Leslie Parsons – Garden Help Desk

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  • Fred Moore Jr says:

    Good Morning,
    My Husband bought this membership for me…..YEA! I have a few things I have questions about. I am not new to gardening but I am still green. I have six children and they all are excited about doing our garden this year. I purchased the DVD and it has been very useful, however I currently rent. I have a wonderful landlord who has agreed to plow part of the yard for us. I am however right by a field ( last year they did corn). My question and concern is how to not have the chemicals they spray get on my crops!? So, should I plant in ground, raised beds or green house? The other is layout and spacing. I tried spacing on my last garden and everything still grew together! The last is compost, I loved the video but in an somewhat urban landscape what can I build/or use to contain it? I am sorry this is so loaded but I could really use the help. I know it will cost to start and is worth it but with 7 others in our home the whole “waste not want not” is key!
    Thank you ever so much’

    1. Hi Crystal,

      OK you have a long list there. Let me do my best.

      Regarding spraying from nearby ag production. That is a tough one. I even asked John Jeavons about that (( and it seemed to me he didn’t really have a good answer.

      I think greenhouses are going to be the safest, but they cost a LOT more, take time to build, and create another set of growing problems. Just starting out, I would say do a few beds and get some experience. Erecting some kind of barrier between you r garden and the nearby crops to disrupt wind is an idea. A privacy fence or some kind of screen?

      What kind of beds to grow in mostly depends on your soil type and situation. If you got workable soil I would suggest working in the ground – it is simpler. Raised beds are usually for folks who are trying to grow things on solid rock, or heavy clay. Or deep sand that has tunneling varmints. Or for people who need the beds up at a height they can reach (wheelchairs or elderly come to mind).

      I am so glad you are worried about compost and fertility!. More compact compost systems would be a worm bin like this one

      The traditional way of making compost is just to assign a corner of the yard where you dump the ingredients (kitchen scraps, junk mail, coffee grounds… you know the drill). Use some pallets to sort of define that bin. Let me see if I can figure out how to put an image in here. Hold on a sec.

      calssic compost bin in garden

      You and your families urine also has a lot of nitrogen in it – and can be setup to be handled safely. Humanure compost is another level of challenge – try that one later.

      I really hope you do well with this. Please keep us posted on your results. Send in an article with an update maybe? They say the most productive time on an organic farm is when the kids are teenagers… 🙂

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