For the Best Gardeners in the Cardiff Area

   Apr 30

Your Questions About Gardening

David asks…

Which is the best state in the U.S. for growing your own food?

Which are the best states for growing your own food as far as soil quality goes? Also, where is there a high market for organic foods? Thanks!

GardenersCardiff answers:

Definitely California. We produce 99% or more of these crops for our nation:
Almonds, Cling-stone Peaches, Figs, Persimmons, Raisins, Sweet Rice, Artichokes, Dried Plums or Prunes, Olives, Pomegranates and Walnuts. Here is a site with some stats. We grow a lot of organic foods too. Including meat and dairy.

Sandy asks…

Growing your own food?

I live near chicago area, I have a large yard but I also have 2 dogs. I am hoping to eventually have a garden that will support two adults all year round. I am a long way from that goal though, I am just starting to plan it. I can not actually till the earth so I have to use planters, I am thinking about making my own out of cement blocks and putting a couple of layers of rocks and pebbles at the bottom for better drainage. I don’t have all the details worked out yet, but my main questions are, How do I start this garden? What plants should I put in? How do I protect the plants from winter weather and animals? Any other advice? Thank you!
The whole yard is fenced in but all the fences are covered by overgrown trees and shrubs from surrounding properties.

It’s larger than most urban yards but it’s not huge, huge. I’m not sure exactly how large and it’s night right now so I can’t measure it right now, I’ll get back to you on that.

There is a lot of shade because there are a lot of trees and the fences are covered with plants so it’s really shady next to them. It’s fairly sunny in the middle of the back yard but we need that part for the dogs…

We can’t till because we don’t own the property and the owner won’t let us.

GardenersCardiff answers:

Is the area walled or fenced off from oter property?

How large: length and width.

How much sun and shade?

And WHY can’t you till it?

Tell me those and I’ll get right back to you.

Edit: OK, thanks for the info. Three problems here: owner’s regulation on no tilling, a lot of shade, and very acid soil under the trees. Here’s an approach that might work.

Consider planting pea in theshady areas -early in the spring before the trees are fully leaved. I assume you are allowed to dig a hole for a plant, so, instead of a hole, scartch up the area with a garden rake, lay the peans on the ground, and cover them with a mix of sand and bagged garden/top soil to a level of about 1″. When they grow to 3″ or so, start gradually adding some top soil to give them some support. Don’t wory about planting them in neat straight rows, just scatter them up and down the planting areas defined by the width of your rake. Later, as they reach about 6″ put stakes along the row and tie strings between them to give the peas something to hold on to. With the peas, plant carrots. The peas will help loosen the soil for the carrots to take hold. Get short fat carrots, because the skinny ones just won’t penetrate the soil well in the first year. Let them grow right in there with the peas. As the the pea vines die off, the carrots will come in behind them. I would recommend snow peas or sugar pod peas -the ones you eat pod and all. Aside from being fairly adaptable, the peas will put nitrogen into the soil. Carrots actually take 2 years to mature -in the second year they put out attractive white blooms that look sort of like Queen Anne’s lace. So you can let them take the full 2 years. Maybe you can put in 2 rows instead of just 1.

Around the dog area (which I assume has some kind of fence of its own) plant cucumber, just along the outside of their fence. As the vines grow, train them to the fence, so the cucumbers will be suspended as they grow and easy to pcik. The dogs won’t eat them. Plant just by making a hole about 1/2″ deep and dropping in a seed or 2 -every 12″ along the fence.

INSIDE the doggies’ area, plant tomatoes and/or peppers in pots. The pots should be about 16″ deep. Use plants that have been started for you. You can use the nice, rich bagged soil and some fertilizer for these You’ll need to support them as they grow; either tie them to the dog fence or drive stakes in by the pots. Hint: it is easier to use wire to tie the plants, such as solid wire used for house wiring, because you can bend it around plant stems and branches -then use it again next year. In the base of the tomatoe pots you can plant lettuce and spinach from seed.

After the season is over, gather up the dead stems and vines, break them up or shred them as much as possible, and put them in a compost pile. Put vegetable waste (peelings, etc.) coffee grounds and broken egg shells in the pile from time to time, and toss on some soil. You can add some worms if you like. The following year, you’kll have some rich stuff and won’t need to import as much.

It is tough to create a vegetable garden on an elevated surface or flat, because you not only need adequate depth of soil, but must control drainage as well.

If possible, without getting into trouble, cut away some of the tree limbs hanging over your area to let in a bit more sun.

Good luck!

Mandy asks…

Is growing your own food more environmentally friendly if…?

- you grow food for two adults (i.e. no kids)
- you keep a greenhouse so you can grow food all year round (don’t live somewhere warm)
- this means energy is used for temperature control, you need to water the plants
- you grow as many things as you can that you eat, buy food minimally

And how much greenhouse land would you need to grow food for 2 adults year-round?

GardenersCardiff answers:

You wouldn’t need that much for two people–we have 4/10 of an acre, and we planted about 1/2 the back yard. We had enough left over that we were selling at the farmer’s market every week! No matter what you do, growing your own will be more environmentally friendly, because it saves the gas it would have taken to transport vegetables to and from the store and it uses less fertilizer. 5-6 tomato plants will do nicely, as well as just a packet of most types of vegetables. You can also grow an indoor herb garden year-round, and if you can and freeze vegetables, you’ll be set for most of the winter. (If you really want to lay back spaghetti sauce, etc., you may want to plant more tomatoes. Make sure you get a guide on how to can and freeze so you don’t waste food, too. If you really still want a greenhouse, it won’t need to be large, and even frozen fresh tomatoes are better than hothouse tomatoes any day.

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