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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 7:46 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 2:17 pm
Posts: 81
Location: fort worth,TEXAS
Let me begin by saying that I am new here...A gardener wanna be from fort worth

the nutshell:
Hubbie and I move on to about 7 acres of old pasture land. Our house looks like a box in the grass. Not native grass, either, I would guess... We are artists and want to start an organic farm/nursery/sculpture garden. A friend kicks in about 1K for seeds, organic soil/compost mix, some tools, amendments, etc: she has wanted a garden for years and never had the land to do anything. This seems like the motivational force I need to get started.

The problem:
1) the soil is harder than granite and full of that creepy crawly grass that will overcome a bed faster than you can turn around
our answer: lasagna beds on top of the grass. But we have to stretch the few organic ingredients we have (mostly leaves found in bags on side of the road) to accomodate all the *$*#$^ seeds friend has purchased.

2) Seeds will germinate, then do NOTHING. they sit there at the seed leaf stage staring at the clouds, turning reddish then orangish then yellow. some develp little holds in them.

3) onions and leeks (and spinach) are getting eaten...almost cut off...

At times I swear I am ready to give up and go get some ortho max and miracle grow!!!!!

But this is my dream, and I have invested soooo much in garrett juice and lava sand and lime - I just don't feel like I know what I am doing at all!!!!....did I mention that we earn our living as artists...not too much spare change!!

I sent a soil sample in to callaway's but it isn't back yet...

I have been reading Dr. Garrett's books. We still feel overwhelmed and like we have the blackest thumbs in texas!!!!

Should I just start to pray? Cast a spell? Do a (no) rain dance?


thanks to all,

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:26 am 

Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2003 9:18 pm
Posts: 1093
Location: McKinney,TEXAS

Thanks for you private message.

You wrote, "At times I swear I am ready to give up and go get some ortho max and miracle grow!!!!! "

I can guarantee you that is not the answer. You define your goals as an organic farm, nursery, and sculpture garden. That goal is too broad and lacks any detail. Have you ever heard how to eat an elephant? The answer is one bite at a time. I don't know what you have done with the lava sand and garrett juice, etc, but those are all good products, used in the right way. I built my veggie garden using lazagna methods so I agree with that approach but you may have to first take a step back.

Start out with some small victories to increase your confidence. Build a 4x4 foot raised bed, amend the soil, and put in some tomatoes or peppers or corn or flowers or native grass or whatever you like. If you don't have the time, energy or skill to make that work then you may have to re-examine your goals. Don't forget, the last two years we have been in a drought and even experienced gardeners were having trouble.

5 years ago my wife and I were in your situation with our 10 acres. 3 months ago we had about 40 guests from the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners conference come out to marvel at our farm. I don't tell you this to brag, but I hope it acts as a motivational statement.

I also suggest you contact; Susan Horn is your regional rep.

Maybe some others will respond with their suggestions, we have a lot of good gardeners here with different ideas.

Tony M

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:15 pm 

Joined: Sun May 07, 2006 8:25 am
Posts: 147
Location: Clute,TEXAS
Although I live way South of your area, I totally agree with Tony.

Take one piece at a time. Elevating might be an idea, if it is not too expensive. Trying many different organic methods before you resort to chemicals, you might be surprised with what you come up with. Left over food, old sticks and branchs...anything that will compost. From what I know, your ground itself does not necessarily have to be soft, just try and keep your compost moist, like a sponge, as Howards books say. I do not think it will take too much H2O.

Once you start to get things to growing, you will have much more confidence and pride. I know it is hard but be patient and pay attention to what you are doing. When something seems to start to work, remember those methods and learn from them.

You do not HAVE to buy Howards products, just follow what he says and you might save money and learn how to "build" and create things using Howards and many people heres' recommendations. We have people compliment us on our plants all of the time and they constantly ask us which chemical company do we use (just about everyone around here uses TrueGreen or something to that effect) and we, very proudly say, NOT A SINGLE ONE!

Just one note, we have exactly the opposite problem as yours and believe me we have fought it for some time but finally got ours going and it looks like a jungle now.

The point is, do not give up, as hard as it sounds. Try many methods and pay attention to what starts working and try to follow it.

