hotsnacks
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Location: Toronto, Canada (US zone 5B, CDN zone 6A)

Layout Help for First Herb/Vegetable Garden

Hi all, lover of food and finally taking an interest to growing some stuff myself. My father is showing me the ropes, definitely an old school guy with amazing results but he’s more of a massive tomato specialty guy with limited experience in other vegetables/herbs. This is why I'm looking for online help to combine with his knowledge for my own, first garden.


Location Information
In Toronto, has a backyard with great South sun exposure. Zone 6 right?


Garden Information
1x In Ground Garden: 1.5’ wide by 12' long (Can be made twice as wide to 3’ wide ONLY IF needed, sun comes from long South side so a second row of plants might get some shade from the first row)

1x Black Box: 11" wide by 2.5' long, and 1’4" tall

1x Round Pot: 1’2" wide diameter and 1’1" tall

3x Silver Pots: 7" wide diameter and 6" tall

2x White Pots: 4" wide diameter and 4" tall


The Wish List
Herbs: Multiple's of Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley, Chives, Cilantro
Vegetables: 1 Cherry Tomato Plant, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Spring Onions, Swiss Chard
I'll buying these as pre-grown plants and planting them in my backyard, not growing from seed this year.


Question 1: What to Grow?
I love bell peppers but heard they’re a pain, and only come at the very end of season, so they’re not on my list. Whereas I heard Swiss Chard is impossible to kill but my dad is worried it will take over like a weed (and into his tomato garden beside my future garden lol). Anything else that grows well in the Toronto zone I might’ve missed? Open to suggestions.


Question 2: Distribution of Plants Across Garden and Box/Pots?
I would like to plant as much of my wish list as possible given my size info above and willing to plant multiples if you guys say there’s room. I have no idea how much space these different vegetables need or how wide they grow.

Thank you in advance for any help! This post was super helpful too https://bit.ly/24E0Ypk

Asica
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Re: Layout Help for First Herb/Vegetable Garden

Basil and tomato like to be planted together, but do not water on both plants, they do not like to be wet. Check out the tomato forum, it has plenty of info. You could put those in your black box. That would probably fit two tomatoes and two basils. I wonder if tomatoes will not be better in a greenhouse around you. Maybe somebody else will give you answer to that.
I would put herbs in the pots that can be easily moved so for winter you can move them somewhere warmer.
Rosemary does not much water and you could put that in your round pot.
In the silver pots and the white one you could put the herbs. This way you can have them once the snow comes.
I would make the ground garden three feet wide because a lot of plants get bigger, like the zucchini. Unless this is too much trouble. Zucchini probably gets 2-3 feet wide. Onions do not take a lot of space and you will get some green onion from them too. I would plant them in a row. Cucumbers need space to spread, unless you have them climb.
I do not have experience with chard, but I know it is not a small plant.
Hope this helps a little and good luck. Happy gardening

hotsnacks
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Location: Toronto, Canada (US zone 5B, CDN zone 6A)

Re: Layout Help for First Herb/Vegetable Garden

Thanks for the informative answer Asica!!

My father has his separate garden beside mine and he's doing his massive tomatoes that he does every year. I just need room for one cherry tomato plant in my garden above (last year we did two, and couldn't keep up with all the tomatoes!). And he does do a little makeshift greenhouse using upside down plastic storage bins, he's very crafty. Always monitoring the temperature in the sun to make sure it's not too hot, or not too cold. At night they get a blanket and placed in the garage. Later he will plant in the ground.

I'll plant some basil around the cherry tomato plant, and then basil in smaller pots too.

I assume I could plant a couple rosemary plants in a 1 foot wide and 1 foot tall pot right?

And I definitely think I'm going to make the in ground garden double the width, won't hurt to have the extra room. I wonder if I could plant two rows if I made it 4 feet wide?

Asica
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Location: California (Los Angeles)

Re: Layout Help for First Herb/Vegetable Garden

Rosemary plant gets big fast, mine probably in one year got five times its original size, so I think one plant is what you need.
With four feet you can easily make two rows on smaller plants.

hotsnacks
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Re: Layout Help for First Herb/Vegetable Garden

Asica wrote:Rosemary plant gets big fast, mine probably in one year got five times its original size, so I think one plant is what you need.
With four feet you can easily make two rows on smaller plants.
Good to know!!

