First time big garden questions

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Kimon, Mar 28, 2006.

  1. Kimon

    Kimon Not a Cannibal

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    Hey all, I have puttered around with small gardens in containers and small raised beds but now have the property to do things on a larger scale. We are in South West Alabama and its time to get going.

    I do however need some advice and thought some of you master gardeners could help me.

    My garden spot is 150'x75' and I can use all or some of it. I have box bladed it with the tractor to level then disked it to break up compaction. My first question is How do I do rows? Do I need another plow type atachment for my tractor or can I use the tines on the box blade? How far apart should the rows be? I plan on using a roto tiller to keep the weeds down between the rows. Is this a good idea? I really have to get moving so my planting can be done this weekend. Maybe an idiots guide to tractor farming and soil preperation.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The less tilling of the soil the better. For walkways, lay down mulch. Some people let grass grow and just mow the walkways, but this doesn't work well if you have aggressive grass. Your mulcing will not only help your walkways from becoming compacted, but will be your row guide. You want your rows narrow enough to be able to step across, so leg length is a factor. If you don't step in the rows you won't be compacting the soil. If you have fully composted compost, lay it on top, follow this up with straw. The straw will help with weeds, making the seeds that do manage to find your garden grow leggy and easy to pull out. So far, with this plan, you haven't used the tractor except to move compost and straw. If you are hell bent on using the tractor, you may be frustrated.
     

  3. rwinsouthla

    rwinsouthla Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I live due west of you about three hours on I-10.

    150x75 is really big as a first big garden. You're looking at probably over $100 easily for seeds. If you get plants like tomatoes, even more. I would consider 50X50 first and see how it goes.

    I garden a 50x100 area without a tractor. I have a 7 hp rear tine tiller but only till 1/4 of my garden each year. It pulls the dirt into small mounds that I dress into rows. I also do it for exercise as I do not depend totally on the bounty of the garden. In the middle, I and my kids rake leaves and put two layers of newspaper down and cover it with leaves. that keeps weeds down in the middle. my rows are 42 inches apart or so for everything but tomatoes. My tomato rows are 48 inches apart so I can walk through the forest of tomato vines.

    Since you already have everything disked up, I'd spend a little time pulling the dirt into rows with a hoe. Not more than a few hours. Get a friend, have a party. Serve barbeque. Try to get at least 4 inches higher than the ground around it. Plant it. As far as the middle of the rows, without mulch you grow weeds. Try some grass clippings if you catch them or I know there are pine trees in your neck of the woods. Ask a neighbor if you can rake their pine straw. You can just till it in next year. I also agree that annual tilling is not necessary. I till every three or four years to get the leaves and pine straw that have broken down into the soil to amend the soil. My strawberries do wonders with the freshly tilled soil and pine straw/leaf clippings.

    Summary: Think smaller. Rows need not be too high. Mulch, mulch, mulch.
     
  4. Kimon

    Kimon Not a Cannibal

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    Thanks for the advice, I really apreciate it.
     
  5. Paranoid

    Paranoid Homebrewed Happiness

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    i dont think he should necessarily think smaller, just compartmentalize the whole thing.

    you might stagger different veggies, or even the same veggies plant more every few weeks to give you a longer harvest.

    many ways to use the land entirely w/o getting overwhelmed if you view it as 1 150x75 plot that may be a bit much for 1 family if you just do a couple varieties of food, however if you break it down into 10 15x75 rows you can try a big variety of food, with plenty left over to stock up on or bring to market.

    i wish i had a garden that size :) i'm using about a quarter acre now and there is not nearly enough room for me.