mcgoo
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Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2007 1:50 am
Location: Salem, OR

Building My Own Garden

I'm looking to build my own garden, and have some questions concerning construction materials/vegetable varieties etc.

Background Info:

Location: Salem, OR Willamette Valley

I live in a duplex with virtually no backyard. What little back yard that is present is grass covered clay. I'm going to be building my own raised garden using 2x4s and a fine meshed wire screening.

The planter box will start on my patio which gets half shade & half
sun during the summer, and extend 8 feet over the lawn, being raised about 6 inches as to not kill the grass.

Overall size of the garden I plan to build will be 6' x 8' x 18".

The patio is southern facing, so everything over the grass will be in the sun from early morning until around 5:00pm.

I want to make this garden solely organic in nature.


My questions:

-Are my dimensions adequate to grow a decent variety of vegetables & herbs?

-What kind of wood should I use? Treated/Untreated?

-I know I would like to grow peas running from the garden box up to the covered pation, approx 8' high.

-Other vegetables I would like to grow if possible would be: Tomatoes
(large & cherry) , bell peppers, onions, garlic, various lettuces, and cucumbers, along with various herbs(basil, thyme, dill, chives, sage, & mint).

With the information above, what advice do you have? Will my plans work, if not, what do you suggest I change?

Also, what kind of fertilization do you reccommend?
I sincerely appreciate all advice & suggestions.

sammyd
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Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 7:31 am
Location: Central WI

Use treated or cedar lumber. the treated will be cheaper. Look at 2x6s. The load will be pretty high for 2x4s.
I would suggest making two narrower boxes. It will be easier to reach into them. 3 feet is a pretty far reach. Plus boxes the size you mention will be pretty heavy and require more support. Dirt gets heavy.
Raising your bed 6 inches isn't going to go far in saving the grass either. Not much light that way. I'd say either raise it up higher or bite the bullet and put it right on the ground and count on buying sod when you move out. Plus you'll have paths worn around your box(es) that will need to be fixed when you move as well.

Not many edible peas grow 8 foot, and if they did, how would you harvest them? Annual sweet peas might do it and provide pretty colors and fragarance, but they aren't very edible.

If you had the room, 2 boxes 3x8 with 2 or 3 feet between would work well, and should provide room for what you want. Although cukes will take a bit of room, you can find varieties that bush instead of run. Shumway has a nice one called Cucumber Bush Pickle (Baby). Or maybe you could get one that vines and train it to run up the patio.

You might look into planting some of your herbs in large pots or boxes so you can take them in and enjoy herbs year round.

sammyd
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Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 7:31 am
Location: Central WI

A thought just occured to me. I think you might be money ahead if you could find a community garden and pick out a plot there. Or put an ad in the paper saying you'd like to rent a small plot for a season.
My folks did that when they rented in town. Made some new friends, and had a beautiful garden.

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Hi Mcgoo,

Welcome to The Helpful Gardener. Sammyd has answered your questions, and with no disrespect to him, I don't totally agree with all that he recommends.
Overall size of the garden I plan to build will be 6' x 8' x 18". ... using 2x4s and a fine meshed wire screening. Are my dimensions adequate to grow a decent variety of vegetables & herbs?
Not sure what you mean when you say "adequate", but you can have variety depending on what you grow and how carefully you plant and harvest and plant again. I do agree with Sammyd about using a larger deminsion lumber. Since you want to make it 18" deep, I would suggest you use 2X10s. You can probably get them in 8' lengths. If you will be able to reach from both sides of the bed, 6' wide would be ok as you will be reaching into the beds up to 3' on each side if your arms are long enough without stepping into it. Generally a bed 4' wide is best though. That way you only have to reach in 2' from either side and it's more doable for most folks. You would be able to cut those 2x10x8s in half for your depth.

Another option would be 2x12 lumber. Click on the picture for a better view.
https://www.diynetwork.com/diy/shows_dffg/episode/0,2046,DIY_17056_32022,00.html

What is the meshed wire screening for?
What kind of wood should I use? Treated/Untreated?
Untreated! Red cedar and redwood are the longest lasting woods you can use that are untreated. Here's some info on using treated wood in the garden which is an unhealthy idea.
https://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/12/31/earlyshow/health/main590994.shtml?cmp=EM8707
https://www.epa.gov/oppad001/reregistration/cca/
Also, what kind of fertilization do you reccommend?
Organic. Use a ratio of 60% screened topsoil to 40% compost. Your veggies and herbs will love you!
The planter box will start on my patio which gets half shade & half
sun during the summer, and extend 8 feet over the lawn, being raised about 6 inches as to not kill the grass.
I can't imagine the grass surviving if the planter will shade the grass, even if it is elevated. You'll end up shading out the grass if it extends 8' over the lawn. Why not just make the planter deeper there for the roots to go into the native soil? You can break up the soil in that area and add 3" or 4" of compost to improve drainage and texture.

