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brooksms
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Garden plan?

I have been trying to use a software to plan the layout of my raised beds. It seems like you all have great opinions so I thought I'd see what you think! My main crops are different types of lettuce and tomatoes as we tend to eat a lot of those. Should I plant the tomatoes in the middle or back of the bed? I thought I could plant them in the middle and they would shade some lettuce behind when it gets hot in summer. Maybe they would be too shady though and I would have trouble growing anything behind? Then I put the basil in front so it would get the full sun needed. The plants around that are red romaine for spring, replacing with something more heat tolerant when it's time. All the way to the right is nero di toscana cabbage, some rainbow chard up top next to radishes, then a few herbs (tarragon, chives, thyme) and two types of long carrots to the left. Let me know if you have any ideas that would be better! I'm just playing around with it right now. Also, is this the right north-south orientation? The side of my house is to the west of the boxes.
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imafan26
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Re: Garden plan?

When you plan a garden it is best to put the tallest plants on the North end. The sun will be strongest from the south and the west. The most southerly plants will end up shading everything behind it unless that is what you intend to do.

the East West orientation works for the tomatoes as long as you intend for smaller plants on the east side to get morning sun and what is on the west to have morning shade and afternoon sun.

Toscano kale can get very tall. Mine got up to 6 ft and the leaves spread out will take up more than one food in diameter.

The only thing I don't like about those plans are that square foot gardens assume you chop things to keep them in their square. I would allow a little more space instead. I would space out the kale and plant one less.

I like that you have given the tomatoes enough space. I am assuming they are going to be trellised.

Romaine is a cool season lettuce for me it does not like the heat. I do grow them now when the temperatures are still cool and I grow them under larger plants like tomatoes and eggplants while they are still young and do not require all their space yet. Same with carrots. It may not matter for you, your temperatures may be much milder than mine. My carrots turn bitter once the temperatures stay up in the 80's and do best when temperatures are around 70. If your summers get hot you might want to grow the carrots when it is cooler and switch to something that handles heat better in summer like bush beans or if you would let them sprawl outside of the bed, butternut squash. Squash vine borers can be a problem in the NE states, so butternut squash has a better chance of surviving. You could also consider replacing some of the cool weather crops with peppers and an eggplant (eggplant will take up more than one square)

When it gets hot and the tomatoes mature, I would use a more tipburn and bolt resistant variety of lettuce like a butter or red lettuce.

Basil does go very well with tomatoes and is supposed to aid the tomatoes as a companion plant. I have planted them together, they do fine but I really did not notice any difference in flavor. I also planted tomatoes with dill. The tomatoes and dill got along until the dill bloomed, then the tomatoes stunted and stopped producing. So if you plant dill or fennel to attract polinators and beneficial insects keep them away from everything else at least 10 ft. and also away from each other. Fennel does not like any of its relatives.

I do like this program but what I do to make it practical for me is to print the empty grid to represent my garden. My garden is also not a rectangle so it is just an approximation. I use a pencil and compass to indicate the canopy of the larger plants and dots to represent plants within a square. The program also does not have any plants that resemble some of the things I grow. I grow tomatoes in cages so I make a 3ft d. circle using 1 sq = 1 ft sq as a guide. for each tomato, the same 3 ft d. circle for an eggplant. (I can still under plant the eggplant so a few dots go there to represent the shorter plants. Peppers and bush beans I can squeeze into one square but for the sake of air circulation I usually put them on every other square and plant something that is shorter between them. Even if I allocate space for all the lettuce, I plant them in succession so I only get as many as I can eat before they bolt.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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brooksms
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Re: Garden plan?

Oops! I realized I put the plants on east/west sides backwards. Thanks for helping me with that mistake. Lettuce on the west side with tomatoes in the middle and basil to the east.
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Last edited by brooksms on Fri Feb 20, 2015 2:13 am, edited 3 times in total.

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brooksms
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Re: Garden plan?

imafan26 wrote:When you plan a garden it is best to put the tallest plants on the North end. The sun will be strongest from the south and the west. The most southerly plants will end up shading everything behind it unless that is what you intend to do.

the East West orientation works for the tomatoes as long as you intend for smaller plants on the east side to get morning sun and what is on the west to have morning shade and afternoon sun….
Thank you for all of the insight! Good idea with the kale. If they get so tall, I won't need four plans anyways. The weather here will be mild for months so I'm hoping to harvest some of the cool weather lettuce before it gets too hot. I'll try printing out the blank grid too! The squares don't work perfectly for things like round tomato cages.

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jal_ut
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Re: Garden plan?

Sorry, I don't garden in small beds, but want to just say that tomatoes come in determinate and indeterminate types. The indeterminates grow and get bigger all season. They can get huge. 3 in one of those beds would be enough.

Determinate varieties do not get so big. I suggest these types for beds, and especially if you plan to put other veggies with them.

Good luck!
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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Re: Garden plan?

Personally, I think it is better to put the tomatoes in the middle. I thing you are not paying much attention to seasons in your plan. One thing that gardeners need to learn up front is cold weather crops vs warm weather.

Cold weather crops include lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli and others (chard and carrots are in a special category about which more later). Cold weather crops are very frost tolerant, like cold weather, and tend to bolt and be done as soon as the weather gets regularly in the 80 degree range. They are planted early.

Warm weather crops include tomatoes, peppers, corn, squash, etc. They get killed by any frost, like warm to hot weather, and cannot be planted until the soil has warmed up some. There are some degrees of this. Squash are the last to go in, need really warm weather, corn (if you are growing it, takes a lot of room) can be the first of the warm weather crops to go in.

So I plant the cool weather stuff, which in general is shorter any way, around the front edges of my beds, very early. Cool weather crops can go in the ground (either as seeds or transplants) as soon as the ground can be worked, which for me is about a month earlier than my average last frost date. Later, after danger of frost is past, I plant the warm weather stuff behind them, especially tomatoes. Then by the time the tomato plants are really getting big, the cool weather stuff can be pulled to make more room.

Back to the chard and carrots. They are cool weather crops that get planted early, but unlike the rest of the cool stuff, they are going to keep going/ growing all season. Carrots are just slow and take a long time to get ready before harvest. Chard are very productive. You can just keep picking leaves off them as needed. Unlike spinach and lettuce, chard tolerates the heat and keeps growing all through the summer.

But carrots are good companion plants for tomatoes, so I still do a row of carrots down one edge of a tomato bed.
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brooksms
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Re: Garden plan?

Thank you for the advice! We have a lot of mild weather after the last frost date and before it gets too hot for lettuce, so I was hoping to use that plus shade from tomatoes to my advantage. I'm going to plant the cool weather crops at least a month before the tomatoes go outside but want to succession sow lettuce as long as possible. I don't want to plant the tomatoes in the middle and have all of the space behind them go to waste if nothing will grow behind them, you know? I just wasn't sure how much shade the area behind the tomatoes would get with the north-south orientation.

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jal_ut
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Re: Garden plan?

Bear in mind that in May, June and July the sun is High. Things will get sun....... don't worry too much.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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brooksms
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Re: Garden plan?

jal_ut wrote:Bear in mind that in May, June and July the sun is High. Things will get sun....... don't worry too much.
That is good to know! I'm paying more attention to my property this year so I'll have a better idea of how the sun hits.

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