Dirt
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Re: Is this enough square footage for a raised bed garden?

Well, I don't settle, nor do I find myself happy with a small harvest. Last year for example, I had 8 tomatoes in 8 square feet. They overgrew my 8' tall trellises. We ate, we canned, we gave away. When we stripped the plants before first frost we had 16lbs. of green tomatoes and another 6 or 7 of red. I could go on about the beans, jalapeños, etc.

As imafan said, air circulation is critical, but an awful lot of this revolves around nutrients. I made a mistake last year in trying some air pruned corn, I didn't provide the nutrients and they were stunted. That was my first experience with air pruning, and I won't make the same mistake again. Another problem was something ate the silk off the ears, so limited pollination.

I can certainly see the point about not wanting to work as hard at keeping plants trimmed back, and wider spacing would help that, but if it's small enough it isn't a big chore. I did decide this year to stretch my tomatoes out just a bit. They will be four plants in four feet one way, but only three plants in four feet the other. That is simply to make it easier to see the ripe fruit.

If I sat down and added up everything I'm going to plant this season against the square footage, I'm guessing it would be fairly close to the OP's. Someone said that listed spacings are guidelines. I think that's a good way to look at it. And I still think he's not on terrible shape on space!

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applestar
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Re: Is this enough square footage for a raised bed garden?

OK, do you have a progress report thread Dirt? Your garden production sounds great, and I think it would help to know how you prep your beds and what you feed your plants. Do you have them on automatic irrigation? ...though I think in Michigan area, you do get regular rainfall....

Oh yeah -- trellised pruned vs. not pruned tomatoes make a huge difference in amount of space they take up. Do you only allow single vine per plant? Two? These are indeterminates, right? What variety?
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

Dirt
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Re: Is this enough square footage for a raised bed garden?

I can do one if you like.

I use a 300 gallon tote connected to my garage gutters to collect rainwater. Last year we had a very dry summer, so I supplemented my rain water by adding tap water to the tote. This had dual benefits. There were a lot of organics in the water and it was starting to smell, basically liquid compost but not many greens. By adding tap water I was able to keep the organics in check with the chlorine, and and the chlorine in turn was spent by the organics. I am adding a filter to the collection system this year.

My beds are not auto irrigated but they are piped with 1/2" PVC. I simply connect a hose from the tote to the bed and open the valve. Because I know the SQ.FT. of each bed and my tote, I can easily calculate how much water I add to each bed in inches. I made a spreadsheet up so if I want to add, say 1" of water to a specific bed, I know how many inches that is from the tote. Last year I saved 10 gallons of water in milk jugs before winterizing the tote for the year. I stored it in the basement and am using it to water my starts.

My beds are prepped with a few inches of composted manure worked into the surface each year. When planting I'll work in a tablespoon or so of organic fertilizer, or whatever I can get on sale. My soil is pretty even so I try to stick with something that doesn't have goofy numbers. A 10-10-10 is fine. This year I'm going to mix a bit of garden lime in each hole for peppers, tomatoes, squash, etc., anything that could be subject to blossom end rot. Through the year I will feed fish emulsion or a dissolvable processed fertilizer. I am partial to Shultz 20-20-20, which I feed at half strength every week or so depending on what I'm feeding.

Clearly I'm trellising indeterminate tomatoes. I won't plant determinate for a couple of reasons. First, they take up too much space. Second, I don't want them all to come in at the same time. I am not one who enjoys putting up huge amounts of canned anything all at once. I've learned that I can do small batch canning in a few hours here and there. We put a lot in pint jars, and if we need more we just open two.

I tend to prune to two main branches, although that can vary. Once they get on the trellis I remove most suckers, but will leave one if it looks advantageous. I'm trying some new varieties this year, except for one. I grew Burpee's 4th Of July hybrid last year, and while initially disappointed in the size, they were prolific and tasty. Once I realized they were a perfect size for canning whole I decided to plant them again this year. The flavor held up well in the jars. Other varieties are an Early Detroit Heirloom, a variety of cherry called Growing in Place, a sauce tomato called San Marzano, and another Burpee Hybrid called Super Sauce. They're supposed to get huge @ 2lbs., I'm trying one plant as more of a novelty just to see what happens.

Here are some of the Early Detroit and 4th of July starts as of 22 days, which is today. There's some oregano in the background.

Image

Here's a new bed I built yesterday, ready for soil. I am having the local landscape supply deliver 1-1/2 yards of screened compost this week. It is 13' long and just over 2-1/2' deep. It will be planted with purple podded pole beans along the back in the large section, planted 4" apart. The small section will have 3 rows of super sugar snap peas planted 3-1/2" apart with 3" spacing. The center will be a single but staggered row of yellow wax bush beans planted about 4-6" apart, and the very front will be half turnips and half carrots, two rows each. Radishes will be planted in between the carrots to make better use of the space. I plan on two plantings each of the peas, turnips, and bush beans. I will overseed the turnips and use the greens that are thinned.

Image

imafan26
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Re: Is this enough square footage for a raised bed garden?

