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I can't comment on growing vegetables in Texas, as I live in the UK, but what I can say is that certain vegetables give much bigger yields per square metre than others if you have only a small area.

I can grow enough parsnips for the winter in just 1sqm, using a precision sowing technique of putting 5-6 seeds into 30 stations 15cm apart in 3 rows, each row having 30cm between. When the seeds germinate, the young plants are thinned to the strongest plant at each station to give a good root come the autumn.

Carrots can be grown in a similarly precise way and spring onions (scallions) can be grown in clumps of 10 in a 10cm*10cm grid - 0.5m * 0.5m will give you a clump a day pretty much for a month.

You can grow 60 beetroot in a square metre by sowing four seeds in module trays together, then planting out 15 clumps at 30cm apart in three rows 30cms apart. You can harvest the beetroot over a few weeks in the UK by taking the big ones first, then letting the laggards continue to grow.

Potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic and winter squash tend to require larger spaces if you want to be self-sufficient. Even then, the first four require no more than 15sqm for a year's supply. Squash tends to need more so is more a crop for those with a bit more space to grow.

This winter, 4 Savoy cabbages were sufficient to provide fresh produce from 1st December to the end of March, using only 1.5sqm of growing area. 6 Brussels Sprouts plants took up 2sqm and again have been picked continuously from early December through to now.

The key thing to factor in is how you will store vegetables - with us in the UK, during many winter seasons, storage in an external shed is fine, but this winter we had 20+ days of hard frosts ( lower than -6C), which caused stored veg in the shed to rot. Inside a garage with a wall facing the home appears better for such scenarios if you don't have a cellar. Freezing is not as good as eating fresh, but pragmatism may suggest some of that taking place.

My top ten vegetables to grow in the UK if you are limited in growing area: scallions/spring onions; radish; beetroot; parsnip; carrot; lettuce, picking leaves every week for 10 weeks+; winter radish; celery; dwarf bean; bush tomato.

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Thanks Rhys. England has pretty unique growing conditions, thanks to the gulf-stream bringing warm, moist air to bear. I have even seen photographic proof that somebody is growing a large avocado tree in london, which must be sheltered and south-facing, next to a masonry wall, but still very impressive. One needs to know one's local conditions and what will produce locally. I find that I can get a lot of Black Beauty eggplant, but little to none of other varieties, and I don't know why, but I keep planting and trying, and it keeps being that way.

Texas temperatures are very volatile, so dry beans store well, but there are no cool root-cellars here. I hope to not lose electricity for frozen produce. Canning tomatoes and salsa is a lot of work, but then I have those in winter.

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I have a small container garden and so excited for this year! Last year did half veggies and half pollinator garden. Might try garlic this year!

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Careful about when to plant garlic in your area. I plant it in September, after the heat breaks some.

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Ok, good to know. Gotta do some research.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by John Day MD

Follow "Gardening with Leon" on YT on how to make self-watering garden containers. Leon, in his 80s, is intent on teaching the younger generation how to grow their own food. These work extremely well in West Texas where it's difficult to provide a consistent soil moisture to in-ground gardens. Two years ago, I cut a 300 gal IBC tote in half, raised it on cinder blocks which allows easier access for people who have mobility issues. I have several horse feed buckets, (free from people who have horses) made into these self-watering containers. Watering, fertilizing is easy (no desperate 2-3times a day watering!) and no weeding, either!

https://youtube.com/@gardeningwithleon2816

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Feb 27, 2023·edited Feb 27, 2023Author

That sounds like an effective raised-bed garden, and should hold up well in the sun.

I think one needs to know what has been contained in the 300 gallon IBC tote in the past, whether toxic or not.

Weed seeds do get into everything in my world, even if they don't start there...

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Feb 28, 2023Liked by John Day MD

Of course, I did forget to mention to look for a "food-grade" IBC tote! Mine contained an "udder" dip for cows! 🐄

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by John Day MD

Dear John, I have had gardens before but I will have to move home to have another. Thank you for reminding me of my past gardening, you have painted that picture fresh in my thoughts! Teza from Sydney Australia.

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I'm happy to be of this minor service...

:-)

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Great to read text and comments, and I'll throw in a bit of gardening advice from Maine: I was told decades ago when I first gardened in central Maine that the best garden is raised beds in a WET SPOT (look at a map, Maine is a swamp). My beds aren't necessarily very raised, but they drain well. My life's great mystery: Where does all that decayed hay go?!?!? (I use old hay for mulch.)

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Compost gets beamed up by Scotty. My compost container never needs emptying, somehow, though I may shovel it out at the bottom every few years. It rapidly finds its preferred level again.

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You made me laugh, something I'm always grateful for. I use old rabbit fence for compost bins, so I just remove the fence and put the compost on the garden. Always have four or five bins going at one time, but I had a friend who had her 10-year pile (including humanure), her 1-year pile, etc.

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Mar 6, 2023Liked by John Day MD
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Thanks Dogsnose,

It's hard to completely know, but one might be able to know what happened on one's garden plot over the past 10-30 years.

