lanilx
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Need Help on Planning a Garden Layout

I have been tasked with organizing a garden at my place of employment. I have set up small gardens in my back yard but never something this large before. The space is going to be roughly 50' x 65' in southeastern Wisconsin. I have a bobcat scraping the top 2 inches of dirt off Friday and would like to start tilling Saturday. I will be tilling in compost from a local source. I was wondering if anyone could help me with what to plant in rows to maximize the potential.

Thanks in advance for any advice it's greatly appreciated.

imafan26
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Re: Need help on layout

I would grab a soil test too. Besides compost, you may need to add other things like fertilizer and pH adjustment if needed.
What are you planning to grow? It is a large garden space but who is the garden for and who is going to tend it?

It would also be helpful to add your location and zone to your profile since what will grow will largely be determined by your environment.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

lanilx
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Re: Need help on layout

The garden is for all the employees we have roughly 100 employees. I will be overseeing and taking care of it mostly. I was wrong on the dimensions as well its 25' x 65'. I have it stacked off and will be installing 4x4 posts in the corners with sprinklers mounted on all corners which will cover the entire garden. We are placing 4 foot wire fencing around it to prevent animals from getting a free lunch. We plan on growing corn, tomatoes,okra peppers, beans, peas, cucumbers, squash and zucchini. Possible other items as well just trying to get some help from the pros.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Need help on layout

It's done now, apparently, but just out of curiosity, why were the top two inches of dirt scraped off? That might have been your richest top soil.

Having a veggie garden for employees use is a wonderful idea! But I hope there are other employees that will be working on it also. A 1600 sq ft garden is huge and would be a lot for anyone to take care of, especially if you actually have a job there besides gardening, and especially for a novice gardener.

You still haven't told us where you are and it still makes a big difference. RE: corn, tomatoes, okra peppers, beans, peas, cucumbers, squash and zucchini. Possible other items. The peas are cold weather crops. Many parts of the US, peas should be in the ground already. Once things warm up the peas won't do well. Corn seed can get planted as soon as danger of frost is past. Tomatoes would probably be next to be planted, but tomatoes are very slow from seed. Most people start tomato seed indoors early to give them a head start, and to be able to baby the little seedlings a bit. If you haven't done that, best thing would be to buy some already started tomato plants, they are available cheap everywhere (but best is to buy from a reputable nursery, not a big box, so that you don't import disease with your tomatoes). Everything I said about tomatoes is true even more for peppers. They need warmer conditions AND they are even slower, so you will also want to buy pepper plants. Cucumbers, squash, and zucchini are the last to go in the ground as they need the soil to be very warm. But they are very quick growing, so you can just plant the seeds.

You asked about layout. Your garden will be much more manageable if you lay it out in beds, with paths in between. This should be a work party thing, not all on you, which would be done after the garden is tilled and soil amendments tilled in. But get several of the employees armed with shovels together, use string to mark out beds and paths. If you keep your beds to 4' wide, then you can tend the beds without walking in them. Make the paths by shoveling the dirt from the paths onto the beds, at least a couple inches deep. Now you have more loose topsoil on the beds and you are down to firmer dirt for the paths. Lay down burlap sacks, cardboard, old carpet remnants (carpet side down) etc on the paths to keep them weed free and not too muddy and plant in your beds.

Beds should be oriented N-S, which helps keep taller things from shading out shorter things. If you made 4'x9' beds with 2' paths between and all around the outside, you would have 24 beds. At that point maybe interested employees or pairs of employees could be given their own bed to be responsible for. Hopefully everyone would still share all the produce, so different beds could be different things, but the work can be divided up by putting people in charge of their own beds. Caring for a bed is way more manageable than caring for a huge garden. Just a thought. ...
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imafan26
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Re: Need Help on Planning a Garden Layout

I agree with Rainbow, especially if you are growing different things, it may be better to grow them in separate beds because their watering and fertilizing needs might be different. Some things like tomatoes, beans, peas, lettuce, beets, and kale will be harvested at different times. Tomatoes, beans, peas, and kale will need to be harvested repeatedly beans and peas every couple of days, kale you will harvest leaves as you need them. Tomatoes are picked as they ripen.

There is also the fact that planting and harvesting is only a small part of the gardening chores. The bulk of a gardeners time will be spent on weeding, controlling pests and disease, mulching and watering. For that you really need maintenance paths and unless this is your full time job a lot of people helping out or a lot of time. There should be a master plan for the garden, but dividing the garden into beds or sections and giving a small section to each participant to care for will make your job a lot easier.

Since this is essentially a community garden and it is great that your company sponsors that, you need to have some basic rules in writing. How gardening chores will be divided, how many hours each person needs to put in. It is actually better to have a schedule and people sign up for their blocks. It will be the time they will need to commit to on a regular basis in order to earn their share of the garden. Collecting dues to purchase things you will need like seed, fertilizer, amendments, stakes, cages, garden tools, Storage and irrigation timers and parts. You need to have meetings to get together and learn and deal with problems that come up, handle chores that need a lot of people working at the same time, and to distribute the harvest equitably when it is time.

For the first time, I would limit the number of different plants you grow to just a few.
Corn is a long crop but easily grows in rows, but yield is not very good compared to something like tomatoes and they take up most of the growing season in the North. Tomatoes though require more maintenance and they have more pests and disease. Lettuce and greens have shorter times 4-6 weeks and young leaves can be harvested to extend the harvest longer. Beans and peas will have a harvest of about a month but will need to be harvested every couple of days.

