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Companion Planting Database

Does Growstuff have a database of plants that can be 'companion planted' for optimal soil health? I understand that many plants can help feed and protect each other if put in the soil in the right combinations. Knowing what plants do next to each other and why would be an awesome resource to those wishing to plant food forests.

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Requesting new crops

Couldn't find French Beans of any kind and would like to request them to be added. Went to request page, found lots of comments but where it says 'request them here', there was no link. Am new to the site, so if I double on something, please forgive.

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Introduction from Wendy

Hi! I'm Wendy and I live in Livermore, California, USA. I live in the suburbs and have been learning about permaculture for two years now. Right now my project is slowly converting my lawn into a food forest, one module at a time.

I began with a 10x20 starter garden on the north side of my house. I wanted to practice these ideas in private, so no one could see the results if I was a failure at permaculture gardening! Because I was such a novice, I didn't realize how shady this fenced in, northern patch would be. I also didn't realize what a difference that would make!

That first year, I planted a peach tree and a nectarine tree that I found at a local discount store. I also planted apple mint, thyme, oregano, potatoes, strawberries, and thornless blackberries. What I should actually say is that those are the crops that did fine and ended up giving me food. I planted a ton of other things as well, but they didn't flourish and I've forgotten them.

In April of this year, I ripped out the hedges and landscaping plants from my east-facing front yard garden and replaced them with edibles using food forest methodology. That went well, so in July I installed another module of food forest directly in front of it, separated by a stone border. I plan to continue in this fashion every few months until my front lawn is entirely food forest.

To keep my neighbors happy, I am handing out food right and left to my neighbors and to the people who go for walks in my neighborhood. I'm also trying to disguise my front yard food forest as a cottage garden by installing statuary, paths, and benches to make all of the mess seem intentional.

I am so excited to find Growstuff; hi! Say hi back and tell me who you are and what's going on in your gardens!

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New features, as of September 3rd 2014

Today we updated the Growstuff website and have a bunch of great new features, including:

  • A crop "suggest" widget, instead of an unwieldy dropdown, when you are planting, harvesting, or saving seeds
  • We now show the most popular crops on the crop browse page, by default, rather than showing them in alphabetical order.
  • For those of you not on the metric system, you can now record your harvests in ounces
  • A couple of features for the benefit of our volunteer crop wranglers: we've made it easier to add scientific names to crops, and provided a list of other crop wranglers on the crop wrangler homepage.

We also have a couple of bugfixes:

  • Fixed a bug with harvests where "pints" were being recorded as "pings"
  • Fixed a broken link on the contact page

And under the hood, our developers have improved our code by:

  • Upgrading to Bootstrap 3.2 (this is our front end CSS library, that makes the site look and feel the way it does)
  • Improved our test coverage by about 6%

Lots of good stuff here! Huge thanks to the many developers, testers, and other contributors who helped out with this release.

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Dead plants

I was looking at a planting page, and couldn't find many actions from there. E.g. on http://growstuff.org/plantings/cesy-planter-boxes-lavender, there's no button to harvest. I have to go to my harvests to create a new harvest. Can we add a link for that, please?

Also, what do I do when a plant dies? Is there any way to mark a planting as no longer existing? It looks like this will be covered by the future feature to mark a planting as finished - ID 46972853 in PivotalTracker - is that right?

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Adding edging to garden beds

I finally got sick of the way the weeds are sending runners into my garden beds and I can't use the string trimmer around them for fear of hitting my plants. So I went to Home Depot to get some 4x4 to lay down the sides. And they told me they can't cut 4x4. I'm pretty sure this is wrong and that I've had them do it before, but whatever.

So I went to the garden section and picked up enough edger bricks to do one bed. I don't think I could've moved the cart if I had enough edger bricks for both beds.

Right now, the beds look like they're recessed instead of raised due to the jungle growing around them (I haven't mowed near the beds either, because I can't lift my 100lb lawn mower over the low fence we put in to keep the rabbits out of the garden), but soon I'll be able to fix that with the string trimmer. These added edgers should help prevent topsoil erosion and make it easier for me to pile in compost and mix it around with topsoil, since it'll be all nicely contained. There'll probably be bricks next to the edgers by the end of the year too, to help keep them from falling over without the weeds to support them, and maybe to make a walking path between the beds too.

