Growing one's own greens (and other foods) :)

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circular
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Growing one's own greens (and other foods) :)

Postby circular » Sat Nov 24, 2018 2:29 pm

Is anyone doing this? I can think of a lot of reasons I want to move in this direction:

The high price and lack of true freshness of store-bought greens
The lack of variety in stores (some better than others but none truly expansive)
The time involved to clean them if you buy them unpackaged or the waste of the plastic packaging if you buy them packaged
The space they take up in the refrigerator ...

I haven't tried growing my own food since I lack all knowledge about how to do it, I have some physical limitations making growing anything in the ground or down low a problem, I live in the desert where I've had the impression the sun would just fry the food, and I often think the cost of setup would probably be greater than the cost of buying at the store. Yet people do grow food here, so I've little excuse not to learn more ...

Today at the farmer's market, after being reassured that the eastern exposure out my kitchen door is perfect for growing greens where I live, I bought a plastic planter already planted with a number of different salad greens. I set it out in the sun on a table, gave them some water, and then made a wonderful salad! More stems than usual (so probably more fiber), flavors I don't even recognize, and just plain fresh fresh fresh and yummy, no packaging, no cleaning ... :D To use today's lingo, I'd definately call this upgrading my salad.

This was a splurge to get me started and wet my appetite. I can see making more of these planters while starting with heirloom seeds for the best cost savings, and definitely do an herb version.

Would love to hear others' home grown food stories. What do you like that fits with your apoe4 lifestyle (as you define it) and grows in your region? What problems have you successfully solved?
ApoE 3/4 > Thanks in advance for any responses made to my posts.

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Re: Growing one's own greens (and other foods) :)

Postby SunnySideUp » Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:11 pm

I am a master gardener and plant an organic vegetable garden each spring in 4 raised beds. Each bed is 5' x 11' which means I can sit on the edge and reach half-way from the narrow side so there is never compaction from walking on it. Weeds are easily removed in loose soil and seeds can be planted more densely when you don't need the space to walk between rows.

Having 4 quadrants makes it easy to rotate crops each year to avoid the buildup of soil-borne diseases and pests. I keep nightshades in one quadrant and cabbage family in another. You could easily replicate this plan in big pots (don't use plain terra cotta unless glazed as you'll need to water every single day) or even taller raised beds so no bending low.

I have found planting spinach and lettuce varieties to be more work at harvest time as they do collect a lot of dirt from rain and from watering them. My favorite green to plant is Kale and it takes 1/2 of one quadrant. It's not fussy and grows like a weed in my garden zone 4/5 and I can harvest several leaves daily for smoothies all summer. The larger flat leaf (opposed to the curly varieties) stays cleaner and pests are rare. In October, before any hard frosts, I carry a clothes basket outside and harvest enough leaves to fill the basket, giving them a good shake from the stems to remove any bugs. I bring into the house, wash any visibly dirty leaves, strip the leaves from the ribs and place in a big plastic bag. The bag goes into the chest freezer overnight and the next day I crush the leaves to make more room in the freezer for the next bag. I can get 3 big bags in the freezer each fall - about 15 lbs. worth, which lasts a couple months.

Growing your own organic vegetables (and fruit) results in the freshest, tastiest and most nutritious food and saves a lot of money over buying at the store. Freezing is a great way to preserve the nutrition and you can use frozen kale in frittatas's, smoothies or cook in olive oil.

Gardening is very good exercise, inexpensive, helps you get your vitamin D and reduces stress - win-win for us!

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Re: Growing one's own greens (and other foods) :)

Postby Stavia » Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:16 pm

Sunnyside, thanks for this. We have just built 3 large planters. I am a bit hazy about rotation - are you able to explain simply?

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Re: Growing one's own greens (and other foods) :)

Postby SunnySideUp » Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:05 am

Nightshade family: tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, peppers are susceptible to the same diseases like blight, and the spores will survive in the soil for 3 to 4 years. In the fall, remove and burn the refuse (or place in garbage) to avoid contamination. Do not compost.
Cruciferous crops: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale fall prey to cabbage worms and the adult white butterflies they become.
By rotating your crops each year, you will have better yields and lessen the chance of disease or make it harder for overwintering pests to find their first meal. I rotate clockwise, but you can keep a journal to remember your planting arrangement.
My husband is not as fastidious at washing greens from the garden and several times, after cleaning away the kale ribs from the counter (after our breakfast smoothies) I've found a live green cabbage worm :D

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Re: Growing one's own greens (and other foods) :)

Postby circular » Sun Nov 25, 2018 10:50 am

Thanks for all that information as a master gardener SSU!

Can you think of anything safe I might spray my greens 'garden' with to help prevent any pest problems?

Since I'm working in a planter, should I just completely replace the soil and start over once a year or so?

I won't be growing nightshades, but I'd like to try cruciferous in another planter.

(My ultimate goal is to use rain barrels, berms and such to create a yard that doesn't require irrigation (other than food plants that may need it).)
ApoE 3/4 > Thanks in advance for any responses made to my posts.