Because of your short growing season you will need to pay attention to timing. Unless you can start seeds indoors before the last frost, you may have to start with starts of tomatoes and peppers since they need heat to germinate and are slow growing at the beginning.

Overhead watering, I am not fond of, especially with things like tomatoes, squash and cucumbers since they get mildew. Tomatoes and corn get very tall so they can block water from reaching other plants unless your sprinklers are over them and lastly because sprinklers waste more water than drip irrigation.

For things like tomatoes, peas,pole beans, cucumbers you will need some kind of trellising system. And the trellis should be placed on the North end so as not to block shorter plants in front of them. Cucumbers, peas and beans can usually keep climbing once they get started on a trellis, but tomatoes will need to be pruned and tied as they grow. Tomato cages take up more space, but they are easier to train and tomatoes do not have to be pruned, just keep most of the branches inside the cage. Construction reinforcement wire cages 7 ft tall are the strongest. The tomato cages sold at the stores aren't nearly strong or tall enough and I only use those to support my bell peppers which lean with the weight of the fruit or for cucumbers (it requires a stacking tomato cage).
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

catgrass
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Re: Need Help on Planning a Garden Layout

Your tallest plants should be planted on the North & east side of your garden to prevent blocking the sun from smaller plants. Corn should be grown in blocks for good pollination. Plant your vining vegs on the fence. Squash & zuchinni will cross, so plant other things between them. Pole beans will produce more than bush beans. IMO, tomato cages you buy in the stores are not strong enough for tomatoes. Make your own using hog wire and stakes or other suitable material. Good luck!
zone 9 Southwest La.

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sweetiepie
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Re: Need Help on Planning a Garden Layout

Wow! You give such great and detailed advice. Love it!

My garden spot is 46 ft by 90 ft. I realize region, soil, rain fall all make a big difference on how one does there garden. This is what works best for me. I do rows, (I know completely old fashion) The main reason is, it is so big, that I still need to till between the rows or paths. To much to hoe. Usually I can till it once in the spring, let the weeds sprout up and hit it again, plant and maybe have to till twice more.

When i do my rows, I plant two rows of all my vegetables about 12 inches apart and then leave a 36 inch path way on either side so I can till and hill them up as needed, depending on the vegetable. Some items that take up less room, like onions I plant more in that 12" spacing.

Another huge reason I do rows are the length of the garden and all the reasons listed by the above people about watering with a sprinkler. Sprinklers are a pain in a large garden, you have to remember to move them and we have lots of wind. So I use soaker hose. I like the canvas kind, easy to roll up and mine have lasted 5 years so far and no problems. https://www.frontgate.com/flat-weeper-2f ... redirect=y
The hose is easiest to use if you can stretch it out down the middle of my two rows and forgotten. I usually water once, maybe twice a week and all I have to do is turn on the faucet because each row has it's own soaker hose and is connected with spliters. So all eight rows ( actually 16) are watered at once. Leave for a few hours, and then turn off.


I have poultry netting for a fence so I try to plant vineing items next to it.

I too, would of tilled the topsoil into the garden, the grass would break up. Then I would of put the plastic down for a while and tilled again.

Good luck, hope it goes well for you.

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ElizabethB
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Re: Need Help on Planning a Garden Layout

Too late because you have already stared a row garden. My 2 cents would be to create 4' x4' boxes and let the employees interested in gardening claim and maintain a box.

Hope your employer will give you lots of time on the clock to maintain this huge garden.

Good luck.
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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rainbowgardener
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Re: Need Help on Planning a Garden Layout

I dunno, Elizabeth. It would be about fifty 4x4 boxes. That's a lot of materials, very expensive if you are buying materials and very labor intensive even if you can find freebies. My suggestion was basically doing raised beds, without the boxes. They really don't have to be boxed in and without the boxes the whole area can just be tilled again later.
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jal_ut
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Re: Need Help on Planning a Garden Layout

I have always grown in rows. That is how my father and grandfather did it. It works. Oh, and here with our current irrigation arrangement, the whole garden gets sprinkled once a week for 12 hours. It puts down a little over an inch of water on the whole area. Works fine here in dry Utah.

Rows spaced 30 inches apart work for me. Then I can run the tiller between them at least once while the plants are small
to get most of the weeds that have sprouted. The rest I get with the hoe or hand pull. I don't know if you plan to use the tiller for weeding too? If so, you must leave the rows wide enough to let it go between rows.

Corn, beans, squash, and potatoes are what I call the "Big 4". They produce most of the food calories from the home garden. The other plants one might plant are nice but are usually not high in calories.

Crookneck and zucchini can be planted in hills with 5 or six seeds to a hill with hills spaced 4 feet and rows about 5 feet. The seeds come up and the vines go out like the spokes on a wheel and it makes a nice clump.

Onions: plant some of those little sets and they will make big onions for you. If you plant seed you will get lots of green onions or if let to go full season they will make small bulbs.

I have had good luck with the Jade bush beans. Usually get three good pickings from them.

Radishes are quick and easy. Beets, carrots and turnips usually work out well for me too.

Lettuce, I plant 4 or 5 seeds every foot in the row. A pinch all together. Then when it is up and 4 or 5 inches tall I pull all but one from each clump and have an early salad and the lone plant then goes on to make a nice head.

Maybe with that many people involved you may do well to just plant corn. Plant 15 foot rows, want till it is up 2 inches tall then plant more, etc. You can use the same kind of corn, just spread out the planting to give a longer harvest time.
Ambrosia is my choice of variety.

Just kicking out some ideas............. have fun!
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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