All Things Gardening forum: What would you do?

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picklehopper
Mar 4, 2015 5:45 PM CST
Hi,
So my vegetable garden plot is 30' x 70'. The soil is good but a little on the sandy side. I live in the desert and water is precious (I know it is precious every where). I am trying to grow for about 4 families, about 19 people. I have all my seeds and the tomatoes, eggplant and peppers are started and under lights. So to maximize the space I want to know what YOU would do. Raised beds are out. Everything has to be planted in the ground and has to be watered with a hose/nozzle. Would you try square foot gardening? Would you plant in rows? Do you have a different idea? I would like to have ideas from anybody willing to share. TIA
Name: Jay
Nederland, Texas (Zone 9a)
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Horntoad
Mar 4, 2015 5:49 PM CST
In my opinion square foot/intensive gardening is more productive.
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Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
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chelle
Mar 4, 2015 7:01 PM CST
Horntoad said:In my opinion square foot/intensive gardening is more productive.


I agree

If it's not already included in square foot/intensive gardening, I'd also add, grow up.

This area is along the south side of our house. It's roughly 18 to 24" deep by 24' long, grew nearly all that was needed for two smaller sized families last year, and there was still room for flowers. The two hog panels used as growing supports are each 8' long.

Pole beans and cucumbers twined and climbed and did very well together in the first image. The second grew two additional types of pole beans and several morning glories. Bush squash grew in two large containers after the lettuce was finished. Tomatoes (not shown) grew in tall containers just around the far end of the porch. The third image shows what I gathered in a single day. This was my first year of trying this method, and boy was I impressed!
Thumb of 2015-03-05/chelle/6451eb Thumb of 2015-03-05/chelle/0d28ba Thumb of 2015-03-05/chelle/3c5ea4

Vining squash, Malabar Spinach, peas and others can be grown on a sturdy fence as well.

These are the early images that show the supports and seedlings. Smiling The logs were used as a border to contain the composted manure.

Thumb of 2015-03-05/chelle/4aa665 Thumb of 2015-03-05/chelle/c49f00 Thumb of 2015-03-05/chelle/2fffde

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picklehopper
Mar 4, 2015 10:34 PM CST
Ok, so the plan would be square foot intensive gardening but everything that can grow up should grow up. I know how to do that, and I have all the trellising for that. Now I have a new question. I dont have anything to retain the beds. So should I just mound up the soil into square plots lets say 4' x whatever length I want? If so, how should I water without run off? Or should I dig out the soil in square plots and flood the plot when I water? Or should I just leave the ground flat and try to sprinkle each plot without getting all the foliage wet ? Hmm...now without being able to actually have raised beds, how would YOU water? All I need are instructions OR a picture. Thanks for any help.
Name: Tom Cagle
SE-OH (Zone 6a)
Old, fat, and gardening in OH
Coppice
Mar 4, 2015 11:33 PM CST
Edging on a raised bed is a luxury. In a dry garden mulch might not be a luxury...
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
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chelle
Mar 5, 2015 5:28 AM CST
I would definitely water very early in the day, and at ground level to reduce instant evaporation. Market gardeners here use drip lines under plastic mulch.
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Mar 5, 2015 8:18 PM CST
Plan ahead for crop rotation. It's hard, but that's a way to get more food per square yard.

When the spring cool-season crops are winding down, the summer crops might even be inter-planted.

Try to get fall crops planted ASAP as summer crops are winding down.

Covering part of the bed with hoops and plastic might get your spring crops mature 2-4 weeks earlier. They might let your fall crops last a month opr more into the winter.

>> and has to be watered with a hose/nozzle.

Simple, thrown-together plastic irrigation gadgets can save a lot of water and give roots much more consistent moisture, especially in sand. Dripline is pretty easy to lay down. Dripline would be suited to watering with MINIMUM water, but keeping the root zone moist.

They can pay for themselves in saved water and increased yield. If the time you would have spent dragging a hose around and spraying leaves is redirected to some other gardening activity, like a plot twice as large, you could have a lot more yield.


