Brian Miville
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Looking to start a vegtable garden.

Hello,

I have never had a garden before, but lately I have been thinking for reasons of economy it might be worth it to try my hand at gardening next year (since winter is about to set in up here in New Hampshire it oviously has to be next year.) So with that in mind I just bought the book "Grow Vegtables" by Alan Buckingham (it got good reviews on Amazon.com.) I have only thumbed through it since it came in only yesterday, but I do plan on giving it a proper read through. However, I thought it may be a good idea to join a forum to get more personalized and hands on type of feedback.

What I am looking for right now is a bit of general advice. I have a general idea of our property in mind for the plot that will give it the most sun exposure, though we do have a lot of tall trees that means this is all relative. The soil also is not the greatest, so I think I may have to lay down some loam. I have not measured the intended plot, but I would guess it will come out somewheres around 10-15 feet by 30, maybe 40 feet. I have read enough so far that my choice in vegtables should be simple (especially to start with) so I am looking at more of the vegtables we use regularly. I do plan on taking up canning/preserving (both pressure and water bath) and also freezing, so I think whatever we grow can reliably be preserved and used in the span of time they would be eaten. The vegtables I have in mind right now are:

Green peppers
Corn
cucumbers (smaller sized for pickling)
onions (this is a tough one since the book I have pointed out onions are already so cheap in the markets that growing for economy may really be marginal)
Garlic
Strawberrys (another one I don't know about...I am thinking for the size plot I am working with and the plethora of "pick your own" farms it may be more economical to pick my own rather than grow)
Pumpkins (this is more a novelty I want to indulge myself for, mainly for the seeds which I LOVE roasted and salted, but also to use the flesh for pumpkin pies and the odd one for Halloween carving...either way I don'tplan on growing many, maybe half a dozen of jack-o-latern size)
Lettuce (one more questionable....since I can't think of a good way to preserve this I wonder if it will be worth it, or just plant very small amounts to use immediately just to have as a treat at harvest time)

I also want to grow tomato plants to use in pressure canning pasta sauces, but those I am thinking of growing in boxes on our back deck. I know that it takes a large amount of tomatoes (one site I saw calls for 30 pounds to make 9 pints), so realisticly how many plants and how much space will I need to yield 30 pounds of tomoatoes?

Now, I would appreciate any adivce, suggestions, tips and wisdom. Having never done this before I feel like this may be a bit daunting, but humans have been doing this for thousands of years, so I guess I should be able to suck it up and get it done. :D

Thanks,
Brian

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Stella Blue
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Hi Brian. Hopefully I can share some things I've picked up after my 1st year of gardening and reading through this forum.

Corn? With the size of your plot, don't bother. So much space for just 2 ears of corn per plant isn't worth it to me.

Pumpkins? Again, I think for your plot size, these would take up too much space, as you're saying you want to grow your own food to economize.

Garlic? Put it in NOW for a June-ish harvest.

Lettuce is easy, throw it in as soon as you can work the soil in the spring.

Pickling cukes are awesome with heavy yields. I would also recommend slicing cukes, yellow squash and zucchini if you enjoy these. They were heavy yielders for me.

Tomatoes and peppers are a must, and I have absolutely no insight into onions or strawberries.

But most importantly, as an awesome member here told me, START A COMPOST PILE.

I hope I have been helpful (and accurate) in some way, and good luck.

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rainbowgardener
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To start with learn to think about cool weather crops and warm weather crops. Lettuce spinach swiss chard and other greens are cool weather crops, along with all the brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), and a lot of root veggies, carrots, beets, turnips, radishes. Pretty much everything else is warm weather, some needing more warmth (especially soil warmth) than others.

The cool weather crops can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring, meaning it is unfrozen and dried out a bit. Many of them are fast growing and over early-- lettuce spinach broccoli tend to bolt (go to seed) as soon as it gets hot. So you can plant lettuce and then when it is done, plant squash in that spot. If you are growing for economy, you want to get as much use out of your soil as you can. I plant broccoli right in front of where my tomatoes will go. By the time the tomato plants are getting big and it would be crowded, the broccoli is done and I pull it. Peas are another cool weather crop that are over and done with early to make room for something else.

