Duck Boy
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Help me get started with a small veggie garden!

Hello from Central Florida! I've been wanting a small veggie garden for awhile now, there's nothing like homegrown food! There are a few veggie/fruit plants scattered around my 1/5 on an acre yard, a couple eggplants, a pitiful tomato plant, papaya, etc. But I want a "real" garden. I was thinking about a raised bed, but I honestly have no idea where to start. What's the soil like here you ask? Slightly sandy, dark, it's what most people would call plain 'ol dirt. I've already selected a suitable spot, which probably gets 5+ hours of sunlight a day thanks to all the pine trees. And for the veggies themselves, I want tomatoes, I can't have a veggie garden without a couple plants, but other than that I'm not sure what to plant besides a few more eggplants. Any suggestions for plants during certain FL seasons would be appreciated. The types of veggies should do well in half shade and half sunlight, by the way. As far as cost goes, I don't want to push it. I don't make more than 10 dollars a month so my parents are gonna be the ones paying. Thankfully they want me to get involved. Soil is not something my parents or I really want to pay for anyways. I was thinking about mixing a bag of soil (Topsoil? Which one would work best?) with a good amount of poop laden soil, from my chickens. Or could I use the poop dirt alone? I've left out a lot of things, but I'd be happy to get some replies and post the rest later. Thanks. :)

Duck Boy
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I won't risk adding the chicken manure then, it's not composted and more poop is added by the hour. (But I'll definitely set up a bin and throw some in there to age) Since the cow manure would be about 2$, would a bag or two mixed with the native soil suffice as fertile soil? My family consists of 4 members, we can eat plenty of veggies when given the chance, not to mention some might be spared for the chickens. I like the sound of upward gardening for more space. I would also love some fruit mixed in, what would go well with the veggies? Berries of some sort?

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rainbowgardener
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Strawberries would be nice and they like sandy soil and do ok with not full sun. They need their own separate patch, but it wouldn't have to be a raised bed and wouldn't have to be as thoroughly amended/ built up.

Think about putting in some greens. In a few more weeks, it's likely to be cool enough where you are to put in some of the cool weather stuff like lettuce and spinach.

If your family cooks at all, herbs are great to have. Basil, oregano, sage are easy to grow (and the sage and oregano are perennial, meaning they will keep coming back every year and getting bigger).
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Duck Boy
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I was thinking about two, 3ft by 8ft beds. To make the frame, cheaper is better. But something like plywood would probably rot, right? What type of wood should I use and how much would you think it would cost? For the wood itself, maybe 2" by 8"? I would like one bed to be for fruit, berries, and other assorted stuff. And the other for the veggies and herbs.

cynthia_h
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*If* you're fortunate enough to come upon 8-foot boards, then use them. Cutting one 8-foot board in half will give you two 4-foot ends of a raised bed. I have some smaller square "frames" that we stacked up for a potato tower but are right now acting as small raised beds because of the season.

Here's a thread with lots of suggestions for low-budget gardeners, including where to find materials:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=127657

Most of the veggie gardening here has been done on a scavenge/low-budget basis. This year, we've actually purchased some plant starts b/c our windows for seed starting were trashed by other circumstances. There have been many discussions, and some photos, here of raised beds, so there will be help in that department, too. :D

Cynthia H.
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engineeredgarden
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I'd like to recommend starting out small, so that all of the obstacles that you'll be dealt with learning this first year won't overwhelm you. Maybe a couple of 4ft x 8ft beds, then add more as you become accustomed to the different problems (insects, diseases, elements) exposed to each year. You'll have to compost that chicken poop for at least 120 days before using it, so i'd get a compost pile started soon.

EG

DoubleDogFarm
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My recommendation would be to skip the framing and buy more soil ammendments. 1/2 yard of compost, will put a little more than 3" covering over the top of both 3ft x 8ft beds. Incorporate this into the native soil.

I have (25) 3ft x 20ft beds, no framing. They range from 2" to 12" above native soil line. Framing is not needed if the side slope. I have a friend that uses clover as a border. The roots hold the berm together and clover fixes nitrogen also.

Start small, go slow and have fun

Eric

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rainbowgardener
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Agree with DDF that you don't have to frame in your raised beds and if you have a large garden, it really doesn't make sense to. But I do think for a small garden like you are talking about, building the box is nice, adds convenience, permanence, makes the work easier.

But no, if you plan to use it more than a couple seasons, plywood or even boards are not good enough. Where I lived before, I built a bunch of raised bed boxes out of 1x 12" boards. I braced the corners and the middles, but even so, in just a few years the boards were all warping and rotting.

The beds I have now I built out of 4x4" fence posts (which are pretty cheap). They've lasted 9 years so far and still are very solid and not warped.

Here's another thread about cheap ways to build raised beds:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=144516&highlight=raised+beds#144516
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Duck Boy
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I'll go with the fence posts then. Do you know if Home depot or Lowes will have them? I also noticed It was pretty cool today, compared to what is usually is, it stuck around in the mid to upper 70s. Since there's probably not enough time left for warm weather veggies, can anyone give me several suggestions for central FL fall and winter veggies? I'll pick what I like to eat once I know what I can plant. (Herbs too!)

cynthia_h
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This page will give you information on the Orange County (Florida) agricultural extension Master Gardeners volunteer program:

https://ocextension.ifas.ufl.edu/Res_Hort/res_hort_mg.html

They'll be able to answer questions about locally successful veggies for all seasons!

Cynthia

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rainbowgardener
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Yeah, I got my fence posts at H.D. I don't know if they have them in all seasons.

Here's a guide to growing veggies in FLA. Midway down the page, Table 3 is about planting dates for different veggies in North, Central or South FLA:

https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021
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DoubleDogFarm
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I was thinking about two, 3ft by 8ft beds. To make the frame, cheaper is better.
Ducky,

I'm still working on the cheaper is better. How about rocks to hold up your raised bed. Can you gather free rocks from the yard or neighborhood? Even though they claim pressure treated wood is safe, it's not used in my garden.


Eric

Duck Boy
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It sounds like a good idea doubledog, but I'm not really sure where to get free rocks. Of course you can probably get the border stones at home depot, but are those cheaper?

DoubleDogFarm
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DB,

https://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1xh8/R-100016999/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053

8ft PT fence post $7.97 each

https://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1xh8/R-100546498/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053

8ft of pavers $10.72 This are twice as tall as fence post, so cost less.

Prices may very by location :roll:

Eric

Duck Boy
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Looks good DDF! I'll go with the bricks as long as they aren't too heavy, parents said we can go to home depot this weekend.

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