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Old 04-12-2008, 08:21 AM   #21
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Gardens are "food for the soul".

I "planted" my first garden last year, after I retired.

Every morning (after "things got growing") I'd go out and pick the "daily crop".

Did it "make money"? Probably, if you "rate it" on that factor. For me, it probably lowered my BP several points and removed some stress. Can't necessarily put a price on that...

- Ron
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Old 04-12-2008, 08:29 AM   #22
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I have seven widows living on my street. I grow about 25 tomatoe plants a year which is way too much for two people. When the crop is in, early in the mornings I leave paper bags full of tomatoes on their steps. By afternoon, I have usually gotten telephone calls saying how much they are thankful for this little offering.

At this point, I have broke even.

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What a nice gift for them!

Caroline, this is something to think about if you are planning a garden strictly for personal consumption. Often you end up with more of one vegetable than you can eat, so you don't need rows and rows of the same plant. Some things like tomatos keep bearing for months, and others have shorter seasons.

So, I would suggest planting a variety... but unless you have a family to feed or someone to give the produce to, you may not need full rows of the same vegetable. Planting a variety at first also has the advantage of teaching you which varieties thrive in your area and are easiest to grow.

Alternately, you can learn to can. I never did get around to learning to can since I was in engineering school when I had my vegetable garden and just couldn't find the time. But, my grandmother farmed a 50'x200' back yard in southern Missouri and canned extensively. Despite an income that was more meager than meager in her old age she had not only produce to give away to others at her church, but also stored plenty of canned food from the garden. She canned enough for herself and my blind grandfather to have plenty to eat throughout the winter when her garden was covered with snow.
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Old 04-12-2008, 10:40 AM   #23
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What a nice gift for them!

........Often you end up with more of one vegetable than you can eat, so you don't need rows and rows of the same plant.

........you may not need full rows of the same vegetable.
Although I give our excess veggies away to our neighbors & friends, many folks that I know participate in the "Plant A Row For The Hungry" program and donate their extra veggies to the local food pantry. So you not only get to 'play in the dirt', but also get to make a non-financial donation back to the community. Win-win.

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Alternately, you can learn to can. I never did get around to learning to can since I was in engineering school when I had my vegetable garden and just couldn't find the time. But, my grandmother farmed a 50'x200' back yard in southern Missouri and canned extensively. Despite an income that was more meager than meager in her old age she had not only produce to give away to others at her church, but also stored plenty of canned food from the garden. She canned enough for herself and my blind grandfather to have plenty to eat throughout the winter when her garden was covered with snow.
My handicapped Great-Uncle & Aunt did the same. They owned an empty lot next to their home, which my uncle planted half with all sorts of veggies & fruits, and the other half in sweet corn. He and my aunt canned continuously throughout the growing season, and never had to buy fruit or veggies at the store. They'd trade some of their canned stuff for fresh fruits that their friends grew, and then they'd can that as well.

Back when they purchased their small home, they had an addition built on that was the same size as the original house (about 30' x 30'). That was their new kitchen.....they loved to cook, bake, and can! Along one wall he had the carpenter build what looked like a set of wooden stairs with treads & risers, only instead of being the normal 3' wide....they were about 18' (yes, feet wide).....and four treads high. That was their 'pantry' for all of their canned fruits & veggies! The lids of all of the Ball jars were labeled, so with the 'stairs' they could see all of the jar lids without having to move stuff around like you would with normal shelving.
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Old 04-12-2008, 10:58 AM   #24
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I grow some cherry tomatoes and jalapenos, along with a ton of different fruit...apple, cherry, 3 different types of plum, peaches, and citrus.

We're also part of a CSA that operates up the street. About $100 a month gets us a huge bushel basket of whatever is ripe and in season, locally grown, no pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and I know the only two other people who have ever touched my food and what they did to it.
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Old 04-12-2008, 11:14 AM   #25
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My grandparents did a lot of canning too.

Their garden was laid out on a couple of acres. They had five sections: Fruit trees, berries, nuts, vegetables and herbs. For fruits they had cherries, apples, pears, plums and apricots. In the berries section, they had strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants and blackcurrants. In the nuts section, they had hazelnut and walnut trees. In the vegetable section they had potatoes, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, squashes, beans, chards, tomatoes, rhubarb, peas, beets and leeks. Finally in the herb section, they had parsley and mint but also an assortment of herbal remedies like chamomile and lemon balm.

Canning was going on all throughout the summer and I hated doing it as a kid. I also remember spending entire afternoons helping my grandmother press fruits to make syrups and jams (what a messy job!). Cherries were preserved in syrup or moonshine. The herbs were dried. Onion and potatoes were simply stored in the cool basement over the winter and they usually had enough reserves to last until spring. Cabbages where left to winterize under the snow until ready to use. They never bought vegetables from the store.
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Old 04-12-2008, 12:07 PM   #26
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We always plant a variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, corn, pumpkin, peppers, zucchini. Of the 5-6 things we plant, it always seems like 1-2 things do poorly and die immediately, the middle group does ok, and then one thing takes off wildly. We refer to those as "The Year of the Crook-Neck Squash" or "The Year of the Tomato" depending . In those years, we do some canning if we are able to, after that we are hauling bags of it to work to get rid of it and showing up to friends house with "gifts" of squash. People seem to enjoy it, though. (Or maybe they are just being polite.)

It reminds me a theme in the comic strip "Pickles" where the couple is sneaking around the neighborhood in the dead of night with bags of zucchini, trying to get rid of it, without getting caught. They sneak doorstep to doorstep depositing zucchini.

Charlotte
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Old 04-12-2008, 12:38 PM   #27
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We have always planted quite a bit, but considering the watering, time, etc. I view it more of a hobby (i.e. you must like to do it), but you do eat better...
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Old 04-12-2008, 12:50 PM   #28
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I have an excellent crop of crabgrass, dandelions, spurge, etc.

A few ran-dumb observations...

Unless you have a large plot, I wouldn't plant sweet corn. If you do, it's better to plant shorter rows side-by-side than one or two long rows, to aid pollination.

For maters, peppers, squash, etc., plant one or two plants now, then one or two more a few weeks later, to stagger the harvest a bit.

For squash/cukes, harvest every day. Don't let them get too big. And they will...

A couple of "medicinal" plants back behind the corn will dramatically improve the breakeven point...
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Old 04-12-2008, 12:53 PM   #29
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I've been vegetable gardening since 2005 when I bought my house. I'm pretty bad at it. This year I'm going to try a little fertilizer

When I'm wearing my tinfoil hat, I think of my gardening as practice for the collapse of society. I figure I can probably grow enough zuchini, squash and potatoes to keep me and my wife alive through our Minnesota winter.
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