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## How does your Garden grow?

 Quote by Astronuc I don't know how many PFer's garden, but I have done gardening ever since I could walk. My father and my maternal grandfather both gardened. I helped my dad in the garden, mostly planting, watering and weeding (and harvesting) at first. When I was old enough to handle a shovel, I would help cultivate. The first four years of childhood, we lived in rural areas, so gardening was quite natural. My father was a minister with a low salary, so the garden provided fresh fruit and vegetables for low cost. Anyway, I have always enjoyed gardening, which for me is a spiritual experience. I use organic methods without herbicides or pesticides, in favor of natural insects and manual methods. As of now, the perennials - Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Strawberries and Rhubard have come back to life. I was pleased to find that my meager efforts at propagating the blackberries seem to be finall working. I have done it incorrectly for 2 years, so I am hopeful now that they will finally take off. The raspberries need no help in this regard. I am preparing one plot for a vegetable garden - my wifes tomato plants and lettuce. I will add some hot pepper plants. I am preparing another plot for an herb garden for my wife. Then I will be preparing a terraced area on the back hill - I am thinking tomatos, squash, zucchini, and whatever hits my fancy.
Just out of curiosity, how much does it cost you to grow a tomato?

Or, is that a bad question to ask? The $64 Tomato (How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden) (I have to be honest. I've never calculated how much I spend making home-made ice cream in a hand cranked bucket, either. It's an experience, not an economic exercise. Nor does it bother me that I spent$160 for a Chemical Engineering slide rule when a $105 TI-86 could do the job nearly as well.) Admin  Quote by BobG Just out of curiosity, how much does it cost you to grow a tomato? Or, is that a bad question to ask? The$64 Tomato (How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden) (I have to be honest. I've never calculated how much I spend making home-made ice cream in a hand cranked bucket, either. It's an experience, not an economic exercise. Nor does it bother me that I spent $160 for a Chemical Engineering slide rule when a$105 TI-86 could do the job nearly as well.)
Right now, I buy a plant for less probably $0.50-0.60/plant, add a few cents of fertilizer, and get several$'s of tomatos per plant. We have been using our own compost for years and that is where the cost savings come originate.

Same with the berries.

In fact, now all our plants produce several dollars worth of produce for $1-2 dollars worth of investment. Recognitions: Gold Member  Quote by BobG Just out of curiosity, how much does it cost you to grow a tomato? A couple of bucks buys a lot of seeds. Start the seeds in peat pots with potting soil (OK, you're out a couple more bucks, now), and when the risk of frost is low, transplant your seedlings to the garden. I paid about$100 for 400# of composted cow manure and 100# of organic fertilizer to beef up the soil in my 1500 ft2 garden, and the tomato plants will take up probably 5% of that, so we're still not quite up to a \$10 investment for all the tomato plants. We will probably transplant the best 20 or so plants and give the remainder to friends. Assuming that each plant yields 50 tomatoes, the harvest would be 1000 tomatoes with a cash outlay of a penny each. Of course, you have to weed the garden, water the plants, tie up the vines as they bear fruit, etc, but that's gardening. Fresh vine-ripened tomatoes are nothing like the stuff you find in the produce section. Even if they can get the tomatoes from farm to store very quickly, they generally concentrate on varieties that have a long shelf-life, resist bruising, etc, NOT the varieties that taste the best or produce the best flesh for making sauces.

 Even if they can get the tomatoes from farm to store very quickly, they generally concentrate on varieties that have a long shelf-life, resist bruising, etc, NOT the varieties that taste the best or produce the best flesh for making sauces.
No kidding! I can't believe what they sell in local stores.

May tomatoes are way better than any I can buy in the supermarkets.

Also, there are a few community garden coops in our area, and under the supervision of a master gardener, they produce some really good fruit and vegetables! The gardens are always booked out, i.e. more people want to participate than can.

As for tomatoes, the best year I had was about 15 years ago. Four plants produced about about 8 grocery sacks worth of tomatoes, and I used very little fertilizer. I was able to pick several dollars worth of tomatoes each day, and we gave away bags of tomatoes.

