planning next years garden

I just bought my first house and it is on 1.4 acres. I can finally have a garden! now I have never done my own garden before, and I dont want to devote a lot of time to working it. what should i plant? looking for foodstuffs rather than ornamental, low maintenance. An idea of when to plant would be good too. maybe next year i'll put up a greenhouse to extend the growing season. many moons ago when i dreamed of my own garden patch there was a method called french intensive farmin, just a fad? sounded fairly care free....
I live in medford wisconsin. just about in the exact center of the state. pretty close to the center of the western hemisphere I guess, 90 lat 45 long (or is that 45 lat and 90 long?)
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Tater wrote:

Tater,
Congrats on your new house! I grew up tying soybean sacks on the back of an International Combine pulled by a Farmall M Tractor. Helped out with the family garden through the years too. Many folks like the row method of planting but I'm a big fan of Mel Bartholomew's square foot method. It's easy to keep and the yields are gracious. Check out his site for some good tips. Another really great site for all types of gardening is Mike Mcgroarty's. He gives you great tips on how to growing all sorts of stuff, making mulch, keeping the critters out of your garden. I've learn quite a bit. Check it out at: http://tinyurl.com/nofzv
Good luck!
EM
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Tater wrote:

This is the perfect time to prepare a bed for next spring. Google 'lasagna gardening' as well as 'raised beds' even 'straw bale' gardening.
But, starting now will help in the spring.
Carl
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What do you love to eat? And what can you get easily at farmer's markets near you?
Personally, I wouldn't bother to grow sweet corn, as that's a crop requiring a fair amount of space, and something that's pretty easy to pick up from local growers.
But interesting lettuces, fresh snow peas, specialties like asparagus bean, endive, okra, etc. can be difficult to find in the upper midwest, so I'd go there, first. And, to me, there's nothing like fresh tomatoes, seconds off the vine (just don't underestimate the productivity of a tomato plant!)
Start small. Once the weeds get away from you, gardens become drudgery. So does 36 tomato plants for two people (btdt!). You're going to have some more projects in other areas ahead of you next summer, so make the garden fun. When you start to dig your first garden, I wouldn't make it any larger than I could completely fork over (after the initial sod stripping) in an hour. Not a complete double digging, but I'd use that amount of labor as a sort of benchmark to help decide the size of the patch. Next year, you can always go larger. Try adding one thing new every year.
You'll also want to decide whether you're going to water or not. Many years in the upper midwest, you can get by without irrigation, especially if you have mulch and fairly large spacing between plants. If you're growing things very closely, you're probably going to need water -- which means at least a spigot and hose, unless you really enjoy hauling buckets of water. I've done the bucket thing, too... given the choice of bucketing water or canning the proceeds of 36 well-manured tomatoes... well, I think I'd pick the tomato problem.
You can also consider where and when you want to put in perennial crops like rhubarb and soft fruits like strawberries and raspberries. You might want to consider solarizing beds for those next summer, with planting the following spring.
And don't forget to sign up for all the good catalogs! They start coming just before New Year.
Most of all, enjoy!
Kay
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Kay Lancaster wrote:

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www.burpee.com
Others here will offer sources for seeds that always work well. Burpee's mine. Their seeds always exceed my expectations as well as their claims.
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There are a number of places you might be interested in.... check the garden catalog lists at:
http://www.gardenlist.com / http://www.gardenbazaar.com/directory/cz_1E0.html http://www.mailordergardening.com /
One of my favorites is Pinetree Garden Seeds -- good seed, good prices, some interesting stuff. http://www.superseeds.com
Places that normally sell to commercial growers that I've had good seeds from: http://www.stokeseeds.com/cgi-bin/StokesSeeds.storefront http://gardeners.harrisseeds.com/default.asp
And then there are the usual suspects, like Burpee, Parks, Cooks Garden, Johnny's, Vt. Bean Co., and many others.
Kay
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wrote:

I'm surprised you've had good results with Harris. Over the past 20 years, I've found the germination rates to be much inferior to Burpee's.
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One packet that I recall... otherwise fine. How do you store your seed prior to planting? Do you prime?
Some potentially useful information on minimum germination percentages required for US veggies, and approximate storage life: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/Pubs/Garden/07221.html http://www.seedman.com/veggerm.htm
Note the germination rate is under optimal conditions.
Kay 1
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They're stored in a sealed plastic box with a rechargeable dessicent and a humidity gauge.
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Was the problem with legume seed? What's the RH and temperature?
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I don't recall which seeds. This goes back at least 8 or 9 years. All I can tell you is that it did NOT involve seeds which are known for being harder to deal with, like impatiens or petunias.
RH in my storage box hovers between 15% and 20%. Temp about 70 F. Under these conditions, lettuce seeds last me 3-4 years, for example.
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Tater wrote:

at www.davesgarden.com you can participate ina regional group, or a specialty plant group, check ratings of suppliers, look up plants by genus, common name, cultivar, find vendors who offer the plant, and often read the experiences of folks who have grown it.
Carl
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Tater wrote:

no-till gardening, which you can achieve by also doing the lasagna thing Carl suggests. if you want low maintenance edibles, plant raspberries, potatoes, garlic, multiplier onions, asparagus, serviceberries and mulberries. Plant in full sun, everything except the potatoes right now or in the next few weeks before the soil freezes. You can also plant mushrooms in full shade, using a variety of techniques (google it). You should also consider ostrich ferns in part shade for fiddleheads, those, too, are as low maintenance as it gets and in fact they multiply so you get more for no work. There are some ancient greens that are perennial (Good King Henry), as are most herbs (for your climate, sorrel, mint, oregano, thyme), all in full sun.
For summer crops, besides the aforementioned potatoes, beans (shelling and string) are quite trouble-free, but of course the deer may get them. If you have deer, anything you grow will turn into trouble. Cukes and melons, I also find to be fairly trouble-free, but of course in part it is because I accept that my cukes will die of disease after a short bearing season. After you achieve good soil, and if you can water properly, all sorts of greens become an attractive, trouble-free crop. After you get - or if you have- loose soil, carrots are a fairly trouble-free crop.
To really minimize maintenance, you should mulch every square inch of garden where you do not plan to seed. Plant seedlings by digging through the mulch, and large seeds like beans, garlic and potatoes also through the mulch.

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Others have mentioned methods, all of which are good possibilities. As for timing, I'd suggest you go to this web site: www.powells.com
....and buy a used copy of "Crockett's Victory Garden". I'm sure there are others, but this is the one I have used over the years. The chapters are arranged by month, with lists of what you should be doing that month (starting seeds indoors, transplanting to the outdoor garden, thinning, harvesting, etc). Nice arrangement. The author gardened near Boston, so if you're in a different zone, you simply adjust your timing accordingly. The only advice to NOT follow is the author's heavy use of pesticides. He went WAY overboard.
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Thanks for the tip.. I got a copy on Half.com for $1.99+shipping (total of a bit over $5).. They were also carring copies as low as 81 cents if you don't mind one that's a bit more beat up..
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

Cool!
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