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Help me with my garden!

amc80

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 18, 2010
Messages
5,765
I'm finally going to have a real garden, and it's going to be in a climate where stuff will actually grow! Now that I'm in the PNW, I'm taking advantage of the climate and soil. I used a website to plan out my garden. The site autofills in the quantity per square. My garden will be a raised bed, 4'x8', so 32 squares all together.

Unless....you don't recommend square foot gardening? It seems easier to plan and keep things organized...

Also, in my diagram, the top row will be close to (or against) a fence.

My main concern is how stuff will grow and whether or not it will take over the square next to it. I tried to put viney stuff on the edges...

I'd appreciate any input!

garden_plan.jpg
 

telephone89

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 29, 2014
Messages
3,883
I love sqft gardening. The only thing I'd say, is the very last row - those are going to be very difficult to tend to (against the fence). I like sqft because I don't have to walk in the garden, but I'm not able to tend to things that are 4' away without getting in there. If it isn't already built I'd say to keep it at 3' and widen it, but if it's already built then you gotta work with it.

Have you already checked if these plants are ok together? You might also want to space some of them out - especially the lettuce. IE plant 1 square of lettuce march 11, one square mar 18, etc. This way you will have lettuce for a few weeks rather than a ton all at once (unless you prefer that/have a large family and will finish it).

eta - wow is it a Friday or what. I thought mar 11 meant you were planting them on mar 11. Did not even realize that was today and the website probably just put that in for you haha. But I still think spreading out the planting of lettuce would be a good idea!
 

amc80

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 18, 2010
Messages
5,765
Thanks for the input! I was concerned with being able to reach into the back as well. The planter is already built. But maybe I could put a little walkway through the middle of it?

Also, great tip about staggering lettuce. No way would we be able to eat it all at once, so I will definitely do that!
 

telephone89

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 29, 2014
Messages
3,883
A walkway is a good idea, and you can also adjust the plants to make the ones at the back the slower growing/easy to harvest ones. That way you aren't back there as much and when you are it's not much work.
 

monarch64

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 12, 2005
Messages
17,986
Hi AMC. I am an avid gardener and am pretty involved in the gardening community online and in my county. I also started out with one raised bed, 4 X 8, so I can share with you some of my experiences thus far.

I do not recommend square foot gardening, first of all. It seems like a great concept but you can basically expect that plants do not contain themselves within one square foot. The initial problem I see with your mapped out plan is that you have several plants (zucchini, squash, and canteloupe) which will get HUGE. Even 2 feet of space is not enough for one zucchini. Learned this the hard way the first year I gardened. The stupid zucchini was even a dwarf variety and it still took over half of the raised bed. That's all fine and dandy, but it overshadows everything else next to it and those plants (like your lettuces) won't get enough light to thrive. Same with squash and canteloupe. The foliage gets huge before you even get flowers and fruit. Also those plants are very susceptible to powdery mildew and that stuff can contaminate the rest of the garden. You can't even compost leaves that have mildew. In the PNW you will have even more of a problem because the plants won't have a chance to dry out often enough.

Here's what you can do: Grow those things in LARGE containers and trellis them instead. Not sure about canteloupe. You might have to work towards another area of your yard or nix them altogether depending on space and light. (ETA: pumpkins send out runners and usually need at least 15 feet! I researched them a few years ago and decided I didn't want to dedicate that much space in our yard. Also artichokes are perennials that will keep coming back for years and years...but they don't do anything the first year, you won't see produce from them until year 2. So not sure you want to devote space in the raised bed to those because you'd always be working around them.)

Or... you can keep those plants in the raised bed and use containers for your lettuces and several other things. Right now basically you have too much going on in there.

That's all for now. I'll watch this thread to see if I can be of any more help.

ETA: check out "companion planting" and "raised bed gardening" on Pinterest for tons of ideas, and find a FB group in your area for gardeners--they will hae LOTS of good ideas and probably can share seeds and plants with you as well.

Here's a picture of the raised bed I started with. We built the one behind it the 2nd year and have added a 3rd year before last. Yesterday I sowed cool weather crops--peas, spinach, radishes, arugula, etc. I used recycled wine corks and bamboo skewers to make plant markers.

firstsowing3101601.jpg
 

kmarla

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 8, 2013
Messages
685
I've never done a square foot gardening plan but I have done a lot of gardening and can share a couple of tips. I don't think you'll be able to access the plants in the middle very easily. You'll be doing a lot of reaching. Have you thought about planting in rows instead? My second comment is that while I admire your ambition, I think you have way too many plants crowded in a small area. You need a lot of space for pumpkins, squash etc. They will really spread out. One squash or zucchini plant could almost overtake your whole planting bed. For a small planting bed like this, you might have better luck planting more contained plants like peppers, some types of tomatoes that can be staked etc. Green beans etc can be grown vertically on trellises to free up more room. I agree that you'll get more produce throughout the growing season if you stagger planting times of lettuce. You might want to put the taller plants towards the middle of your bed and the shorter plants on the perimeter where they will get sun and not be shaded out. I wish you luck. I always loved having a garden. It's lots of work but gives lots of pleasure and great food!
 

