jojackc
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Raised Garden, Small Veggies.

So I joined the forum in hopes that you all garden Wizards can help. So here is my problem. I have been doing a raised garden for three years now and I can only grow small veggies. The only exception to this has been tomato's and green beans. The green beans come out to be med. in size. Not big but not small. Some info on the garden is this. It is a raised Garden. The size is a 8ft x 4ft x 12inch raised bed. The original soil going into the garden is Kellogg Garden soil. I did dig up some of the under soil the second year of doing it and mixed it into this. It had a thin layer of pea gravel and good old Arizona dirt. Every year I have added Kellogg brand Amend (two to 4 bags). I also water the plants with miracle grow every week to two weeks. The green beans I add some type of green bean mix to the seeds when planting. But back to my problem. Everything else I grow comes out small. cantaloupes the size of my fist. Turnips, Radishes, carrots, and beets only get to the size of a weeds root. Corn only grows to the size of a baby corn that you find in Asian food. Summer squash, zucchini, and cucumbers the size of gherkin's. I did grow an ok amount of lettuce this winter. The leafs never became tight packed though( it was romaine and butter crisp). The leaves where good to eat but the plants where tall and the leaves spread out.

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Lindsaylew82
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Re: Raised Garden, Small Veggies.

Jojack,

Welcome to the forum!

Where are you located? Can you include some pics of your setup?
Lindsay
Upstate, SC
USDA Zone 7b/ Sunset Zone 31

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Raised Garden, Small Veggies.

You are talking about ONE 8x4 bed?

And you had in it tomatoes, green beans, cantaloupes, turnips, radishes, carrots, beets, corn, zucchini, and cucumber?

I can't even imagine how you packed all that in there. Of course everything is stunted, it is way too crowded. Dumping all that Miracle Gro on them does not make up for the fact that there is no room for their roots to spread out, their leaves are blocking each other from sunshine and air circulation, etc.

Here's what I put in one 8x4 (and most people would say I crowd them way too much):

one row of carrots down each of the long sides, then a row of lettuce next to each row of carrots, 3 tomato plants down the middle. Then I pop in some onion sets here and there, since they take up very little room, and some parsley on the ends. The lettuce, being a cool weather crop, will be done by the time the tomato plants are getting really big and need the space. I do the same thing with broccoli, instead of lettuce, but since the broccoli is big, no carrots go in that bed. I don't grow radishes, but they are small and quickly done so could be scattered around like I do with the onion sets.

Cantaloupes, cucumbers, zucchini are huge spreading plants. And corn is big plants and needs to be grown in a block for pollination. Cucumbers can be grown vertically up a trellis, but if you have only the one bed, you have to try and figure out how to do that so that it doesn't shade the other stuff too much.

This year I am doing a three sisters bed. It is a 4x4 planted with a block of corn. After the corn gets a few inches high, beans are planted next to the corn plants so that the beans can use the corn as poles. After the beans are a few inches high plant a squash to grow around them. Since my bed is so small, I did one squash plant. This is a traditional way to plant them, but it is my first time doing it, so I will report back later how it all worked.

Of course maybe I misunderstood you, in which case I am sorry, and please tell us how many 8x4 beds we are talking about....
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

jojackc
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Re: Raised Garden, Small Veggies.

I live in Chandler Arizona. It gets pretty hot here. I only have the one 4x8 bed but am thinking about adding another if I can get this ironed out. The veggies listed where everything I have tried. I have never planted that much at once. My current summer garden has one early girl tomato, one heirloom tomato, one black cherry tomato, one sweet pepper plant, two zucchini squash, and two summer squash. As usual the tomatoes are doing very well and are almost 6ft tall. The four squash plants are pretty sad looking. The pepper plant seems to look pretty healthy but only one pepper so far. I will try to remember to take some photos tomorrow of the current garden. Here are some photos of when I built it, it now has a sun shade over it.

Image

This is one of my winter crop photos:

Image

Asica
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Location: California (Los Angeles)

Re: Raised Garden, Small Veggies.

I live in Cali and we get some hot weather here too. What made a huge difference for me is mulching the soil. I put thick layer of mulch every so often. The water does not evaporates as fast this way.
For peppers I tried cutting the first bloom so the side pups will start. It work very well for me.
It will be also good to fertilize the garden every so often.
Hope this helps

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Lindsaylew82
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Re: Raised Garden, Small Veggies.

Is this down on earth, or concrete?
Lindsay
Upstate, SC
USDA Zone 7b/ Sunset Zone 31

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Raised Garden, Small Veggies.

OK, sorry I didn't understand.