I agree that corn takes up a lot of space and it does not produce well if you have only a few plants, you need a good stand of it for pollination, and pumpkin plants are huge monsters. If you want a lot of productivity in limited space think about green beans which just produce and produce and produce over a long season and zucchinis, which can even be grown up a trellis, so take up very little garden space that way.

SWISS CHARD!! It is a spinach like green, meaning it is one of the first things I eat out of my garden, but unlike spinach and lettuce, it doesn't bolt, withstands heat, and just goes and goes and goes. Currently other than some herbs it is the last thing I am still eating out of my garden now, and it is still flourishing. It will even withstand the first few light frosts. You can use it just like spinach, raw or cooked. I make a swiss chard lasagna just following a spinach lasagna recipe and I actually like it better with the chard. It is not bothered by any diseases or pests, the more you pick it, the more it grows. Easily the most productive thing in my garden.

On average a tomato plant will produce 10 pounds of tomatoes, but the commonest kinds of tomatoes (indeterminate) spread that over a long season of production. Since tomatoes don't keep real well, you need a lot more plants to have 30 pounds all at once. If all you want your tomatoes for is canning, not eating through the season (hard for me to understand, but oh well!) look for determinate varieties. They are slower to start producing, but tend to produce their whole crop all at once and then be done, so they also don't produce as late into the season.

And absolutely, start a compost pile, best thing you can do for your garden. I do compost all through the winter....

Have fun... regardless of how much money you do or don't save, you will be happier and healthier with a garden!
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gumbo2176
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I concur with Stella on the idea of corn and pumpkins----way too much space involved with these crops.

Bell peppers, banana peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, green beans, yellow squash, zucchini and soybeans are musts for my spring/summer garden. That and some fresh herbs for cooking such as parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, green onions and rosemary.

If you grow cucumbers and green beans(pole variety), I'd suggest doing so on a trellis to maximize space. Cucumber vines get pretty large and spread out over the ground a good bit, plus you should put something like hay to protect the fruit to keep it off the ground.


Your garden size is adequate for all of these crops. A plot 15 ft. wide by 40 ft. long will give you 4 to 5 rows depending on how large you make your rows. Keep in mind that plants like tomatoes and squash get pretty large so you should have close to 3 ft. between the rows. My backyard garden is a shade bigger than this size and I have 5 rows about 45 ft. long with 2 trellises, one 25 ft. long x 7 ft. tall for beans and one 12 ft. long by 7 ft. tall for cucumbers. I also have a 48 sq. ft. raised bed 1 ft. high for root crops.

Pick out your spot and you can start by placing a layer of cardboard over the entire area. You can get this for the asking from the local supermarket after they stock their shelves. Then layer some leaves, grass clippings, stable waste (hay, horse manure and shavings) and let this just sit there till spring. The grass underneath will be killed and you till the material into the soil for a rich loamy start for your spring garden.

I am with you on onions, I'll buy them usually for around $.50 a lb. at the local markets. Strawberries did fine for me but I had to protect the plants due to damage by birds. I didn't pick one ripe fruit till I covered them to keep the birds out.

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stella1751
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Corn

I'm going to disagree conditionally with the advice not to grow corn. For the past ten years, I haven't grown corn. It used to be a staple crop, one I planted every single year. Then it occurred to me that, like the other members said, it is a space hog with few rewards. I like corn, but when you can purchase an ear for .25 on sale, it just didn't make sense to grow it.

Yesterday, I invited my elderly neighbor over for a pea-picking session. We filled two bags of 'em for her. Earlier in the year, we did the same thing with beans. I don't especially like eating peas and beans. However, I love corn. So, I buy corn at the store and give my legumes away. It doesn't make sense.