Edging

I also decided that I'm going to do build conduit trellises on the west bed next year, nice and tall (a bit over 2m?), for the vining plants. Right now those are in the west bed already because the majority of the sun the beds get is from the east (there are large trees, including chestnut, to the west), and I don't want the trellises to shade other stuff out.

Here's a video I found on how to do that:

Conduit trellis how-to video

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multiple users on one account

My wife and I have the same plantings and harvests. Should we share one login on here? Is there a more appropriate way for our records to be co-owned?

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Tomato round-up

Even though I planted tomatoes reasonably early and the weather has been quite warm, the tomatoes are just... confused by the weather. I have a few good sized Brandy Boy and Persimmon but they're still green. I had one really early San Marzano back in june, and another is starting to turn red. The San M is in a pot... I'm starting to wish I'd planted it in the ground, because it is growing like crazy.

This year's Producer has been a disappointment. I planted 4th of July (a hybrid) which is supposed to be a good early tomato, and planted it in the Producer Spot with enough trellis to keep it busy all season, but it's bizarrely stunted - about a foot tall and not growing any bigger. It's got a good crop of red tomatoes on it now but they weren't quite ready by the 4th, which was disappointing since Jetsetter was ready in early july and is a much bigger, tastier fruit. And it's supposed to be indeterminate, producing through early fall, but it's acting determinate. Also, the fruit is not of good quality. Its flavor is OK (but only OK), but the skin is incredibly thick (thicker than supermarket tomatoes) and is BITTER. I've had thick skin tomatoes before but none whose skin had strong bitter flavors.

It's possible I got a flawed plant given the weird determinate behavior and tiny size, but I would not grow 4th of July again. I hope San M does well in its pot because otherwise I will have a rather poor tomato harvest this year.

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cucumber.. no wait... muskmelon...

So I completely don't have the time/energy to keep my crop list up to date, but this year I planted cucumbers. Or I thought I planted cucumbers. It turns out they are armenian cucumbers which are actually a particularly cucumbery variety of muskmelon. Many people like them but I am slightly weirded out by the density of the flesh and the sort of zucchini-like texture and flavor.

Fortunately my landlady says she's fond of armenian cukes so she took the giant cuke I brought her to make a cucumber salad of and perhaps I will learn to love them once I know what sorts of flavors to pair them with. They aren't untasty, it's just they were a bit surprising.

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Tomato: Late blight?

I just pulled this from my "patio" tomato plant (which is actually in-ground). I'm suspecting late blight. It poured rain all of last week.

So, for those with more experience...is this late blight?

Untitled

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Harvest time!

I harvested two of my Cherokee Purple tomatoes today and turned one of them into a delectable tomato sandwich. It was divine.

I've also harvested about forty of the Sweet 100 tomatoes and roasted them. I'm hoping to turn them into a small amount of tomato sauce. For two people, that should be plenty.

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THINGS

My dill plant died about a month ago. I tried to keep it going but the poor guy had just had enough.

The sage, mint, thyme and chives are all fine. Sage and mint have gotten kinda down once or twice but perked up with a bit of care.

The supermarket basil plant I've been trying to keep alive since my housemate brought it home seems to be coming back from the dead.

Oh, and I buried some potatoes a while ago. No idea how I'll tell whether they're growing or not.

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My garden survived the Hail Storm!

We had a wicked hail storm here this past Thursday. I've lived in this area for about 25 years and never saw anything like this.

Hail in the herb garden

Pouring hail

I had recently planted my gardens but miraculously the only damage was to my Early Girl tomato plant and I don't believe it was a mortal wound. I still have 2 strong branches so I'm hopeful that the plant will soldier on. Also sorta amazed that my baby nasturtiums in my herb garden survived unscathed.

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My interests

Chickpeas, Lentils, All vegetables, Apricot, Grapefruit, Peach, Cantelope, Oats.

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Eep! Need advice - seeds got rained on

Hi there,

I was forgetful and left a bunch of bulbs and a few seeds outside through a major rainstorm we just had. They are all soaked! They were not ready to be planted as the direct sow was in June for our hardiness area - is there anything that can be done?

