Your first garden- was it huge?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Leah IL, Jan 7, 2005.

  1. Leah IL

    Leah IL momto6

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    I am planning my first "real" garden this year and it is huge. After years and years of vegetable gardening in my postage stamp backyard, I finally have all the space I could possibly want...I think I may be going a little overboard :) Maybe I should scale things back a little?? I think I can keep up with the work, but I keep reading that one of the common mistakes beginner gardeners make it taking on too much...but OH how I want to just plant EVERYTHING that I buy in the grocery store!! What is your advice to this beginner? Do it all, or take it one step at a time? I'd love to hear of your first garden experience as well. Thanks!
     
  2. angus_guy

    angus_guy Well-Known Member

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    What is huge mine is 75X75
     

  3. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    Mine is 33 x 40, intensive beds. Don't know if that's big or not

    Meg
     
  4. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Read 'Square Foot Gardening'. He gives good advice. You don't have to use his 'Mel's mix' if you don't want to buy peat moss. And read Ruth Stout. She wrote several excellent books. Don't plant too much, especially squash! And my first garden was about 10 x 12, and I was 10.
     
  5. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    What are your goals for harvest? and for how many?

    My first garden for two (and some giveaways to relative or few friends) was a square foot garden that a neighbor allowed the plot 'to thicken' :D . It was about 10 4X4 squares with about 3 rows at the back for beans and I can't rember now what else. It produced plenty and then some for our use, but we didn't store or process much from that first garden.

    The really first 'BIG' garden was damn near 1/2 acre which grew an assortment, including lots of tomatoes and processing vegetables, peppers, garlic, sweet corn, onions...you name it. Don't plant more than a couple of zuchinni plants unless you'll want extra to feed chickens or something. Summer squash that we grew some nice varieties we processed into soup stock for freeziing that was surprizingly good. cucumbers, melons, eggplant, dry beans, romano beans, french filet beans, snap peas, shell peas, snow peas, savoy and red cabbage, daikon radish, bok choy, swiss chard, yellow and chioga beets, mesulin,butterhead lettuces, radicchio,,,,,,,,,,the list goes on and on.
    The point is you can get a hell of a lot from a garden that large. Be prepared.
     
  6. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    My first one was 9' x 20'.

    Start small, work your way up slowly. You don't want to make it a burden. Keep it fun! :D You will slowly evolve your methods as your garden gets bigger.
     
  7. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    Every year I plant more than I need. I love spring.....I love planting......I love fruits and veggies........I even love to weed. Plant your heart out this year would be my suggestion. I am all for the "learn by doing". It is fun to share your goodies after you have put up all you want. This year do keep records if you can as to how much you planted, how much you actually used for yourself, and how much ended up going to waste. What did you can or freeze that was a bust? What could you have planted more of? We all like and use things differently. There are some good guides out there as to how much to plant for different family sizes depending on if you just want to eat fresh or if you want to preserve for the year.

    If you end up with a disaster and it goes to weeds.........well that is something a good many of us have gone through for various reasons. Just enjoy the wonderful process. :)
     
  8. MsPacMan

    MsPacMan Well-Known Member

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    My first year garden was 10 feet by 12 feet, and I planted only tomato transplants and yellow crookneck squash from seed.


    I soon found out that 10 feet by 12 feet was an awkward size, because it was not large enough to build a walkway in it, but it was too large for me to be able to reach all the plants from all of its different sides.


    So I enlarged it the next year to 12 feet by 16 feet, and put two 1 and 1/2 foot walkways in the garden so that I would not have to step on my plants root systems in order to work with them. That gave me three rows, each 12 feet long by about 4 feet wide. I put plywood strips out on the walkways to evenly distribute my weight while walking in the bed, and also to keep me on the walkways and off the plant roots.


    I definitely recommend that you design your garden space so that you have dedicated garden space and dedicated walking space. The last thing you want to do is walk ontop of your plant's root system and compact the soil.


    Also keep in mind that you want to be able to reach all around your plants, so you really don't want rows that are any more than three to five feet wide. I prefer four foot wide rows most of the time -- though I am planting my new garden with five foot rows since my tractor is five feet wide.
     
  9. Patty0315

    Patty0315 Well-Known Member

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    The hardest is keeping up with the weeds. We have been using hay around the plants and in between rows. It works great and cuts down on alot of the work. This year the garden will be about 12,000 last year it was about 7,000. We have also been pasturing the pigs to turn the soil up in fall and spring . It works great and cuts down on our work.
     
  10. Elffriend

    Elffriend Well-Known Member

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    My very first garden was a 4'X6' patch with 6 tomato plants and 2 squash plants. I was 16 at the time.

    I come from a long line of city dwellers. No one had gardened in generations. My parents had moved us to the suburbs years prior and still, nobody was gardening. I had to beg them to let me "ruin" that small patch of their back lawn.

    I planted things there for two years, then went away to college. When I left, my Dad reseeded the area with grass. :(
     
  11. caryatid

    caryatid Well-Known Member

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    My first garden (ha ha) was a small strip next to the house that consisted of 4 sickly looking pepper plants, and 4 struggling tomatoes. I'm from Indiana, but moved to New Mexico 4 years ago and hadn't been able to grow a darn thing in this soil. Once we moved to the "green side" of the mountains, I decided to try again.

    I worked and worked trying to keep those poor things alive out here, and finally gave up. About a month later, my hubby was unhooking the AC and happened to notice a little red ball. Somehow the plants started to thrive! We got a whopping total of one edible tomatoe, and a couple that were thrown to the chickens.

