Newbie Gardener from Lowcountry South Carolina

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My wife and I are in our 50s and started a garden this past spring in containers. The 1 small 10'x10' section quickly grew to a 2nd 9'x16' section then a 3rd 8'x16' section in the backyard. We have a large backyard so we can keeping adding more space as needed. We discovered we could grow plants, but not everything was fruiting and producing so we blame some of that on this year's abnormally high heat this year. So...we went to the in-ground garden for the 3rd section and planted a few more things. Its only been a couple months so we are not sure if the (in-ground) will make a difference. The container soil was 1/4 potting, 1/4 peat moss, 1/4 black kow manure, 1/4 perlite. We built a "totally enclosed cage" with chicken wire around all these gardens to keep the critters out, which is working. We have lots of squirrels and a few wild rabbits running around...so I want to KEEP what I grow.

Most of what we started out with was starter plants from Lowes and HDepot then added a few seeds from Baker Creek and then some seeds from Etsy users. We are enjoying (and hating) this new adventure and looking to learn lots to do better as we go.
 
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Hi, welcome to the forum, sounds like you are doing well.
When you said 'container' I was visualising pots, but the sizes make me think raised beds of some sort, are you putting something in the bottom of them ? There is a lady here from the West of Scotland who is making shallow raised beds and lining them with paper and cardboard, it works well, contains the weeds, allows moisture to penetrate from below and still lets things with deep rooting systems to penetrate. The only problem she has mentioned was with very deep rooted thistles that still got through.
I don't know what the position is with peat moss in the US, but over here we realised that people were digging up peat beds that provided a unique natural environment and several species were becoming endangered because of it. A lot of that has been stopped and it can only be dug in some places, It is still available, but sensitive gardeners have started using alternatives anyway, coir seems to be the main one.
The 'totally enclosed' approach is great, I get the occasional grey squirrel raiding the bird feeder, but otherwise am okay (Touch wood) I am interested what sort of squirrel you get, I only recently realised there are several species in the US. It seems squirrels are really successful word wide. Our native red squirrel was almost wiped out by disease brought by American eastern greys, but it is starting to get some immunity and make a comeback, but only starting.
 

Meadowlark

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You are off to a great start.

You might find my thread on Hügelkultur in containers of interest. So far, my HK plants produce on average about 80% of what my plants in garden produce.

I'm expanding this fall to include close to 20 additional varieties of veggies in the experiment. The huge advantage of HK containers is the reduced weight and mobility of them.


Good luck on your garden adventures.
 
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Greetings from Alabama! Yes it is a hot year! Time to start your fall plantings! Do you have onions, shallots, leeks and garlic? Yellow onions are great for the kitchen and red onion for raw foods like salad!
 
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Greetings from Alabama! Yes it is a hot year! Time to start your fall plantings! Do you have onions, shallots, leeks and garlic? Yellow onions are great for the kitchen and red onion for raw foods like salad!
Hi DM
No, shallots, leeks, garlic...my wife and I are not fans of those items so we will not be trying those. I am trying yellow onion from seed in Oct when the calendar says to. I will direct sow in starter soil on top of my ground soil.
 
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So are you folks direct sowing onion seed ? How are you starting/growing your onions? I will start with the yellow and add on red. I did "try" cutting the root off a store onion and planted that...it started growing a shoot/leaf then died.
 

Meadowlark

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So are you folks direct sowing onion seed ? How are you starting/growing your onions? I will start with the yellow and add on red. I did "try" cutting the root off a store onion and planted that...it started growing a shoot/leaf then died.
I grow about 200 pounds of 1015 yellow and red onions every year right here next to the Big Thicket in East Texas. ...and have for decades. Handled properly they store well after harvest.

To grow them, I prepare the soil well in advance by first by planting and tilling in a thick cover crop of alfalfa, sunn hump, or cow peas. To that green manure, I add my own home grown and well composted cow manure. Sterile soil is dead soil as far as I'm concerned.

Instead, this soil is rich with the green manure from legumes and cow manure added well in advance of onion planting and is teeming with life. It is virtually free of weeds having been covered for many weeks in advance.

Then, I plant very small onion plants. These plants are 1015s that are started from seed in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and dug for transplanting in late Oct. They are pencil small like 1/4-to-1/8-inch diameter and best planted as soon as they are available which is usually in Nov. here.

The small onions grow in that rich prepared dirt all winter establishing deep thick roots and healthy leaves. I feed them fish emulsion every two weeks or so continuously up to just before harvesting.

Along about March they show what I like to call bulbing putting a lot of their energy into growing the bulb. At this time, I usually start "pulling" dirt away from the bulb without exposing or harming the roots many of which are shallow. I have found that this practice enables the growing of very large onions..typically 4-to-6-inch bulbs with an occasional giant over 6 inches. If you like to grow big onions, which I fervently do, one needs to also thin out your plants to allow them to grow large bulbs. They simply will not grow large bulbs if touching another plant or if the roots are compacted and covered deeply in soil.

In early May I begin to withdraw water from the plants completely shutting off water about one week or more before harvest. This enables much longer storage time than otherwise.

The onions are harvested when the tops fall over. Those that are destined for long term storage are pulled and allowed to dry in full sun for about a day or longer, if necessary. Then with the tops removed, they are placed in my long-term storage bins.
 
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This is just my 1st year gardening and I am learning all I can...and joining this forum to learn from you "professionals". We have had some success (after the whole summer) with green/red bell peppers, a few tomatoes, a few yellow and zucchini squash, red leaf and romaine lettuce, sweet potatoes ...the NOT much success with cantaloupe (8 plants gave me 1 small fruit), carrots, sugar baby watermelon (1 tiny melon from 3 plants that didnt get very big). Most days seem to be in the high 90s and since most plants were in containers, I think they were too hot and didnt set fruit like they should have. I did have 50% shade cloth over the cages for afternoon sun too.

We are now "transitioning" our caged spaces to in-ground for fall and next spring...and will try these again in the ground. Here are a few photos of our first year. We are now converting one or two of these spaces to "in-ground" and doing away with the containers.
 

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