Now I've spent way too long looking up how to properly grow cucumber and zucchini. Sounds like they need to be trellised, and there are all sorts of rules (non-metallic, despite people using wire cages?) and I'm finding tons of contradictory information. I just need something that works, but is basic. This doesn't need to be Picasso.

What should I look out for since I want this cucumber and zucchini to grow UP. I supposed I need to watch out for words like "BUSH"? I just want to buy the ones that grow UP rather than take up my entire garden (I've read about 6 foot wide zucchini plants!)

Attached are some photos of my main, in-ground garden thats 12' by 3' now (I did make it wider!). Ignore the soil, still have tons more of sheep and cow manure to mix in.
12 ft by 3ft In Ground Garden beside fence
12 ft by 3ft In Ground Garden beside fence
I was thinking of loosely tying the cucumber plant stalk and zucchini one to my black fence. Almost like how my dad ties his tomatoes to wooden stakes. But for cucumber and zucchinis, sounds like I need something "mesh"-ish for all the tendrils.

Can I just quick-tie some chicken wire to the black fence, and combine that with loosely tying the stalk to the fence as it grows? Will that do?

Lastly, will my neighbours shitty fence pose a problem with it's proximity to my black fence+future chicken wire? I don't want it grabbing onto the neighbours side.
Overhead view of my fence and neighbours fence
Overhead view of my fence and neighbours fence

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jal_ut
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Re: Layout Help for First Herb/Vegetable Garden

I have grown cucumber and zucchini and crookneck squash for many years. Never trellis any of them. Just plant and stand back.

I like to plant the zucchini and crookneck in hills. 5 seeds to a hill and hills spaced six feet. The plants come up and go out like the spokes of a wheel and it makes a big clump. Cukes: I just plant a long row. A seed every 4 to 6 inches. Those vines will go to four feet and some go both ways so you end up with a pretty wide cuke patch.

If you are just after a few cucumbers for fresh eating, then 3 or 4 plants will do fine, but if you are looking for a bucketful to make pickles, you will need 30 or more plants. Have fun!

Image
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

Asica
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Re: Layout Help for First Herb/Vegetable Garden

I seen people tie the cucumbers with a string so they climb. If you plant it next to fence it will probably go over to the neighbors although that chicken wire could stop it. You could also plant on the age of your planter and let it fall. It will look pretty too. :D
I read here about growing zucchini up. I cannot find the post about it, but the Gardener was using a pole and somehow twisting the plant around it. You will have to see it.
Your raised bed looks very nice by the way. It is a great size for a little garden. When I try something new in a garden, I look at it as a experiment. I think you have idea and now you have to just go for it.

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applestar
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Re: Layout Help for First Herb/Vegetable Garden

I really don't think zucchini will grow UP. You need to think in terms of sending the zucchini off hugging the ground with long leaf stalks and big huge leaves. I would start about three feet from one end and expect it to grow towards the most sun, swallowing up the ground as it grows and eventually working its way out of the bed.

For cucumbers, I would pound in sturdy 5-6ft verticals -- like 6-7 ft (pounded down 12-18" deep) T-posts or thick 5/8 - 7/8" bamboo -- about a foot in from the fence, then tie a cross beam at the top (some people make this out of metal conduits joined with elbows), then tie a nylon or poly netting (big openings like 3-4" squares) across the top and sides (if you are crafty, you can tie/macrame a netting with string) Keep the cucumber from reaching over and trying to climb the fence unless you plan to share with your neighbor. More fruits will develop on the SUNNIER side. Yes, you could make this with wire fencing which will offer sturdier support. Wire/metal fencing is more of a problem in the south I think, where the sun can get really fierce. If metal gets too hot for you to touch in the sun, then plants won't want to hold onto them either, or if they foolishly do, will get burned.