For that reason, I'm growing corn instead of peas and beans next year. I agree with the other members that it gives little reward for your effort. Nevertheless, I love gardening. I will be out there growing something anyway, right? I may as well grow something I know I will eat 8)
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

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applestar
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All great advice!
However, despite the nay-sayers, I say plant the corn and plant the pumpkins! Even in smaller amounts, you'll get the experience of growing them, and you may or may not decide to expand the following year. I really have no space for either but I keep planting them. :()

I admit that so far, my corn growing technique still needs work and all I get are small -- though full -- ears, but my kids still LOVE that we have our own corn! :D And they don't mind that some of them end up being served as Baby Corn. :wink: So far, I've only planted them in blocks like 3x4 or 3x3 at 12" spacing. Next year, I'm going to dedicate this year's tomato bed to corn (GREAT tomato harvest this year) and plant a couple of larger blocks.

Also, you'll find -- or at least I did -- that it takes a few tries to be able to judge the best time to harvest, etc. Experience is the only way to learn.

Pumpkins didn't do well this year due to Squash Vine Borer damage, but last year, we had 4 decent sized pie pumpkins and 4 more small ones! :D
This year, we only have a softball sized wee pumpkin and a last minute effort by the field pumpkin that is still green and only about a football size, as well as a nice sized "gourdkin" -- a weird cross between a pumpking and a decorative gourd. But I didn't have to buy any fall decoration gourds or pumpkins since gourds did exceptionally well this year and I have a dozen little decorative gourds, 2 gourdkins -- big and small -- as well as 8 birdhouse gourds and 4 basket ball sized "bushel" gourds. :wink:

BTW, you can grow pumpkins up a trellis as well. In my garden, at least 1/2 of the vines end up climbing up either a trellis intended for the purpose or just the garden fencing. Melons and watermelons, cucumbers... Whatever. :wink:

I grow mostly for "fun-to-eat" for the kids and for "fun-to-grow" for myself. So I plant a wide variety of crops even if they're in small amounts and may well only result in one meal harvest. But year-to-year, what grows well are not always dictated by skill but by mother nature, and lots of interesting things happen. :()

Good luck with your garden. :D

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When I plant pumpkins, I put them on the edge of the cultivated area and let them grow out where the weeds are so they don't take up the cultivated space.

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applestar
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Oops, forgot to add...

Consider also planting fruit trees and bushes/shrubs. Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Elderberries.... I also have Shadbush, Mulberry and Serviceberry trees, for example. I posted a full list elsewhere. :wink:

Strawberries, BTW are almost effortless to grow, IMO. Great used as groundcovers. If you go organic in every part of your garden, you can grow edibles anywhere! Wild strawberries (Fragaria virginiana) act as groundcover for my front island bed of 2 Japanese Maple trees. I planted cultivated strawberries in other parts of the garden last year, thinking my kids might want the familiar BIG strawberries as well, but they tell me that the wild strawberries are MUCH tastier. :wink:

Even so, they LOVE picking the big red berries from their own small fenced garden. They also each have a lowbush blueberry in it, and, this year, we planted carrots, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers -- all their favorites -- as well as the birdhouse gourds. :D

Brian Miville
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Thank you for the replies, you have given me much to think about. I think I will hold off on the corn....I see the logic behind the low yield/high effort for such a small crop. Better to put efforts into other more productive vegtables.

In regards to tomatoes, just to clarify I would indeed partake of them in a fresh state. :D What I am looking for is a mass crop that includes a large portion going to home made pasta sauce (healthier and tastier! :wink: ).

The book I have mentions and details how to plan for a full growing season to maximize. I am going to give that all a big read through and use the information I get here. For example, while peas and green beans are not my mothers favorite I think the lure of a lot of low cost peas and beans could make things easier to swallow...so to speak. :lol:

As for the pumpkins...I am torn. I would still like to do at least a few, but I aam thinking for now on holding off until I get things up and running pretty well.

A question about strawberrys....do they need direct abundant light to grow? I ask because there is a section of our yard that would literally double the size of available growing area, but it is not in direct sunlight and is mostly (but not heavily) shaded. Are there perhaps any other crops that I might be able to use in this shaded area?

Brian

gumbo2176
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[quote="Brian Miville"]A question about strawberrys....do they need direct abundant light to grow?