I found the mini-jet sprayers to be easier to set up, but they waste as much water to evaporation as a hose.
Name: Elfrieda
Indian Harbour Beach, Florida (Zone 10a)
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orchidgal
Mar 5, 2015 11:01 PM CST
Vertical gardening is becoming very popular because you really can grow more in a small area. There's a book by Derek Fell (he's written many many books on gardening and he's also an accomplished photographer) on Vertical Gardening. He's designed gardens all over the world. See if you can find it in your library. I bought his book about 4 years ago; and guess what, he's coming to my area to give a talk. I am planning on going and having him autograph the book.
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 6, 2015 11:48 PM CST
Picklehopper, I definitely agree with "growing up" ! anything that vines, grow on a trellis. My garden is essentially the same size as yours; my tomatoes are caged, pole beans grow on a trellis, cucumbers grow on a trellis, squash grow on a "hoop trellis." You can also grow quite a few things in containers such as flower boxes hung on the garden fence, if you have one; my garden is surrounded by a low fence, on which I hang flower boxes that straddle the top 2x4 to grow lettuce, chard, and other herbs and greens in. And I've found that arranging the garden in "beds" about 3 feet wide and planting those beds more or less according to the square foot gardening principles is very effective in saving space. Larger plants, like tomatoes, you can water by using soda bottles with the bottom cut off (or something similar) stuck into the ground by each plant and filling with water as needed. Of course, you can also buy much more sophisticated watering gear, but at any rate getting the water directly into the soil is always better than "spraying."

Succession planting is another space saver; grow bush beans, pull them out and plant broccoli (which you have started from seed indoors) -- or some such arrangement that suits your conditions.

It would probably be helpful if we knew what zone you are in ! Hope you have a great gardening season Smiling
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[Last edited by Weedwhacker - Mar 8, 2015 8:42 AM (+)]
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Name: Danita
GA (Zone 7b)
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Danita
Mar 7, 2015 7:22 AM CST
Picklehopper, I don't know much about them but I've heard that waffle beds/waffle gardens are good in desert areas.
http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/8490/the-roots-of-squa...

Chelle, lovely photos! Lovey dubby
[Last edited by Danita - Mar 7, 2015 7:28 AM (+)]
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Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
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chelle
Mar 7, 2015 7:45 AM CST
I didn't know that the method of growing in sunken planting areas had a name! Thanks for sharing, Danita. Thumbs up

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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Mar 7, 2015 5:03 PM CST
That waffle garden system of planting is very interesting (and something I had never heard of before) -- thanks for sharing the link, Danita!
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picklehopper
Mar 7, 2015 5:23 PM CST
Thank you everybody for your replies. I am actually learning so much. I am in zone 7b according to the maps. Sometimes I think we lean toward 6. The waffle garden sounds awesome if paired with square foot gardening. I think I could make this work. The water drains quickly so no plants will be sitting in water. I need to research some more.
Name: Danita
GA (Zone 7b)
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Danita
Mar 7, 2015 5:23 PM CST
It is an interesting and clever method. I finally remembered on what TV show I recently saw this method. Here is the link to the This Old House episode:

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/tv/ask-toh/video/0,,20781190...
(scene selection 5, at the end of the show)

The guy in the video is working with clay soil so I don't know if it will work with your soil type or not. You may want to at least try it in a small patch and see how it works.