I've used decorative cotton fishnet for pole beans and that worked well -- sturdy enough for the season, but deteriorated into compost = easy clean up. Not sure if sturdy enough for cucumbers though. Wire fence trellis should be sturdy enough to rip and pull vines off at the end of the season or sometime in winter after the vines freeze and die. Thinner wire will support but deform when trying to pull down for clean up.
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gumbo2176
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Re: Layout Help for First Herb/Vegetable Garden

I'd be reluctant to use chicken wire unless you have access to the other side of the fence. Chicken wire has small holes in it and you'll never get your hands through it to get the cucumbers growing on the other side of the fence. If it is a shared yard, your neighbor would likely love getting fresh produce and it's good to share. My cucumbers grow on a trellis made of hog wire with ample spacing to reach through if I want to.

As mentioned, you can just let them go on the ground, but unless you have a good amount of space for that to happen, it is not worth it in my opinion. jal_ut has a ton of area for his garden, unlike most urban gardeners. When I have grown summer squash, I've never trellised it. Naturally, I do trellis all my pole beans, sugar snap peas, cucumbers and when I grew cantaloupes years ago, I also trellised them. But you have to support the melons as they grow or they can snap the vine.

imafan26
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Re: Layout Help for First Herb/Vegetable Garden

It looks like the fence is on the east side of the garden. The good thing it is an open fence that will let sun and light through. If you do not have a great relationship with your neighbor, I would plant small plants close to the fence that won't climb it. The herbs will do fine. Tall plant should be on the west or north side of the garden and things like tomatoes and cucumbers should have a trellis. If you build a trellis system into the bed then you should have one sturdy enough to hold up tomatoes and even pumpkins with support.

Ideally you should have a maintenance path all around the garden bed and I would have given about 4 ft distance from the neiboring fence just in case you neighbor sprays their yard near the fence as well as for easy all around access.

One or two tomatoes will give you a lot of fruit especially if you pick something like a cherry or current. They have fewer issues and the birds can't get them all. Indeterminates will get 7-8 ft tall and while they are vines they do not naturally climb so if you don't use a cage, you will have to tie them up. Select early tomato varieties since you have a short season and use starts. Your dad probably can help you there. BTW you can grow tomatoes from cuttings.

Cucumbers, beans, and peas also need to be trellised but they have tendrils so once they get started and pointed in the right direction you only need to take care of the wayward vines. I depends on how many you eat. Cucumbers tend to come in one after another so I plant only one or two and about 4 weeks later plant another for continuous harvest. One cucumber is probably enough but unless you have a parthenocarpic cucumber two are better for polination.
Peas grow in cooler conditions
Beans like it warm at least 70 degrees. You will get more beans from an indeterminate but if you don't mind getting your beans all at once for preserving, bush beans only require a stake and produce most of their beans all at once.

Rosemary. You only need one plant in a pot. It does get large over time, but depending on how cold it gets you may have to bring it in.

Mints always need to be in pots and bowls and they have to be divided often. They become invasive in the ground. If you don't repot them when they look "full", they will soon choke themselves to death.

Basil with tomatoes or in the garden. They can get about 18-30 inches tall but the younger leaves are best. I let my basil bloom since it attracts bees and beneficial insects.

I grow green onions in 1 gallon pots. They can be brought in when it gets cold and three pots are usually plenty since you just snip the tops off and the bottom keeps on growing.

There are vine zucchini but most people grow the bush types. It is a large plant. Like the pattypan and crookneck squashes, zuchhini needs about a 3 ft circle of space. It is better to plant a couple of them since polination can be an issue unless you get a parthenocarpic variety. I prefer the crookneck squash, instead and have fewer production issues and it can be used like zuccchini. I grew nice patty pans, I just never figured out how to use them.
Cilantro is a cool crop that can grow either in pots or in a bed. Plant in succession or they will all come and go out at around the same time. They don't like temps higher than 80 degrees.

Thyme is perennial and can be grown in the ground. It can also be grown in pots, like mint it needs to be clipped often and divided or the center dies out. I ground layer mine to keep making new plants. It can also grow from cuttings.

