner beans!

My second attempt turned out somewhat better, but still poor. I discovered that my lawn clippings were actually more moss than grass and that my (one person's) food waste amounted to nothing much in comparison, so that was a wash-out. In addition, I also learned that no amount of wishful thinking will get seeds to germinate under 7 degrees C, but then suddenly, they all pop up at once as if by magic! Still, it forced me to clear a bit more ground and I stuck them in - and having purchased a watering can, I tended them a bit more diligently than in year one.

Another chaotic start then, but I managed a few more tomatoes, more potatoes (from specimens saved from the supermarket mutant babies the year before), several edible lettuce sans slugs and a rather diseased carrot or two: but miracle of miracles I found I managed bring an overwhelming number of runner beans and courgettes (zucchini) to fruition and the blackcurrant bushes which had been planted decades ago by the previous owner actually broke out in fruit following my brutal attack with a pair of garden shears the winter before! Amazed, I buried everyone in beans and courgettes, made three blackcurrant crumbles, saved a few seeds from all the above, received a few tips, patted myself on the back and strengthened my resolve no end for year 3.

Year 3: You know, this is actually getting easier!

Hmm. Maybe I'm getting the hang of this after all! Got on the case in the dead of winter and decimated the comparatively puny weeds good and proper with a bit of brisk digging, as well as removing quite a bit more rubble. For the first time, there was more garden than wasteland and it even impressed a few non-gardening friends at the outset, although one of them placed bets on me having a heart attack before spring.

But no, I survived, and sure enough, I had enough toms to give away for the first time, but then blight struck my potatoes, which crossed over to my tomatoes and that was the end of that. Ahh, but you don't grow potatoes in same spot more than twice and you need to get rid of those damned roses too! Thanks for the belated advice mother, but please, stop that annoying sniggering.

It wasn't all bad though. I achieved a few very respectable lettuce and some early Chinese cabbage and managed a reasonable expansion into (so-so) spinach, a few onions, parsnips, some impressively productive beetroot, a few peas and even some leeks. There were shed loads of beans of course, but 3 different kinds this time. Woo-woo! I also managed to grow some recognizable cauliflower and fairly decent broccoli spears, but sadly I underestimated the voracious appetite of the stupid birds, the formidable power of caterpillars to decimate greens and reaffirmed the importance of fertilizing with more than just my crappy compost. Vowed to declare endless war on vermin from that point forward. Got some rhubarb to grow and some herbs too (basil, parsley), but failed miserably with dill, coriander and chives. Zucchini got off to a good start but just as they reached their peak they got sick and died. Weird that, but everyone else's did as well. Gave away about four times as much volume than previous two years combined though and pretty much fed myself for many months (mainly on account of my little bean factories!). Overall then, a mixed bag, but a definite step forward with much renewed vigour, a shovelful of experience (and loads of real horse dung from a friend!) lined up for year 4.

Oh yeah, and I grew some flowers too, which surprised even me. It was only a few cornflowers, some marigolds and a few pansies, but aww, even I had to admit it was cute to have something to follow on from the resident and maintenance free daffodils, tulips, snowdrops and arum lilies that seem to spring up faithfully by themselves.

Year 4: Maybe THIS will be the year I begin to export to Africa... (Beans of course!)

A slow start so far. Weather's been a downer, but preparation was better (and importantly, easier) than ever and erection of greenhouse and acquisition of water butts has expanded potential greatly. The potatoes are taking a rest, my tomatoes are getting geared up in the greenhouse, the zucchini is nearly ready for transplant, as are some peas. There are also some baby cauliflower, Savoy cabbage, broccoli and even some Brussels sprouts about ready to get out there! Moreover, my onions sets are in and looking good, spinach is rocking, carrots are poking through, broad beans (a first) are in flower already, the garlic (another first) looks superb and I noticed about an hour ago that I've got a melon to germinate! You little darlin'. I'm still waiting on some cucumber seeds, but I bought a plant from a shop so if they don't make it it won't matter much. There's more too, like peppers and couple of things I can't identify because I forgot to mark them up (duh!). Thus far, it's looking like a bumper year and I'm looking forward to tempting my neighbours with my succulent offerings. Like me, I think they were getting a bit tired of those damned beans, but I had to offer SOMETHING in exchange for those gorgeous eggs didn't I?

