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Starting a vegetable garden

Hi Everyone. New here. I'm starting a garden next year ( I guess that would be my best bet, now ) and would like to eventually make it large enough for a family to use as their main vegetable outlet. I'd also like to have enough to can and give away.
Aside from that, I was wondering, with my list below, what would be easiest to start off with, and then add some the next year after so I don't get overwhelmed. I've wanted this for a while, so I'm happy to get started.

Also, my zone is 5a, so if anyone sees any issues with anything on my list, and how it would grow where I live, I'd love some tips or recommendations.

Any suggestions or recommendations for this new venture would be greatly appreciated!

Apple tree
Pear tree
Brussel Sprouts
Green onions
Bell Peppers

Posts: 13028
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:32 am
Location: Hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Since you have trees, annuals and perennials on the list. I guess you are planting this in different areas.

It is a good idea to zone your plantings so that plants with like needs for pH, water are in the same place.
Trees and perennial plants may need their own beds or locations. draw your garden plan and think about what should go together and what will be rotated. Some plants like cooler weather and can be grown in the Spring and fall in some places, others like tomatoes, beans, squash, peppers need warm weather.

Plan for succession. Some plants can be planted every few weeks or more than once in a season for a steady supply.

It helps to have a chart made up with planting and harvesting dates so you know when to start seeds indoors or outdoors and the approximate time you expect to start harvesting. I learned not to plant a whole packet of lettuce seeds at one time because I can't eat them all in time, so I plant about 10 seeds every three weeks for a continuous supply. While I got the quantity down, I forgot that spinach, bok choy, and lettuce should be spaced so they are not ready in the same week.

Its great that you are planning to get the garden ready to start next year. Compost and manure that you put in the garden in the fall plus a cover crop will get your beds off to a good start.

Greener Thumb
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Joined: Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:29 pm
Location: Central PA

very ambitious.

for two, I have about 1000 sq ft. I do peas, tomatoes, green/wax beans, peppers, peppers, potatoes. then things change up,,, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, zukes, cukes, leeks, scallions, onions, and probably some stuff I've overlooked.

I hoard the peas. there's never enough of those. leek / onions / scallions are a long season thing - meaning one patch I can stretch out for a long time - like how many leeks can you eat this week..... good thing is, they last from "big enough" to hard freeze without issue.

the berries and asparagus need a "dedicated patch" - not a good choice for "a part of the general veggie patch"

carrots - love 'em. needs a deep loose soil if you want the long ones.

apple/pear/grape - these are long term crops - you need to dedicate a space to them - and at best outside the veggie garden.

unless you have unlimited space, only the berries and tomatoes are candidates for "all we can eat plus"

the problem with "unlimited space" - and especially for a beginner - is the time/effort factor. for me, my 1000 sq ft is about all I can keep up with. right now, not keeping up.... lots of rain + lots of heat = lots of weeds...

potatoes I harvest "on demand" - they keep best in the ground. and fresh dug potatoes are a treat. problem: the vines die back, I mark the rows, but obviously I can't plant stuff "on top of" the potatoes until they're dug. for two, roughly 200 plus sq ft.

corn - enormous space consumer for the 2-3 ears per stalk. if you can get local fresh picked, leave it to them, just buy it.

celery - 5a is problematic unless you start them indoors - long long season crop.

without a lot of experience and a lot of space, instantly creating a veggie garden to support a family (of how many?) could be an over-reach. nothing worse than a huge weed patch to kill one's enthusiasm......

may I recommend starting a bit smaller and enlarging the plot as fits your comfort level?

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Really agree with Dilbert, re scaling down the ambitiousness, if you do not have much experience gardening. Doing well with a few beds is much preferable to failing with a huge garden and there are many ways to fail.

The first thing you need to learn is the difference between cool weather crops and warm weather ones. From your list:

Beets Broccoli Brussel Sprouts Cabbage Carrots Celery Green onions Cauliflower

are cool weather crops. If you get your garden beds ready soon enough, they can be planted in Aug - Sept for a fall crop: ... g-schedule

Potatoes are planted early but are long season, so don't get planted in fall.

Garlic gets planted in Oct to overwinter and be harvested the next summer.

Early fall is a good time to plant trees, but be sure you plant them far enough away from your veggie garden that the mature trees won't be shading your garden.

Best tip I can give you is start your compost pile now (homemade compost is the best thing you can give your garden) and work hard at making good rich, live soil. Your soil is the foundation of your garden. We get people writing in here saying why aren't my _________ (squash, tomatoes, whatever) doing well and the picture shows terrible soil, hard, dry cracked, rocky, pale. Never work. Good soil = good garden. Terrible soil = terrible garden.

Best wishes and welcome to the wonderful world of gardening!!! :D :D

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:20 pm
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Hi BrandyAnn, welcome to the forum.

The pear tree and apple tree get quite large. They will have limbs out 10 to 12 feet, so I recommend not putting them closer than 12 feet to any fence, property line nor building. They can also be messy at times so away from traffic patterns is good too. You should also put them about 20 feet apart from each other.
I prefer to buy bareroot trees in the spring.

