Hope you don't mind Newbie Veggie Gardening Questions

marriedcougMay 10, 2012

Sorry for these basic questions, I hope some of you don't mind helping me out.

I have two 4x4 raised beds where I've already planted a few seeds, on 4/28.

I planted:

Lettuce

Cucumbers

Zucchini

Green Beans

Green Onions

Either tomorrow night or next weekend (5/19), I plan to pick up two tomato plants and one sweet bell pepper plant at the hardware store and transplant those. I will transplant a couple of green pepper plants that we started inside a few weeks ago, probably tomorrow night.

I'll also transplant some herbs around the edges. I'll need to pick those up at the hardware/gardening store too.

So, here are my questions, since I'm new to this, other than a couple of tomato plants and herbs in the past.

What do I do now? I feel like I need to be working in them every night, but there doesn't seem to be much to do. I assume they need more than just watering. At what point do I need to add plant food? Or do I?

Also, I'm already getting a lot of little weeds growing in. They're small two-leaf weeds that are a PITA to pick out. Anything I should do differently to keep them out?

And pests, we have deer and rabbits. I've been spraying that awful-smelling deer/rabbit repellent spray on the wood around the beds. However, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to break down and put up some wire around them. If you have any tips on how to put something up that won't be an eyesore for the neighbors, that would be much appreciated as well.

I'm cautiously excited about having fresh, home-grown veggies all summer! Just hopefully I don't kill the plants now. Any and all tips you have would be greatly, greatly appreciated!

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snowgardener(z4 NY)

My advice is to fertilize them once they get about and inch or two tall with fish emulsion (which happens to be one of the main ingredients in my husbands super duper stinky fool-proof deer repellant) but you will want to stop using that before you want to eat the lettuce.

Don't know if you planted bush beans or pole beans, but if the latter, you're going to want to trellis those, or maybe you already have. Cucumbers can go either way, I prefer to trellis.

Try straw around your plants once they start growing, and obviously right away once you plant your tomatoes, peppers & herbs. This will keep the weeds down and prevent the soil from drying out as much, so less watering. I also use wet newspapers under the straw.

As for a fence, I've never much cared what the neighbors think, I just appeal to my own high brow aesthetics, and it is hard for me to answer that not knowing your neighbors. But maybe some chicken wire neatly strung on thick dowels?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 1:05PM
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marriedcoug

Thanks, I do have a trellis, up and waiting for the beans and cucumbers. I didn't know about the straw. I think next weekend will probably be a good weekend then for the fish emulsion, more planting and straw.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 1:11PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I'm assuming you didn't do a soil test or put anything like compost or other amendments in the beds? If not you probably need to add something, your food needs food. Do a search for your local extension service and you should be able to find the recommended amount of nutrients for your area. If not, call them, most are glad to help.

Wire may be the best bet since it is a small area. I'm using a motion sensor sprinkler with pretty good success on deer, I don't have a rabbit problem.

Just make sure that the transplants have water, but not over watered. If it's hot and sunny they need more, cool and cloudy, not so much.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 1:19PM
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chas045(7b)

My neighbor has his beds in boxes. He built a fence around his garden with five T posts that he wrapped with green garden fence roll. You might google how to drive fence posts and add the name dcarch. dcarch has a bunch of youtube ideas (see square tomato!). He is often in the cooking forum here.

Next year you might want to get to the store earlier and get small starter tomato and pepper plants and grow them up a little like you did with the other peppers. Since you are looking at those weeds, you may as well scrape them out with a trowl or scraper tool.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 6:22PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

We use old dried up grass clippings as mulch in our garden. It's free if you have a mower with a catcher attachment. Also straw is quite prickly to touch. Try not to get water on the foliage of the plants (to prevent diseases) and try to water in the early morning for he same reason. We have chicken wire around our gardens and it's really not that noticable from a distance.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 6:43PM
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dab07

You don't have to work in them every night, by any means, once they're established. The garden will take most work at the beginning of the season.

Did you use soil from your property, or buy topsoil or something? Since it's the first time you're using this soil it is a good idea to have it tested for pH, N, P, and K. The store bought kits aren't accurate, best to send a soil sample to your county extension. Then you know what you're working with. If you have to add something to balance or boost the nutrients, keep in mind that it's better to feed the soil than the plants. This will make it better each year. Using plant food is kind of equivalent to you living on vitamins instead of food. There are a lot of ideas about what to feed the soil. There's a lot written about using rock powders to supply phosphorus and potassium (P,K). I like these, b/c it basically replicates the way nature builds soil: from breaking down rock into tiny particles. People often supply the soil with P with bone meal, bone char, rock phosphate. For K, greensand, or a mixture of wood ashes and kelp. Nitrogen is supplied by blood meal, fish meal, alfalfa meal... Compost may supply it too, depending on what it's made of. I never add N b/c my compost seems to supply enough.

If you don't make your own compost, you can buy it in bags. Add a couple of inches the first year, only a half or one inch yearly after that. You can put it on top of the soil now that the beds are already planted. In the future you take the compost and whatever nutrients you're using and kind of chop it in up and down with a rake or hoe. You want to mix it into the top few inches.

As others have said, use a trowel or get a hand weeder and scrape along just under the surface of the soil to cut the roots. Just a sweeping motion. Get them while they're small, it's easiest this way. After than, mulch will keep them down.

Mulch does a lot of things: it keeps the soil cool, keeps it from drying out, gives worms something to work, eventually breaks down and adds organic matter to your soil. You'll be amazed when you lift up a section of mulch and see the beautiful soil underneath.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 3:43PM
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