House Cat

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
4,313
Asparagus are perennials and should have their own designated area. You should read up on how to plant it. The first year or two, they are just little baby ferns. They take up a lot of space.

Artichokes are amazing over here in the west, but I recommend that you incorporate them somewhere in your actual landscape. I usually stick them on the corner of my house or in a corner of a fence. The architecture of the plant is so unique and beautiful that it really does look great surrounded by other flowers, but because it is so huge, it really will eat up too much of a raised bed.

Those pumpkins will get very large. If you have room for them to trail all over your yard, good. I actually love growing pumpkins for the whimsy factor. I usually grown a pie sized pumpkin and those little bitty pumpkins. They are easiest for me.

In square foot gardening, a zucchini or summer squash always takes up at least two feet. My squash tend to get mites because of drought. Because of this, I plant in succession. If you get mildew, you can do this too. Plant your squash and if they get sick, have another two plants waiting to be planted a month or two later. You could also time your zucchini to be planted early, and plant your summer squash later, that way you have one or the other at all times in the garden and you don't have to worry about disease much.

Strawberries really should have a permanent home too.

Double check on celery, broccoli, and onions. They are fall crops for me. They might be for you too?

When were you planning on planting? It is always cautioned not to plant too soon. People get very anxious and plant out too early and their veggies stunt. I always wait until at least April 1st, but I am in a warmer climate than you. I know people who plant earlier than me, but my plants always catch up and pass up theirs in no time. The two plants that really follow this rule are peppers and tomatoes. Edit: With peppers, I have learned to wait even later.
 

amc80

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 18, 2010
Messages
5,765
What great feedback, I really appreciate it!

Regarding overcrowding- this is one of the things I was worried about with the SF concept. I need to do more research. I might nix that all together, based on your feedback.

Squash and such- I know you all are right. I've attempted it in the past and it really does spread out. Maybe I'll do these separately. I'm already planning on doing tomatoes and herbs in pots.

I probably won't plant anything for a few weeks. The bed has to be put together (it's a prefab one), we have to get to the store to get soil, buy plants, etc. It will either be late March or early April before anything gets done, I'd imagine.

One issue I already know we will have is squirrels. How do I keep them from eating everything I plant?
 

telephone89

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 29, 2014
Messages
3,883
You can also trellis/stake squash. I haven't personally tried it because it doesn't grow well here, but some friends in BC have had luck with this. Growing upward rather than outward!
 

iLander

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 23, 2010
Messages
6,731
You may want to tap the best resource in your area; your local agricultural extension service.

You can google "(your county or your state) extension service". You can find info on their site or call them and ask somebody. They probably have info they can mail to you.

Their Whoooooole job is to help farmers grow crops in your area. And it's all free, courtesy of the department of agriculture.

They will know When, What, and How to grow stuff in your area.

When is so important, because many seeds need to be in the ground Now to produce this year. I know my area is almost too late for tomatoes, peppers, peas, etc. The extension service might have a planting calendar for you.

What is important because there are probably certain types of romaine, pumpkins, tomatoes, etc., that are resistant to to the viruses and diseases of your area.

How is helpful because they can advise you of companion planting (peas grow up corn stalks, etc) and underplanting. I think some of the trailing stuff you have (zucchini, squash, pumpkin) can grow under taller crops like tomatoes, corn, and peppers.

I think you want a lot more lettuce and carrots. I plant 1/4 of the TINY seeds (about 25) every couple of weeks, and thin them out by half. By the time you're done with bugs and bunnies, you'll only have a few each week.

This year, I only have one planter, 2 feet wide, 8 feet long. Basically, one short row. I can reach all over to pull out weeds, which WILL come, no matter what. :rolleyes: I am doing sugar snap peas (15 plants) on one side, tomatoes (8) and peppers (3) in the middle, and bibb lettuce (25+) (so I can take a few leaves for dinner each day rather than wait for one complete head) and short carrots (60+) on the other. I also do watermelon in a 25 gallon pot (huge pot, about 2 feet across) so the vines can trail around the yard as they wish. Just mow around it. Also do onions (40, and use leaves as chives/green onions) and basil (tons so I can dry and jar it up) in pots. I've found over the years that this is all I really use or need. The idea is basically an awesome salad each day. :) Everything is crowded together because it helps crowd out weeds, but none of the root systems should really bother the other. Fingers crossed, like with all gardening.

If you have a sunny area and a big pot on wheels consider this: a lemon! You know how you never have a lemon when you need it? Some lemons (Meyer, Variegated) bear all year and will need to go in the garage to avoid freezing, but are sooooo handy! The flowers smell delicious too!
 

iLander

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 23, 2010
Messages
6,731
amc80|1457732803|4003619 said:
What great feedback, I really appreciate it!

Regarding overcrowding- this is one of the things I was worried about with the SF concept. I need to do more research. I might nix that all together, based on your feedback.