(Thanks ladies. I love all five of you very much. You keep pumping 'em out and I'll keep chucking you tomatoes OK?).

So yeah, the moral of this four year experience is that yeah, trust me, even a complete idiot can grow stuff given a bit of time and patience!

Now, after all that, I wonder if there's any chance at all that someone might take pity on me and think about posting me half a dozen corn seeds in time for next year. All I've seen here in Blighty are pesky hybrids and I don't want those. As you've seen my current stock of seeds is pretty crap, but now that I'm on the up and up I've a feeling year five will see me branching out quite significantly, since up to now I've had new ground to put into use but I've come to the end of that road - and isn't it funny how you get more and more into it as time goes on? Part of me thinks it's just me getting older but really it's more than that isn't it? That whole being connected with the soil thing. I mean, wow!

Hope that was useful to someone. It was kind of refreshing to write about something other than bloody politics for a change.

PS: A question. I read on the net that carrots seed in year two, so I left some in. Two plants flowered and died back (the others didn't), but when I went to look for seeds there didn't seem to be any. I don't think they were hybrids, but I can't rule it out. Any ideas?
The three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together. Zbig the Ruthless.
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05-02-2012, 03:22 AM,
#17
RE: Seed Trading "HERE" at ConCen 2012 Growing Season!
Frak yeah Mr. Potter. I thought I was the only one that was blessed with the touch of FAIL so thanks for stepping up, coming forward and laying it all out openly and honestly. Maybe this will open up the floodgates to the lighter side/shade of green -- ConCen Style!

I'll kick it off... well continue on Potter's plants, but in summary format as opposed to his vested storytelling; and this is categorical, not chronological.

<confessional style="partial">

I've killed more seeds than I have propagated into germination but when I do I get mixed results from the zombie plant that begs for mercy killing to a thriving example to the genus that its fellow garden mates aspire to be.

Tommy Toes (that's what my late Gramps called them)

It took a couple of years but I finally got it right. I'll save you from a recount of my trial and error methodology, but in the end I used enriched soil in a clay pot that was subjected to ~60% sunlight

</confessional>

Yeah that's all I got for now time constraints prohibit me from elaborating further on my biogenic interactions at this time.. TBC.

For so many reasons /me LOVES this thread !
There are no others, there is only us.
http://FastTadpole.com/
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05-02-2012, 03:42 AM,
#18
RE: Seed Trading "HERE" at ConCen 2012 Growing Season!
I'm so glad I guilted you into posting Ian! Sounds like great trial and error. You need to skip eggs one week and grab some chicken shit. It'll be too hot to put directly on the garden. but if you fill a bucket 3/4 full of manure and fill the rest with water and let it settle you'll make a great compost tea. you can keep adding water after you've poured off your tea. You can use it right away. Theres an old man nearby that grabs a bucket of my chicken manure every year for his pot plants! Also don't use potatoes from the store if you can help it. Here in the US our store potatoes are generally treated "Not" to sprout. Also most commercial potatoes carry disease and since you're cloning you will continue the disease in your crop. You can get better seed or seed potatoes if you want a bumper crop.I have had alot of luck growing them above ground in straw and grass clippings that can be added to all season.

BTW I am always tempted to lay out everything I'm up to and post pictures etc. But my long term plans involve me getting paid for some of my current experiments. I promise to be more open once I get some of my crazy ideas published. I have been building towards the next couple years for 10 years. Getting gardens and testing ideas with given growing seasons takes a long time. Can't just be shooting theories around.
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05-02-2012, 10:00 AM,
#19
RE: Seed Trading "HERE" at ConCen 2012 Growing Season!
Thx for the encouragement guys. Appreciated. I know I can go on a bit but writing my little confession up there made me realize that I really have made great progress - even if you got there in half the time FT!

