Newbie looking for advice

darkwingMarch 4, 2010

I've read Mel's original book and am going through the updated one now. I've been trying to plan out my garden and keep getting stuck on a few things.

Light: house is on a street which runs SW to NE, so if I build the boxes parallel with the house (any other way would look rediculous) then N would be at one of the corners. This will cause sunlight to be blocked by the trellises.

Animals: we have a lot of wild ones roaming around. Squirrels, cats, rabbits (last fall there was a nest in the middle of the lawn), and a groundhog are frequently sited (not to mention birds). These guys must be kept out. How can this be done with trellised vegetables?

Plants that I would like to grow: tomatoes (wife loves em), bell peppers, lettuce, spinach, peas, beans, cucumbers, basil, rosemary. I also would like Swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, and scallions if possible.

My current thinking is to build one or two 4x4 boxes and fill them with shorter vegetables (lettuce, bush beans, herbs, would peppers fit?) and cover with the wire tops mentioned in the book. I also could easily provide shade over the box to try and grow lettuce and spinach throughout the summer.

I will also build a long bed (10x3 or so) for vertical crops (tomatoes, cucumbers, peas) and fill in other crops in the extra spaces. Around this box I would set up a fence a few feet high. Do you think this would be sufficient to keep out the rodents? I know it wont work for squirrels, but the rabbits and groundhog it should.

If you have any tips/advice I would really appreciate it!

I need to have everything planned before I start anything. Guess I'm a little OCD :-)

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angela12345(7b NC Mixed-Humid)

Last year, the squirrels only ate the tomatoes (but not the cherry tomatoes), watermelon, and canteloupe. I did not notice that birds or cats messed with the garden at all. We didn't have most anything that bunnies would even like last year but this year we will have carrots, lettuce, spinach, etc that I am pretty sure they will think I set out a buffet for them. No groundhogs around here I don't think. : )

My advice is to make plans for how you combat them IF they become a problem, but go ahead and just get started now. I don't know where in zone 6 that you are, but it is already time for us to have out peas, carrots, beets, radish, spinach and within a week or two need to have out our onions, lettuce, broccoli, followed shortly by cauliflower. This website you can just plug in your frost date and it will tell you when you need to plant ... Click on "The Lazy Gardener's Seed Starting Chart".

Below is a pic of how you could setup your garden. Most of the day it should get good sun as sun rises in the east and sets west. Late afternoon, the trellis would shade the garden. Which might work out to your advantage if you want to extend the season for lettuce and such. Be sure to leave room to get around the back side of your trellis. Good idea for the long bed with trellis to be only 3 feet wide so you can easily reach into the center and not have to worry about reaching the area blocked by the trellis from that side.

Here are some videos of a guy who waged groundhog wars ...

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 6:54PM
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Thanks for the response! I'm in Lancaster, PA. Average risk of frost in my area is October 15 through April 27, but frost is possible all the way up to mid May. To counter I'm thinking to build the covered wagon style plastic overtop the smaller bed(s).

I actually was hoping to start some some plants next week or the week after and build the beds on the 20th. Looks like I need to bump up my schedule!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 8:44AM
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