PLEASE, I need help with my vegetable garden!!!

Tashax0xApril 20, 2012

So I am a complete and total Newbie to gardening. This is my first year starting a garden. I live by the theory "Go BIG or go home", so I've made my garden approximately 19'x70'... My boyfriend says I'm crazy for starting out so big... But I figured if I'm gonna take the time to make a garden, I might as well get a lot of produce out of it, lol.

We built a greenhouse about 8'x14'. It's a wooden framed building covered in plastic with a small fan for ventilation. I live in zone 6B (New Jersey). I probably jumped the gun on some of the plants but I've already planted a ton of fruits and vegetables. They are mostly planted in 6"-10" pots. I used a combination of potting soil and alpaca manure (I've heard it doesn't burn up plants).

I need all the advice I can get!!!! PLEASE help me produce a wonderful garden. I really would appreciate any, and I mean any, bit of your gardening knowledge.

I am keeping a Log of all my plants and their growth on this website:

I am growing: Artichokes, Basil, Beans, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cantaloupe, Cilantro, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Green onions, Parsley, Sweet Peppers, Snow peas, Summer Squash, Strawberry's, Sunflowers, Tomatoes, and Watermelon.

I know I've probably already made a ton of mistakes.


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Here are some questions that I have...

1. Did I plant any of my plants too soon, and does it matter because i have them in a greenhouse?

2. How often should I be watering my plants? I've heard once every other day for 30min. to and hour, but that just doesn't seem like enough. I have a watering system set up... I just don't know how often to set the timer for.

3. When and how often should I start fertalizing my seedlings?

4. Is it too early to start corn... and if so what would come of a crop started now? (I kinda got excited and planted my seeds in the ground already). Should i just pull them out?

5. Any other newbie lessons i should know?

Thank you all so much for your advice!!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 4:58PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

Way too much water!!!!!I would suggest you get some wooden skewers and stick them in the pots to see if the post are still wet or not. A greenhouse is fine until it gets above about 85, IMO. You are very gungho! You have started awfully big, but maybe it will work out just fine for you! I hope and pray that it will! Watering all depends on the weather, the humidity and the soil mix. If it's light soil mix you need to water more often. The lighter the better. Then your fertililzer gets washed in better and the pots are easier to lift. It sounds early for the corn, but I would leave it and see what happens. Check out your local agricultural center for lots of free info and advice. They have classes, sometimes they are free. Get ahold of a vegetable gardening guide to tell you what variety to use and when to plant it. They can tell you about fertilizing. Get a soil test Asap, so you know what to fertilize with and how much. And most important! Have fun gardening!!!!!!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 7:01PM
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You need to get your broccoli, peas and onions outside now. These are cool weather crops and won't do well once your greenhouse heats up.

Now, as in, start to harden them off now, then into the garden soil. Peas especially may not transplant well. It's time to be planting a lot of these crops directly into the ground.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 7:25PM
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Please don't drown your veggies! It's hard to say how long you should water without knowing the rate the water is coming out or what type of system you have - drip, soaker, etc.
Water only when the soil seems dry, not just on top, but a little way in. You can use your finger or a moisture meter.

Fertilize about once a month if you're using organic. There should be directions on the bag about how much and how often to use it.

Contact your local Master Gardeners program.

Here is a link that might be useful: What's Growing On?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 8:00PM
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I actually did read that it's best to plant peas directly in the ground, so i did do that. I will start hardening off my broccoli and onions ASAP, Thanks for the advice. I have a Mister Landscaper Drip irrigation system and i've been sticking my finger in the ground and it always seems dry... I have very sandy soil, so maybe that has something to do with it?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 8:19PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I don't know much about New Jersey or back East, but I'm assuming the summers heat up quite a bit?
I'm not sure, but you might be too late for broccoli. It bolts quickly with warm weather.
I usually plant mine in August for a fall/winter crop (but I'm in CA where we get just light frosts)
You might want to get in touch with your county extention office or website for a guide for what to plant and when.
HTH Nancy

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 9:05PM
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My broccoli is "Burpee's signature broccoli majestic crown hybrid". It said on the seed pack to direct sow march-april in my area and I planted them March 23, so i hope it's not too late. It is a warmer season this spring, but do you think their's hope for them?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 9:21PM
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You've got a lot of space, you've got room to plant your broccoli and see how it does. The experience will be valuable, and you don't know now what the weather will be like later.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 9:40PM
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I am utterly useless to you with the greenhouse! haha!