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Feb 27, 2023·edited Feb 27, 2023

*BLACK BOX WARNING* to new gardeners like myself!

With all the exhortations in the alt health and truth communities to "get growing", it is easy to get started in haste, as I did, and end up committing a critical, expensive, time and effort killing error.

*PLEASE* be extraordinarily careful about your soil source, whatever amendments you add, and here is why: AMINOPYRALIDS

https://www.thesurvivalgardener.com/another-garden-aminopyralid-strikes/

https://www.thesurvivalgardener.com/charles-dowding-scott-head-discover-herbicide-contamination-hard-way/

Many veteran organic gardeners with decades of experience are still getting hit by this "better living through chemistry" stealth poison from the usual predator/parasites, same as what happened with glyphosate and so many other products pushed for "safe & effective" applications - turns out disease, disability and death aren't quite so sate & effective, unless you're evaluating it from a genocidal psychopath's POV.

Do your own thorough research and be informed, do not consent to their degenerative, life-hating/killing products & practices.

Gratitude to Doc John and all the gardeners out there for sharing the regenerative loving intention of stewarding life affirming gardening, feeding the foundation of all life on our home.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by John Day MD

Commonly known as Graz-On. What a horrible substance. People unknowingly getting hay or animal maure containing Gra-on, thus poisoning their soil. Yes, definitely something to be aware of.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by John Day MD

My exposure came through a high-dollar, organic dairy cow manure compost, but it can come from many sources that are not easy to identify from a consumer's vantage point.

You can even get it through something like mushroom compost, if the substrate the mushrooms were grown on was hay or straw from a field sprayed with aminopyralids, which will not appear in any identifiable way to the innocent end consumer with intentions of organic gardening.

The absolute safest way to avoid it is to just use your own home & garden made soil & amendments, compost, etc.

In my experience, few if any vendors are willing to even acknowledge the aminopyralid contamination problem, much less discuss it or take measures to protect their customers from it out of fear of scaring off customers. Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.

Those few that are trying to offer transparency & protection will perform a bio-assay test on any new soil or amendment supply streams into their stock, keeping it in quarantine until the bio-assay period is complete and it has shown the supply material to be safe/free of aminopyralid contamination.

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What is the breakdown process and timeline for these aminopyralids, if you happen to know, or have a good link?

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Feb 27, 2023·edited Feb 28, 2023Liked by John Day MD

I'm going by testimonials of others who've dealt with this and attempted to find workarounds.

https://thegrownetwork.com/rescue-garden-grazon-contamination/

First of all, it survives INTACT the passage through a ruminants gut, which as you know is a multi-stage thorough microbial digestion process, so for any molecule to survive that journey intact is alarming.

It also survives "hot composting" according to some who've tried this to break it down.

Otherwise, we would not be getting intact aminopyralid contamination through using these commercially composted manures sourced from ruminants who've grazed on aminopyralid sprayed pastures, and whose manure has then been hot composted - just as I experienced with my high-dollar "organic" dairy cow composted manure.

The length of time to break down is going to depend on variables beyond my knowledge, but one local vendor of well-sourced & vetted soils down around Buda has told me it can take 5-7 years. And certainly, "the dose is the thing" will have a major impact on how much remediation is required.

Alternatively, since it is a broadleaf herbicide, some clever gardeners such as Scott Head, the Black Gumbo gardener on YouTube who is outside Houston,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bur8HewkpQw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIDZ0HnQ_uE

successfully "used up" the aminopyralid in his contaminated beds by planting non-broadleaf species known to be heavy feeders, such as corn or maize, to draw the aminopyralid out of the soil in a single growing season. He then carefully disposed of the contaminated corn or maize as hazardous waste to keep it from further contaminating any other soils.

Hope this helps!

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Sigh... Sorghum might do even better, but what a waste of a year!

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by John Day MD

Did not intend to insert a "black cloud" into such a bright, hearted and helpful series of posts on gardening, one of my favorite topics - just wanted to help any other beginners, or even experienced gardeners who hadn't yet heard the precautionary word on aminopyralid contamination, to avoid what was a heartbreaking - and wallet breaking - difficult experience for me that almost killed my gardening aspirations straight out of the starting gate.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by John Day MD

Aerobically composted once received all of these chemicals and heavy metals are bound with carbon and rendered inert. I've done it, its work but it works.

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So many specific new toxins in the world.

It's good to be sure.

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First, I love your screen name. Second, I had never heard of this stuff though I had heard of Picloram. Maine's organic dairy farms are overseen by Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners, which would not permit any spraying of herbicides on pastures! Why in God's name would anyone want to get rid of "broadleaf" weeds? That includes dandelions which are good fodder. My neighbor is trying to rehabilitate glysophate-sprayed fields which are underlain by hardpan, and I don't understand why he isn't trying various deep-rooted seeds such as forage radishes to loosen the soil. You look at our pasture and there are lots of different plants (as there should be), whereas he only seems to have grass. But at least he's trying!

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