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Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Posted by mmqchdygg Z5NH (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 20, 09 at 16:26

And a question on placement of the Corn. The corners I'd like to be Corn & Tomatoes. Tomatoes will be paired with Marigold edging where you see that lettuce on the other one.
Based on sunlight and wanting to place lettuce in front of the corn, should I put the Corn/Lettuce in the Southwest corner, or will that shade the garden too much in the afternoon? This is exact placement of the garden...directly square with N/S/E/W directions.

I'm still toying with the big sections of marigolds and might opt to go with herbs instead (except that if you've seen my posts on the Veggie forum, I have no real need or use for herbs).

Probably Cukes & Melons on the long East-End ones, and rooty stuff in the little boxes like carrots & beets. Will want to put broc/cauli somewhere, and not sure what smallish thing to put in the little triangles near the Zinnias.

I'm open to suggestions.
Thanks for the input.
(the plot is ~30x40)


Follow-Up Postings:

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Oh, here's a pic of the actual site...

In case you need to see the actual site...this is taken from the West side at 7pm on 4/20. That's my compost heap, and beyond it is the current (flat, boring) garden space.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

I'm skeptical about the amount of room allowed for squash. Do you mean winter squash? Will you plant a variety with short vines? I love marigolds in my garden and like to plant pot marigolds (calendula) and lemon gem (dainty with wonderful lemony fragrant foliage). I also plant other varieties. I like to alternate parsley and individual marigolds. Maybe this fall plant garlic in the little triangles but this year I would suggest basil or perhaps peppers.
I wouldn't bother with corn. If you are looking for production, you'll get more value from tomatoes in the same amount of space.
You haven't mentioned beans or chard. Your design is very interesting and I think it will be a lot of fun.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Just a suggestion, but since you took your picture from the west end, I am guessing your entrance is from the west. If so, I would move your tomatoes to the middle or east beds, as this will be where your height in the garden will be. Just a thought. Moving the height to the "back" of the garden will give you a low (marigolds), medium (squash) and high (tomatoes) look to your potager. It all depends on where your view and entrance is. Oh, by the way, the design and shape is fantastic!


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

I think this is a lovely plan. If you or someone who loves you can construct it, go for it! I especially like your circle and diamonds. Beautiful. I agree with marcy on moving your tomatoes because of height. However, keep in mind that you need to plant them in a different bed each year on a four year rotation to avoid/control diseases.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Well, in two days, I've become completely frustrated again. DH is still not in favor of the idea (but also realizes I'll end up doing whatever I want out there), and I've also noted the fact that we bought a roto-tiller attachment for our tractor specifically for this purpose. If I go and put in all these beds, it's going to negate the need for the tiller.
I also did the math, and we're looking at 450+/- feet of boards, and that's not going to be an inexpensive thing. I put up an ad at freecycle.

SO...having said that, I still want to organize this somehow, and I still like the design, but I don't see the beautiful board-beds happening that I envisioned. But perhaps I can make an attempt at something close with grass paths...I don't know. Frustration setting in :(


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

  • Posted by alys Zone 5/6 - MO (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 24, 09 at 9:30

If I recall your post on the veggie forum correctly, you have great soil, just no fun. You don't HAVE to do raised beds, they are just easier. Maybe you could just divide up your space using some other means. Hammer in bed edging and mulch with wood-chips between. Lay low brick edges outside the defined spaces, but leave it mostly level to the ground. I really like a picture I saw where the beds were simply ground level and the paths were these rolled board pathways I've seen in stores. I posted a link below in a post. Check it out.

Here is a link that might be useful: veggie garden makeover thread


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wooden walkways

  • Posted by alys Zone 5/6 - MO (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 24, 09 at 9:40

I think this is what they are using between the beds in the garden I posted the link to. It would get expensive to do lots of these, but by the same token, so will building lots of raised beds...something to think about anyway.

Here is a link that might be useful: wooden walkway


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yeah, okay, one more

  • Posted by alys Zone 5/6 - MO (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 24, 09 at 10:07

Cheaper wooden walkways...I love this product, can you tell?
http://www.problemsolvers.com/product.asp?pcode=1011&crs=1009&ref=product

Also, here's a couple of interesting ideas using low brick walls...

http://www.braeside.com.au/images/homestead/veg/potager aviary.jpg

http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/pic/PTGPOD/GPBO05-00000143-001~Potager-Brick-Paving-Posters.jpg

Here they've used brick pathways, but really, any defined path would do...

http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/pic/PTGPOD/GPBO05-00000143-001~Potager-Brick-Paving-Posters.jpg

Even grass!

http://www.jardiniersdefrance63.com/photosjdf/photos-siege/valenciennes-potager.jpg

I guess my thinking is that you don't have to have "raised" beds and you could, at least the first year to see how you like it, try just marking your "beds" with string and stakes and plant within them. Or you could buy that paint for marking on lawns and draw out your beds with that, maybe plant short flowers as a border all around them for definition. Worry about weeds just in the planted areas and run a mower over your paths to keep the weeds down in them. Use trellis and cages and teepees - all without building the raised beds. See what you think of planting in the defined areas...how it works and how it looks. If you like it, and think it could be better, then take the next step next summer. You'll also have the option of changing your design next year if you find you need more room for squash or tomatoes or corn. You see?