Grapes need an arbor of some kind and go upwards as tall as the arbor. Each year you prune all but the main trunk. Let a main trunk grow to 4 feet tall. They bear on the new growth.

In my book the big four for the home garden is corn, beans, potatoes and squash. You can get loads of good food value from these four.

Plant 4 rows 20 feet long of Jade Bush Beans spaced 30 inches.

4 rows of Ambrosia corn 20 feet long. spaced 30 inches.

5 seeds of crookneck squash in a hill
5 seeds of zucchini in a hill (space the hills 5 feet from anything else).
and if you like winter squash one hill of Hubbard squash or banana squash.

Potatoes are planted early spring in rows 30 inches apart and for your garden I suggest 3 rows 20 feet long. Plant the sets about a foot apart and plan on hilling them some when the plants are 8 inches tall.

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:20 pm
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

corn - enormous space consumer for the 2-3 ears per stalk. if you can get local fresh picked, leave it to them, just buy it.
^^^I do not agree with this. Corn is an awesome producer of food every time I plant it. Good grief they are asking $4 a dozen for corn on the cob here.
It is one thing that can be put in the freezer for winter eating.

Onions of course are excellent. There are several good onion threads going on this forum right now.

Personally I don't think 1000 square feet is a terribly large garden and should be manageable, but that will depend on how you plan to handle it. If you really want a nice family sized garden, a roto-tiller is in order. Pretty hard to fork that much area by hand. Just wonder if its your project or will you have family help?

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:20 pm
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Also you need to think about whether you will garden in beds, raised beds or just go out back and plow up the lot? If your native soil on the lot is any good I would prefer to do the later. Much less fuss and expense to get started.

What about water? Do you have plenty of water for irrigation?

Cool Member
Posts: 90
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 10:23 pm
Location: Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada. Zone 5a

Sounds like your getting a little ahead of yourself. You would need to devote an enormous amount of time to something like that. I'm having enough trouble with my garden since I've got back to work and its only a 8 X 4 foot plot. If you have the time go for it but I would start with some of the easier stuff that other people have mentioned. ie.. lettuce, bean, potatoes. I've never grown any of those personally but will be trying next year. I've had good luck with tomatoes the past 2 years and you should get plenty of tomatoes off very few plants. 3 of my 4 tomato plants have an average of 15-20 tomatoes on them right now. Corn would be nice to grow but you have to worry about raccoons. Squash plants get quite large width wise so make sure you space them well apart. I got some peppers growing this year, hot and bell. the bell peppers seem to be slow going but hopefully I will get some peppers off them. With apple trees you need 2 of them to get apples, they can be different kinds. I was considering doing that this year but had a change of heart. Depending on where you live you can find thousands of raspberries, blackberrys and blueberries in the wild. I was 4 wheeling in the bush the other day and stumbled upon literally hundreds of raspberry and blackberry plants. I'll be going back there shortly with a few containers. Anyways I wouldn't get to far ahead of yourself, atleast for the first year till you see what your getting into.

Also type "top 10 easiest vegetables to grow" or something similar in google and that will give you an idea where to start

GOOD LUCK next year

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:20 pm
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

A few tomatoes are nice.

The cole crops are a little tough as so many critters like them.

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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:32 am
Location: Hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

I do agree with Dilbert. You do have the space, and its good that you are giving yourself enough time to plan the garden. If this is your first garden and if you have not done this before, it is wise to think small and put in only as much as you can manage. Trees are good to plant in the fall. It will give them time to develop a good root system, but they should be given the space they need and it is better that they not be in the vegetable garden

Create a plan for the beds and set priorities for what you want to do most. The first years are the hardest because it is where you will have to learn a lot about what will grow, what won't. How much space to give the plants and what kind of support they will need. Once you have grown things you will know how much time they take and how much more you can take on. Once you have grown plants a season or two you will get to know what they need and you can streamline your efforts.

I have a sprinkler system for my yard and I still have to water some things that are not covered by the system every day. It takes me from 30-45 minutes every day to do that.

You need to figure out how much time you will have to devote to the garden everyday. And it is pretty much a daily commitment. If it is not hand watering, its weeding, mulching, composting, bug hunting, tying up plants on trellises or supports, repotting, fertilizing, pruning, harvesting, and mending either fences or maintaining tools and equipment. During some operations like tilling and planting, it may take a whole day or days, not just an hour or two.

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Joined: Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:29 pm
Location: Upstate South Carolina; Zone 7b

I am a first time gardener and I work more than full time. I was eager to do a big garden but knowing the amount of time I could dedicate to it I began with a 5X5 raised squarefoot garden. I began with squash, corn, wax beans, cucumbers (grown vertically), tomatoes and lettuce. I have been pretty successful with it this year and not overwhelmed and plan on adding another 5X5 raised bed and plant a fall/winter garden.

Good luck and keep us updated. :D

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