Welcome to the garden. We live in central New Jersey on the border of USDA Zone 6/7.
Mostly, we raise edibles, either fruit trees or vegetables, using organic gardening methods when possible.
I like the idea that my kids can go "pick a fruit" and not worry about residual chemicals.
As a residential gardener, I find myself without adequate space (and time ;) to grow all the varieties of stuff I would like.
Currently, I have over twenty different fruit trees scattered throughout the lawn (I do "bump" one while cutting, on occasion).
The breakdown of types is:
Most of these trees are not yet producing reliably, however, the pears have been excellent bearers!
As an experiment to further the organic effort, during the '96 growing year, I skipped all spraying
of the fruit trees. In previous years, the pears didn't appear to have any signs of disease or pests.
During the early summer period, I noticed much of the new growth with distorted leaves. As the
fruit developed, the shape of the fruit was irregular. By harvest time, there were entry
marks (from insects?) on most fruit. OK, so now I know. At least some minimal spray during the early
period will be performed next year.
I'm a member of NAFEX, the North American Fruit Explorers, which has provided many good ideas and suggestions.
A quarterly newsletter has lots of entertaining and informative articles.
Primarily I'm using raised beds for the majority of my bed gardening efforts. The basic design
is very simply to build. I use 2 x 8 CCA treated lumber (I know, leaching of chemicals may be a
problem, all my future beds will use cedar or locust, if I can find them). Anyway, where it fits,
I use full 16' boards for the sides and 4' boards at the ends. I leave about 2 1/2' for a walkway
between rows, to fit a wheelbarrow, etc. I save a couple of 5' 2 x 8 boards to use across the
width for kneeling and sitting on when working for extended periods.
Most of the varieties that I raise are heirloom or uncommon types which I locate through seed exchange
programs. I'm a life member of Seed Savers Exchange, which is invaluable in obtaining heirloom or
just hard-to-find seed varieties. They are actively involved in world-wide collection and preservation
efforts, please consider trying them out!
What I should be working on now