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Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

Posted by mmiesse 6a (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 22, 13 at 15:41

Hello! I also posted this in the Organic Gardening forum, but I thought this would also be a good place to post!

I am helping create a small community gardening area in my apartment complex this year. I have created a plot of a small vegetable garden. Please offer any advice on companion planting and such! We have a 7 x 14 garden in a raised bed. I have marked the amount of shade in each square.

TWO QUESTIONS:

1. If I were to plant squash, should I do that in this garden or elsewhere?

2. I forgot to add nasturtiums and marigolds (the latter to keep away bugs) - do you think I can plant those anywhere or should I plant them around the border?

The diamonds down the middle are small stones - we will divide the plot in half so we can work in the middle.

This garden will not have assigned plots, we are all doing this together. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Please offer any advice!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

So each square is 2x2?

I think you're overestimating what you can put in such a small space. Potatoes and tomatoes ought to be potato and tomato.

A single squash plant could take up most of that space by itself.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

A single 7 foot by 14 foot bed? Hardly seems big enough for a community anything. No vining squash in there, a single plant would fill that entire area. I see those squares are 2' x 2' are you planning to have more than one tomato per square? And the cucumber would need to be trellised to have a chance of staying in that space. Also Basil can get quite tall you would have a very hard time stepping over a mature plant. Though I am sure you did it so people would smell the basil as they brushed against it. Still, I say swap the oregano and basil. Should be a nice looking little garden if you can pull it off.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

Yes, that's kind of what I planned. However, now that I'm really picturing it in my head it probably is over-ambitious.

I have heard of planting very close together, and that it often works. But perhaps not in my case.

I was thinking maybe 2 tomato plants per 2' square.

Here is an updated plot.

Thank you for all of the advice thus far!!

This post was edited by mmiesse on Mon, Apr 22, 13 at 16:59


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

You are quite right to take the amount of sun and shade into account and you've obviously watched that carefully. But a single Brussels sprout or potato plant would need a 2 x 2 square. Or one bush bean or four pea plants. So I agree with ltilton that you are being overambitious regarding what you can fit in that bed. I would go for high yielding things like tomatoes rather than peas (you need dozens of plants for a worthwhile crop) and things which are harder to buy really fresh, like salads, rather than spuds which take up a lot of space and are cheap to buy. Also, if the stones down the middle are designed to be stepping stones you need to be aware that you will have to step over the cilantro and basil which could be 2 feet tall.

Before worrying about companion planting the practicalities of the space need sorting out.

And I'm assuming you know rosemary is unlikely to be hardy in zone 6 afaik.

But it sounds like a fun project so I hope you get it successfully off the ground this summer.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

The thing is, every for a single person a plot this size won't yield enough for a single serving of anything but the tomatoes. For a community, you're not planting enough to let anyone get a reasonable amount. Like, six beans apiece. And you don't have enough room for potatoes. At all.

What I suggest is that you do it as a herb garden. You'd get plenty of herbs, enough for everyone.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

Which side is North?

Can you attach a trellis anywhere? How is your bed constructed?

You might consider breaking the whole thing up differently, & opting for more space for fewer veggies. For example, scratch the two 1' herb beds on the sides. Separate the rest of the bed into 3' x 3' squares mentally, with 2' x 3' squares at the end. You can put your herbs in those, though you will want to try to be realistic about how big they will grow in your area. One sweet basil plant here can take up 2' sq + by itself & get several feet tall.

So, going with the assumption that North is along one of the short ends, & that you could put in a sturdy trellis on one edge & along the inside edge of the opposite length, you could do something like the little sketch I am going to try to add. That would be pole beans & cukes sharing one trellis, & indeterminate tomatoes along the other. In the remainder of the beds you could divide it between bush cukes & bush beans on one side with a 2' x 2' bed of dill at the end (or in the middle if you like), & divide the other bed between hot peppers & bell peppers with a 2' x 2' bed of basil at the end. This still won't be a ton for a community garden, but you could get a good harvest.

You can use the square foot gardening spacing recommendations for planting.

If you can't put in trellis there, or if direction would make your trellises shade your other plants, you can still think productively in terms of larger squares with fewer varieties of plants. I think you'll get more bang for your buck that way. You might think in terms of what veggies are highly productive in your area, or what veggies are expensive at the store.

Also, even if you can only put a trellis up on one long end, that would still help you get more out of your space.

Don't forget to build up your soil as best you can before planting.

Good luck!


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

Thank you! I'll take this plot into consideration!

And yes, you're right...the N and S ends are the more narrow ends.

I am currently creating a good soil and will add some cow manure fertilizer as well.

I was planning on having a trellis, and I believe it will not shade anything too much.

With all of the advice the plot has changed quite a bit, so thanks to all of you for the help!


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

plant the whole thing in yellow summer squash!