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 Quote by Astronuc No kidding! I can't believe what they sell in local stores.
I think the absolute worst ones are a variety called "high-pack" - the square-sided tomatoes with cardboard flesh and watery juice. Those are the tasteless tomatoes that you find in plastic trays wrapped in cellophane. Even the pricey vine-ripened "cluster" tomatoes in the stores are crap compared to what our garden produces. We will still have a danger of frost until about the last week of May, but I am tempted to put in a couple of rows of peas, just in case we dodge that bullet. They tolerate cold pretty well, absent a hard frost.

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 I was pleased to find that my meager efforts at propagating the blackberries seem to be finally working.
LOL, In our area it requires massive effort to stop the Blackberries from propagating. A few years back a co-worker actually PLANTED some blackberries! I was aghast! It was beyond conception that someone would do that. Once they get started there is no stopping them, they take over. It is a continual battle to stop them, there is no controlling them, kill them or live in a blackberry bramble! If I want blackberries I stop in any unmaintained field and pick to my hearts content.

Our strawberries are in full blossom, we should start eating them in a week or so. When we get back I will but some tomatoes in the ground. I am not much of a gardener, but I do like fresh strawberries and tomatoes, the only way to get them is to grow them.
 I recall that decades ago practically the only plant to survive the human sludge process from home and through our waste treatment plant was the humble tomato.

 Quote by Integral LOL, In our area it requires massive effort to stop the Blackberries from propagating. A few years back a co-worker actually PLANTED some blackberries! I was aghast! It was beyond conception that someone would do that. Once they get started there is no stopping them, they take over. It is a continual battle to stop them, there is no controlling them, kill them or live in a blackberry bramble! If I want blackberries I stop in any unmaintained field and pick to my hearts content.
Oregon is the leading blackberry production region in the world! from North American Bramble Growers Association.

We have wild brambles, probably a type of blackberry but the fruit is small and few.

The soil where I am growing them is rather poor (mostly clay over a rock outcrop), so I have had to amend the soil, and I still have more to do.

I'd like to buy some property further north where the soil is much better.
 Recognitions: Gold Member I'm going to help the wild blackberries on my property with some organic fertilizer and and some elemental sulfur. The crop last year was good - I could get at least a quart a day off our property, and I think it could be better with some help. We had to share with a black bear, but he did me a favor - one very cold night (40F or so) he came to the patch near the house and ate that huge nest of white-faced hornets that had been making it inadvisable to harvest most of that patch. The nest was right in the middle of the patch about a foot off the ground. Those guys are pretty aggressive - the bear just waited until it was pretty cold out before he tackled them, probably to make sure they were kind of torpid.

 Quote by turbo-1 I'm going to help the wild blackberries on my property with some organic fertilizer and and some elemental sulfur. The crop last year was good - I could get at least a quart a day off our property, and I think it could be better with some help. We had to share with a black bear, but he did me a favor - one very cold night (40F or so) he came to the patch near the house and ate that huge nest of white-faced hornets that had been making it inadvisable to harvest most of that patch. The nest was right in the middle of the patch about a foot off the ground. Those guys are pretty aggressive - the bear just waited until it was pretty cold out before he tackled them, probably to make sure they were kind of torpid.
Did you get a picture of the bear!? That is so cool! We have bears nearby, but to get to my place, they have to go through several subdivisions, so they would like be spotted and either captured or killed.

The bears in our area tend to stay in the hills, which are about 5-6 miles east or about 20 miles west, across the river. We did have yearling in the local city, and a police officer panicked and killed it.

We do have foxes and coyotes. A few years ago, my wife found a baby fox asleep in our backyard. We're not sure what happened, but it must have been left during a transfer between dens. Perhaps the mom would have returned (?). My wife found an wild animal specialist who just happened to have another baby fox, and so she collected our baby. Apparently juvenile foxes need to be raised with other juveniles for normal development. Seems to be a commonality with dogs, foxes and wolves.