I can only tell you this. The largest strawberry producing area around here is in Pontchatula, La. and from what I've seen, all of their fields are full sun.
That area is known for some fine strawberry crops and they have a large festival every year to celebrate the harvest. Of course, in Louisiana, there is always a festival or two just about every weekend, year round.

gumbo2176
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Brian, to expand on my last post-----you may try things like spinach, swiss chard, leaf lettuce, head lettuce in the shaded area during the summer. I don't know how hot it gets in the summer up your way but most of those plants tend to bolt and go to seed in the deep south when it warms up. Chard is the only thing I can keep productive in the warmer months----and only for a while.

Brian Miville
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Gumbo,

Temps can get into the 90's here during the summer, but typically it is high 80's. Up here it is not so much heat as the humidity which can be thicker than swampwater. :lol: But for the most part, temp wise, it is not so bad. Taking this past summer for example we had a couple of heatwaves, 90+ degrees, but the longest was 5 days, the other three I think. The rest of the time it has been mostly in the 80's.

The lettuce sounds like a good candidate for the shaded area. I wonder about the other berrys too...blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc. I have seen them gorwing wild in shaded areas so those could be another good candidate?

Brian

gumbo2176
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[quote="Brian Miville"]Gumbo,I wonder about the other berrys too...blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc. I have seen them gorwing wild in shaded areas so those could be another good candidate?


We have lots of blackberries growing wild down here and you're right, they do well in areas where they are shaded part of the day. I found a place near the outer edges of our city limits that is mainly reclaimed swamp land and the blackberries there are abundant and sweet and are growing among much larger plants and trees. However, they do seem to need a good bit of water to develop properly. For a while I was picking berries that were a bit small but the weather was dry for weeks at a time then we had a snap of rainy weather and the berries were much larger, more plentiful and better tasting.

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Troppofoodgardener
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Go for it Brian! it is daunting starting a veggie/food garden from scratch, but everything you grow will teach you something, whether it's a failure or winner.
The stuff you try to grow may not grow at all, and the stuff you didn't realise will grow may grow like crazy!
Sounds like you have been given good advice already and have a basic plan in mind. Draw it out on paper if need be, and leave some room for change. What you plant now will change with the seasons, your needs and experience anyway :) We all had to start somewhere!

P.S. I find getting seedlings and plants from local growers is always better than buying from a large retail type garden stores.

P.P.S. Try growing stuff from leftover seeds in fruit/veggies after you've used them up (capsicum, pumpkin, chillies, limes) If these don't work, you didn't spend any extra money anyway. 8)
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Brian Miville
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Ok, so I was talking to my mother today about this idea. She actually suggested a different area of the yard which would give us more room to work with (I had ruled it out because I did not want to cut into the space our dogs roamed, but she said the dog hardly ever goes ver there.) We are also discussing more about what we want to grow. She even likes the idea of doing berries in the dead areas of the yard. This leads me to one more question. These dead areas, when the house was built, had bark mulch thrown into them by the landscapers (I guess it was more economical than anything else :lol: ). So, do we need to rake out this bark mulch, which is probably about 5 or 6 years old now, or can we till that into the ground?

Brian

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digitS'
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Brian, I will say that tilling bark into the ground is not likely to be a good idea. It depends how much there is and what kind of bark it is, I suppose, but bark will decay very slowly. I would be very inclined to rake it off into paths and till the ground between for your vegetables.

I have a small backyard flock of laying hens. Until last year, I used pine needles for bedding in the coop. I like how pine needles compost and, altho' they are somewhat acidic, the soil here is on the alkaline side of the pH scale.

Anyway, I decided to use pine shavings last year. I used composting-in-place by digging out 8 to 10 inches of soil in one garden bed and burying the litter after a winter in the coop. Knowing that a bale of the wood chips weighs about 35 pounds and a hen will generate over 40 pounds of manure in 6 months (85 pounds/yearly, according to my Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening :wink:), I figure that the henhouse litter I put in that bed was 2 pounds of manure to every 1 pound of shavings.