If you are dedicated and choose your plants well you can get lot in a small space. We had a demo container garden that was essentially 4 ft wide by 6 ft. long and we were able to grow 65 different plants in there. Partially by using some succession planting around the younger tomatoes. Some of the vining plants were allowed to sprawl out of the garden and cucumbers ad tomatoes were trellised. Some plants did have to be pulled since they ended up being too crowded as the other plants grew around them. It also took dedication to check every day to keep ahead of any bug issues since the close spacing meant that any bugs that got out of hand would have a feast with so many plants put together. Plants were selected for their compatibility and the outside of the garden bed was planted with green onions, marigolds and othe plants to lure in beneficials or trap bugs.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Dirt
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Location: SE Michigan, 6A

Re: Is this enough square footage for a raised bed garden?

Thanks, that's an excellent post. You nailed it on what you refer to as 'dedication', I think that's a polite way of saying: "It's a lot of work!" :lol:

I guess I am lucky in that if I fall out my back door my two main beds are right there next to the patio. If I go out to sit and have a beer it results in doing something. Supporting a plant, pruning suckers, or something else.

jeff84
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Re: Is this enough square footage for a raised bed garden?

wow I cant believe this thread still going. so far all I have planted is onions, broccoli, carrots, garlic, and a few peppers. it is looking like I wil indeed have enough room to plant everything I had planned on. perhaps not as much as I had planned but still plenty to eat fresh during the season, and also preserve a good bit for winter. once everything is planted I will take a few pictures

imafan26
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Re: Is this enough square footage for a raised bed garden?

Jeff, another thing I learned the hard way about planting. Don't be in a hurry to fill all the space. If you plant all of the plants at one time you may end up with too many things to harvest in the same week, and not enough time to eat them all. I made that mistake planting a whole packet of lettuce, kai choy, and bok choi at the same time. Most of the lettuce bolted and I couldn't find enough takers for the kai choy so it ended up tilled back in as compost. Beets and spinach looked like a big patch but only amounted to one meal for the spinach and pickled beets for a week. If you pickle or can you can use up your harvest, but some things just don't keep that well. Things like lettuce should be planted in succession so you have a continuous harvest over time. As things come out of the garden, you can put new ones in. Corn takess a lot of space and the yield is not that good for the space and time it takes. Some things don't handle heat and others don't like cold.

Sometimes a plan doesn't quite come together. I planted broccoli in July but did not get any really good starts until September, The heads did not form till January and I got side shoots after that. I kept the plant till May for the side shoots, but that meant I missed the March 1 deadline for planting corn on time. The first time I planted zucchini many moons ago, 2 plants produced so much fruit, I had a hard time giving them away. The past few years zucchini has been very disappointing. Only 4 fruit.

It may take a while to figure out where and how much to plant and how to rotate the plants around. Once you figure out how it works, then it becomes a lot easier.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

jeff84
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Location: southwest indiana

Re: Is this enough square footage for a raised bed garden?

imafan26 wrote:Jeff, another thing I learned the hard way about planting. Don't be in a hurry to fill all the space. If you plant all of the plants at one time you may end up with too many things to harvest in the same week, and not enough time to eat them all. I made that mistake planting a whole packet of lettuce, kai choy, and bok choi at the same time. Most of the lettuce bolted and I couldn't find enough takers for the kai choy so it ended up tilled back in as compost. Beets and spinach looked like a big patch but only amounted to one meal for the spinach and pickled beets for a week. If you pickle or can you can use up your harvest, but some things just don't keep that well. Things like lettuce should be planted in succession so you have a continuous harvest over time. As things come out of the garden, you can put new ones in. Corn takess a lot of space and the yield is not that good for the space and time it takes. Some things don't handle heat and others don't like cold.

Sometimes a plan doesn't quite come together. I planted broccoli in July but did not get any really good starts until September, The heads did not form till January and I got side shoots after that. I kept the plant till May for the side shoots, but that meant I missed the March 1 deadline for planting corn on time. The first time I planted zucchini many moons ago, 2 plants produced so much fruit, I had a hard time giving them away. The past few years zucchini has been very disappointing. Only 4 fruit.

It may take a while to figure out where and how much to plant and how to rotate the plants around. Once you figure out how it works, then it becomes a lot easier.
this is exactly the reason, everything I planted can be easily preserved or otherwise stored for extended periods of time. I'm not scared of a pressure cooker. I would love to have the growing season you enjoy.

out of curiosity how much do macadamia nuts go for there?

imafan26
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Re: Is this enough square footage for a raised bed garden?

Well it depends if you are buying a value added product or you are selling raw nuts to the factory.
My uncle and his friend planted their 2 acre lots in Macadamia nut trees for their "retirement". There are olnly one or two buyers on the Big Island, so the price of nuts an vary a lot. in 2016 it was 97 cents a lb. My uncle gets a higher price if the outer shells are removed first. The trees take about 9 years from seed to fruit.
But there are pitfalls. Rats steal and hoard the nuts. We found one of my uncles old cars loaded with nuts the rats had stolen. It was in the trunk and tumbled out of the glove compartment when we opened it. Some years the prices were so depressed, that I remember one farmer paved his driveway with the nuts rather than sell them so cheap.

There a lot of candies made with mac nuts so it depends on which ones you get it costs about $4.50 for a 6.5 oz container.
We don't buy a lot of the mac nuts here because most of it, even the ones at ABC, Walmart, Costco, and Target are geared toward the tourists and not the locals. A box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts cost almost $10.00.

When I was young my uncle used to send us a bag of macadamia nuts and we had to crack the shells with a hammer. You can't eat too many raw ones though or they make you sick.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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