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

And post regular updates with photos :)


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

I worry about sticking the rosemary in the bed that gets the most shade. Rosemary likes it quite hot, sunny and dry, so it's not going to play well with the lettuces that like slightly shadier, cooler and moister environs. If I were you, I'd put the rosemary in a pot that I could carry indoors in winter, and put it in your sunniest spot. You can pot up most of the herbs as well and leave more space in your beds for veg.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

I'm thinking your kale, chard, mustard and lettuce are going to be early spring or fall crops? Do the summers get really hot there?
I know nothing about zone 6, but here in CA, my kale and chard are already bolting. Those are late fall/winter/early spring crops here.
I also noticed that growsy didn"t include them in her map.
Just a thought. Nancy


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

Ditto on moving some of the herbs to pots. Especially low-water types like rosemary, lavender, and oregano. Thyme and sage may take a little more attention. Don't know about elsewhere, but my sage plant tends to die at unexpected times. I think it just gets old and decides to quit. Komatsuna is a relatively bolt-tolerant Asian green. If it's cool enough, you could probably plant Savannah hybrid mustard. Some mustards don't seem appropriate to me for summer.

If you're in a hot-summer climate, eggplant is appropriate for full sun and okra is heat-tolerant. Cucumbers and beans can tolerate some afternoon shade (cucumbers best on a trellis here) and tomatoes can take a little afternoon shade where it's hot, too.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

Put the thyme between the stepping stones. All the other herbs will be much too tall to step over. They are similar in height to tomato plants.

Is your path down the center one foot wide? For the stones to be big enough to fit a person's foot, with shoe, they will need to be 1 square foot each. So there is not as much space between stones as you imagine. Also, a one-foot path will be completely overgrown by the neighboring vegies. Which is ok, if you are willing to walk very slowly and carefully, and move plants aside with each step.

Actually, the vegies will shade out any herbs you plant in the path, so just forget that part.

I agree that you will not have space to get much yield. The space you have is big enough for an herb garden OR a small tomato patch OR a good sized bed of greens. It would provide enough for one person, of one of these crops. Or, as people said, one squash plant.

I suggest herbs. Everyone involved can have a taste :).

If you go that route, put the thyme in full sun, the parsley, cilantro, oregano, chives, and dill in the shade, and the rest in between. Skip the onions and garlic -- they need too much space for a decent crop.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

I don't agree with ltilton about not being able to produce a whole lot with that space. I have a 8'x13' plot and right now have 10 broccoli, 2 brussels, 10 lettuce, 6 chard, about 50 leeks, 8 cauli and 4 napa cabbage(already harvested), and 5 cantaloupe(trellised). And I plant everything to standard spacing. And I still have bare space.

It does seem a bit ambitious though. I agree about herbs in containers. Since different veggies have different needs in regards to watering, ph, nutrients, etc., why not split it up into 4 plots to better control those needs and crop rotation.

Trellises are your friends.

Good luck.

Kevin


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

I think the plot would be big enough to produce a decent yield for one person or one small family. But the OP wants to make a community plot, for multiple families. It's just not enough room for that, as envisioned.

Crop rotation would certainly help. Planting the lettuce and chard first forex and tomatoes between when it gets warmer, so they have room after the greens are pulled. But it's already late to start that.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

@Woohooman

Do you have an example of your plot you could provide?

Thanks everybody!


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

ltilton: You're right. A tad overzealous if one would want to get ALL their veggies from this plot. There would definitely have to be some supplemental store-bought veggies. Nothing wrong with that -- some veggies just aren't worth the hassle to grow for what you get out of them as far as space and cost. e.g, spinach.. But a little shared amongst the masses would be a good thing.

mmiesse: No I don't. My plot isn't actually broken up like I mentioned. I use different plots throughout my backyard to achieve the "needs" I mentioned above.

I'll give my 2 cents here but your best bet is going to be being creative-- which you've already shown with your layout.

MY opinion:

First, I'd ask everybody involved what they REALLY want. Certainly, not EVERYBODY wants okra ---;).

Then, maybe a combo of yours and growsy's -- a couple of trellises -- ditch the bush cukes though.. they can CLIMB trellises. But, definitely Indeterminate tomatoes spaced more but I had just 3 early girls last year and i had tomatoes coming out of my ears. As far as watering needs are concerned, it appears everything likes a lot of water except for a lot of the herbs -- that's why i say containers for them. I also would go with peppers in containers since they do like water but they like to wilt in between waterings. Tomatoes like long deep soaks, while cukes and other shallow rooted veggies like to be consistently moist. Peppers are also ideal for small (5-10 gal) containers. You could surround the whole perimeter with peppers and herbs. If you're insistent on onions and potatoes, you may want to keep one area a little acidic. Me, I don't grow potatoes(too cheap and it never rains here). Also, I love colored bells but they're weak producers and in the middle of the summer, dirt cheap. I still grow some though :)

You may want to think -- best fresh, what everybody likes, prolific for the space they take, pricy and/or rare. You'll figure it out -- you've already given the space and sunlight some thought. I just wanted to point out OTHER "needs."

What do I know, though? I'm an amateur myself.