You think that would decay in 7 months in the garden? Nope, when I dug that bed out the other day some of those shavings look like they were pulled out of the coop yesterday :roll:! They are now mixed rather thoroughly with the soil. I only hope that about 2" of shavings won't interfere with the fertilizer needs of the veggies in that bed next year.

Steve

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farmerlon
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Re: Corn

stella1751 wrote:... I like corn, but when you can purchase an ear for .25 on sale, it just didn't make sense to grow it. ...
Only problem is, that $.25 piece of corn from the supermarket or farm stand will have about as much flavor as one of those quarters in your pocket! :P :)

When it comes to corn, you'll never taste better than being able to go to the garden and grab an ear from the stalk, then bring it straight in to the pot of boiling water... priceless!

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farmerlon
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Re: Looking to start a vegtable garden.

Brian Miville wrote:... but lately I have been thinking for reasons of economy it might be worth it to try my hand at gardening next year ...
"Economy" can be a funny thing when it comes to gardening. When you factor in the "price" of your time, you may find that you're not really seeing any immediate monetary savings.

But, there are many, many benefits to gardening that can certainly "pay off" for you and your family... for now, and for years to come.
It always makes me feel good to see anyone beginning their journey into gardening... enjoy! :)

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Looking to start a vegtable garden.

farmerlon wrote:
Brian Miville wrote:... but lately I have been thinking for reasons of economy it might be worth it to try my hand at gardening next year ...
"Economy" can be a funny thing when it comes to gardening. When you factor in the "price" of your time, you may find that you're not really seeing any immediate monetary savings.

But, there are many, many benefits to gardening that can certainly "pay off" for you and your family... for now, and for years to come.
It always makes me feel good to see anyone beginning their journey into gardening... enjoy! :)
It's why I hedged above about whatever money you do or don't save... if you "paid" for your time even at minimum wage, it's pretty sure to be a dead [monetary] loss, but even leaving that out [since you don't actually have to pay yourself :) ] starting out, you may find yourself investing more money in equipment and supplies than the veggies would bring at market.

But your veggies will be way more nutritious and flavorful, you will be happier and healthier for doing the gardening, and the planet will thank you for not buying veggies trucked 1500 miles (the average distance a vegetable travels to land on our plates). Can't really lose!
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hit or miss
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It sounds like you have a good attitude and a willing heart for gardening! With some sound advice from this site and some personal experience you'll go far.

On the tomatoes, I planted 7 plants (celebrity and early girls) and harvested 220 pounds this year. I just cleaned the garden this morning for winter and there is probably another 50 pounds of green ones on the pile now. I've already made green salsa with some and have even more in brine for dilled green tomatoes, that would push my yield even higher if I included the green ones in the tally.

Good luck!

Brian Miville
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Ok, so the bark mulch will go. It will be a lot of raking, but thankfully I don't think the layer is too deep.

As for factoring in the time invested, my mother is on social security disability, so thankfully she has a bit more time to spend around the home weeding and tending the garden.

hit or miss, thanks for the info on the tomato plants. I think with 220 pounds of them we can do just about anything we could possibly think of. :lol:

Brian

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rainbowgardener
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Well, I wouldn't bet the house mortgage on being able to get 200 pounds of tomatoes from 7 plants. Hit or miss is too be congratulated on such a bountiful harvest (in Kansas yet, which I hear is not an easy climate to garden in). But that is way above average. Productivity depends on lots of factors, climate, soil, how you take care of them, what kind of pests and diseases are around, how much sun and rain, what the temps turn out to be any given year, etc.

At a total guess, since I don't count or weigh (may next year I will try tracking just for one season) I'm thinking over the course of the season from end of June until sometime in Sept, I got around 100 pounds of tomatoes from my 5 plants. And then I pulled them early due to septoria. But being spread out like that, I never really had enough to can, just to eat and cook with all the time. I did a little bit of canning, but that's because we were also getting tomatoes from out CSA.
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For best results pick the sunniest area you have for your garden. I may also warn you that tree roots out under your veggie garden will drastically reduce the vigor of your plants. If you can keep your garden a good ways from the trees it is helpful.