Thanks,

~Genevieve

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Composting

I started a compost pile almost a year ago when I got the house. The county gives out these plastic rings to compost inside of (county green initiatives to save the bay include getting people to compost and use that instead of inorganic fertilizer). I got two because with the size of my yard, the first was quickly filled. Except compost shrinks. So for most of this time, I've had two not very large piles. I have also not gotten any good compost from them. It's all wet leafy bits and matted grass.

Finally, last week I decided to get serious. I bought a 20" long thermometer to measure the temperature inside. It arrived yesterday (Saturday). Meanwhile, on Thursday my other half moved one bin a few feet it get it out of the way of a trench he was digging. So I measured that one, and it was 115°F/46°C (the other was 80°F/25°C). So, turning means rebuilding, not just moving it around a bit when I add stuff? Oh.

The books I have say larger piles get hotter, so yesterday I decided I must be shooting myself in the foot by having two small piles. I combined them. Today, it measured in at 140°F/60°C!

Here's how big it is now:

And here's the thermometer:

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rename account?

Hi! I just put in my garden for this year and I'm ready to enter it in Growstuff, but I've realized that I'd like to link my Growstuff account to my worksafe ID rather than my, uh, non-worksafe internet handle. Is there a way to rename my account, or should I just get a new account and start clean? (I'm considering getting a paid account, if that helps, but would want to link it to the worksafe name.)

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Tomatoes!

I have tiny little tomatoes growing right now! They're the size of my pinky nail, but they're growing! I will soon have purple tomatoes to eat!

I have a lemon about the size of my thumbnail growing as well and lots of flowers. If I'm lucky, I'll have lots of lemons this summer.

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Finally planting things!

When I bought the house last year, the date I took ownership was pushed back about a month due to paperwork red tape. Consequently, everything died waiting for transplant from little seedling cups to big dirt.

Over the winter, my back yard was driven over by a large truck when the old shed was demolished and replaced. In the barren spot that used to be lawn / clover / violets, I've been using the garden fork to loosen the soil, then putting down newspaper, soil, and compost. So far, I've got tomatoes, potatoes, and some onions planted. I have seeds for the three sisters (corn, pole beans, and squash), and seedlings for squash, zucchini, eggplant, strawberries, and sweet potatoes.

I see ratatouille in the future.

I also just picked up seeds for Romanesco broccoli, cabbage, and beets, but those will be fall crops in my region.

The squash seeds I have are kind of a mystery. There's a pack of butternut and a container in which I put seeds from...something. It was either more butternut or acorn squash. I don't think it was pumpkin.

A cement mixing tray I filled with dirt and compost last year for the ill-fated seedlings will be getting chocolate mint. The driveway is bordered in spearmint already. I'm also looking at putting two basils with the tomatoes. I have seeds for Genovese and Greek Yevani.

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wasabi & horseradish in containers

I've been growing horseradish in a container for about 7 or 8 years now (it especially loves being in the self-watering container). I've been growing wasabi in a (non-self-watering) container for 2 years. Both do just fine -- surviving thru' the winter, putting out a fantastic amount of leaves every year -- except where one thing is concerned: actually producing roots that are big enough to be used for cooking. On the horseradish i get super skinny roots that don't leave much leftover after peeling, and the wasabi hasn't put out any usable roots at all.

Any suggestions? I'm thinking that the 1st obvious thing to try is changing the dirt, but i'm not sure what sort of change to make.

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Sprouts!

There are sprouts! The mustard spinach is starting to appear in The Nursery. The red kale, wild arugula, and marjoram are still pending, but I'm very pleased to have some sort of seedling action going on.

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Killer apps

Tomatoes are "the thing" in my summer garden - they're what I plan everything else around, they're what gets me motivated to plant. Sure, I also grow and enjoy squash, eggplant, and other stuff, but tomatoes are my killer app, the thing that keeps me gardening when I'm blah and unmotivated and in the middle of a remodel and don't want to do anything.

Garlic is the motivator crop of my fall planting. Hardneck garlic with huge cloves and a flavor you can't get at the store.

What are yours?

