???? For Gardeners

Updated on March 16, 2011
M.S. asks from Cardington, OH
7 answers

I attempted a couple gardens in the past and have had VERY little luck. I am very determined to be more successful this year! I have an area mapped out that allows full sun (most of the things I'm planting require it). I do have a couple questions, though.
1. We have horses, so this means plenty of fertilizer. I wanted to till it into the soil in the fall, but that didn't happen. Can I still till it under this spring? Should I mix it with topsoil? Our dirt is very hard, full of clay and rocks. I will HAVE to manage the soil somehow. Is topsoil and horse manure the way to go?
2. What are some of the most "fool proof" veggies to plant? I want tomatoes, for sure. Cucumbers, kale, beets, okra, squash, carrots and green beans are on my list. Are any of these super difficult to manage? Any others I should add that even ,I, may be able to keep alive??? :)
3. A couple of these veggies require full to partial or light sun. If I plant a row of sunflowers or another tall flower in the row next to these veggies, will this be the right amount of shade for "partial" ?

These are a few of the questons I have for now - any other advice is greatly appreciated. I'm sure I will be calling on y'all in the future!! Thank you!!!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers


answers from Albany on

It's lucky you have a never ending supply of manure! And free too!

But if you have clay soil, I'd use peat moss to break it up, in addition to the manure. In fact, you may want to try a raised bed instead, mix a good organic sandy top soil, peat moss, and manure. All of which will tend to dry out faster than your clay soil.

Also different veggies like different types of soil, and different amounts of water. So you'll just have to look at a good gardening site, or check the back of the seed packets, or plant labels when you buy for each individual veggie.

Here in upstate NY we have an even shorter growing season than you, and for leafies, lettuces, kale, etc there is never enough time for it to get big enough. Root veggies, two, like carrots, beets, ginger, potatoes, always are the 'baby' variety, tehehe.

We have fantastic luck with squashes and beans and tomatoes though. And try some herbs, too. I love having my own parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, cilantro....and get very cranky when they die back and I have to start getting them at the grocery store again.

Not sure about your sunflowers as shade theory, they take time to grow tall enough to shade, plus they may attract birds and other animals to come snack on your efforts.

I've used obelisks for sweet peas and planted the more fragile veggies behind them for a little shade and protection.

You can also buy the screening that green houses use at a garden center, or even a bed sheet (just be sure there's air circulation) draped over stakes.

You're getting me all excited about it now. It's been a BRUTAL winter, and here we STILL have 2+ feet of snow on the ground!

I want to be a farmer when I grow up too, but for now I'm just a suburban foodie!


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We are sort of accidental gardeners ourselves. We add compost in the spring, before planting. We had horrible luck with the squash last year. It took over everything and didn't produce. We had good luck with snow peas and sugar snap peas and tomatoes (from seedlings vs seeds). We also have some clay in our soil and I guess the corn didn't like that much. We got half-sized ears and it was a lot of work. If you plant squash, put it somewhere it can grow and not interfere with other plants.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

Horse manure is to acidic for many gardens. It can be used but you need to cure it first. I'm not sure of the process. There should be info online, check gardening websites.
If you plan to plant broccoli and other plants in the cabbage family be careful of cabbage worms. Planting marigolds near cabbage family plants will discourage the worms. Planting garlic next to roses will make the roses smell better and discourage pests. Also sprinkling garlic powder, or used cat litter (poo removed) around plants discourages bunny and deer feedings.
Water early morning and late afternoon, prune away any non-producing stems or branches and your harvest will be better.
Good luck and happy gardening.



answers from Cincinnati on

Since your soil is so bad, as is ours, you may want to consider square foot gardening. I found it easy to maintain. You can google it; look for Mel Bartholemew's site. You probably already know this, but I *think* you have to age horse manure for a while before you use it to remove pathogens. It may be worth looking into. Good luck!


answers from Kalamazoo on

Plant some peas too - both snow peas that you eat whole and the snap peas that you shuck and eat the peas out of. My kids will pick a bowl of peas and shuck them and eat the peas raw! so yummy.
Plant your peas and Gr beans on fence or trellis like Theresa said and then plant your "partial sun" plants on the north side of that. That will filter the sun enough - maybe even too much once the bean plants get big!
You should also think about growing some peppers and herbs. Along with your tomatoes, you could make some homemade salsa!!
Do some radishes and a mixed variety of lettuce. I usually buy like 3 diff kinds of lettuce seeds and mix them all together, then plant 2ftx 2ft sections every few weeks to keep my supply going. Also spinach - great raw or cooked and healthier than lettuce. If you like eggplant, you could do 1-2 plants of that too. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage......
Some plants are cold tolerant and can be planted earlier -Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Kale, Green, Lettuce, Spinach, Radishes, Beets, most herbs, peas
Others, you must wait until the threat of frost is past - usually in mid May - for tomatoes, squash, peppers, cukes, Okra, gr beans



answers from Cleveland on

It's absolutely not too late to work your manure into the dirt. You just want to make sure that your manure has had a chance to "cool" before you put plants into the ground. Fresh manure can burn plants, so let it sit for a few weeks before putting it next to plants.

Manure is actually the perfect thing for clay soil. It will help break up the clay, making the soil more workable.

Fool proof veggies? Your list looks good. I usually don't plant carrots because they need very rock-free soil, lots of room...and really, carrots are so cheap to buy that I don't bother with them in the garden. Same goes for potatoes. Pumpkins and watermelon are a fun to grow, but they take a lot of room. Strawberries are also easy to grow, but they take more work than some other fruits/veggies.

I'd only plant sunflowers on the north side of your garden, so you are not interfering with the sunlight of other plants. I don't know of any garden veggies that like too much shade.

If you haven't already, start a compost pile as well. It is very helpful in providing your garden with the perfect blend of organic fertilizer (plus, it's free!) Check out this website for instructions on how to start a compost pile: http://keystosimpleliving.com/gardens_compost.php



answers from Dallas on

I've used horse manure before, but it has to be composted first- because it is too "hot" and will burn your plants- cow and chicken manure is the same. The only kind that you can just add straight to your garden is Llama manure- it is the best stuff in the world for your garden! So if you know any one with llamas, ask them for some.
You might want to bring in some dirt if you soil is really rocky. I do raised beds so the soil is looser. I have always had luck with tomatoes and beans- they are the easiest to grow. I do the beans from seed and the tomatoes from small plants( I have grown them from seed also, but it's easier from the plant). Mulching around your plants with straw or dried grass clippings helps keep moisture in and weeds out- then you just turn it into the soil when you are ready to plant next time.
Go to your local nursery and talk to the owner- they should be able to give you some great advice!
Have fun!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions