NooraK
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Where do I go from here?

So I've decided to create a garden this year. Dh and I kind of jumped in feet first without looking, and we've probably bitten off too much.

Basically, we have five 4' x 8' x 10" raised beds filled with composted top soil and a bit of mushroom compost. In them, I have planted the following plants:

13 Everbearing strawberries
one 3-gallon Better Bush tomato (three plants)
Four La Roma II Red tomatoes
Eight Big Boy tomatoes
One Habanero
Four Jalapenos
Four mounds of Crimson Sweet watermelon
Six "mounds" of Black Beauty zucchini
Three rows of Golden Cross Bantam corn

I also have Basil, Sage, Cilantro, Parsley, Thyme and Chives in containers.

I have four books at home that I got from the library, and I've been browsing here, so I'm just trying to figure out where to go next.
Last edited by NooraK on Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I'm just getting started, wish me luck!
Toeing the line between Hardiness Zones 7a and 7b and Heat Zones 6 and 7
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WildeHilde
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Sounds like a good start!

My new born-again wisdom is mulching... all kinds of options like straw, compost, etc...saves water and keeps the worms happy and busy at the surface doin what worms do best. Also plant cover crops on empty spots during the winter even in flower pots! Buckwheat (just one option) makes a really cute decoration in dreary empty pots on a deck with bulbs or perennials waiting for spring. I put it in empty spots under roses. No bare earth, either growing or mulched!
also look up companion planting...find the lists of plants that like to grow together and those that stunt each other.
Have too much fun!!
WildeHilde
"Ensnar'd in flowers, I fall in the grass."
Marvell

orgoveg
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In my very humble opinion, you have not bitten off more that you can chew. It's a little more than I would recommend for a beginning gardener but you seem to have done excellent preparation. All you really need to do is weed the beds and water, as necessary. Your books should tell you when to fertilize, but it's not really that important with good soil. Just grow what you have and see what is successful and what is not. Investigate what went wrong on the things that don't succeed. There are tons of tricks to learn like trimming the tomato plants, adding this and that to the soil, etc. That will come with time.

For now, have fun with what you have.

Edit: I guess I should mention that you will probably deal with pests and diseases. Don't get discouraged by them. There are plenty of preventions and solutions. If a particular disease destroys one of your crops, so be it. Learn what you can to defeat it next time. You'll never know everything and that's why a community like this one is so helpful to exchange information. There are some bona-fide experts among us (I am NOT one of them).
Last edited by orgoveg on Thu Apr 21, 2011 12:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

NooraK
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Thanks for the tips.

This is where we stand so far:

[url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/46713538@N03/5633047301/][img]https://farm6.static.flickr.com/5141/5633047301_eaa08d0081.jpg[/img][/url]

I have another bale of the straw. The guy at the store said I should get three, and I'm kind of glad I didn't. I'm wondering if I didn't put down enough, and should add, or if I should use the second bale to cover the ground around the boxes for aesthetics. :D

Here's another angle:

[url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/46713538@N03/5633045697/][img]https://farm6.static.flickr.com/5066/5633045697_1f3316701b.jpg[/img][/url]

And this is how it looked before we started:

[url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/46713538@N03/5607587125/][img]https://farm6.static.flickr.com/5026/5607587125_249ee10016.jpg[/img][/url]
I'm just getting started, wish me luck!
Toeing the line between Hardiness Zones 7a and 7b and Heat Zones 6 and 7
Where The Heart Says Ahh

hit or miss
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I'd say you have a great start! You'll probably want more straw as time goes by. It will blow around and the good garden critters will turn it into soil as time goes by. Now it's time for some patience as the plants grow and mature.

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rainbowgardener
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Can't tell by looking at the pictures, but I'm guessing you have stuff really crowded. You have 15 tomato plants? I have five tomato plants in a 4x8' bed and that's considerably more crowded than a lot of people would recommend. Do you have stakes or cages for the tomatoes? It is usually a good idea to put your support systems in when you plant the tomato plant. Even though it is small when you plant it and doesn't really need the support so much yet, it keeps you from messing up the plant/ roots later trying to add it.

Your corn sounds like one bed, your peppers are one bed. I usually put 3 - 4 pepper plants in a 4x8 bed. but then I put some basil around the edges. Two zucchini plants will fill up a bed unless you grow them vertically up a trellis. And I have no idea what you do with the watermelon. I don't grow it, because I don't have the space. One watermelon plant gets HUGE...

Incidentally in the picture your garden looks very shady with lots of trees around it. You do understand all the stuff you are growing needs full sun? That means at least 6, preferably 8 hours of direct sun...

Otherwise, it looks great, very pretty and well maintained...
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

NooraK
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rainbowgardener wrote:Can't tell by looking at the pictures, but I'm guessing you have stuff really crowded. You have 15 tomato plants? I have five tomato plants in a 4x8' bed and that's considerably more crowded than a lot of people would recommend. Do you have stakes or cages for the tomatoes? It is usually a good idea to put your support systems in when you plant the tomato plant. Even though it is small when you plant it and doesn't really need the support so much yet, it keeps you from messing up the plant/ roots later trying to add it.
I am concerned that they are too close. Maybe I should check with some friends and neighbors to see if they want a plant or two before they get too established in the bed.

I do need to put support systems in, I was reading the thread about the different options. Because DH and I both work full-time, these things tend to be done on the weekends. Another reason why I'm afraid we bit off too much. :oops: Good point, though, about the roots.
rainbowgardener wrote:Your corn sounds like one bed, your peppers are one bed. I usually put 3 - 4 pepper plants in a 4x8 bed. but then I put some basil around the edges. Two zucchini plants will fill up a bed unless you grow them vertically up a trellis. And I have no idea what you do with the watermelon. I don't grow it, because I don't have the space. One watermelon plant gets HUGE...
Yes, corn is in one bed. Zucchini in one bed. I'm pretty sure I planted too much of the watermelon and zucchini, but DH kept saying not to worry about it. At least that and the watermelon were just from seeds, so it won't be a big loss if I have to pull out plants to thin the crowd.
rainbowgardener wrote:Incidentally in the picture your garden looks very shady with lots of trees around it. You do understand all the stuff you are growing needs full sun? That means at least 6, preferably 8 hours of direct sun...

Otherwise, it looks great, very pretty and well maintained...
The above pictures were taken very late in the afternoon, almost going into the evening, so the sun was already starting to set. We actually cleared several trees, and the area is in full sun for most of the day. I have more pictures posted online, but those were the best representation of what it looks at this point.

Thank you so much for your helpful information.
I'm just getting started, wish me luck!
Toeing the line between Hardiness Zones 7a and 7b and Heat Zones 6 and 7
Where The Heart Says Ahh

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SPierce
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Re: Sounds like a good start!

WildeHilde wrote:My new born-again wisdom is mulching... all kinds of options like straw, compost, etc...saves water and keeps the worms happy and busy at the surface doin what worms do best. Also plant cover crops on empty spots during the winter even in flower pots! Buckwheat (just one option) makes a really cute decoration in dreary empty pots on a deck with bulbs or perennials waiting for spring. I put it in empty spots under roses. No bare earth, either growing or mulched!
also look up companion planting...find the lists of plants that like to grow together and those that stunt each other.
Have too much fun!!
WildeHilde
This is a wonderful idea. Thank you!

NooraK
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Location: NW GA

Re: Sounds like a good start!

WildeHilde wrote:My new born-again wisdom is mulching... all kinds of options like straw, compost, etc...saves water and keeps the worms happy and busy at the surface doin what worms do best. Also plant cover crops on empty spots during the winter even in flower pots! Buckwheat (just one option) makes a really cute decoration in dreary empty pots on a deck with bulbs or perennials waiting for spring. I put it in empty spots under roses. No bare earth, either growing or mulched!
also look up companion planting...find the lists of plants that like to grow together and those that stunt each other.
Have too much fun!!
WildeHilde
The gentleman at the store also suggested I get some buckwheat, and that's what I intended to plant in the unused boxes until we planted other stuff. I like the idea of planting it around roses, we have some areas of our property that are horribly overgrown with weeds because we haven't been efficient at mulching etc. I would prefer to plant prennial groundcover plants, but that can get expensive.
I'm just getting started, wish me luck!
Toeing the line between Hardiness Zones 7a and 7b and Heat Zones 6 and 7
Where The Heart Says Ahh

orgoveg
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Rainbowgardener is one of the experts that I mentioned. She knows what she is talking about.

My garden is divided into 2-1/2' by 2-1/2' plots. I can fit two tomato plants in one plot by staggering the mounds in the corners. The seed packet calls for 18" - 30" spacing between plants. So, by my math (I am mathematically challenged), you can grow 14 tomato plants in one of your 4'x8' plots. This assumes that you use vertical supports. That might be poor advice, but I think my tomatoes do fine this way.