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 Quote by Astronuc Did you get a picture of the bear!? That is so cool! We have bears nearby, but to get to my place, they have to go through several subdivisions, so they would like be spotted and either captured or killed.
I have not seen the bear yet, but from his/her tracks, I would estimate it's about 250-300#. I haven't seen any small tracks accompanying the big ones, so I assume it's a "he". We have a ton of wildlife here. Quite a few times last summer a doe would bring her twins to sleep on our front lawn. I would go out to get the paper and see a large kidney-shaped depression in the lawn with no dew in it, and two little ones next to the big one. We have apple trees on the lawn, and despite the potential problems with insect pests, I leave the drops for the deer. I got a couple of sprinklers with motion detectors to scare the deer away from the garden, so they deserve some apples. They got my best habanero plant last year before the scarecrows arrived, though. That was a big bush that my sister-in-law started indoors, and it was loaded with blossoms. They also trimmed all the parsley and some other herbs. There was a fair-sized set of tracks in the garden and some smaller ones, so it's a pretty good bet that it was Mom and the twins.

Saturday morning, there was a wild turkey hen on the front lawn and one day last summer a great blue heron landed out there, walked around a bit, then cruised out back to the pond to hunt frogs. The migratory birds are coming through in waves right now we are inundated with white-throated sparrows, goldfinches, and purple finches - all really talented singers. The chipping sparrows, phoebes, pine siskins and robins have already been through and have established themselves in breeding areas. The year-round guys (tufted titmouse, chickadee, nuthatches, woodpeckers, mourning doves) are all here, too. It sounds like a jungle out there, including some really neat percussion - the drumming of a ruffed grouse sounds like an old tractor starting up, and the pileated woodpeckers make a heck of a racket hammering on dead branches.
 Admin I have been hearing a lot of woodpeckers lately. I think that's an indication that the forests around here are stressed. We had a Pileated woodpecker visit us last fall. He was a big one - probably about 12+ inches (>30 cm). During the winter we had a Red-bellied woodpecker and several pairs of downy and hairy woodpeckers. Here's my woodpecker thread - http://www.everything-science.com/co...2/topic,6677.0 We have had several female wild turkeys in the yard with a dozen or more chicks. The deer weren't too bad this winter, but we surrounded some of our vulnerable evergreens anyway. I found another new blackberry can, so that makes 5 at least. I might double the yield this year.

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 Quote by Astronuc I have been hearing a lot of woodpeckers lately. I think that's an indication that the forests around here are stressed. We had a Pileated woodpecker visit us last fall. He was a big one - probably about 12+ inches (>30 cm).
Our pileateds are at least as large as crows, and the crows in this region tend to be large. We have downies, hairies, northern three-toed, black-back three-toed, flickers, sapsuckers, red-headed, and red-bellied here. When you hear the tap-tap sound, youve got to get the binoculars on them pretty quick, unless you already know their sound. We had a really bad ice storm 8 years ago that killed or damaged countless millions of trees - the bugs moved in and the woodpeckers are making a huge comeback. We must never again allow timber companies to appy insecticides to combat short-term insect infestations. If we allow nature to take its course, the birds will pull us through.

 Quote by Astronuc During the winter we had a Red-bellied woodpecker and several pairs of downy and hairy woodpeckers. Here's my woodpecker thread - http://www.everything-science.com/co...2/topic,6677.0
Neat!

 Quote by Astronuc We have had several female wild turkeys in the yard with a dozen or more chicks. The deer weren't too bad this winter, but we surrounded some of our vulnerable evergreens anyway.
I ride a motorcycle and I have to be really careful on our road. It doesn't matter how heavy and stable your bike is (Softail in my case) - catching a 20+# bird in the face will clean you off the bike and may kill you.

 Quote by Astronuc I found another new blackberry can, so that makes 5 at least. I might double the yield this year.
I was the only person in my family that loved blackberries, so finding that there are abundant canes on this land was a real bonus when we bought it. There are clumps with hundreds of canes of raspberries and blackberries and I am thinking of logging the trees shading them for firewood, and for increased berry production. My dad has some nice raspberry bushes on his property, but they cannot begin to compare with the intense flavor of the wild berries on our woodlot. The berries are not as sweet as his, but the flavors are so intense that just a few crumbled berries added to a tossed salad completely transforms it. I'm thinking about making up a raspberry vinegarette salad dressing and canning it for use during the next garden season, when the lettuces, chards, radishes, etc have come in but we don't yet have cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.

