View Full Version : Gardeners: Impart your wisdom! Questions from a Newb

Heinz 57
Jan. 29, 2010, 07:22 PM
I am in a position this year to have my very very own garden - and I'd like to utilize my side 'yard' to plant a vegetable garden this spring. I have limited experience with gardening, and what I do have is mostly with flowers - so I implore you to please, PLEASE impart some of your wisdom upon me!

I'm thinking I'd like to do a couple raised beds, and hope to grow some tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, peppers, green beans, corn and maybe a few others depending on how much space (and time!) I have. I have a friend with a small farm garden and these are things she has had success growing. If there are others that grow well in my climate, or if I've mentioned something that has a hard time growing here, let me know.

Any tips/thoughts/wisdom would be welcome. I know its early yet, but I'd like to start planning out what I need to build, what to plant and where, and when to plant - before the season gets started. I'm doing lots of research about vegetable gardening in the PNW and the previously mentioned friend will be available to help as well.

I want to go with raised beds because unforunately the soil around our property is largely red clay - so any help with that would be great.

Jan. 29, 2010, 07:35 PM
Google the lasagna method for raised beds. Really easy.

To grow corn you need at least 10 feet and 4 rows for fertilization.

Good things for smaller garden: tomatoes (if you cover with red plastic, you get a better harvest and faster ripening), green beans, lettuces and spinach (sow every two weeks) herbs, peppers, carrots (short ones, long ones not so great in clay), spring onions and, if you have a spot out of the way, asparagus and maybe rhubarb (if you like it). I'd also try some berry bushes. Squash is really easy, just don't go overboard with squash plants or you will be feeding the neighborhood! That will give you the biggest bang for your buck

Jan. 30, 2010, 09:35 AM
Raised beds are excellent!
I create mine from stall cleanings: manure, hay, shavings.
After the garden has died back in the fall I dump the wheelbarrow directly from the stalls onto the garden.

By Spring it has composted into a lovely rich loose planting material.
I did sweet potatoes for the first time last year and they worked great planted in this stuff.

Tomatoes are easy and give you a lot of reward for little care. Just keep them watered & fed. I like to use Jobs tomato spikes.
I also avoid heirloom varieties - for the most part they are not heavy producers & have a heavy seed-to-flesh ratio.
There are exceptions so that is not a Rule, just a hint.
I've had good luck with Green Zebra, Mortgage Lifter and a Yellow Peach variety.
Plant paste tomatoes - Roma, etc - to make sauce. They also good for salads w/few seeds.

Greens are easy - lettuces, kale collards. I plant the mesclun mix in a fruit crate and clip all Summer long for salads.

Like LauraKy says: a couple squash plants are plenty unless you want to eat squash daily for months. Of course you can freeze or give away. But soon people will run when they see you...

I've had some luck with Sugar Baby watermelon - the icebox sized ones -but they still tend to sprawl & need a space of their own.

Also Google strawbale gardening.
I use the bales to contain my compost in my little veggie garden.
This year I'm going to plant strawberries on one of the bales.
The bales last about 2 years before they decompose. Then just cut the twine and let them become next year's bottom layer.

Have fun!

Jan. 30, 2010, 09:41 AM
Read Steve Solomon's "Gardening For Hard Times" or something like that. He's a little intense, but the book has some really good sensible information in it. Also check out Landreth Seed Company online, landrethseeds.com. They have planting information, etc. I'm going there today to get seeds!

Jan. 30, 2010, 10:00 AM
well, start small because the garden is in full swing when everything else is, too.

Salad greens: sew, every week or 2 a little bit. if the summers get hot, expect to give them some sade.

Corn: I'd pass, depending on the space, it takes a lot of room to get a decent harvest, but if you go for it, think block, not rows.

beans: easy peasy, but they need watering. bush beans are nice and tidy, pole beans need something to climb up, a trellis or even up the corn stalks.

Squash (summer) ans Zuchini: trust me, no more than 2 mounts each! Or your neighbors will avoid you! :lol:

Tomatoes: Easy, but they like a dry head and a moist foot, not to mention the same place every year, unless they get the wilt.

Potatoes: perfect first crop in the plot. Just keep mounting dirt around the plants (it helps to start a little deeper...they can also be grown in a (well drained) barrel on the patio, for space savers.

I love peas, just for snacking on when they are still young and sweet.

carrots are involved. They need a not too rich soil that is very light and sandy. so you need to fit them into your crop rotation after a heavy feeder, like corn and not after you dumped manure on it. give them a try, but don't expect wonders. they will taste better than store bought, but you might not get but a bite or 2. but hey, the greens are pretty and edible! :)

garlic: stick it every where in between. it helps a lot to keep things healthy

same with Marigolds, and they look pretty

plant chives, lots and lots of chives. looks pretty in the garden, in the kitchen.
Parsley: once you had fresh, you will never be happy with dried. same as above, plant lots. But, it's an onery fella, it's tricky to sprout from seeds and does not like to be in the same place twice. I had success keeping them over winter an use them up until they flowered.
anything else you like to cook with. fresh is so much better than dried or wilted

Mint - yummie but invasive...

Jan. 31, 2010, 08:59 PM
Make sure you deer and rabbit fence it or all your work will be for nothing. Or make sure you only plant the things the wildlife hate.

Jan. 31, 2010, 09:04 PM
Get yourself a Territorial Seed catalog. They have a website, too, with great info for newbies. Oregon comp. w/ tons of stuff that will grow in PNW. Skip the corn. Potatoes are dead easy to grow. Beans, squash, beets, lettuces all do well. Melons are a no here--too grey and cool.