You need to learn to garden with your climate. I looked it up. Average high temperatures for you in June, Jul, Aug Sept are 103.2 104.5 103.3 99. So you have four solid months of temps in the mid-90's to well over 100 degrees. Already your temps are high 80's to hitting 100 by June 1.

Keeping your soil well mulched and well irrigated will help, the sunshade will help, but no matter what those are just not tomato growing temperatures. It helps to plant heat resistant tomato varieties. They mostly have "hot" name like Sunmaster, Arkansas Traveller, Solar Fire, Heat Wave II, etc.

Even so, you should not figure on having tomatoes in June, July, Aug. You could have tomato transplants ready to go in the garden in January and grow them until the heat makes them fade out. Then you could plant them again say mid-Sept on the expectation that by the time they are getting big enough to produce fruit, the temps will have calmed down some. So you will have more months of tomatoes than I will, just not the same months.

Cantaloupes can produce in higher temperatures than tomatoes, but "The best average temperature range for cantaloupe production during the growing season is between 65° and 95°F; temperatures above 95°F or below 50°F will slow the growth and maturation of the crop. Cantaloupes require a constant supply of moisture during the growing season." https://extension.psu.edu/business/ag-al ... production

Similarly for corn: "High-temperature stress during ear formation, reproduction, and grainfill is normally detrimental to yield. Under rain-fed conditions, corn usually begins to stress when air temperatures exceed 90 F (32 C) during the tasseling-silking and grainfill stages. Data from Nebraska showed the yield of dryland corn may be reduced 1 1/2 bushel per acre for each day the temperature reaches 95 F (35 C)," https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmed ... ch-40.html

You can help your plants survive heat longer, by pouring water on them. That would probably mean watering twice a day and you will have a huge water bill. Not great in these water scarcity times. Or you can move your season a lot earlier and not figure on having much in your garden in the hottest weather (you don't really want to be out working in your garden then anyway, do you - not good weather for you to be outside either! :) ).

Some of the plants that can handle weather that stays over 100 degrees consistently include: malabar spinach (not a true spinach, it's a vine, but it is a spinach substitute) , other hot weather spinach substitutes are surinam spinach and longevity spinach. You should be able to grow peppers, but again you will need heat resistant varieties. One such is NuMex Suave Orange pepper, which is a very mild hot pepper. There are others. Other hot weather plants are okra, sunchokes/ Jerusalem artichokes, roselle, Armenian cucumbers.

Also, do you know what the pH of your soil is? Other people in Arizona have reported alkaline soil, sometimes quite alkaline. That will definitely stunt most vegetables which like slightly acid to sometimes more than slightly acid soils. So pH is something you need to know. You can get a pH meter for checking it.

Best Wishes and keep us posted!
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

jojackc
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Re: Raised Garden, Small Veggies.

The garden is build on top of Arizona dirt. Belive it or not I am not having problems with the tomato's. Its the only thing I can grow to a decent size. Right now I have early girls that are the size of an apple, well not that big hehe, but close. It's everything else that I cant get a handle on. I will have to get a PH meter and see what my soil is like. I am currently only watering once every three days for 15 mins. I am using soaker hose to water the soil with. Not sure how many gallons I am putting out, but the evening before the next watering the soil is still moist if I flip a bit of it over so I think its enough for now. Maybe I am wrong though. There is a guy at work that is growing tomatoes and he said hes watering his 15mins twice a day. His tomatoes are doing just as good as mine though. I was always told by my grandmother to water deep and don't water again until the soil is almost dry. So thats what I do.

imafan26
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Re: Raised Garden, Small Veggies.

I think you will find that your soil is alkaline. Not many things like alkaline soil. When pH is high micronutrients become less available and nitrogen volatizes off quickly.

Your water is probably also alkaline.

This is the Arizona vegetable guide from the Arizona master gardeners with the types of plants you can grow and the planting dates for them.
https://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/v ... guide.html

If you are only adding Kellog's you need fertilizer too. It would account for the small plants if nutrients especially nitrogen is limited. The best way to know what and how much to add would be to do a soil test. Instead of Kellogg's I would probably use peat moss instead. Peat moss that has been limed has a pH of about 6.0. Kellogg's and other aerobic composts will be alkaline and that won't help your already alkaline soil. Sulfur would be futile but using an acidic fertilizer won't hurt.
Manures can be problematic since while they are good organically they contain a lot of salt.

If you contact your local master gardener and ask about where you can get a soil test. Ask about the cost. I looked online and apparently Arizona soil tests cost more than other places. A basic soil test costs me $12 in Hawaii with recommendations.

https://extension.arizona.edu/sites/ext ... 20CALS.pdf

I think your garden will benefit from shade cloth 47% shadecloth at least 8 ft high.