Good luck.

Kevin


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

definitely get together with your group & figure out what everyone is interested in growing & go from there.

A couple of years ago (at a different house) we had 2 beds that were 4' x 12'. We planted half of one bed with beans (pole on a trellis in the back & the front with bush) & half the bed with cukes (same deal). For the climbing cukes we had Straight 8 & a pickler & the bush cukes were all picklers. (I think they were Burpee's Picklebush & Homemade Pickles.) We had a lot of cukes & enjoyed making fresh pickles. That's why I put dill in the little plan I sketched for you! My favorite eating cuke, though, is Armenian. I just didn't have any that year. At any rate, for a small space we got lots of produce, so that's what I was thinking of - that those are pretty productive veggies.

This year I'm very pleased with our chard. Summer squash is pretty miserable on the East coast because unless you can cover or will spray with a pesticide, squash vine borers can take out your plants in short order (in my experience). If you aren't in the East, then they produce wonderfully - but they are also pretty cheap at the store. Etc.

If you can put things in pots & perhaps 5 gallon buckets, as others have brought up, that could potentially give you a lot more room to play with. Also, you might consider talking to someone at a local gardening center to find out what does well where you are & where you might run into trouble. I think if you stick fairly close to things you're likely to have success with the first time around it will be more enjoyable.

I hope you don't have too hard a time coming to a consensus with your group & that you all find the whole thing a rewarding endeavor. Good luck, again! :)


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

Potatoes may not produce much in relation to the space they are given but if there are kids involved in the project they might be worth doing. My son loved digging the potatoes the one year we did them.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

But potatoes simply can't be grown in the space allotted on the plan. One potato plant will need its own square.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

A surprising amount can be grown in a tiny space....but you need a good strategy - absolutely not a kind of miniature market garden but think, instead of micro-greens, pea sprouts, cut and come again lettuces, spring onions, mustards, oriental veggies, spinach and chard - you can harvest the plantlets while tiny, intercropping with fast (3 week turnover) broccoli leaves, beet leaves - these have all the tastiness of mature veggies, look lovely in salads and share around (a crucial reward for hard work). Things like potatoes and squash are a bit insane - you might harvest 8 decent tubers but you can keep fresh green saladings all summer. Fingerling carrots are doable. Or 1 bush courgette. and parsley, lots of parsley.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

That's a sensible approach.

Although in the US, a garden w/o tomatoes is unthinkable.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

Thought I'd update you all on the garden, as its main season is coming to a close!

It was VERY successful and all the advice was useful. Everything grew really well but our space was a bit cramped, so next year we're hoping the landlord will add another garden bed for us to plant in.

Up until about 2 weeks ago we had veggies still growing, but now its frozen. We have started plants and are going to try our hand at winter gardening!

I guess I can only upload one photo, so here's a list of what we planted:

Watermelon, cucumber, cantaloupe, spearmint, stevia, okra, peppers, swiss chard, mustard greens, collard greens, tomatoes, basil, tulsi (holy basil), lettuce, echinacea, yellow squash, marigolds, oregano, sweet marjoram, chives, lavender.

Also, we had a tinybug problem with our greens and I purchased ladybugs to help...except I miscalculated and ordered 4,500 ladybugs instead of 400...

Turned out to be a blessing and they kept the bugs away after that!


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

It looks very good. From the watermelon I can smell success.

Melons family need room to run. So you plant them on the edge and let the vine go away.

Also, consider the plans' height for visual effect and sunlight.. by starting the tallest one( climbing peas/beans, sunflowers, tomatoes, okra, eggplants , peppers , potatoes..). The herbs should be at the south most part, as they are shortest.

I am sure you have learned a lot from your experiences along the way. So then the next season will be even better.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

I think it's wonderful ! You must have all had a great time making a great garden !


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

Looks really good! You have a totally different growing season as us here in No CA! We are still in the 70-80* temps (pretty crazy even for No CA!!!!)
No matter where you live, I would say to keep the herbs either in pots or in a separate bed from the other veges! They tend to take over! Many years ago when I started my beds, I planted a bunch of herbs in one 3x3 bed. They went absolutely crazy, and I didn't know which one was which!
I ended up tearing all of them out and re-planting in pots, but here we are 10 years later and they are coming back up to haunt me! I just keep clipping them back! LOL Nancy


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

Oh, I think you can also award yourselves major grats -you made a fantastic use of a little space. Top class.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

Great job on successfully using the space! I hope your landlord appreciates the effort and give more space for you all :)


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

I just remembered a video about growing tomatoes on a single stem that might be of interest to you:

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Single Stem Tomatoes Vertically in a Square Foot Garden


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

Thanks for the link ameera! I'm definitely going to try that next season.


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RE: Help! Is this the best garden plant for my 7 x 14 plot?

By doing so you will grow the things in your area but I can't assure the optimum productivity as this can be too much crowd of different kinds of vegetables. Moreover you must also judge the clay of your garden whether it is fertile enough for all these varieties.


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