Dr Greenthumb
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New Raised Garden Plan for Veggies

I am getting ready to put in a 3x6' raised bed organic vegetable garden in my back yard for my wife. We plan on growing some kale, carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, aand maybe some other things. The cedar bed is raised 20 inches with a small hinged fence around the top.

So far the plan is to put it together then put a layer of rocks (3-5" deep) at the bottom for some added drainage and separation from the ground below. Then for soil I plan on mixing top soil, bagged cow manure, and some ash from my fire pit. Then I will add some earthworms and let it sit for a week before adding any plants.

This is my first vegetable grow since I was a kid and wanted to run it by the community to see if anyone has any recommendations or comments.

Thank you.

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brooksms
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Re: New Raised Garden for Veggies

I bet your wife is very excited! You could skip the bottom rock layer but it can't hurt I suppose. Maybe put landscaping fabric between the rocks and soil so the soil doesn't fall through cracks. I would just buy a bag of good quality worm castings to start out so your plants get immediate benefits. If you add the worms upfront, consider putting in blended food scraps for the worms to eat. Also, plan out your plant spacing before you get started. Indeterminate tomatoes can take up a lot of room (2'x2' minimum) unless you plan on continuously pruning them. Smartgardener.com has been an great resource for me in the planning stage so you may want to check it out.

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Meatburner
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Re: New Raised Garden for Veggies

Dr Greenthumb, it is always exciting to start a garden but I would suggest you do some research first. A 3 x 6 will not support all the plants you mentioned, actually not even close. I don't want to discourage you, but overplanting is one thing that discourages new gardeners from continuing on. A 3 x 6 will only support about 2- 3 tomato plants alone. Sweet potatoes will consume that amount of space by themselves. You cannot grow the list of plants you listed in a 3 x 6 bed. I would suggest you contact you local extension service or local gardening resources for suggestions for your area. Start off small for success and then expand your garden. I want you to start off with a successful plan so you will learn and grow a great garden for you and you family.

imafan26
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Re: New Raised Garden for Veggies

I agree that 3x6 may not be enough room for all the plants you mentioned. Some of them carrots and kale do better in cooler weather. Where I am I can only grow carrots as long as the day temperatures stays below 70. Kale is winter hardy and actually tastes better after it has a dusting of snow. Sweet potatoes will take over a large space. I plant tomatoes in 18 gallon containers since they take up too much space in my garden and I use CRW cages. In summer heat it grows with enough water, but will be more bitter. You could use a square foot garden plan. SFG are usually 4x4 but 3x 6 will work out too. One 4x4 bed supposedly can provide enough veggies for one person.

You did not say, but the garden should be facing south if possible and get at least 6 hours of sun.

For a 3x6 space, here is a free vegetable garden planner to help with what you can grow in a square foot space.
Note, this is an intensive plan and I usually put less in the space. Some plants unless trellised will take up more than one square like zucchini and eggplant.
https://vegetableplanner.vegetable-gardening-online.com/

You should make your bed about 8 inches deep. It will accommodate most of the smaller plants. I would not use rocks on the bottom. If you ar building on dirt or grass. Just get rid of the weeds, fork the soil as deep as you can to get some drainage, and cover it with several layers of newspaper or thick cardboard and just fill the bed on top of that. Also be careful about wood ashes, you don't want to add too much. You could just use Mel's mix.
https://www.mysquarefootgarden.net/mels-mix/

If you are building a raised beds with wood or tile (I prefer concrete hollow tile blocks myself, easier to work with .Just level the ground and dry stacks 2 tiles high. Use rebar and fill holes with rocks or soil to keep tiles in place.)
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Dr Greenthumb
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Location: FL

Re: New Raised Garden for Veggies

Thank you everyone for the advice. I will research each vegetable she is interested in and narrow it down to 2-3. I like what meatburner said about starting small. I am disappointed to hear about the Kale in colder climates, I will have to wait till after summer. I also have the options of growing some of the bigger plants in a pot. I have plenty of room in the yard and plenty of room to expand the garden.

Thank you for the links I appreciate the support.

Dr Greenthumb
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Re: New Raised Garden for Veggies

I shared this link with the wife. I have her researching now and thinking a little bit smaller. If it goes well we can expand. We live in south florida and I have some local gardener friends that I can ask for advice as well.
I had a question, what is the purpose of laying down the news paper?

Mr green
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Re: New Raised Garden for Veggies

The news paper is to stop grass and weeds that are growing on the spot. For example your laying out a raised bed on your lawn you can put a layer of newspaper to stop the grass and weeds to go threw, and then put your soil on top of it. But i wouldnt worry to much if theres no invasive weeds on the spot.

I have done this also when starting flower beds on lawn, but used only so little soil like 2inches on top of my newspapers. THen planted som bulbs and other flowering plants. Is going great and no weeds. The newspaper will brake down and let roots pass from above, and at this points most of weeds and grass should be dead.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished - Lao Tzu

catgrass
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Re: New Raised Garden for Veggies

You say you are in south Florida. If you're just now starting your garden, you're late. I'm in south Louisiana, and tomatoes and peppers are usually done by June. You can baby them over during the summer, but you have to be diligent with water and sun cover. Check with florida edu. on line for recommended tomatoes for your area. Heatwave, Florida 91, Sunmaster, there are some others, too, that can take the heat.
zone 9 Southwest La.

