Requesting help with first garden here, spacing etc.

marys1000April 6, 2012

Normally I would do a ton of reading and research and ask for help...I am very methodical and slow in making decsions.

However I am feeling a bit rushed as I just got a community garden plot!

It will be about 20x45 according to the guy who is running it. I actually get my plot tomorrow, Apr 7.

I had a garden years ago when I had a house but it was in a different zone, or maybe technically the same zone but the far northern end vs. the far southern end (southern Michigan vs. southern Oh). I'm in Dayton which is the bottom end of 5b I think (have zones changed in the last few years?) I feel like, especially with this winter, I'm a zone 6.

I had places in MI where I could find a great variety of started plants, no idea here. When to plant, what to plant. All new.

So. My first question is something I had trouble with before.

Setting up the space and plant spacing. For some reason I have trouble with "plant x' apart" Seems simple I get out there and its hard.

I figure to make little paths every X feet for access. I always though 4' per bed? Since my arms are about 24". Does that sound right?

Then for tomatoes...plant ? feet apart or do I gain a space if I offset the plants?

I plan on tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, basil at a minimum. (I call it the gazpacho garden)

Then maybe some beans, peas, garlic (probably order those from Johnny's)

I know I have to buy plants for the tomatoes, peppers, basil and cukes though I was thinking maybe stagger cukes with some from seed too?

What else......


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zackey(GA 8b)

All of the plants you mentioned grow easily from seeds. I would plant the cukes from seeds if you can go there often enough to keep them watered enough so they don't ever get dried out. Go To EDIS online and find out your zone. You should also check out your local agricultural center for growing advice for your area. Seems awfully early to be planting any of the ones you mentioned for at least a month.When I lived in southern Pa. our last frost date was May 15. Good luck and Happy gardening!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 6:42PM
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It's still too early to plant anything you have mentioned. All it takes is one night of low temps to kill off everything. I second checking with your local extention or agricultural center about your zone. I would hold off until at least mid to late May for your list above. Peas would be the first to go in the ground. However, if you are really anxious, you can try some early lettuce, kohlrabi, kale, etc.

Since this is a brand new community plot, the first thing you should do is a soil test. You can purchase a very simplified one from a local garden center or send a sample to your local extention office. I do these things to divert my anxiousness to plant! :) Learn what your plants like and determine if you need to amend the soil. You can also begin to prepare the soil for planting. Use some good organic compost to loosen and amend the soil. You can also begin compiling things like old newspapers for weed barrier and walkways through your garden. They will break down, help the soil and control weeds and retain some moisture. Map out your plot based on how large your plants will grow and determine where everything should go. Try growing your cukes, beans, peas and squashes upright on trellises to save space. Gather staking materials for your tomatoes and peppers.

Get out there and actually walk around the space. If your tomato plant is labeled as full growth at 4', I usually assume the same in width. It's a rough estimate but it works for me. So, when you plant, know that you will need two feet of growth space on all sides of your seedling. This means your seedlings should be a minimum of four feet apart. This will give little to no walking space in between. Staggering the planting will just make your walking path a process of weaving in and out instead of either side of a row. You have to allow walking space for harvesting and maintenance. Pruning and staking helps to conserve space but you can only do so much of both. The plants still require adequate room for growth. It is better to have four healthy plants than eight stressed, sickly ones. Choose your varieties by their growth and requirements. Don't plant what you can't maintain. (this is fun, dont let it stress you!)

All of your plants require full sun. That is a minimum of 6 hours of hot sun. Your peppers require the most. A common mistake is allowing your tomatoes to shade your peppers. Get out there and look at the light movement on the space.

Get some sticks and some twine and measure the space and mark your rows and individual plants. It helps to have a visual reference when you become overwhelmed. Mark on a plant label where you will place everything and then walk around. Move it around until you have it right. You can move sticks and twine...plants don't like it. :)

This is a process of success and failure. Don't be discouraged. Talk to the other community gardeners and stick around places like this. Most importantly, keep an eye and a hand in your garden as often as possible. You will learn to love this!

Good luck! :)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 8:12PM
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