Mmm, chicken poop tea! Great idea since I look after the chickens when the owners are away and he just puts it into bags. Trouble is though, he uses straw in their nesting area and so it tends to be about 10% crap to 90% straw at best. Not good I guess. He doesn't seem to know what to do with it though, so maybe if I ask for a bag or two, make a quick pot of tea and mix the rest it in with my little pile of surplus horse dung and leave it for a year or two? I guess it'll bring weeds, ie grass mostly, like the horse dung does, but I can cope with that. That cool do you think?

Speaking of clever uses of shit. My evil step-father seemed to have a good technique when I was young. He'd plant cucumbers and tomatoes in his greenhouse, but rather than watering the plants directly he'd get large clay pots and bury them to the rim between each pair of plants. Then, he'd fill each pot to the brim with sheep shit, water each pot regularly and cover them with circles of wood. That way the plants got what they needed right down at the roots but he never had to do any weeding in there because the top of the soil was too dry. Always seemed to get great results.

Good point about the potatoes. I found out about the supermarket root inhibitor in year 2, but I hadn't thought about the cloned disease aspect. In truth however, I think in my case the blight migrated from next door. He tries to grow tomatoes in a overly shady (ie moist) area and those get zapped first each year, then it spreads.

Ah-hah! Just had a thought. What if I combine the chicken shit straw with some seed potatoes Todd? What do you reckon?
The three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together. Zbig the Ruthless.
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05-03-2012, 02:34 AM,
#20
RE: Seed Trading "HERE" at ConCen 2012 Growing Season!
I find the bedding under the roosts makes for the highest poop to straw ratio. It'll brew tea fine. It will work great it just won't be as potent as straight poop. That can be a good thing also.

I wouldn't recommend using it for potatoes. All root crops generally respond to high concentrations of fertilizer by branching towards them. Carrots with imagination grow arms, legs, and penis. Here in the US potatoes turn into Abe Lincoln look alikes. Or maybe where you're from they're King Henrys or something. If you want round perfect round potatoes and straight carrots mix your fertilizer in very very well. or grow with very little additives (sand-coffee grounds) and water with nutrients.

The best potato harvest I ever had was grown in bundled Straw bales. I shoved potato wedges in the bales every 6 inches and covered the stack of straw with grass clippings. I regularly soaked the whole thing with buckets of rain water. Plus you can harvest potatoes without digging or harvesting the whole plant. I picked some whenever I wanted.
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05-03-2012, 08:02 AM,
#21
RE: Seed Trading "HERE" at ConCen 2012 Growing Season!
Thx again Todd. You know your stuff don't you?

Sure wish you'd have grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and dragged me into his thread long ago!
The three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together. Zbig the Ruthless.
Reply
05-03-2012, 08:03 AM,
#22
RE: Seed Trading "HERE" at ConCen 2012 Growing Season!
I thought I may add this... I, personally, am a spud guy, and love spuds. Whenever I get the time and resources, I plan to try this.

http://www.veggiegardener.com/how-to-build-potato-tower/

Quite a few sources claim you can get 100 pounds of spuds a year with just 4 square feet. Can you expound on the hay bale technique? I am very interested in that one, as well.
Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. - Henry L. Mencken

I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant. - Henry L. Mencken
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05-03-2012, 05:14 PM,
#23
RE: Seed Trading "HERE" at ConCen 2012 Growing Season!
(05-01-2012, 09:09 PM)IanPotter Wrote: Now, after all that, I wonder if there's any chance at all that someone might take pity on me and think about posting me half a dozen corn seeds in time for next year.

I can send you organic heirloom corn seeds !! PM or email me your whereabouts, unless your already being assisted. [Image: happy0163.gif]

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