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: New Raised Garden for Veggies

What Catgrass said is true, if you live in the "south", it is better to choose southern cultivars that are bred to take more heat. Univ of Florida has an excellent extension and they even have a planting calendar and cultivars recommended for North, Central and South Florida. I know because Miami has the closest climate to mine, so many of their publications are relevant. I still have to make adjustments, for example Florida has bred some very heat tolerant tomatoes like solar fire and sun master, but they don't have the disease resistance to do well in Hawaii.
Creole, Heatwave II are older heat resistant cultivars with good disease tolerance and while not the best in flavor, they will produce tomatoes around the century mark. Sungold and red cherry, well cherry tomatoes in general will give you better production and will handle heat a lot better than a large fruited variety.

Other things that are region specific are garlic and onions. Only southern varieties will grow well and they have to be planted at the right time of the year.

Kale can be grown in Florida and with enough water they will grow through summer, but they may be more bitter in the heat. The way I handle that here is if you have an automatic icemaker, you probably have to empty the bin every few days, just toss it on the kale at night, Iced the night before and picked early in the morning, will give you the best leaves.
You can grow kale in morning sun to give it more protection from the heat. Of course, if your making smoothies and adding a lot of frozen fruit, it cancels out the bitterness.

https://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/law ... /calendar/
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/vh/vh02100.pdf

Since Florida has a couple of different zones. Put your zone in your profile too.
https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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ElizabethB
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Re: New Raised Garden for Veggies

Dr. - welcome to the forum.

WHERE in Florida are you located - county? There is a large range of growing conditions in Florida. Different varieties of vegetables are recommended for different regions. Your planting time will also vary greatly.

Unless you have had a soil test done and have determined that your soil is very acidic skip the wood ash.

I like the idea of the rock bed for drainage. I do recommend lining the bottom of the bed with commercial grade landscape cloth prior to adding your rock to keep it from sinking into the soil. Use another layer of landscape cloth between the rock and soil to prevent the soil from seeping into the rock base.

If you use a rock base please use a mixed aggregate gravel. Not pea gravel - too small, and not limestone - pH issues.

Good luck

BTW - for raised bed planting you may want to check SFG for intensive planting techniques.
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

Dr Greenthumb
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Re: New Raised Garden for Veggies

I am in Miami-Dade county.

For the gravel I have some small pebbles and lava rocks in the yard that I am trying to get rid of. I was going to mix them together.

Dr Greenthumb
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Re: New Raised Garden for Veggies

By the way all the links that have been posted are very helpful. I have been reading thru them. If my answers seem short it is because I am at work.

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Meatburner
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Location: SW MO zone 6b

Re: New Raised Garden for Veggies

Dr Greenthumb, you know you are hooked when you are sneaking in looking at this forum at work. LOL These is an abundance of help here, so stay in touch. Glad you are here on the forum. We will learn from you as well.

Rairdog
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Re: New Raised Garden for Veggies

Why do you want drainage? I would think you have sandy soil with good drainage. It would reduce watering if you let the roots get down into it with supplemental moisture and nutes. Cardboard would help retain moisture and let the worms come up to bring beneficials. I don't know what kind of soil the bed is on top of so I'm just guessing here.

imafan26
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Re: New Raised Garden for Veggies

Then you are pretty much my zone. It is not too late to plant and you will have a long growing season, nearly all year. You can plant nearly every month of the year except in the peak of summer late June- August. But face it, who wants to be out in the garden at that time of the year anyway, hit the beach instead.

Actually, I do start some of the "winter" vegetables in July. Brussels Sprouts and broccoli take a while to mature and need to mature during the cool months, so I actually start them in Late July.

Some things you have to do "on time"

1. If you have roses, you will have blooms at Christmas, but at some time you have to decide to cut them back sometime.
2. If you want to give the garden a "rest", there is no winter to put the garden to bed. If you want to revitalize the soil with a cover crop or solarize for other issues like nematodes or weeds, you have to do it sometime. Usually the best months to do that is July and August anyway, you will get the best results from solarization. Cover crops take about 6 weeks to mature and till in at flowering. I usually do that Jan-February.
3. If you want to plant bulbing onions or garlic. You need to get the southern varieties and plant them late September-November. Chill the garlic for 6 weeks to winterize them. I plant onions from seed and I use Texas Granex. They will take about 5 months to mature.
4. Most of the cool season plants won't do well in summer unless you plant them in morning sun, water them more and/or provide some shade. In the cooler months I plant heat resistant lettuce in the sun and in the summer I plant them under my citrus trees. Red lettuce does better in the heat. Romaine best only in the cooler months.
5. Use heat resistant varieties and consider tropical and Asian plants. They do better in the heat. Mexican mint marigold is a good tarragon substitute, since French tarragon cannot handle the heat, NZ hot weather spinach is perennial and usually, it is like sweet potatoes, if you let it sprawl it just goes everywhere. I would use it like an edible ground cover. Asian greens, snow peas and chayote are good in the cooler months of the year and beans, tomatoes, eggplant, and squash do better in summer.

Some things you have to do all of the time
1 Weeds, disease, and bugs are 24/7 , 365 days of the year. You have to stay ahead of them. Work in the early morning and after 3 p.m. to stay out of the heat of the day. There is no winter to slow or kill any of these things.

2. It is good to start small, a 3x6 plot or even a 4x25 ft plot would take less than one hour a week to keep up with, especially if you automate the watering and mulch to control the weeds.

3. Plant for succession. SFG is a good way to start since you would be working with one square at a time. A SFG bed is typically 4x4. Your 3x6 plot is a little bigger, but can still work out in a SFG plan. Site your garden in full sun and put a trellis on the north end of the plot. Make sure there is access on all sides. Do not put the bed up against a fence, it makes it harder to get around to the back side, although you should be able to reach across 3 ft., but the fence can casts shadows on the bed for part of the day, plants tend to lean away from the fence, and if it is a solid fence or wall, it can block air circulation which can promote disease.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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