Strawberries. A pleasure to grow and harvest. Yes, they will grow in partly shaded areas, but if The shade gets too dense, they won't have any fruit.

The four most productive plants for the home garden are corn, beans, squash, and potatoes.

In some areas it is hard to grow squash because of the vine borers and also powdery mildue. If your area does not have bad problems with these things some summer squash will give you some good eating. They are very productive.

Corn: In spite of what has been said I think corn is a great crop for a home garden. I think the main reason people say it ain't worth it is because they won't follow proper cultural practices for the cultivar. Here is how to grow corn in a few words: Get SE type seed. I like Amrosia. Corn can be planted on the date of your average last frost. Plant 4 rows 15 feet long. Put a seed every 8 inches in the rows. Space the rows 30 inches apart. Fertilize with something high in nitrogen. Water if needed. Here that means water weekly, but if you have high humidity that may not be necessary. For all you dissenters, try it and see!
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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rainbowgardener
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I would love to grow corn if I had the room. Since I don't, I'll just do the math:

4 rows 30" apart (with 18" on the outsides so you can walk along it) makes a plot 10' wide by 15' long. Lots of city gardeners that would be most of their whole garden spot.

Plant seeds every 8" that's about 22 per row or 88 plants (if they all sprout). That's somewhere between 88 and 176 ears of corn depending on whether your plants produce 1 or 2 ears per plant. But the trouble with corn is that, unlike say (indeterminate) tomatoes & peppers, it tends to all ripen up pretty much at once. So all of a sudden you have ~100 ears of corn to deal with (can, freeze ?) and then most of the season nothing.

To deal with that, you do succession planting, plant different sets of seeds a couple weeks apart. But your four rows you can't easily do that... if you plant 1 long row of corn, it won't pollinate it self very well. You could make your rows 16 feet long instead of 15 and divide it into four 4x4' blocks and plant them in succession. Which is what I tend to suggest to people anyway, plant a 4x4 block of corn.

So city gardeners: plant your corn in 4x4 blocks. If it were me planting in those blocks, and I had good enriched soil, I would still plant a bit closer, but I haven't grown corn in ten years since I moved to my current location and jal has way more experience than me. Plant how ever many blocks you have room for and want to dedicate to corn, but plant them at least two weeks apart, just being careful that your last planting has time to mature before last frost date (2 -3 months depending on variety).

And FENCE your garden in... my other difficulty with growing corn is that every critter in the world loves it. Racoons, woodchucks, deer, birds, squirrels, every other rodent.... I had all of those in my garden when I was trying to grow corn and they all love it.
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JaymeJ
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After browsing the comments I didn't catch any mentioning soil amendments. You had mentioned loam, but you'd be better off tilling in compost next spring before you plant. I made the mistake when I first started by not amending our sticky clay soil.

Did anyone mention raised beds? If not, I highly recommend them, beginner or not.

I would recommend you start SMALL! Learn to garden first before you take up canning from the garden. Buy your edibles from the farmer's markets to can. You will need super high yields from your tomatoes and cukes in order to can the amount you want.

Plant your lettuces in the shady areas of your yard during the summer. Anything that fruits needs direct sunlight. Oh, and slugs love, love strawberries. I recommend planting them in hanging baskets or containers.

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rainbowgardener brings up some good points on corn. What we do is eat some corn fresh, then pick most of it and put it in the freezer. (Cut off the cob) Then we have great corn all winter. This is far better than anything you can buy. The ambrosia variety keeps better on the stalk than the standard varieties so you get a longer harvest window. It will keep quite well in the refirgerator for a few days.

If you have never had corn fresh from the field into the hot water, you are in for a treat. As soon as corn is picked the sugar starts to turn to starch. Corn in grocery stores has been off the stalk for some time before you see it. It will never have the fresh sweet taste of corn that was just picked. You might get some good fresh picked corn at a farmers market, or road side stand, but never from a grocery store.

