meganb
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New at Organic Gardening and would love some tips!

Hello! I am Megan and my family and I are attempting our first raised bed this year. We are in Massachusetts.

I started seeds indoors for tomatoes, onions and jalapenos. I also have summer squash, zucchini and cucumbers.

My questions are..

1. what is the appropriate time to transplant the red onions to the raised bed?

2. when should I start the squash/zucchini outside? have I already missed the window for that?

Thank you in advance!

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hendi_alex
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Re: New at Organic Gardening and would love some tips!

Onions can go out very early, in fact in many places can be planted in fall for harvest in the spring or summer.

My biggest caution, if you are a novice, is to pay attention to a spacing chart, as it is very easy to get a big eye with all of those tiny transplants, and then have a seriously overcrowded space when the plants begin to mature.

A single squash will take up a 3-4 foot circle. A single tomato will take up a three foot circle. A single cucumber plant, if allowed to sprawl on the ground, can take up to a 5 foot or six foot circle.

Take advantage of planting and harvest dates, as when the onions are being harvest, something else like beans or arugula can be planted right behind them. Sweet peas mature and die early in the season, so something like cucumber plants can be planted right among the peas. The peas will be finished before the cucumber begins to get much size. The peas can then be snipped at the ground.

Get a planting guide for your area that shows planting dates and spacing. Then look at your bed space in square foot blocks, to help with spacing. Perhaps draw up a time line for how the space can be utilized, with later plants taking over as early plants are finishing up.

Finally, be sure to harden off any delicate plants that have been raised indoors, otherwise they may get hurt or die from sun scald or wind burn.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

meganb
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Re: New at Organic Gardening and would love some tips!

Thank you! I appreciate the help! I have an 8ft by 4ft bed so I think I probably have way too many plants..

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hendi_alex
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Re: New at Organic Gardening and would love some tips!

I grow my jalapenos and sweet bell peppers exclusively in 3 gallon nursery pots which are easy to find for reuse. They should grow even better for you in three gallon pots, as your summers are not nearly so hot. Each plant grown in a pot will free up about 1 square foot of bed space.

Use some kind of trellis and grow your cucumbers vertically. That way two or three plants can be grown in as little as 1.5-2 cubic feet of bed space.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

cynthia_h
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Re: New at Organic Gardening and would love some tips!

meganb wrote:Thank you! I appreciate the help! I have an 8ft by 4ft bed so I think I probably have way too many plants..
If this is a raised bed (i.e., box) and you're using intensive cultivation methods, the spacing can be closer than "normal," but be prepared to go vertical with the plants. Both Jeavons' How to Grow More Vegetables and Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening give plant spacings for intensive cultivation. These books may be available at your public library for a read-through prior to deciding which, if either, you'd like to purchase.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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rainbowgardener
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Re: New at Organic Gardening and would love some tips!

Squash/ zucchini are warm weather crops that don't get planted until the soil has warmed up to at least 70 degrees.
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hendi_alex
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Re: New at Organic Gardening and would love some tips!

I like many of the concepts put forth in Square Foot Gardening, but was hesitant to recommend the book to a beginning gardener. IMO SFG is a bit beyond the beginner level of gardening, especially if one follows Mel's spacing to the letter. Intensive gardening following general practices given in SFG, but planting at much lower density would probably give a beginning gardener greater chance of success.

For a beginning gardener and a 32 sq ft bed, squash and zucchini are probably overly ambitious unless varieties with compact vines are chosen.
Last edited by hendi_alex on Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

cynthia_h
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Re: New at Organic Gardening and would love some tips!

(Pretty funny that hendi_alex and I were writing at the exact same time earlier today.)

Agreed, that M. Bartholomew can go pretty far "out there" at times, but his spacing recommendations for, say, carrots and broccoli worked well for me. I was careful to put my zucchini at the edge of the box so they had space to trail over the side and crawl as they wished.

OTOH, his spacings for beans (either bush or pole) and chard are (shall we say?) quite optimistic! I handwrote into my book "2 to 3" under chard, where he had recommended 4 per square foot. I don't know about y'all, but my chard get pretty big. 4 per square? No. We harvested one entire plant one time rather than just the outer leaves, and the remaining 3 were much happier. I think we went with 6 bush beans per square vs. his "8 to 9."

We made these changes simply by watching our plants. I had gardened in the '80s and through summer 1998, when the after-effects of a car accident in December 1995 finally became too severe to ignore any longer. When I returned to gardening in 2008, SFG had become all the rage (probably due to the re-release of the book in 2005), so I checked it out.

If I had enough space, I'd follow Jeavons 100%. But I've squeezed only 96 sq.ft. of raised boxes out of our "yard," and have had to give up on the lovely 32 sq.ft. of rented space I had the past 2 or 3 years off-premises. :( So my approach now is a combo of the two intensive advocates' approaches.

Cynthia H.

imafan26
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Re: New at Organic Gardening and would love some tips!

I also agree that it is easy to over plant and get enthusiastic buying and growing seedlings but not spending enough time preparing the planting beds or planning out where and when everything should go into the garden bed. Seed packets always have more seed than you need and it is easy to plant more than you have space for.

The planting beds should be amended with good amounts of compost and manure weeks in advance so everything has a chance to settle. Organic fertilizers need soil organisms to be broken down and be useful to plants so the soil should be built up first.

I also recommend getting a soil test on a new garden so you can get the recommendations for the amounts amendments and fertilizer that should be applied.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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ElizabethB
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Re: New at Organic Gardening and would love some tips!

I like square foot gardening and have had good success with it. I only grow indeterminate tomatoes so they can be grown vertically. Cucumbers are also grown vertically. 2 years ago I grew canteloupe vertically. I was concerned about the weight of the melons so I made slings from ripped stockings. Absolutely the best canteloupe I have ever eaten also the most beautiful. I have avoided the squashes because of the space requirements but in Mel's second edition book he talks about growing squash vertically.

I plant 3-4 indeterminate tomatoes in a 1' deep x 4' wide section and train them up twine hanging from re-bar frames. The cucumbers are trained up hog wire zip tied to a re-bar frame. I also have a variety of pepper plants and egg plants. A clump of green onions and another of chives. I take some liberty with his system and underplant with bush beans through out the boxes. I do plant them tight - per square foot, mainly because I have to share withthe birds. I also stagger planting the bean seeds so they do not all ripen at the same time.

I have been growing herbs in pots. This spring I made a small 4'x8' herb bed instead. :oops: My eyes were bigger than my garden. Oh well I quit making myself crazy over perfection. Gardening is my therapy so I surely don't need to stress over it.

If you don't compost look into it. The best thing ever.

Ok I have rambled enough. Enjoy your garden. Plan on making mistakes. A good tip is to keep a garden journal.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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