New to Gardening, help me plan please!

CylaFebruary 13, 2014

I've dabbled in gardening time and time again, but nothing ever more serious than a few pots of store bought tomatoes. This year I want things to change. We have built our own home and after a year of living in it and getting used to being homeowners I think this year I am wanting to take on the challenge of a larger vegetable garden.

I will be using raised garden beds because living in Florida, zone 9A, only about 10 miles from the ocean literally under the grass the contractor put down is sand. I am amazed the grass has lasted as long as it has to be honest - last year with getting new house stuff finances has been tight and paying money to fertilize and baby the new grass was kinda on the low-priority list. I think the best placement will be using the established fence as the back end of the garden to give it some shade during the dog days of summer. I have read all the internet articles about using railroad ties in a garden and come to the conclusion the ones I have available for free to me would still work - they are 50+ years old and if I line them with plastic I believe I will be okay. My father is using them for his veggie garden and no one has died of multiple diseases yet. =P

The garden would need to be fenced off, we have these large obnoxious pests that I can't seem to get rid of. I have at the bottom of the post a link to a photo of these 'pests' The worst part about it is that they dig everywhere - I will need to fence off the garden to prevent future damage that will be inevitable.

I am thinking for the actual garden selection I will be using tomatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, and eggplants. You cannot see it in the photo but I already have a baby meyer lemon tree planted because why-not-it-was-on-sale-for-$5-that-somehow-survived-the-recent-polar-vortex and a sad single blueberry bush. It had a mate of a different variety but it died when the yard flooded during the 3 month rainstorm last summer that was very very unusual and better not happen again. Naturally I did not keep the labels for the blueberry bush so I will need to get something to cross pollinate with it.

We don't have a large piece of property, the entire lot is .3 acre, but that is fine - I am not wanting anything overly huge. Here is a photo of the area that I am going to place it. I cannot place it in the other half of the yard because we have a double gate encase we ever need to get our vehicle in the backyard, which with this garden will likely happen a lot. The back side of the property cannot be used because it is full of pine trees; you can see them on the other side of the fence and that is how they look along the back side of the property. We want to keep the trees because otherwise there would be 0 shade outside of what the house would provide.

As much as I would love to go super fancy with this garden I will be using more 'budget' ways to keep it going. Any help in setting this up would be greatly appreciated. (I also may have gotten ahead of myself and started some dollar store seeds in the closet with a desk lamp, somehow nearly all of them have spouted to my surprise.)

Here is a link that might be useful:

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And to show off what little gardening I have done here is a photo of the front yard. All the plants in the yard were put there by the contractor, with the exemption of the pansies. I got all the in grown pansies for $.25 a 6-pack at Lowes because our local Lowes has all the best plants on discount. Also got the hanging pansy baskets for $2, including the fully blooming flowers. Not a bad price says I.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 12:07AM
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Start small, and leave room for growth in future seasons. You are learning new gardening skills, but you're also learning about your site and weather conditions too. Please don't overwhelm yourself with a large garden plot right at the get go. (I've done this myself, and this could kill your enthusiasm.) Start smaller than you would like; choose easy herbs with wonderful scents that pull you outside; quick growing plants like radishes, baby carrots or edible flowers - for (almost) immediate gratification. Hopefully this will leave you hungry for more gardening when next year comes around.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 12:29AM
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Well you have what it takes, a sense of humor! I was expecting to see feral pigs as the pests, haha the doggies! that was funny too! You should start a blog or at least keep a journal. I keep a journal. Your writing is enjoyable. I am definitely a frugal person (cheap), well that is how I got to be debt-free, right? and I love finding bargains at the clearance at Lowe's and elsewhere. Since you don't know the blueberry variety prolly you need to pick up *2* other varieties that will pollinate each other, and hopefully one of them will also pollinate your original. Plant them in a little grouping. I used to have a lemon tree when I lived southeast of New Orleans and I supplied the neighborhood with lemons for tea and lemonade! and for cooking (seafood!). You should start a compost pile or compost bin somewhere near your veggies and that will help you improve your soil over time. Your raised beds will need a good bit of organic matter, if you buy it bagged buy humus, compost or composted manure. You guys can build some trellises or "tuteurs" out of old materials or cheap lattice, or old broomsticks for the tuteurs, and that could be placed around the garden area as the fencing. One suggestion which I have learned by reading lots and lots and trial and error: Plant your plants in groupings, for example, instead of the line of pansies, put them in a good grouping nearer the entry to the house, makes a bigger color impact and welcome to your home. We love Florida, my daughter is getting married on the beach there in October!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:38AM
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