Chives are perennial and like green onions, are better in pots since you don't need a lot and they can be brought inside when it gets cold

I have grown Swiss Chard, it is a large plant but as long as you don't let it go to seed, it does not spread. I only need a couple of plants since you can just harvest the leaves and the plant is very long lived

Other things to consider are kale and broccoli since they like cool weather and can tolerate a bit of frost.

Consider Asian greens if the temps are 50-80 degrees. They are ready in about 50 days or sooner and good in stir fries. There are baby varieties like baby bok you can plant them in succession 4 -6 inches apart.

When temps are in te 50-80 range you can grow lettuce. Red lettuce is more heat tolerant. Looseleaf lettuce is the easiest to plant. Buy the icebergs, they are nutrient poor and hard to grow. Most lettuce depending on the season will take 4-6 weeks from seed and you can eat outer leaves and let the rest grow. Plant 8-10 inches apart. (I plant starters and transplant them out). Romaine like cool weather up to around 70 degrees and takes longer to mature around 70 days. Plant in succession for a continous harvest. Plant as much lettuce as you can eat in about 10 days for me that is 5-10 heads every two weeks.

Beets do better in slightly alkaline soils, not too much nitrogen and planted 4 inches apart. The seeds are a cluster so you will need to thin. I have started them in community pots and transplanted them out. You can do it if you are careful when transplanting not to damage the roots. They need to be planted 4 inches apart. If they are too close there won't be room for the roots to grow. You can also eat the tops.

Carrots need a fine sandy and well drained soil. You can plant that in the small bed if you have the right kind of soil. There are short varieties bu you want the soil to be soft and fine 8-10 inches deep. Thin carrot seedling to 2 inches apart. Carrots don't like temps much above 70 degrees or they will turn bitter, but can keep in the ground longer when it is cool. 70 days

Bell peppers elude me. I get a few but they don't give a lot. If I get 8 from a plant it would be excellent. However, if you nix the bells and go for the hot stuff they are prolific. Super chili, Thai, Hawaiian tabasco, are the strongest producers for me. Jalapeno has issues but produces o.k. if you get the right variety and it is a stable hybrid. They can be mildly hot or not. Peppers a better from starts or started indoors. They are slow to grow in the beginning and they need warmth or a heat mat to get started. You don't need a lot of plants and peppers freeze, dry, and pickle well. They can be grown in 1-5 gallon pots and brought inside for the winter.

Instead of bells, the corno d' toro pepper like Carmen, banana peppers, and Italian roasters are sweet peppers that are good for frying and can be stuffed and used in meripoix. Anaheim are mildly hot but good for stuffing and Mexican recipes. They are stronger plants with much better production.

Start with plants as it takes about three months of warm weather for them to fruit from seed. They will continue to fruit as the weather cools but flower production stops when it gets cold. Peppers can live about 4 years in a 5 gallon pot. In the ground without frost they can live over 10 years.


In one of the small box beds you can plant rhubarb which would be perennial in cold climates.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

hotsnacks
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Location: Toronto, Canada (US zone 5B, CDN zone 6A)

Re: Layout Help for First Herb/Vegetable Garden

Thank you everybody! jal_ut, Asica, applestar, gumbo2176, and imafan26!
jal_ut wrote:I like to plant the zucchini and crookneck in hills. 5 seeds to a hill and hills spaced six feet.
Unfortunately, living in a city, that would take up most of my 12' x 3' in-ground garden! Might have to try the vine variety as mentioned below. Beautiful photos btw, thank you for sharing them!


Asica wrote:I seen people tie the cucumbers with a string so they climb. If you plant it next to fence it will probably go over to the neighbors although that chicken wire could stop it. You could also plant on the age of your planter and let it fall. It will look pretty too. :D
I read here about growing zucchini up. I cannot find the post about it, but the Gardener was using a pole and somehow twisting the plant around it. You will have to see it.
Your raised bed looks very nice by the way. It is a great size for a little garden. When I try something new in a garden, I look at it as a experiment. I think you have idea and now you have to just go for it.
Thank you for the kind words about the garden! Just an extremely humble project using leftover wood (non-treated). And I would really love some non-pickling, vine cucumbers for summer! I will have to find that zucchini post. Once I nail down these funny plants like cucumber and zucchini I can move on for spacing the rest of the garden.


applestar wrote:I really don't think zucchini will grow UP. You need to think in terms of sending the zucchini off hugging the ground with long leaf stalks and big huge leaves. I would start about three feet from one end and expect it to grow towards the most sun, swallowing up the ground as it grows and eventually working its way out of the bed.