For ideas, I just did a Google image search on the word "potager". Think I'll try "kitchen garden" next...I just love looking at vegetable gardens!


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Don't get frustrated or discouraged...and don't think you have to build all this at one time. Do it in annual or semi-annual stages. It can look good all along the way to your final vision. Start by doing the four westernmost beds and the marigold circle. This fall, do another stage or even next spring. It gives you a chance to get a feel for the size of your garden and its possibilities. You can spread out the expense of the wooden beds and it's not so overwhelming. I started my potager with a single 4 x 10 raised bed and am now up to 700 sq feet of beds several YEARS later and still going. What else is there to do in the winter except PLAN anyway??

Keep us posted.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Oops, NOT 700 SF!!! Just 300 SF....my typing fingers were mixed up this afternoon, I guess. And no, 700 SF is not my final plan. I'll probably stop around 400. Does vertical count? ;-)


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

I would make edgers with rocks (or scrap logs) and have dirt pathways, then at the end of the season you (and some neighbor kids) could pile all of the rocks in a wheelbarrow. after you could use you roto tiller freely, then, when you are done, replace the rocks in an ever changing pattern. this is a bit labor intensive, but fun in that you could always change your path layout every year.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

There is a way you could save some of those board feet. Connect some of those square beds into long rectangular beds. For each two you combine, you save two widths. The same goes with those with the triangles. You can then put in stepping stones, (or just mulch for now) in the spots where the boards would have been, so you'll still get the shaped effect. If DH doesn't have so many corners to miter, he might be more amenable. (That being said, this is precisely why I am using concrete blocks for my pavers so I don't have to wait on my dearly beloved.)


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

I am looking for new ideas this evening and came across this thread. The suggestion of planting melons and cukes near each other needs to be changed. The cukes are in the same family as some of the melons. If you plant them near each other they will cross pollenate and end up with cucumber flavored melon. An interesting taste but not what you want. Try and plant as far apart as posible.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Oh that is good to know maifleur. Would the same go for Cantelope and water melons?

Chris


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Twp different families, anything from the Cucumis family, cantelope, cucumbers can cross. Watermelons are Citrullus family. However some watermelons to me taste like cucumber.

If you are planning on doing some seed saving be aware of plants crossing. You can look at the seed package or on the net for families of plants. Just be aware that someone is always changing family names. What you learn this year may be wrong in six months.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Pollination is for the purpose of making seeds and nothing else. So, while it is true that melons, squash and cucumbers may cross pollinate and make screwball seed for next year, the fruit of the current year will be true to type. Flavor will not be affected at all. I see this question all the time on the forums, and I assure you this is one answer I am absolutely positive of.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Having tasted cucumber tasting cantaloupe, something happens. I agree that pollination is for seeds and should not effect the flavor of this years fruit. I have known of too many people that have brought wierd tasting melon to dinners and when asked if they were planted next to cucumber they affirmed that they were. Someone more scientific than I probably can answer why. It is probably one of those old wives tales that have a spot of truth.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

What kind of boards are you looking for? Check for small saw mills in your area where you can buy unplaned boards. They will be rough. This is what we got for our son when he was young and building a fort. It looks like you are in NH so you shouldn't have trouble finding unplaned boards.
I had to chuckle that you will end up doing it your way. Sounds familiar.
Last year I returned to serious vegetable garden now that we have plenty of space and sun. I started two lasagna beds in 2007, layering grass clippings, leaves, etc. In spring 2008 we topped them off with a layer of composted horse manure. Great garden but the nasturtiums I planted along the edge were mostly huge leaves because the bed was so fertile.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Bermed garden beds would also work, and save you the $$ of the edging boards or stones. Also, you can till it all up and redesign every year if you like. Use hay, pine straw, grass clippings, non-treated sawdust, or mulch for your walkways.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

I don't have a pic uploaded yet, but this is how it turned out for the season. I covered the left section and the 'L' with black plastic for those things, and the left half of the fence-line. So far, I'm pleased with it, and I am SO enjoying being out there now! Likely it'll end up being different every year, since I do still love a freshly roto-tilled space...so will likely destroy it at the end of the season. Besides, if you've seen me in action with furniture in a room, you'll know that this just can't be the same every year ;)

I never got the boards in, so my raised beds are bare right now, but I still might add them since the grass is starting to grow out the sides, and I don't want to be wrecking the side-walls every time I weed. So I need to do something about that.
Anyway, here's the pic:


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

  • Posted by alys Zone 5/6 - MO (My Page) on
    Tue, May 12, 09 at 10:49

I'd love to see an actual photo! Your plan looks lovely.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Ok, took a couple shots. First one is from the same place as the other picture up there, and the other is from the Northeast Corner

Photobucket
Photobucket


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Your garden looks like a lot of fun, more imaginative than a series of same sized beds. Have you considered parsnips? And peppers? I grew some heirloom pepper varieties last year which my husband very much enjoyed on his bison burgers each weekend.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Not sure what's wrong with those thumbnails up there; can't get them to work this morning. Here's a couple of Direct links if these work better:
Pic 1
Pic 2


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

  • Posted by alys Zone 5/6 - MO (My Page) on
    Wed, May 13, 09 at 9:30

Your garden looks wonderful! The plastic is for warming up the soil, right? You could get your corn in the ground any time now. The only thing I can't picture is a whole square of radishes...but I don't use them hardly at all...they'll be done so soon you'll be able to plant a late-season crop right in the same bed. Maybe peppers? Congrats! You did good!


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

hi alys-
Yes, plastic for soil warming, and weed reduction. Corn is started in milk jugs ("winter sowing" style- other forum), and tomatoes are still pretty tiny in their styrofoam cups at the moment. They'll be another couple weeks before they can actually go out. I'm going to try 'succession' planting the corn so I don't have it all at the same time.
Radishes...actually, the drawing isn't to scale. If you look at the very left edge of picture #2, you'll see that those 4 beds aren't really square. The radish bed is barely shown in that 2nd picture, but you can see that it's not really very large. I think I tossed some more beets in between the rows of radishes when I found another started milk jug of those.
I haven't decided yet if I'll try another late-season crop of the cool-season veggies later in the season, or if I'll try a cover-crop after these 4 beds are finished. Anyway...that's what's on the agenda.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Looks great!

Rolled newspapers tied with twine make a good temporary border for new bermed beds, and the only costs are twine and time. Open the paper out to full page size, make a stack, roll to desired diameter (at least as big as your arm), and tie. Wet them and they will bend to make shapes. When you get your permanent edging the newspapers can be composted or opened to line the walkways. I'm a big fan of newspaper or cardboard topped with leaves, hay, wood chips, or pine straw as garden pathways. I can get into my garden even after a hard rain without getting mucky and it really cuts back on the weeding.

Of course, the newspaper rolls won't work if you have a dog as they will take them and play with them endlessly until all that's left is confetti.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

How is your corn doing transplanted from milk jugs? I had thought it didn't transplant well, so I direct-seeded... but I couldn't get mine to grow that way... I think the birds ate it before it could grow much. I'd love to do transplants if it would work.


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

hey VK-
The corn is doing marvelous. I have only 2 or 3 little stunted ones, but the rest came through with flying colors.
When I planted out that corn (I think it was Memorial Weekend), I started 2 more jugs, and I just put that second batch in earlier this week. So now I have the strip closest to the fence with the black plastic filled with corn.

I'm still debating what to put in the second section...not sure if one more section of corn, or if I'll do something else. I have time, I think. I'll get a picture this evening when I get home from work of what's happening out there.

For the record, the Preen is doing "ok," but didn't get a good amount of the weeds before they germed, so there's quite a few of those 'carrot looking' weeds in the paths. I let them get a little bigger and it's easier to pull them out by the roots since the paths are VERY compacted. It may be time for another dose of Preen in the paths.

Some of the cold crops are starting to bolt...I'll put some marigolds and zinnias in, maybe for the rest of the season to keep the weeds from overtaking. I'm also considering a cover crop, but haven't done a whole lot of homework on that, so we'll see what transpires.

Thanks for checking in; I'm really loving this more inviting style this year!


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Photos from this morning.

Photobucket
Photobucket


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RE: Is this too elaborate for a beginner?

Just found this thread... Wow--wonderful garden! Obviously NOT too elabotate for a "beginner" --are you really?? Not a beginner to gardening, surely, maybe to potagers or raised beds...?
Planting such a large area with such a variety would overwhelm most beginning gardeners, I think! :-)
Anyway, well done! Only thing I would not care for is all that black plastic...plastic does nothing for the soil and many say is even detrimental. I know in areas where I have seen it used, the soil under it sours and is airless and all-around yucky. Also, since your pathways also are covered, I see standing water there...I always have been dubious that plants surrounded by plastic mulch could get enough rain; seems it would mostly run off (like to your paths).
When I began gardening 40 years ago, for the first decade or so I had raised beds like yours--unframed. My "bible" was Peter Chan's lovely book, Better Vegetable Gardens the Chinese Way. Long out of print, I should think, alas.
A bit of a pain to keep unframed beds mounded up, but I was young & energetic & couldn't afford the lumber to enclose them. Now, many years down the road and a modest but welcome inheritance from a great-aunt later, I have framed beds. My older bones sure appreciate them!
P.S. That's a LOT of lettuce to have at one time...:-)


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