However, when you move into the ground, here are some tips.

1. Start to gather support materials for your larger plants. (tomatoes etc.)

2. clearly mark your plants and their variety. You will be surprised how quickly you can forget what you planted where the previous year.

3. Learn what plants work well together and how to companion plant. ( i will give you a link that may help)

4. don't over plant!! Give your plants the room they need to grow!

5. map your garden plot and mark where things will go now. You can do that on paper or, if you are like me and need to visualize it better, get some twine and sticks and get out there and walk around with a tape measure and mark your plant sections.

There is a ton of info on this site about watering, fertilization and pest control. Read, read, read! Go to local garden centers ( not big box stores) and ask questions. Read the labels on anything you buy and make sure you understand them.

Then be prepared to lose plants. We all have. We learn more from our mistakes than our success. In no time at all, you will be able to pass your knowledge on to others.

Best of luck and have fun!!! Don't give up!

Here is a link that might be useful: companion planting

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 12:21PM
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Well its nice to see somebody else that jumped right in with both feet like I did last year. It was a lot of work and I swore that this year I'd be smarter and cut back some this year. But somehow it actually wound up bigger. I have one plot that is 30'x 40'(tomato's) another that is 24'x 40' (peppers(hot,sweet and bell),green beans,zucchini,lettuce, cabbage,Swiss chard,spinach,onions and okra)12'x20' my watermelon patch
3 at 10'x12' one each for corn, cantaloupe Gurney's giant and sweet potatoes and 5 raised beds 3' x 10', 3 for trellised cucumbers 1 for trellised sugar baby watermelon and one for trellised lil sweet cantaloupe and also a 3' x 24' section outside my fence for Athena cantaloupe to grow up my fence there also.
I got in touch with a tree service and got a load of wood chips. I'm using it for mulch that I put down around my tomato okra and corn plants (before I ran out). I put it down 3 to 4 inches thick to help hold the water and also hopefully to cut down on weeding. Plus after the garden is done I'll till it under which will be good for the soil. Also after last year I got leaves from some of my neighbors and piled it in the garden (as my yard is somewhat hilly it helped avoid erosion) and tilled it in this spring again helping with the soil. Also get a soil test done so you can find out what the soil needs to get the ph balanced right (make sure you let the know its for veggies). I am going to try mulching some of the other stuff with hay straw again for water retention and hopefully to avoiding weeding as much as I can.
If your gonna have many tomato plants 15 or more I'd say try making your own from either livestock fencing or get some (I forget what its called)but you can find it at Lowes or Homedepot in the building supplies section around the concrete its like the livestock fencing but thicker. Also if your gonna hand water like I do find something that will let you water the roots gently without bending. If you have a lot of plants that can be a back breaker.

I'm sure I am missing a lot but thats what I have learned so far...........GOOD LUCK

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 11:11PM
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Rathos(7b PA)


You've got your work cut out for you, no doubt. What general part of jersey are you in? I'm just across the river in SE PA, but conditions here can be very different in a matter of miles.
For instance, pine barrens isn't the coast, and it's not the silty area along the Delaware either.
At any rate, I have corn in the ground already as well. Don't pull it up, the chance we will get any frost is almost nil at this point, unless you're way north inland and get unlucky. However, did you stagger corn planting? I made the mistake of planting mine at once last year (first attempt) and found that I got corn for a week and that was about it.
I'm curious about the pots you have veggies planted in. Do you intend to grow them in containers or transplant?
If you're transplanting, I'd get them out of the greenhouse and into the dirt late this week or the weekend at worst. I have a test pepper that's been planted for a month and beside having been frozen and dug up by the dogs (completely, found it in the dirt pile smashed) it's still alive and doing great - all things considered.
I named it Rocky after the dog incident. Anyway.

Those pots will not be big enough to grow plants to maturity, you'll need some other option.

There's too much to address on my phone now, but there is plenty of good advice to be found on these forums. The only other question I have for you is this:
What is your plan to win the war on weeds?
If you don't have one, get cracking and fast. They will make you hate your life by August if you don't address that immediately.