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Garden-level photos

Currently it appears I can only add planting-level photos. My garden is so small one photo covers the entire thing, so I'd be posting the same photo for each planting.

Would it be possible to get photos at the garden level?

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New Feature/UX: Add "Plant something" to planting summary page

I've just planted my (tiny, maybe ill-fated, but still mine) container garden on my balcony.

So I click "Plant" on the home page, fill in the resulting form, and am presented with a nice summary of the crop I just planted.

The problem is that I have 6 different crops to log/plant. It's not entirely clear how to do this, so I've been going to Your Stuff > Plantings > Plant something button, which is a minor pain.

It would be very helpful if the "planted crop summary" page included a "Plant something" button right there so I can immediately add my next crop without having to jump through so many menus.

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spring 2014 seed-starting

On 3/16 (sun.) i tried starting some hot pepper seeds:
- Big Jim @ 5
- fish pepper @ 2

This past weekend i saw that 1 of the big Jim had sprouted! Amazing, since this is a pepper the spouse bought dehydrated at the farmers market, so to have one of them sprout is amazing. Very interested to see if it grows at all, if it produces fruit, if the fruit grows true to type, et cetera.

Neither of the fish peppers sprouted. I've had problems with seeds from this company germinating. I just threw down the last 7 seeds in to see if anything happens. Really frustrated trying to get a fish pepper plant going here. We'll see what happens. If nothing germinates, i guess i'll try to get to the Seattle Tilth fair this year and just buy a plant.

Today (4/4 | fri.) i began starting some tomatoes:
- black cherry (my favorite / the most successful of the tomatoes i've grown -- saved these seeds myself) @ 4
- ditmarsher @ 4
- hahms gelbe @ 4

Hope any of these germinate. Seed-starting is still a new adventure for me and it doesn't always go terribly well, which leaves me frustrated and sad.

Next i need to look at what seeds i want to sow directly in their pot. I might just do that with the herbs and onions. Then to decide what other veggies i'm going to grow this year -- i think edamame for sure, for one thing.

Hooray, spring!!

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Starting to plant; and rearranging

Shifted the mini greenhouse against the fence earlier in the week; today stacked up some paving slabs by the back door (where greenhouse previously was) and put some herb pots on them. P requests most-used herbs (especially winter herbs) to go here so I shall have to think about this and maybe plant some smaller pots this year for over-wintering.

Also scattered some rocket seed in gaps in the beds, and planted 3 pots of basil in the greenhouse.

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Discovery day in the garden

The invasive, sunlight blocking, and previously thought by me to be a fruitless wonder of a passionflower vine that my neighbours have inflicted on the fence and my tiny garden, turns out to be Passiflora caerulea. I was going to write to next door's landlord and ask them to replace it with something less invasive (I pull shoots out of my garden every weekend) but now that it's possibly supplying food, I might hold off. Paghat says they can be made into a nice-ish relish but doesn't give any recipes. Anyone ever done that with this fruit? I'm having a bit of a mammal 'bright red equals poison' moment and not sure if I want to try it.

I've put a picture up here http://lolapomona.tumblr.com/post/77564818960/passiflora-caerulea-blue-passionflower-fruit

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Ready or not, here I come

Due to the all the snow and cold we've had this winter (comparatively, for this region), I've been lax about prepping for the coming growing season. But I had some time (and containers) so I started wintersowing a bunch of seeds.

8 wintersown containers

We'll see how they do. One of the reasons why I've been hesitant to start the wintersowing as early as previous years is because this winter has been erratic. We've had subzero wind chills... and then the next week is high 40s/low 50s. I normally wintersow my seeds in order (cool weather crop first, hot loving crop last) for this very reason but that spread is just too much. Today we're in the mid-60s! Last week at this time, I had over a foot of snow blocking my front door.

I have some snow peas I want to plant but I need to figure out how to handle that. My backyard is still covered with snow (though maybe for not much longer given how warm it is today) and the ground is hard as a rock right now. I normally sow the snow peas directly but at this rate, it might be mid- to late March before the ground warms up enough that I can work the soil. Maybe I should start them in pots first?

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February harvest!