That is my two cents.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 9:37 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 2:17 pm
Posts: 81
Location: fort worth,TEXAS
Thank you both SO MUCH for your pep talks!
It is great to here success stories, and I need all of the motivation I can get right now!
Tony, I hope to see your place one day - sounds like you have made amazing progress in five years! I sure hope to be able to say the same!
love2- it sure is good to know that i might be able to make a jungle out of this dust bowl!

I think i should provide some background...
i moved here 7 years ago from North Carolina, where I was really learning to be an adept gardener. After moving, i took up art full time with my (new) husband, and we have just now purchased and moved to this land. I feel quite comfotable with things like perennials and landscape gardening.

These veggies are something else, though! And so is the whole seed starting process.

I admit to having bit off more than I can chew right now...but I intend to eat that whole elephant!!! one bite at a time. We really want to focus on the sculpture garden aspect of our vision, as this could potentially be an excellent venue to display our work. ( I will send some photos if you want...)
And don't worry, I don't think I would ever actually go out and buy chemicals...we are hippie, vegan, artsy types: Sevin Dust just isn't in my future. We have been buying and eating (as much as possible) organic for several years now, and I sure have an appreciation for the price difference!

I like the advice about small victories!

I bought Howard's book when I took on this vegetable project, as it seemed to be the most specific reference available. I have been using his products (well, the garrett juice) because it seems logical and it is in keeping with his program. Admittedly, due to time and money constraints, I have not done EVERYTHING as suggested (ie, sugar, corn meal gluten in the soil).

I think right now I need day to day advice on specific problems.

You two seem very knowledgeable, and I know that this site is full of A+ gardeners (i have been visiting for awhile, but just joined).

One issue that seems unavoidable is that I need to build my beds up thicker (more soil). I had no idea how much settling would occur, and I need to add more compost mix.

Here is something you might know about: CATAPILLERS! I discovered the little buggers eating my onions today! I mixed citrus oil with garrett juice and sprayed at the end of the afternoon (will the oil burn the seeldings?) BUT, then it rained at about 9 pm, so I guess I have to go spray again first thing in the morning???

For the life of me, I cant figure out why the seedlings seem so stunted, tho! le sigh...

Again, thank you for your support and patience!!!

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:37 pm 

Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 5:38 pm
Posts: 36
Location: Dallas,TEXAS
I Have heard of light, repetitious tilling of bermuda grass pastures to kill it out. The idea is to expose the reproductive parts of the grass to the hot sun and repeat at 1-2 week intervals untill it is dried out. I got the impression that it only took a few tillings, in hot weather, to get rid of it. Also, don't short-change the value of the leaves that you are getting for free! Decomposed leaves are great in the vegtables. And when you are sockpiling the bags, you could put the them where you are going to put in beds 6 months down the road--they will be killing out the the grass and weeds under the beds. When you are ready to use them, if you run over them with the lawn mower they will break down faster. Sometimes I pile up the bags for next year's use and poke a few holes in them, they get rained in a little and are half dicomposed when I open the bags up. I like the rake them out, lawn mower them with the grass catcher bag and dump them right where I need them. I also feel that shredded leaves make a great mulch for vegatables because they get turned into the soil as the plants are spent. Also, if you havn't already discovered it yet. TEXAS GARDENER magazine is excellent. Check them out at Would love to see pictures of your sculptures!

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2007 9:43 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2003 9:10 am
Posts: 1278
Location: Dallas,TEXAS
Have you considered companion planting? An herb spiral?

www.tpsl.bizhttp://www.austinprogressivecalendar ... spiral.htm
Have you had your soil tested at Texas Soil and Plant lab?
Texas Plant and Soil Lab
5115 W. Monte Cristo Rd.
Edinburg, TX 78541
An international leader in soil, water and plant analysis for 69 years. The originator of the natural soil test that determines what the plants can use.
Fax 956-383-0730

These are things I would try... Best of luck will come to you if you stick with organic methods!

Be well,

Nadine Bielling Haefs
Gardener Exchange Forum

The Laws of Ecology:
"All things are interconnected. Everything goes somewhere. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Nature bats last." --Ernest Callenbach

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