Squash and such- I know you all are right. I've attempted it in the past and it really does spread out. Maybe I'll do these separately. I'm already planning on doing tomatoes and herbs in pots.

I probably won't plant anything for a few weeks. The bed has to be put together (it's a prefab one), we have to get to the store to get soil, buy plants, etc. It will either be late March or early April before anything gets done, I'd imagine.

One issue I already know we will have is squirrels. How do I keep them from eating everything I plant?
Grow your own seeds! It's easy and so much cheaper than buying plants! :appl: :appl:

Try fruit netting.

Or call extension service and see what they say. Not sure squirrels are interested in veggies? I just don't know.
 

amc80

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 18, 2010
Messages
5,765
iLander|1457734174|4003635 said:
You may want to tap the best resource in your area; your local agricultural extension service.

You can google "(your county or your state) extension service". You can find info on their site or call them and ask somebody. They probably have info they can mail to you.

Their Whoooooole job is to help farmers grow crops in your area. And it's all free, courtesy of the department of agriculture.

They will know When, What, and How to grow stuff in your area.

When is so important, because many seeds need to be in the ground Now to produce this year. I know my area is almost too late for tomatoes, peppers, peas, etc. The extension service might have a planting calendar for you.

What is important because there are probably certain types of romaine, pumpkins, tomatoes, etc., that are resistant to to the viruses and diseases of your area.

How is helpful because they can advise you of companion planting (peas grow up corn stalks, etc) and underplanting. I think some of the trailing stuff you have (zucchini, squash, pumpkin) can grow under taller crops like tomatoes, corn, and peppers.

I think you want a lot more lettuce and carrots. I plant 1/4 of the TINY seeds (about 25) every couple of weeks, and thin them out by half. By the time you're done with bugs and bunnies, you'll only have a few each week.

This year, I only have one planter, 2 feet wide, 8 feet long. Basically, one short row. I can reach all over to pull out weeds, which WILL come, no matter what. :rolleyes: I am doing sugar snap peas (15 plants) on one side, tomatoes (8) and peppers (3) in the middle, and bibb lettuce (25+) (so I can take a few leaves for dinner each day rather than wait for one complete head) and short carrots (60+) on the other. I also do watermelon in a 25 gallon pot (huge pot, about 2 feet across) so the vines can trail around the yard as they wish. Just mow around it. Also do onions (40, and use leaves as chives/green onions) and basil (tons so I can dry and jar it up) in pots. I've found over the years that this is all I really use or need. The idea is basically an awesome salad each day. :) Everything is crowded together because it helps crowd out weeds, but none of the root systems should really bother the other. Fingers crossed, like with all gardening.

If you have a sunny area and a big pot on wheels consider this: a lemon! You know how you never have a lemon when you need it? Some lemons (Meyer, Variegated) bear all year and will need to go in the garage to avoid freezing, but are sooooo handy! The flowers smell delicious too!
Very helpful! Checking out the Extension service now.
 

amc80

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 18, 2010
Messages
5,765
iLander|1457734289|4003636 said:
amc80|1457732803|4003619 said:
What great feedback, I really appreciate it!

Regarding overcrowding- this is one of the things I was worried about with the SF concept. I need to do more research. I might nix that all together, based on your feedback.

Squash and such- I know you all are right. I've attempted it in the past and it really does spread out. Maybe I'll do these separately. I'm already planning on doing tomatoes and herbs in pots.

I probably won't plant anything for a few weeks. The bed has to be put together (it's a prefab one), we have to get to the store to get soil, buy plants, etc. It will either be late March or early April before anything gets done, I'd imagine.

One issue I already know we will have is squirrels. How do I keep them from eating everything I plant?
Grow your own seeds! It's easy and so much cheaper than buying plants! :appl: :appl:

Try fruit netting.

Or call extension service and see what they say. Not sure squirrels are interested in veggies? I just don't know.
I probably will end up doing at least some seeds. I'm very much looking at this year as my trial and error year.
 

monarch64

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 12, 2005
Messages
17,986
iLander gave great advice. Your local extension is a fantastic resource for all things gardening. Here is a PDF you might find useful (it's for Washington, not sure what state you're in but it's probably close enough), it has basically every reference table you could possibly want to help with all your questions: http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/EM057E/EM057E.pdf

I became a certified Master Gardener through my local extension in 2015. Now I serve on their Board of Directors as their journalist. It has been a fun and rewarding experience. I've also written a gardening blog for several years to document my experiences as a beginner gardener, which has also been fun and rewarding. I know you have small children but in a few years if you're really loving gardening you might want to look into the Master Gardening program yourself.

Happy gardening! :wavey:
 

evergreen

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 18, 2012
Messages
514
Another thing to consider is that if one side of your garden is against a fence (and it's an opaque fence over, say, 2 feet tall), it may matter a lot which way north is! If the fence is on the north side of your garden plot, then it will almost never block sunlight from reaching your plants, and the fence will absorb at least some light & heat and help extend your growing season. If the fence is on the south side of the garden plot, however, the plants nearest the fence will get very little light except for, say, May through August.
 
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