Trickle irrigation is best but it is usually slow so your watering time should be extended. Compensating drip emittters deliver a set rate but are usually left on anywhere from 2-10 hours. It all depends on the type of soil you have. If it is sandy, it needs to be on longer. I would check the depth that is wet at intervals and water until the soil is damp 4-6 inches deep. Mulching will conserve water.

I think your plants need fertilizer adjustment. I don't have your kind of soil conditions. However, I have told people who live in areas that are built over coral not to fight the soil. Plant acid loving plants in containers with potting mixes. You can manage pH in a pot but you cannot make alkaline soil acidic.

If you have decent sized greens but fruit and roots are small, that usually means there is too much relative nitrogen. A couple of weeks before planting add 1/2- 1lb of 10-20-20 plus micros over 100 square feet. For your bed size of 32 sq ft 8x4 you probably only need a handful. 1/4-1/3 cup. I would only use miracle grow for the first month while the plants are small and actively growing, then stop. Root crops benefit from bonemeal about 3 weeks after they germinate and before they bulb up.

The bed is too small for all the plants you have in it and that may be part of the problem. If you use square foot garden planting plan.

This is close to what I would plan for that small a space. The program does not allow me to adjust position so I have to make do with what is does allow

https://www.gardeners.com/on/demandware. ... C=XNET9436
Two tomatoes - they are better if they get 4 squares instead of 1. 1 square requires a trellis and a lot of pruning which would not be good to cut leaf cover in the arizona sun. I cage my tomatoes. Less work.

Between tomatoes while they are still small and the weather is cool enough under 85 degrees you can grow butterhead, red and looseleaf lettuce. Once the tomatoes size up there won't be much room.

Beets, radish and turnips do not take up a lot of space and can be intermplanted. they need about 4 inch spacing. I plant 21 day radishes around the young squash, tomato, eggplant and peppers since they don't need the space until they are bigger and by then the radishes will be harvested.

zucchini and summer squash bushes take up a 30 inch circle so only 2 plants in a 4 foot width and part of the plants will be outside the garden

Cucumber can be trained up a stacked tomato trellis. I have planted 4 on one trellis. It is the only way to keep them inside a square.

Hot peppers can take the heat and will fit inside a square, but they are tall so plant shorter plants around them.

vining crops are planted on the end and the vines will sprawl outside the garden. You can pile vines on top of each other.

Herbs can be dropped in where ever there is room. I would wait until the other plants have sized up to put them in since they also do well in pots for a while and to make sure there is room for the other plants to spread. I plant them in pots and just place the pots in the garden It makes watering easier and the pot placement can be adjusted based on the space the other plants take up. basil can get tall so you may have to figure out the best spot for it.

This program did not allow for flowers but you can also grow borage, sunflowers, marigolds, alyssum, baby's breath, zinnias and other cutting flowers between the plants. They will attract beneficial insects.


Lettuce is a cool season crop and it will bolt in the heat so it has a short growing season It does not like weather than exceeds 85 degrees.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

catgrass
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Re: Raised Garden, Small Veggies.

I would not use pebbles/ rock as a mulch in your climate-that will keep your soil too hot and cook your roots.
zone 9 Southwest La.

jojackc
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Re: Raised Garden, Small Veggies.

Catgrass, it was already in the original dirt and it was very small pea gravel that I couldn't get out. That said here is an update on my garden and I am not sure if this may be a hint to whats going on. I have been eating tomato's now for awhile from the garden, and to me they are just great tasting home grown tomato's. Now my mother was over this weekend and made a comment that got me thinking. She was like wow Jimmy you sure put a lot of salt on these tomato's, I had some just cut up on a plate as snacks for everyone that was over. I replied with I didn't put anything on the tomato's. If there was a lot of salt in the soil would this show up in the taste of my tomato's? And would a high amount of salt in the soil make other vegies grow small?

catgrass
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Re: Raised Garden, Small Veggies.

I can't answer that question, maybe someone else can. I do know that soil conditions, too much, too little water will change the taste of some tomatoes. Also, the taste will vary with the type of tomato. I would think that yes, too much salt in the soil would alter tomato production, size, etc. If your state has one (and most do), contact your Ag center and present your problem to them. They are more familiar with your growing conditions. Good Luck!
zone 9 Southwest La.

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applestar
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Re: Raised Garden, Small Veggies.

Some people describe dark tomatoes with green gel as salty. Some heirlooms have rich middle flavor that I think is umami.

People who are used to insipid -- tasteless, mealy -- grocery and restaurant tomatoes (we call those *plastic* tomatoes here at our house -- to be gingerly removed from salad and sandwich and replaced with good REAL tomatoes) may find rich and complex flavor of good heirlooms hard to describe and attribute the unfamiliar flavor to added "salt" ?
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