    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 5:54PM
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Ignore the back of seed packs. Find your county's planting calender.
Get a soil test.
Take a deep breath. Seeds are cheap. If you need to start some over, it's okay. You can get packs from places like Pinetree for $1.25 a pack.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 5:58PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Wow! Lots of good advice here. This is what I love about Gardenweb. This is the best source of information if you ask questions and use the search function . The only thing I would add is that it sounds like you do have a weeding plan, which is a thick layer of mulch, and that's good. Leaves, compost and straw are great for that. But I don't like fresh wood chips because they can draw nitrogen from the ground and can attract fungus. Add a little extra organic nitrogen to the areas with wood chips that are less than six months old.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 7:31PM
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Hi all! Thank you so much for all your advice! However this has raised some more questions.

Can you fertilize seedlings to early...? Do you have to wait till they grow up a lil before fertilizing them?

Rathos, I live near the pine barrens near Medford. I'm glad to hear that you have corn planted too, that made me feel a lot better about my corn. I did not stagger my corn planting... I have 3 rows of corn, should i pull out 2 of the rows and plant them in week to week to week segments?

I was planning on transplanting everything except my strawberry and blueberry plants and my herbs. But now from planting double the amount of seeds and not having the heart to thin (murder, lol) them I've decided I'm going to transplant half of them into my garden and save some of them in pots and see if I can get them to grow. I know my pots are probably too small for some of those vegetables, so I figured I would just try to grow cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes in the pots. What size pots is suitable for these plants?

As for the "war on weeds" I have purchased a granular weed preventer... I was planning on applying it this week. I also have a couple bags of mulch i was going to use directly around some of my plants... Any suggestions on what plants i should really focus on with it?

And please keep the suggestions coming, they are all so helpful. Thank you


    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 10:05PM
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Great advice...

1) Cool weather crops / warm weather crops. I "build" by garden as the season progresses from cool to warm. My onions and broccoli have been in the ground since March 11th (very mild winter) and I have NO warm weather crops planted yet (good thing too). But I always want peppers and tomatoes in the ground way too soon (bad).

2) Soil / soil / soil. Over the years, improve the soil. Compost, add organic material. I toss out some garden waste that may have insect eggs (old infested plant waste) or destructive diseases (old tomato plants). Otherwise compost leaves, garden waste, grass clippings, egg shells in a corner somewhere. I am a new gardener (3 years) and have heavy clay soil, and I add compost and manure every year to lighten it up (roots need air too).

3) Enjoy it! Don't burn out your first year. You garden is 2.5 time bigger than mine (but maybe I don't have enough space between plants). You can always to it better next year. Something else to think about... Attract pollinator (bees, etc). You can plant annual flowers in unused space. Be careful with pesticides because some of the bugs are your friends!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 7:17AM
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greginnd(Z4 ND)

Be careful with the granular herbicides. If it is a pre-emergent herbicide that prevents seeds from germinating. You may not be able to get vegetable seeds to grow.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 7:25AM
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I think you will feel much better at the end of the season if you think of this as a learning and research experience.

I do have one specific thought. Corn grows better in patches (rectangles). If you were to plant more corn, I would overplant one end of all three rows, then if the other end never comes up, you can replant that area even later.

My guess is that you are already too late for the cole crops. Next year get them started in January in the greenhouse and in the ground in March (just a guess).

Oh; a second big point and I almost never follow my own advise; July is probably the right time to start those same cole crops for fall planting.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 5:01PM
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Thank you all SOO much for all your advice. I appreciate you taking the time to help me out.

A refresher to my previous questions...

I was planning on transplanting everything except my strawberry and blueberry plants and my herbs. But now from planting double the amount of seeds and not having the heart to thin (murder, lol) them I've decided I'm going to transplant half of them into my garden and save some of them in pots and see if I can get them to grow. I know my pots are probably too small for some of those vegetables, so I figured I would just try to grow cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes in the pots. What size pots is suitable for these plants?

I have a couple bags of mulch i was going to use directly around some of my plants... Any suggestions on what plants i should really focus on with it?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 12:53PM
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I've been in your shoes and made my share of mistakes but they are learning experiences. My best advice for where you are in the gardening process is keep notes or a journal. Write down what you planted and when and the outcome so you don't forget. I didn't do this to start out with and ended up making some mistakes over again because I forgot. I thought for sure I'd remember but I didn't.
Best of luck to you!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 3:49PM
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