Three of those ears will produce about one pound of corn kernels when cut off the cob, so if we take the number 176 (if planted as I suggested, most will produce two cobs per plant) and divide by 3, you could get up to 58 pounds of corn from that planting. Or if you want to figure it sells for .25 an ear that is $44.00 from that little plot. 150 sq ft.

If you got that much yield from an acre of space, (run the math) and sold it for .25 you would come up with $12,783.00! That would make any farmer smile big! Yes, corn is one of the best value crops for the gardener.

I have suggested 4x4 blocks with 16 plants in the 4x4. It is a good option for those with limited space. The main problem is that sometimes it doesn't pollinate good in such a small planting and you end up with ears with spotty kernels. The larger planting I suggested will do much better for you if you have the space.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

ACW
Senior Member
Posts: 153
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:20 am
Location: London

Jal,
does wind direction have an effect on corn pollination
I can imagine that ideally you want the prevailing wind blowing from one end of the row to the far end ?
My corn this year was rather small ,but delicious .
What feed do you recomend !
A gardener with a small shady back garden and a balcony with containers ,
biggest problem not enough sunshine !

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Troppofoodgardener
Senior Member
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat Oct 02, 2010 2:49 am
Location: Tropical North, Australia

corn problems

Here's a sample of corn I tried growing earlier this year. I didn't actually get to taste any. This was probably one of the best ears I produced.

[url=https://img834.imageshack.us/i/p9140001a.jpg/][img]https://img834.imageshack.us/img834/1686/p9140001a.jpg[/img][/url]

I grew them in 2 rows of 6, which is one of the problems I think. However, I did hand pollinate the corn, following instructions from a video I watched on the web. The corn stalks grew to just over 1 metre high (100cms). I was growing sweetcorn, I'm not sure how high they get.

Ants were another problem. They seemed to get in amongst the ears, from the pic here: :(

[url=https://img204.imageshack.us/i/cornants.jpg/][img]https://img204.imageshack.us/img204/3740/cornants.jpg[/img][/url]

The ants were farming some sort of bugs, maybe aphids? Anyway, the ants used the soil around the corn to build nests for these bugs which then took over the corn... :cry:

Very disheartening to say the least. I don't think I will attempt corn again. But from all the good words said about corn yield, any suggestions on how I could improve next season - - IF i tried again?
A fledgling gardener's attempt to grow food in the northern tropics of Australia:
https://troppofoodgarden.blogspot.com

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jal_ut
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Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

"does wind direction have an effect on corn pollination"

Not that I have been able to tell. The best thing to assure corn pollination is a larger patch. A minimum of 3 rows wide and 10 feet long would be my guess for minimum size to get good pollination.

Just for a test this year I planted two 33 foot rows of corn spaced 30 inches. The pollination was not bad, but some ears did not get fully pollinated.

Some have suggested running rows a certain direction for optimum use of sunshine. I say bah, humbug to that theory too. In summer the sun is high overhead. It hits everything just fine. Plants have a unique ability to move their leaves into the sunshine. Look at a squash patch. There are hundreds of leaves and all are arranged to be in the sun.

The wind does have a role in corn growth. It brings the carbon dioxide the corn uses in photosynthesis. This is really important in a large patch.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

Brian Miville
Full Member
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:23 am
Location: Goffstown, New Hampshire

Ok, so I was discussing things more with my mother and I am thinking we may go the rasied bed route. Our land is actually built on ledge, so the soil is very rocky (some the size of a baseball) which is why the grass in the back does not really grow too well. The topsoil itself is fairly thin, so with the rocks we fear it will be a problem. So that would mean laying down loam. And if we are going to do that we may as well make raised beds to put loam in :D . From what I am seeing it is a sound idea anyways, and we can also use a product the company my father and I work for to help things if need be. We work for Solar Components corp here in NH and we carry translucent fiberglass sheets (Sun-lite hp) which would act as a sort of mini greenhouse. That should do wonders for the peppers and tomatoes. My father actually has plans for a raised bed incorperating the Sun-lite material.

Brian

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