If I lived in a dry climate, I'd definitely give it a try. In this climate, though, I'd likely end up with drowned plants in a mosquito hatchery. Hilarious!
[Last edited by Danita - Mar 7, 2015 5:36 PM (+)]
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Name: Elfrieda
Indian Harbour Beach, Florida (Zone 10a)
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orchidgal
Mar 7, 2015 10:40 PM CST
I did go to the seminar today and listened to Derek Fell. There is no doubt that vertical gardening is so much more productive growing veggies up instead of out. So many different varieties can be planted on trellises, arbors, or heavy duty wire fencing attached to poles; or up tepees of bamboo - and so on. You get more air circulation; less bugs; less splashing of soil from watering - and even les watering. I have two raised veggie beds. each about 4-1/2 ft long next to each other with heavy duty poles at the back and fence wire attached. Right now my indeterminate tomatoes have covered the "fence". My plan was to have tomatoes on one side and some pole beans on the other. I only have some varieties of peppers in the beds -- just didn't get organized ! The plant I want to look for is Malabar spinach - it grows up beautifully and will cover a fence or trellis; looks lovely and is absolutely delicious. I have tasted it once and after listening to Derek talking about it, I want to grow it.
“I was just sittin’ here enjoyin’ the company. Plants got a lot to say, if you take the time to listen”
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Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
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Seedfork
Mar 8, 2015 11:56 AM CST
I am always wondering how to not block the sun when growing things that need a trellis? North or South, East or West, it allways seems to be in the wrong direction to catch the most sun, or not to block out the sun on other plants. I love the looks of a trellis in the garden, just never seem to be able to get them oriented correctly.
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
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chelle
Mar 8, 2015 12:32 PM CST
Mine was oriented with posts set on east and west ends, with the entire length of the panels facing south, to catch the most sun. So, if you don't want to shade plants behind the climbers, set your high plant supports on the north side of your planting space. A northwest corner would probably work nicely as well.

If you plant your seeds or set in your starts on the north side of your support structure, they'll grow out toward the south making them easy to train up. You'll want a walking space available along the south side of your structure to perform maintenance, so I wouldn't make the planted strip any deeper than you can comfortably reach across.

If you haven't yet read it, there's a great article here http://garden.org/ideas/view/RavenCroft/1820/Growing-Tomatoe... that helped me. Smiling
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Newest Interest: Rock Gardens



picklehopper
Mar 8, 2015 2:39 PM CST
So I watched all the videos and links everybody posted and I am thinking I am going to try multiple methods. I understand the waffle idea and square foot gardening. Square foot gardening looks like a better use of space because there are no waffled edges, but the waffles are important for the water. I also started a keyhole garden bed last year but never got it finished or filled. This year I will finish and plant that as well. I am sure by the end of the season I will have a better idea of what works best in this area.
I have a cyclone fence along the west side of the garden. I think I will utilize that area for some sort of vining crop like beans, cucumbers or squash (Ready made trellis). There is about a 50 ft length there that I can use. Also, what if I dig a furrow/row (along the fence) and actually plant in the furrow like you would a waffle garden. The soil drains quickly so the plants wont be standing in water for long when watering. Do you think the plants will mold/rot? What is it takes 15 minutes to flood the furrow? What if it is heavily mulched, will this add to the possibility of rot etc.? The temps usually stay close to 100+ degrees in summer. What do you think?
I know that gardening is full of trial and error. That is part the learning process and no one is perfect every time. I just so want to try to make the most of my space this year, but I am not opposed to trying something new. I wont cry if it doesn't work but I would like more ideas.
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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chelle
Mar 8, 2015 3:25 PM CST
It would probably need to be a much wider furrow than you'd want to dig by hand. I'm thinking that if the surrounding soil is very dry it's likely to pull water away from your plants faster than they can use it.

Gravel or pinned plastic mulch might work best in furrowed areas, since it's less likely to move around when you flood the row.
Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 9, 2015 4:21 PM CST
>> I also started a keyhole garden bed last year but never got it finished or filled. This year I will finish and plant that as well.

I think a tall keyhole garden with sandy soil in a dry climate would make it difficult to keep the soil moist unless you had drippers on a timer, running one or two times per day.

My raised beds with porous walls dry out very quickly near the walls, and especially quickly in the corners. I use concrete paving stones stood on end, so my walls let water and air through very quickly: 3/4" or 1" of concrete is very porous. I think it even wicks water away from the soil!

In order to keep soil next to the raised bed walls at all moist, I had to line my corners and some walls with heavy plastic. I use plastic from the bags that bark or manure came in. I line the walls with that plastic but keep the plastic just below the soil surface. Often the plastic sticks out when soil subsides, but I don't mind. Seeing the soil stay moist days longer makes up for any untidiness.

If you're experimenting, you might try lining one corner and one wall of a riased bed or keyhole garden with something impervious. If that corner of the bed is much more productive or less thirsty than the rest of the bed, next year add some lining to the other walls as well.

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