One thing I'm not certain about is growing different varieties close together. Wouldn't they cross-pollinate?

trinoc
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Re: Sounds like a good start!

WildeHilde wrote:My new born-again wisdom is mulching... all kinds of options like straw, compost, etc...saves water and keeps the worms happy and busy at the surface doin what worms do best. Also plant cover crops on empty spots during the winter even in flower pots! Buckwheat (just one option) makes a really cute decoration in dreary empty pots on a deck with bulbs or perennials waiting for spring. I put it in empty spots under roses. No bare earth, either growing or mulched!
also look up companion planting...find the lists of plants that like to grow together and those that stunt each other.
Have too much fun!!
WildeHilde
Do you leave rows w/ seeds in earth uncovered by straw? I'm sure this sounds like an idiotic question but I am seriously mulling it over. I'm going to get some straw on my garden and I'm wondering if I need to leave the rows that haven't sprouted, yet, uncovered or if a little straw won't stop their growth. :-)

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rainbowgardener
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@ orgoveg Re"One thing I'm not certain about is growing different varieties close together. Wouldn't they cross-pollinate?" They might, but that only affects the seeds that are in the tomatoes. If you were going to save seeds from your tomatoes for next year, that might be a concern. But since Noorak is growing hybrid varieties, they aren't going to grow true to type from seed anyway.

@trinoc I don't mulch until after everything is sprouted/ transplanted. 1) I want the soil to warm up in the spring. 2) some seeds could push through mulch if it is not too thick/heavy. But since the idea of the mulch is to suppress weed seeds, I don't really want to challenge my plants that way.

I let everything get well started and warmed up, then I pull what ever weeds have gotten started with the plants and lay down a bunch of mulch and don't do any more weeding...
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

nosta
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rainbowgardener wrote:@ orgoveg Re"One thing I'm not certain about is growing different varieties close together. Wouldn't they cross-pollinate?" They might, but that only affects the seeds that are in the tomatoes. If you were going to save seeds from your tomatoes for next year, that might be a concern. But since Noorak is growing hybrid varieties, they aren't going to grow true to type from seed anyway.

@trinoc I don't mulch until after everything is sprouted/ transplanted. 1) I want the soil to warm up in the spring. 2) some seeds could push through mulch if it is not too thick/heavy. But since the idea of the mulch is to suppress weed seeds, I don't really want to challenge my plants that way.

I let everything get well started and warmed up, then I pull what ever weeds have gotten started with the plants and lay down a bunch of mulch and don't do any more weeding...

I too like to wait until everything is growing nicely before mulching. What is your mulch of choice? i use straw and grass clippings.

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rainbowgardener
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[quote="orgoveg"]Rainbowgardener is one of the experts that I mentioned. She knows what she is talking about. -- I don't call myself any kind of expert, just an old-timer that's been gardening for awhile, but thanks for the compliment.

My garden is divided into 2-1/2' by 2-1/2' plots. I can fit two tomato plants in one plot by staggering the mounds in the corners. The seed packet calls for 18" - 30" spacing between plants. So, by my math (I am mathematically challenged), you can grow 14 tomato plants in one of your 4'x8' plots. This assumes that you use vertical supports. That might be poor advice, but I think my tomatoes do fine this way.

[quote]

The math is a little off. 2.5 x 2.5 = 6.25 sq ft. 4 x8 = 32 sq fr.
32 / 6.25 = 5.12. So the 4x8 bed is five times as big as the 2.5 square. If you can grow 2 plants in the little square, theoretically you could grow 10 in the 4x8. However, knowing what 5 plants look like in the 4 x8, I wouldn't recommend that. I don't think the mathematical extrapolation exactly applies. The two plants in the little square are occupying a fair amount of air space outside the box. So the room they are taking up is really more than that, just the roots are in the box. Putting 10 plants in the 4x8, some of them would have to be in the middle.

Crowding tomato plants if you are in a humid climate sets up good conditions for fungal diseases.
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orgoveg
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Yep. I can't do simple math to save my life. Good thing I married an accountant :)

That's a good point with the humid climate. I was just thinking that since she bought all those plants, she might as well grow as many as she can get away with. I guess it would make more sense to put the extras in the ground somewhere else and see how they do.

I defintely agree that more space = healthier, more vigorous plants.

By the way, I know you would never call yourself an expert. Your gardening experience has brought you a wealth of knowledge to share. Therefore, I say you are an expert along with many others who frequent here.

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