Ideas for large veggies to plant in a large open bed

delaware_daisy(5)December 14, 2013

Hi all. So I've been trolling the Web looking for ideas, and nothing has stuck with me yet. I have a bed that is around 30'x40', very good soil due to years of amending with horse manure. What is a good space-loving vegetable to plant there?

For several years I grew squash/melon in it, but they get devastated by bugs, so I've moved those elsewhere until the squash beetles diminish. Last year I planted popcorn in there, just for something to fill the space. I hate growing corn - raccoons ate most of it, and what they didn't get, the birds devoured while it was on the drying racks.

I grow all my other veggies in separate beds (tomatoes, lettuce, onions, kohlrabi, etc). I'd probably abandon this bed as it's a bit out of the way of my other stuff, but the soil is so good I hate for it to go to waste. I actually planted my garlic along one edge of it this fall b/c I i didn't get my main bed tilled...and this bed is so nice that I could furrow down 5 inches with just one swipe with a hand trowel, no tilling necessary.

Any suggestions welcome. My first thought has been "What is normally so big that you don't generally have room for?" But maybe i'm on the wrong track here. Maybe a fruiting shrub bed?


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Cherry tomatoes take up a lot of space and are very productive if you're into them and let them sprawl.

There's also artichokes which take up a rather large amount of space.

Okra is awesome if you have a taste for it. It's not a big spreader, but certain types can branch heavily if given space. It's a stretch to grow it reliably in some Z5's though.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 11:17PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

That (30' by 40' = 1200 sqr-ft) is a big home garden by itself. Pumpkins, melons, cucumbers .. are the most space demanding
Other things you can plant ; Bush Bean : Potatoes, A single potato plan (planted in rows( can take up to 6 sqr-ft. They should grow vey well in your soil(as described) and your zone (5)

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 2:20AM
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Yeah, as long as your soil isn't prone to potato scab potatoes are a good option.

Another option for the garden (or part of it) is using it for things that occur inner-warm-season that you wouldn't want to rip your regular slicing toms, peppers, etc up for...such as getting a head start on some fall crops for early harvest and/or other root crops you might want to hang around a while in the soil.

This post was edited by nc-crn on Sun, Dec 15, 13 at 2:32

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 2:31AM
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Nay be long squash is good, very productive, we grew it for last 2 years, no bug problem. Here is the link for long squash,

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 5:17AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

A single rhubarb plant. No need to do anything else to the bed then for the next 15 years.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 10:25AM
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Yacon and sweet potatoes. It will take some care (early protection, then curing) in the North, but then you will have a lot of storage vegetables, nicely replacing squash. And the bed is perfect for digging. It is probably too cold for chayote, and anyway chayote does not store.

With that kind of area, quality of soil and ease of digging, you can have yacon, sweet potatoes, potatoes followed by daikon, garlic followed by hakurei turnip, beets, onions, and turnips, and really never buy a single veggie from October to April. You could also consider growing Tongue of Fire shelling beans for freezing. These are all one harvest types of veggies (the beans maybe two), and they all store. I wish I had a quality storage vegetable area.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 11:41AM
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Wow - I love the ideas! I laughed at the rhubarb comment. Too true! Never heard of yacon or the long squash. I'm going to check both of those out. And saving the space for fall crops is a good one too. And I hadn't thought about moving my potatoes out there. That could sure make digging earlier.

My "regular" garden bed is 2000' sq ft, and works well, but is simply just not as well amended as this plot. This plot is where the neighbors always dump their manure for me. (Maybe I'll ask them to start hauling it to my regular beds now!)

Oh, and I am looking at artichokes too. Apparently they can grow here. In fact, I think I have enough room to try nearly all of these ideas. Thanks again! Back to the garden catalogs to find some of these unusual plants.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 4:41PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

If I had a spare bed, I would plant high value perennials like asparagus and strawberries. I cannot spare the space year round in the set up I have now.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 5:00PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Cardoons grow similarly to artichokes but are more suitable for a short growing season. I had to search for recipes but, when I learned how to cook them, I found them tasty.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 6:22PM
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Thanks Jim. Those are new to me too. I'll check them out.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 6:23PM
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Incredibly, I forgot cardoon. My favorite winter vegetable. But you will have to build a storage area, or more accurately, different storage areas for all these things. Once you make choices get back for storage tips.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 9:33PM
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Hi, all

Where can I get Yacon seeds/crowns? thanks

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 11:54AM
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Cattle panel trellis, they are 4'x16' long spaced 10' apart keeps melons,squash,kentucky beans and cucumbers or any other space consuming plants off the ground and are very eye appealing, plant a row of carrots beats or a couple of rows of potatoes and that should fill your garden.

Have a Merry Christmas

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 2:12AM
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My thoughts were similar to others':
Cardoon and artichoke (Johnny's, my favorite seed catalogue since they have unsual and short season varieties, carries an artichoke that will produce first year if started early enough indoors)
beans - dry (I especially like black and aduke) or green soy for Edamame
Potatoes, though you don't want it too fertile
Indeterminate tomatoes, which IME even when tied up or in large cages manage to take up quite a bit or real estate

Or, make this your perennial crop bed with asparagus and rhubarb or small fruits like blueberries (if your soil is acid), strawberries, gooseberries, with your fall planted crops along the edges (spinach for early harvest and garlic.) If you (and your digestive system) like Jerusalem artichokes, you could grow them here if you have some type of barrier to keep them from spreading beyond where you want, and similarly horseradish is a large plant, but needs to be planted where it can't overtake the bed from small roots left behind when harvested and replanted. Many of these perennial crops are quite decorative as well - the foliage of the horseradish and rhubarb are bold, the asparagus ferny, and the fruit plants have flowers. Some blueberry bushes have red-gold winter stems.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 8:29AM
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c6 - I never thought of that type of trellis. I'm going to have to check that out. I actually use concrete reinforcement mesh for my tomatoes and pole beans and cukes. I string it out on fenceposts, and then clip the plants to the trellis. It works great, but I'm always game on new trellis ideas.Plus a trellis would add some structure to that area.

nhbabs - the perennial idea is a good one. I have a couple of blueberry bushes elsewhere I've completely abandoned (keep getting decimated by deer, so they are 5yrs old and 1ft tall!), and I have champaign currents that may be happy being there too. I actually grow horseradish in one of my perennial flower beds - they really anchor the space. And no matter what I do, i'm putting rhubarb back there.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 9:55PM
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All of the suggestions are good, but I have one more to consider. There is never enough compost to balance what you remove from your garden as harvest. If you have excess land, an excellent use for it is to grow lay crops that can be harvested green and then composted for later application in your production garden. This is a key component of Alan Chadwickôs Biodynamic French Intensive System. For more on that, see the following website:

Alan Chadwick

Click on "Techniques" and then select your subject matter of interest. There is also an excellent discussion on compost making there.

Good lay crops are: Fava beans, vetch, bell beans, buckwheat, and many others. The more compost you can make yourself, the less manure and other fertilizers you have to bring in from outside, and your own is much, much better than anything you can buy.

Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Alan Chadwick

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 1:58PM
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