Newbie General Advice

JYearoutAugust 12, 2011

I'm sure it comes up every season but I too am a newbie gardener in SWFL (Naples). A little background and hopefully you can offer some advice.

I am starting a small backyard garden as a way to produce my own organic veggies, increase my outdoor activities and learn a new and practical skill. I have cleared a portion of my back yard built 4 (4x4) raised bed gardens. Two of the beds are about 8" deep, one is about 11", and the other is 14" deep. The bottom are covered with weed paper. The shallower beds have been filled with Black Kow and Horse Manure. I am working on composting for a nice top layer to provide added nutrients at planting.

I'm looking to grow a Salad Garden (Various Greens, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Snow Peas, Green Onions, Carrots, Peppers) and am open to Okra, Eggplant, Squash/Zucchini, Beans & Peas, Broccoli, Garlic, Watermelon Cantaloup and Strawberries. I'm would like an herb plot also including Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Parsley, Cilantro, Mint, Rosemary. Edible Pansies and Marigolds would be good. I pretty open.


1) I know everyone has different mixtures for their garden soil but what are the thoughts on my simple mixture?

2) Opinions on Square Foot Gardening as a first time gardener?

3) Practical Companion Planting ideas/strategies?

4) When to start planting? Start as seeds in garden or indoors?

5) Advice on a practical Plot Plans?

6) Should I add worms? How many per bed?

7) Growing Squash/Zuchini/Cucumbers Vertically?

8) Less of a Newbie question but has anyone heard of/used Ocean-ponics?

Ahhh!!!! I know its a lot, hopefully you all can offer some good advice and guidance to a newbie and help some others along the way.

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1 square foot garden has set mix (found in book) book it works.

3.companion planting is not important to newbies do to it's complexity the book
5. read the book ( you need to be more clear on the plants you want grow)
6. worms will find there own way in .
7. read the book
8 . no
9 read previous threads.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 5:08PM
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You could probably plant directly outdoors since you live in Florida and don't have to worry about cold weather. Be sure you have enough sun. My garden box was great all summer, but I found out that by October 1st it was totally shaded by my house.

To protect seedlings from birds, you can use inverted strawberry baskets. Put a rock on top of each one so it doesn't blow away. My garden is not large enough to invest in row covers.

Plant the tallest plants on the north side of your box so they don't shade the other plants. Tomatoes and peppers are in the same plant family, so plan how you can rotate them so they don't grow in the same place each year.

I started with dirt mixed with Kellogg's Ammend before I read the book. The addition of peat and vermiculite made the soil much looser.

(Don't worry about homeend. He (or she) does that to everyone.)

Here is a link that might be useful: My garden blog

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 5:29PM
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Thanks Homeend... Great Advice. I took the book out of the local library and am really impressed with the simplicity and clarity of it all. I'm only about 1/4 of the way through.

LGTeacher Thank you as well for sharing your experience and advice. And your garden looks lovely. :o) I will take some pictures when things get started.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 5:52PM
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Hi JYearout,
You will enjoy gardening. Your questions show that you are starting with an open/inquiring mind. If you are human like the rest of us you will make many mistakes. Enjoy the mistakes and learn from them.
The only specific advice I would address to your questions would be not to grow zuchinni in your sfg if you have any other space available. In my opinion it would be a waste of valuable sqf soil/space, and zuchinni will grow sucessfully anywhere. My backyard makes a sandlot look loamey and it does well there.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 5:53PM
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lgteacher i tell them o read book because ask there question with out bother to read the book. read book saves allot of time. Since I prefer to answer question that you can't find in the book.

I could explain companion planting to her in the square foot
garden but that is one subject even mel has trouble with due to how many factors involved.
Nice fellow Mel nice as they come.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 1:32AM
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Since you are in tropical, or at least subtropical, SW Florida, your planting dates for various crops are mostly backwards from much of the rest of the U.S., with winter as your main cropping season. If you haven't already done so, I strongly recommend you download the University of Florida's extension bulletin, "Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide": It includes a a lot of valuable information such as recommended varieties and planting dates by vegetable for the different parts of the state.
I live in the Gainesville area and have found that square foot gardening works really well given our generally poor native soils. Also, I find that Florida vegetable gardens need a lot of irrigation. You can find starter drip irrigation kits at Lowes or Home Depot, but be sure to get the vegetable garden version.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 6:18PM
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The book will indeed answer just about all of your questions except #9. Good Luck.

I am a beginner gardener and square foot gardening is a perfect place to start in my opinion.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 11:39PM
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