It's almost time to pick fiddleheads! They are immature bracken ferns that are all curled up when they emerge from the root-stock, looking like the carved scroll on the head of a fiddle. This is free food, and it is the nectar of the gods. Both sides of my family boast native american blood and in Maine, this is a staple food for the indians. Families sometimes closely-hold the location of prime fiddlehead patches for very long times, although the very best sites usually get found out through word-of-mouth. I have to start cruising the wetlands on my property to see if we have a decent crop coming up, but I expect to visit the traditional sites, too. The valleys here are steep, and based on the air temperature and the flood levels, some areas can produce harvests well before others.

 Quote by turbo-1 I was the only person in my family that loved blackberries, so finding that there are abundant canes on this land was a real bonus when we bought it. There are clumps with hundreds of canes of raspberries and blackberries and I am thinking of logging the trees shading them for firewood, and for increased berry production. My dad has some nice raspberry bushes on his property, but they cannot begin to compare with the intense flavor of the wild berries on our woodlot. The berries are not as sweet as his, but the flavors are so intense that just a few crumbled berries added to a tossed salad completely transforms it. I'm thinking about making up a raspberry vinegarette salad dressing and canning it for use during the next garden season, when the lettuces, chards, radishes, etc have come in but we don't yet have cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.
I like mixed berries (blueberry, raspberry and blackberry) with heavy cream or vanilla ice cream. I also like berry cobler.

 Quote by turbo-1 It's almost time to pick fiddleheads! They are immature bracken ferns that are all curled up when they emerge from the root-stock, looking like the carved scroll on the head of a fiddle. This is free food, and it is the nectar of the gods. Both sides of my family boast native american blood and in Maine, this is a staple food for the indians. Families sometimes closely-hold the location of prime fiddlehead patches for very long times, although the very best sites usually get found out through word-of-mouth. I have to start cruising the wetlands on my property to see if we have a decent crop coming up, but I expect to visit the traditional sites, too. The valleys here are steep, and based on the air temperature and the flood levels, some areas can produce harvests well before others.
Cool! Do you have Ostrich Fern Fiddlehead
(Matteuccia struthiopteris), or just bracken ferns? We have a growth of ferns (I think bracken), so I'll check them out. I didn't know they were edible. At my parents first house, we had patches of fern around the house.

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 Quote by Astronuc Cool! Do you have Ostrich Fern Fiddlehead (Matteuccia struthiopteris), or just bracken ferns? We have a growth of ferns (I think bracken), so I'll check them out. I didn't know they were edible. At my parents first house, we had patches of fern around the house. http://www.tracksandtrees.com/articles/fiddlehead.html
They are the Ostrich Ferns, I think. We tend to lump them together as a group, but the ferns with the the black or reddish hairs on them are avoided at all costs, and for some reason are called "brakes". They are bitter and inedible. The time to pick fiddleheads is just a little after the skunk cabbage comes out and before the Stinking Benjamins (trilliums) flower, although fidleheads can be harvested earlier or later than these rough guidelines depending on which side of the river they grow, how high the spring run-off has gotten, etc. When I was a kid, my dad and I would pick several pecks an evening for weeks, take them home and clean them, and mom would blanche and freeze them, ready for the next night's harvest. We ate a LOT of fiddleheads over the winter. There is nothing like pan-fried potatoes and steamed fiddleheads to accompany venison or brook trout.

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 Quote by Evo Yeah, you could pass for an ice weasel. I like ice weasels.
Somehow, that comment makes your signature seem very disturbing.

(Yeah, I'm pretty slow. )

Edit: And turbo-1's a pervert for stalking people pinned underneath snowmobiles.

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 Quote by BobG Edit: And turbo-1's a pervert for stalking people pinned underneath snowmobiles.
You've got to take 'em where you find 'em. If you're going to be all high and mighty and not take advantage of the ones that are trapped and helpless, you're missing a big demographic. Go, ice weasels!

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