For cucumbers, I would pound in sturdy 5-6ft verticals -- like 6-7 ft (pounded down 12-18" deep) T-posts or thick 5/8 - 7/8" bamboo -- about a foot in from the fence, then tie a cross beam at the top (some people make this out of metal conduits joined with elbows), then tie a nylon or poly netting (big openings like 3-4" squares) across the top and sides (if you are crafty, you can tie/macrame a netting with string) Keep the cucumber from reaching over and trying to climb the fence unless you plan to share with your neighbor. More fruits will develop on the SUNNIER side. Yes, you could make this with wire fencing which will offer sturdier support. Wire/metal fencing is more of a problem in the south I think, where the sun can get really fierce. If metal gets too hot for you to touch in the sun, then plants won't want to hold onto them either, or if they foolishly do, will get burned.
gumbo2176 wrote:I'd be reluctant to use chicken wire unless you have access to the other side of the fence. Chicken wire has small holes in it and you'll never get your hands through it to get the cucumbers growing on the other side of the fence. If it is a shared yard, your neighbor would likely love getting fresh produce and it's good to share. My cucumbers grow on a trellis made of hog wire with ample spacing to reach through if I want to.

As mentioned, you can just let them go on the ground, but unless you have a good amount of space for that to happen, it is not worth it in my opinion. jal_ut has a ton of area for his garden, unlike most urban gardeners. When I have grown summer squash, I've never trellised it.
Thanks applestar and gumbo2176 ! I do have some access behind my black fence since it doesn't totally seal off so I can squeak by if need be. At the bottom of this post is a photo with some better measurement info! Think I'll manage?
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hotsnacks
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Re: Layout Help for First Herb/Vegetable Garden

Thank you imafan26 for the informative post! Also, see my new updated photo I just uploaded above this post!

For cucumbers, thank you for telling me I need two as well like zucchini, but they seem easier and less fussy. When looking at plants, I need to look for the word "parthenocarpic" ?

1x Round Pot: 1’2" wide diameter and 1’1" tall is good for one rosemary plant?
Realized now I should've included a path, DOH!

How much space you reckon basil needs? I love basil so I will be planting a few I think.

Wow, 3 foot circle of space for zucchini and I need more than one? I'll see if the nursery by me has the parthenocarpic kind. If not, I think I may forgo zucchini this year. I had no idea it was so needy for space and so fussy!

Will keep cilantro in a pot, the silver and white ones I have are big enough?

No idea thyme was a perennial, will make room in my ground garden for it. How much space you reckon it needs?
Will certainly keep chives in pots as you mentioned now! My silver and white ones big enough?

I'm finding online that apparently swiss chard only needs 6-9 inches? Again this is the sq. foot gardening mentality, could end up being tight?

Saw some cool kale yesterday, room permitting I would love some! I've been reading 15-18 inches apart? Massive!

I actually saw some Pok Choy (not Bok Coy which I know VERY well, type maybe?), at the nursery yesterday and if I've got room, I will definitely plant some! How far apart you reckon? I'll be buying plants and it seems like 6-12 inches is what I find online for spacing (since I don't know how/what thinning is, but I can only absorb so much knowledge every 24 hours!)

Great tip regarding lettuce, I remember my dad planted them last year and we ate so much lettuce cause it all came at the same time. We actually made a bit of space for an extra 15 plants spaced 8-10 inches apart as you suggested. Square foot gardening suggests a much tighter space but I'd rather a touch more room myself. We will probably plant 5 at a time with 2 week intervals for us.

I think I may relegate peppers to next year depending how this year goes being my first time. But now I know for next year that other peppers like banana/Anaheim peppers are stronger plants! Learned a new thing!

If I wanted to add spinach, 4-6 inches apart too tight?

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