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Re: Growing one's own greens (and other foods) :)

Postby buck3Maureen » Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:33 pm

Hi Circular,
Your post was spot on with what I spend a couple hours doing today. I am sick of throwing out half eaten bags of greens that go bad before the sell by date. Today I bought: Kale, Swiss chard, 3 kinds of lettuce, arugula and two kinds of kale. I first added worm castings (worm poop) and organic compost and then watered the plants in, sprinkled on some Sluggo Plus to get rid of any snails or slugs ( It is used in a community organic garden that I volunteer at so I think it is fine). I covered the plants with white cloth - which keeps them warm and keeps the critters off.
I hope I have a good harvest. One thing about growing most of these greens is that you can harvest the outside leaves and keep the plant growing.

Good luck with your garden.
Maureen

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Re: Growing one's own greens (and other foods) :)

Postby circular » Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:58 am

buck3Maureen wrote:Good luck with your garden.
Maureen

Thanks! I may have already screwed up a bit. I’ve been picking the largest leaves thinking I should clear them out first, but they’re not always on the side of the plant? Maybe they were and I didn’t notice, since the plants are all intermixed in the planter.

One reason I never went this route before is that I eat so many greens I figured I’d finish off a planter in two or three days. It’s nice to see the whole shibang get bushy enough again by evening to make me feel I’m not getting too low yet. That said I’ll need another plantar when I start using these for my green smoothies too. I make 4 - 16 oz smoothies at a time and am ready for another batch, so I need another planter soon. I’ve been using store bought spinach as a salad base for now which is helping stretch it until I get my own spinach growing. I first want to see that I can master pests etc.

What kind of white cloth do you use to cover? Would a cheesecloth be enough? A towel would be too heavy, or do you mean the cover is above the greens and supported by something?

The gal I bought the planter from used Happy Frog soil and said it’s one of the better ones, but I neglected to ask if it’s the organic version. Thanks for your other tips.
ApoE 3/4 > Thanks in advance for any responses made to my posts.

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Re: Growing one's own greens (and other foods) :)

Postby SunnySideUp » Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:54 am

From a recent MPR story-
Microbes in the crop rows: Soil's secrets may yield a new ag revolution
http://www.mprnews.org/story/2018/11/26 ... revolution

"The soil microbiome in particular, which is the most diverse microbiome on the planet, still remains largely unknown

Billions of microbes can live in a teaspoon of soil, but scientists don't know much about how — or why — they're there."

You need to care deeply what is in your vegetable garden soil since it will ultimately affect the yield and nutrient value of the crop. And safety of consumption. I once was going to buy a dumptruck load of compost to amend all my gardens and tired pasture. I asked the company owner where he sourced his organic matter. He said from the local suburb - homeowners and businesses dropped off their leaves, grass clippings and vegetable trimmings. Red flag. Suburbia and their obsession with lush green lawns means lots of chemical input. No thanks.

Building your soil is an ongoing process. You need to build your soil microbiome by amending with the "black gold" compost every gardener should be making (My compost bins contain kitchen scraps, autumn leaves, egg shells, coffee grounds and dog hair and I also have compost piles with leaves, hay, small sticks, sheep and chicken manure). So if you are planting container veggies, amend the soil each year with 2 or 3" of compost before planting. If planting nightshades in containers, don't plant them in that same container for another 3 or 4 years or dump it and wash out well with a little bleach solution. I also forgot to mention if you have a garden with compacted soil and you till it, be careful not to spread the spores to the rest of the garden. Till your nightshade area last and clean and spray down the tines with a little bleach solution.

For small insects, you can make an insecticidal soap by mixing 1 - 3 T of dishwashing liquid into 1 gal of water and testing by spraying on a few leaves first to see if they are too sensitive. I hope you enjoy gardening, Circular, and take any failure in stride - it happens to all of us. Greens grow fast so just re-plant :) And if you can't eat all the bagged greens you buy at the market, throw the bags in the freezer and use for smoothies.

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Re: Growing one's own greens (and other foods) :)

Postby buck3Maureen » Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:05 am

Hi Circular,
I wouldn't worry about what leaves you are pulling off -- I just meant that most greens will keep growing -- don't pull out the whole plant. As far as covers I got mine at a nursery. It is a fibrous light white sheet. The idea is for warmth in the (San Diego) winter. It lets in the sun but keeps the plant warm. In the summer I use a black shade cloth that lets the air circulate but keeps some of the sun out and the bugs off. Just condenser where you are and the conditions and get advise from your local nursery.

Maureen

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Re: Growing one's own greens (and other foods) :)

Postby circular » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:50 am

buck3Maureen wrote:... Just condenser where you are and the conditions and get advise from your local nursery.

Maureen

Okay, thanks. I've almost consumed the whole planter and not yet made any green smoothies, so need to get busy on some additional ones.
ApoE 3/4 > Thanks in advance for any responses made to my posts.


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