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Topic: Organic Gardening - help on where to start  (Read 447 times)
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cooksr
« on: July 08, 2011 08:24:01 AM »

Hi everyone. I have been doing small bits of gardening here and there for the last few years. Lately I've been reading more about our food supply and our family has recently gone 100% organic. Obviously this can get really pricey so we are relocating to a lower cost of living area to both be closer to family as well as have the option to buy cheaper land in a part of the country which has a better growing searson (zone 7!).

We aren't going to get our garden going this summer (obviously) but I'm a planner and realize that before I know it we'll be transplanting those seeds! We/I want to do raised beds and plant enough to feed a family of 4 with a little extra to donate to a local food bank if we can. I recognize that I'm overly ambitious, but I also know that I can scale back if I've planned too big the first year.

My question is where to start? I know we want to do raised beds, companion planting, compost ourselves. I've read tons of information, but honestly and trying to sort everything out in my head about the companion planting, succession planting, spring/summer/fall planting and I'm getting a bit overwhelmed. Any tips? Are there any great plans out there, layouts, software? Any tips, pictures, suggestions or words of encouragement are greatly appreciated!
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« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2012 05:15:18 AM »

Hi cooksr, we're also in zone 7 and just started tomato and pepper seeds this week.  Seed Savers Exchange and Territorial Seeds are good catalogs to have on hand.  We've got a greenhouse and 12 raised beds and do lots of veggies in pots.  We do compost both kitchen scraps and manure from our livestock but it's not enough to meet our needs.  We found a localish commercial compost firm and get a load delivered from them every Spring.  We subscribed to Hobby Farm magazine when we first got started, look for it at your library.  Here's a zone 7 planting guide - http://www.wqseeds.com/planting.html    Good luck, feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions. 
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2012 08:39:41 PM »

Start your compost ASAP for next year. Find sources of good manure and get a system of compost going.

I'd do a soil test, most college extensions offer soil testing. Get a sense of what the composition of the soil is to see if you can direct sow or need raised beds with "imported" soil to compensate for poor soil.

Study the patterns of light on the property to see what would be best to plant where.

I'd take measurements of the property and draw up a list of what you want to grow....find out about ideal space for each type of plant and how much you want to grow. Make sure you can get around each bed adequately to maintain it. 

Get a sense of the local pests and what you need to fend them off (birds, deer, etc.) Do you need fencing? If you have deer or bunnies, this may be necessary.

I co-bed squash and corn since corn provides shade. I also rotate my beds to minimize nutrient depletion of certain types. You can co-bed lots of things.
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