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Old 01-09-2009, 10:10 AM
 
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We moved to Western Michigan at the end of the summer last year so we really didn't have a chance to figure out how to garden. We have 8 acres, with 3 of them cleared and we really want to start a large home garden. We have very sandy soil, would it be better to plant in raised beds? We'd like to put in some corn, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce,cucumbers, zucchini and summer squash.
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Old 01-09-2009, 12:10 PM
 
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I've always heard that raised bed gardens do much better. I don't know if I would put the whole entire garden in raised beds. Maybe tomatoes, cucumbers and beans. But for things like corn and root vegitables you could probably do just as well in non raised bed.

You might want to check and see if you have a local County extensions office. I would surely guess there is. They can give you some really great gardening advice and what is the best way of preparing your soil and what not for raising a good garden in your particular area. They can also tell you what PH levels and fertilizers are good for various plants.
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Old 01-09-2009, 12:47 PM
 
Location: Coastal Georgia
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It seems to me that raised beds are more suitable to smaller gardens. With as much land as you have, you can get a local guy with a tractor to till the soil for you which you couldn't do with the raised beds. In other words, raised beds will be more labor intensive.
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Old 01-09-2009, 02:17 PM
 
Location: Albemarle, NC
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You want to be a gardener? Start with a few good books on home veggie gardening. If you're thinking of going organic and have the materials such as leaves and straw or hay, I'd suggest Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden by Sally Jean Cunningham. It'll teach you about companion planting in ways that benefit the plants. Most of the veggies you listed are good choices to start with companion planting.

Corn beans and cukes/squash go together well. Keep the tomatoes away from the corn. Plant tomatoes with cabbage. And keep the potatoes away from the beans and corn.

Here's a good starter list. Good & bad companions for vegetables | Tips & Techniques

I do it this way because I don't like to buy chemicals. And I have lots of leaves each fall for the beds.
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Old 01-09-2009, 03:07 PM
 
Location: oregon
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Hello
Talk to your master gardeners at your ag office..They can advise on your soil..Or search for the Ag dept at your local university there is tons of info to be found..I am a master gardener and our left hand is Oregon State's Ag dept for all kinds of info
Do like everyone above is saying read everything you can your hands on, watch your sun and shade factor, talk to all your neighbors or anyone you see that has a nice garden...Gardeners love to chat about their gardens..Just don't jump to quick..Get your soil right and then run with it.
Happy gardening
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Old 01-11-2009, 01:51 PM
 
Location: On the Chesapeake
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Also some good books although old:
"Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew
"Victory Garden" by Bob Thompson, the host that succeeded Jim Crockett when he died. Crockett's is good too but was written before the move to more organic gardening practices.
Also look for something dealing with organic gardening, especially pest control.
Personal opinion alert: organic is good but on smaller plots you may need to use a bit of fertilizer. A mixture of the two techniques works well.

Last edited by North Beach Person; 01-11-2009 at 01:53 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-12-2009, 03:36 PM
 
Location: The mountians of Northern California.
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I wish I had 8 acres! Oh the possibilities! I would start with fruit trees, berry bushes, etc in a fenced area to keep those darn deer out! Deer are a huge issue in my area. If you are doing a large garden, raised beds may not be needed. My garden last year was about 30 feet long and 50 feet wide. We tilled the ground, which made rows. It made planting very easy. We had to weed a few times each week, but it wasn't too bad because we were using a double edge hoe. It works great and made weeding much easier. 1866300 DBL EDGE ACTION HOE Retail: $31.99 - Home Garden and Patio Furniture, Decor and Accents

That garden had a load of topsoil added to it quite a few years back. We have very sandy soil also, we are in a volcanic area and when you water it looks like a sponge just sucks the water up. Each year a little manure is also added.

My moms garden has all raised beds, except for the corn patch which is in a different location. We are expanding her garden this year, so it will more then double the current size. We are building more garden beds out of untreated pallets. The pallets are free, so you cannot beat that. It will take a little elbow grease to pull them apart, but its a good deal. We are getting a load of top soil, 30 bags of manure, and something else, I cannot think of the name right now. Our gardens grow like crazy, even with our short summer growing period in the mountians. We also compost, which is easy to do and great for the garden.

You should check with your local nurseries right now about upcoming gardening classes. Check to see if there is a local gardening club. Also check your local county extension office to see if they have any resources like workshops, etc. They have master gardeners, canners, etc that can help community members: http://web1.msue.msu.edu/iac/msuemar.../MSUEGreen.pdf

If all else fails, stop and talk to someone with a great garden that you see when driving about. Good luck. It is amazing what your garden can produce!

Are you planning to can the veggies from your garden? We finally did last year and I am glad we got into that. We had pears, tomato sauce, salsa, etc all winter long and we still have a few dozen cans left. The cost to buy everything was a little spendy. But most of it are one time costs and in a few years you will have recouped your money and then some.
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Old 01-14-2009, 11:34 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
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Welcome to West Michigan! Oh, how I envy your land!
I am an avid gardener, but have a small city lot and don't have the room for veggie gardens, so I just have cottage flower gardens surrounding around my entire house with a few tomato plants thrown in here and there. My dream is land....someday.
There are lots of good nurseries in the area, tons of them actually. There is an MSU gardening seminar held once a year down at DeVos Place which I've gone to a couple times. They have good speakers, but the ones I've attended are mostly perennial, shrub and flower gardening related. Surely you'd like to try some of those too with all that space you have?
Feel free to contact me if you'd like some specifics on good places to shop, depending on what part of West Michigan you are in
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Old 01-15-2009, 06:15 PM
 
Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
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Here in Perth, Australia, all we've got is sand. Sand, sand, and more sand. Beach sand. When they dug for our pool, I watched them, thinking they'd have to hit dirt sometime, but they never did. I suppose living less than a mile from the coast has something to do with that.

Anyway, the one thing I learned about gardening with sandy soil is the beauty and benefits of manure. Lots of it. It's amazing how after all these years of augmenting the 'soil' with all that manure, how it works its way down through the ground and almost disappears, leaving it quite dry and sandy again on the top. So I have to keep at it. Things thrive in it.

I'd love 8 acres. Just for the space around me. Have fun.
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Old 03-06-2009, 11:03 AM
 
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thank you everyone for your responses. Our field is becoming less and less snow covered each day so we will really have to start planning now.
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