You can build a trellis like one of these for your peas, beans, cucumbers, etc.
https://www.gardengatemagazine.com/extras/57bambootrellis-video.php
https://www.doityourself.com/stry/vegetabletrellis
https://www.bhg.com/bhg/category.jhtml;jsessionid=VUX4UJNL2Q4NVQFIBQNSBHQ?categoryid=/templatedata/bhg/category/data/c_106.xml

You will find that your tomato plants will be about 3' wide at maturity and will need most of the spring and summer to mature and bear. Garlic is generally planted in fall and harvested the following summer. If you start your onions from sets they should mature in time for harvest. Here's some veggie growing guides you should find helpful.
https://www.explore.cornell.edu/scene.cfm?scene=home%20gardening&stop=HG%20%2D%20Find%20a%20Vegetable
https://www.uga.edu/vegetable/pepper.html

I like Sammyd's suggestion of growing the herbs in pots. Mints should definately be grown in pots as they will take over the garden in no time. You can sink the pot into the soil for the winter if you like since it's perennial. Chives are also perennial so a corner for them might be ok, just don't let them go to seed or they too will be everywhere. Sage might be perennial for you but it tends to sprawl so you'll need a bit of room for it. You might find this helpful for growing herbs.
https://www.savvygardener.com/Features/herbs.html

You should find these sites helpful.
https://www.marthastewart.com/page.jhtml?type=content&id=channel1550&site=
https://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/html/ec/ec1228/#anchor1958672
https://www.savvygardener.com/Features/harvesting_vegetables.html
https://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/L291-w.htm

Since your garden will be small, this first site shows good and bad companions. The other lists good and bad veggie and herb compos.
https://www.moonsweb.com/companions.shtml
https://www.ghorganics.com/page2.html

Also consider square foot gardening.
https://www.squarefootgardening.com/

Newt

mcgoo
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Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2007 1:50 am
Location: Salem, OR

Thank you all very much. Looks like I have quite a bit reading & researching still to do. Being a very novice gardener(last summer was my first attempt at growing anything), all advice is greatly appreciated.

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Mcgoo, you are very welcome! Sorry I gave you so much homework on your first visit! :shock:

Don't hesitate to ask more questions.
Newt

lefty317
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Posts: 27
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:58 am
Location: st. louis, missouri

newt you need to update one of your websites, CCa lumber has been out of production for years now. and the "natural oils" in some kinds of cedar can be quite toxic. and if not treated cedar will rot when exposed to the elements over a period of time. i am having a hard time picturing in my mind's eye what this person is trying to accomplish, but as far as supports for a cantilevered effect, pvc posts are a economical solution.

opabinia51
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Location: Victoria, BC

Thanks for the heads up Lefty.

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Lefty, good catch, but I include that article about CCA lumber because there is still so much of it around and someone might consider recycling some from other uses. The article is dated 2005 and there are folks who might think that because the lumber was exposed to the elements that it's ok to use it now.

I didn't know about the cedar. I'll look for info on that.

Thanks!
Newt

mcgoo
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Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2007 1:50 am
Location: Salem, OR

Ok, so I've done my research, and talked with my landlord about removing some shrubs in my only prime gardening location in my back yard. She gave me the ok to remove them. It will be approximately 30 ft2. I'm going to put in a cinder block border raised 12" and filled with an organic soil/compost/peat moss combination as directed by Mel Bartholomew. I just purchased my organic seeds online, and they should be here soon. Here's what I'm getting:

6 Varieties heirloom tomatoes
Peas
Bell Peppers
5 Varieties lettuce
Spinach

I am going to germinate & raise my plants indoors. They will be on the window ledge of my south facing window(an ideal location due to the amount of sun it gets).

My question: I want to be as organic as possible. What reccommendations do you have for me as to getting the seeds to germinate? I've looked at Horticubes mainly, but was wondering if there is anything else out there that would be appropriate.
I've read that you don't want to use soil at all for germination indoors due to density & aeration/drainage issues. Is this correct?
Also, most places say not to fertilize what so ever as it has a good chance of burning & killing the seeds. Is this something I should avoid?

I keep my house between 65 & 70 degrees F, which from what I've researched, is almost ideal growing temperature.

Any and all advice/critiques are more than welcome.

Thanks for all your help.

As a sidenote, I'm also getting 2 varieties of cherry tomatoes. I am going to grow these hanging upside down. If anyone has done this before, I'm all ears to hear of your experience and any advice you have.

Newt
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Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Mcgoo, great news about your landlord. :)
filled with an organic soil/compost/peat moss combination as directed by Mel Bartholomew.
Although I have the greatest respect for Mel Bartholomew, I even referred you to his site, I would discourage you from using the peat moss and just use the organic soil and compost at a rate of 60% soil and 40% compost. Here's some info on peat moss.
https://www.wildlifetrust.org.uk/facts/peat.htm
What reccommendations do you have for me as to getting the seeds to germinate?
Warmth, consistant water but not over doing it and light where needed.

This site is about planting herb seeds, but the basics are the same for your veggies and it has good info.
https://www.richters.com/newdisplay.cgipage=./OnlineSeminars/seeding/demo.html&&cart_id=5440704.22962
I want to be as organic as possible. What reccommendations do you have for me as to getting the seeds to germinate?
Loads of info here. Scroll down to 'Starting Seeds'.
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/organic/2006/vegetable-garden.html

More info on organic gardening.
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/organic/
I've looked at Horticubes mainly, but was wondering if there is anything else out there that would be appropriate.
Organic soil, perlite, compost and a bit of sand mixed together.
I've read that you don't want to use soil at all for germination indoors due to density & aeration/drainage issues. Is this correct?
I've read that too. If you are uncomfortable you could use sterilized potting soil or seedling soil. It's peat moss based and has no nutrients.
...most places say not to fertilize what so ever as it has a good chance of burning & killing the seeds. Is this something I should avoid?
That is true if you are using synthetic fertilizers as they contain residual salts. Seeds come complete with what they need. The sprouts won't need fertilizer until they have their second set of true leaves.


Newt

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