All of you Australians are making me jealous again, so I decided that if life gives you a Minnesota winter, you make maple syrup, and tapped the big sugar maple out front.

I put one tap in last Friday afternoon - right after what will hopefully be our last big snow - and have gotten about eight gallons of sap so far. I'm aiming for 10 gallons, which if all goes well, will boil down to about a quart of syrup. (I'm not expecting all to go well.)

One thing I didn't quite expect about this is how very aware of the weather it has made me. Regular gardening gives me a reason to be aware of the weather on a larger scale - have we had enough rain this week or too much rain, will there be a late frost or an early on - but maple sugaring is so much more sensitive. Sap flow will double or quadruple based on slight shifts in temperature and sunlight, and since I'm collecting in one-gallon jugs, that's the difference between a new jug every other day and a new jug every six hours. Meanwhile, the sap has to be kept at refrigerator temperatures or below, and since I'm storing it on the porch, that means I have to be very aware of overnight lows - is it goin to get cool enough to re-freeze everything, or will I have to add more ice in the moring? It is going to get cold enough to freeze the sap, so that I can cold separate in the morning and save some boiling time? Suddenly every five-degree-F shift in the temperature, every hour of sunlight, is important.

I'm tapping with a method I got from the book Maple On Tap by Rich Finzer, which I checked out from the library after I couldn't find the book I already had. I'm using a plastic 5/16" spile I got online from Leader Evaporator (after I discovered that no local stores carry sugaring supplies anywhere.) The plastic spiles are designed to hook up to food-grade vinyl tubing, which I have running down to a gallon milk jug with a hole in the lid - when the jug is full, I just swap out the jugs, and then put an un-peirced lid on the full one.

It seemed like the most low-maintenance system I've read about, and so far it's working pretty well; the only issue is with swapping the jugs out often enough on really fast days. Most of the people using this system ssem to suggest 5-gallon jugs, but with only one tap, that seemed excessive - besides, I already had a lot of milk jugs. I put the last on on today, though - I'm going to have to find another solution tonight.

If things keep going at this rate, I'm probably going to have my ten gallons by the weekend, and I'll try to make syrup (how hard it is to make the syrup determines whether I keep collecting sap...) We have a small aluminum firebowl with a grill in the back; I'm planning to use aluminum warming pans over a wood fire for most of the evaporating. Any advice from anyone who's done maple syrup on a small-scale, makeshift system is welcomed! The tapping and collecting sap part has gone surprisingly well - even drilling the tap hole with our ancient brace and bit was easy - so I'm expecting the boiling process to be awful and frustrating to make up for it.

Pictures: Tapped maple tree with tube leading to jug Tools: drill, hammer, tap, nail, tubing, book (the white thing is a syrup filter I haven't used yet, but I got it in the same order as taps, because the shipping would have been ridiculous for just the taps.)

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Hope Springs Eternal

Right around New Year's Day I start itching to plant things. It's a little ridiculous, because even in our mild Seattle winters, cool weather crops go out--earliest--in February, but more realistically in March-April (or at least, that was my experience from last year).

We bought a house at the end of 2012, and did our first garden in 2013 with sort of freakish results (our best cultivated crop was our tomatoes and peppers. But the cool season greens were a flop. What?)

Last year, I tried starts in our southern facing window and got stuck with these spindly, leggy, weak little plants. Some survived, some didn't; none of them really thrived. So for this year, we got a Grow Light and set it up, and a couple of days into January, I put some flats in underneath it to try it out--nothing for the garden--just some lettuce micro-greens for us, and wheatgrass and buckwheat forage for the chickens.

Come later January (23rd, I think), I added my first flat of lettuce and Swiss chard destined for the yard. Soon after, a fresh new set of herbs--my other ones seemed sad last year (they had been transplanted and moved a few times from our previous home), and my chickens (who are not supposed to like herbs) think they are the best thing ever for a wintertime snack.

I'm also going to try wintersowing in plastic containers, as my friend V has been telling me about. Possibly today!


Super excited to find this site! I really struggled with garden journaling last year because I didn't have a good format to organize my thoughts, and this place looks just about perfect for my needs. And the ability to track harvests is fantastic--that's one of the things I wanted to add this year so we could start making some benchmarks.

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