veggie newbie -- all advice welcome

ajpa(z6 se PA)December 11, 2008

Hi! I'm near Valley Forge Park. I'm a not much of a gardener - all I have are my rather neglected foundation plantings. But I'm determined to have a small veggie patch this spring.

So I just laid down a 3x8 "lasagna" compost bed in the yard, I think it's called (newspapers/peelings/hay/mulch) and hope that by spirng it's going to be a ready to plant bed.

My 3 questions are these:

1) Advice on where to get plants in spring -- should I stick to the nurseries like Oaks, Colonial Gardens, etc or are there other sources? On my wishlist are okra, little eggplants (asian or heirloom), tomatoes, garlic, some kind of string bean, some kind of leafy veggie, small hot pepper.

2) Is 3x8 big enough for that? I don't want to be too ambitious.

3) I want to get a couple of blueberry bushes. I'm wondering if it's better for me to plant them beside the foundation hydrangeas & forsythia across my veggie patch (convenient for watering), or in a completely different part of the yard since birds will be attracted to the blueberries?. (Actually there is a part of the yard that tends to stay wet after it rains -- would that be a good spot or should blueberries go on well-drained sites?)

Thanks in advance for any help or tips!

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johnfromperrycopa(zone 6 scPA)

I think 3 x 8 is a little small for your desires. Are you planning to make raised beds from lumber or other material to contain the beds? If so, and you plan to use lumber, you should use multiples of 4 feet for your bed since most lumber comes in 8, 12, 16, 20 foot lengths etc. By using multiples of 4 feet you won't waste lumber. I could see you building 4 x whatever bed(s) and allow a few feet between the ends:

:------------: +++:------------:
:~~~~~~~~: +++:~~~~~~~~:
:------------: +++:------------:

etc., using any dimension for the length 8, 12, 16

As far as the blueberries, I think I would put them in a separate bed. I think their nutritional requirements and PH (don't they like acid conditions) might require segregatiaon from your veggies. Also, remember plants like tomatoes take up lots and room and they shouldn't be planted too close. It is good to have space between the plants for good air circulation. Advise using staking to support the tomatoes (especially if they are indeterminate varieties) and "suckering" to get larger tomatoes for eating and slicing.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 1:44PM
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ajpa(z6 se PA)

Thanks! I was wondering why 4ft is a popular width. I'm short and with 3ft I can easily reach the middle of the bed from either end. I don't plan to use lumber yet but I might do that later, so I think I will expand to 4x8, and add another 4x8. That will be my after-Christmas project.

The blueberries I'll put in another area altogether, I think. I'm going to ask my neighbors if they can give me their old pine wreaths/garlands after Christmas to use as mulch on that spot.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 10:54AM
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johnfromperrycopa(zone 6 scPA)

I think the multiple of 4 foot will still work for you. I did a quick search on ebay and found some books for $1 or $2 plus shipping of course...I will continue to look around to see if I still have mine buried somewhere. If you don't do ebay, I would be happy to get it for you and send to you. Here is a copy of one search on ebay using "Square Foot Gardening":
Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew (1981)[ Sell one like this ]
Author: Mel Bartholomew
ISBN-10: 0878573410
ISBN-13: 9780878573417
Format: Paperback
Publication Year: 1981
Category: GARDENING, SCIENCE
ePID: 171313
Description: How to make a memorable garden in a small space, and do it with a minimum of the backbreaking labor usually associated with a really superior garden: that's the author's message, which he presents on his PBS series and distills in this u...

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 1:09PM
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