    This year I'm going to work the area that was my chicken yard last year. It is a U shape, around the shed...3 seperate gardens, about 7x14 each. (Wish me luck!)

    My dad had a garden in IN that was about 1/4 acre. We were out there every weekend. I don't remember doing much weeding- just mulching, planting and of course harvesting. :)
     
  12. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    One of the pitfalls of a very large garden, especially for beginners
    is that if it gets ahead of you, you will fail. Since no on likes
    to fail, it is wise to start smaller, and grow along with your
    skills.
    Some of the earlier posters have made excellent suggestions,
    such as square foot type gardening and heavy mulching.
    Those are both great cultural tips to make gardening easier.
    However, even with those, it depends on how much time
    you are willing or able to spend in the garden, and how much
    planning you do.
    I'd suggest you start with a modest sized garden, and prepare more space
    for next year's expansion...add organic matter, manure, cover crops, etc.
    That way, you'll have a garden to "experiment" with, and be getting another
    area in prime shape for your expanding garden for the following season.
    Ann
     
  13. danemom

    danemom Active Member

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    When I was a teenager... I lived with my brother and sister-in-law. Every day after school I had to hoe 2 rows in the garden IT WAS HUGE! I swore up and down that when I grew up I would never have a garden.....

    When I moved to Virginia, there was a beautiful 1/4 acre garden plot. All winter long I poured over the seed catalogs wishing for spring. When spring finally came, I planted every inch of that 1/4 acre. I'll bet I had about 50 tomatoe plants and about 10 squash plants (by the way I don't like squash). To my amazement... Everything in that garden grew, and produced more food than I could ever imagine! I was begging people to take squash. I even found some asparagus growing along the fence of that garden. Evidently it had been there a long time. My SIL still laughs at me today, because I called her with questions on canning tomatoes, beas, ect..

    If you get overwhelmed easily, start small, the weeds grow faster than the vegetables :)

    Susie
     
  14. Leah IL

    Leah IL momto6

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    I'm just so excited to get started and to actually have some space. For the last 3 years I jammed cucumbers, spinach, 3 kinds of lettuce, swiss chard, tomatoes, peppers, carrots and onions into a 10 x 12 space. It grew, but it was a mess of tangled plants by the end of the year. I didn't have the space to plant what I was planting. Now I have a ton of space, as much as I could possibly want, so I am thinking of adding a few more vegetables to what I have been growing and have big, nice, roomy comfortable rows that I can actually walk through. I have read about mulching between the rows to cut down on weeds, like a couple people mentioned. Someone mentioned hay. Can I just throw it out there, or will that mess up my soil? Do I have to compost it first?

    I think I will cut down on my garden plan a little, but not too much. I have the time to give it some attention, and I also have 4 homeschooled children who will be studying agriculture quite extensively this spring :) Thanks so much for the advice, and I love reading the first garden experiences.

    Leah
     
  15. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    Yes, just lay it down thick. If you want to put a thinner layer you may put a layer of newspaper down first, then the hay.

    Hay does contain weed seeds, however, if you continue to mulch, they never really get a chance to grow. I used old hay on my garden last year, and the year before. I think I will mainly be using pine needles, because I am almost out of hay, and I have plenty of pine needles.
     
  16. vtfarma

    vtfarma Well-Known Member

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    My first garden was 100' x 40' - I spent all summer in that thing - I loved it. I swore I never wanted to see another cuke or tomato by the end but I replanted the next year. We now have 50 x 85' garden and I am ready to add on this year again. I wish ours was bigger now. We have 10 acres but the cows, pigs, kids and dogs take up a bit of that ... not to mention the husband. :haha:
     
  17. suelandress

    suelandress Windy Island Acres Supporter

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    The first garden that was really mine was way too big.....about 50x50
    It wasn't the size really, it was HOW I gardened....the weed, water, weed, water, weed method :eek: My garden now is 80x90 or so (DH didn't really lay the fence out perfectly) The back is miniature fruit.....berries, currants, and last year, I added manchurian apricots. The east side is perrenials....asparagus, herbs, and artichokes when they survive (depends on our winter) The rest is rows about 30x4 (I think there are 8 of them....too snowy to look right now) and about dead center, a work space of about 8x8.
    Every fall, we drive along the road and grab peoples bagged leaves before the town gets them......with this, we BURY the garden every fall, running over the first layer or two with the mulching mower before the final layer is added.
    The short version to this long story.....it's much easier to handle a large garden if you don't spend your time weeding!!
     
  18. Leah IL

    Leah IL momto6

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    Ok, so what I am understanding here is mulch, mulch, mulch the rows, right? I hope I can come up with enough mulching materials- I can't buy it, that stuff is WAY too expensive! But I was left with a hayloft with piles of half-rotten hay so I should be able to scrape that out of there and I have tons of pine needles, too. Between all of that and the compost I started last year, I should at least get through part of the growing season. Then maybe I'll have to start going into town and stalking people's grass clippings and other yard waste :)
     
  19. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    Oh yea, you're set!
     
  20. Sylvia

    Sylvia Well-Known Member

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    My first garden? Actually I had two at the age of 5!

    In one my mother had planted something which she said would be a surprise. Everyday, I tried to get her to tell me what had she planted. When she wouldn't answer I shrewdly questioned her about what she planted in her kitchen garden. I noticed some leaves that closely resembled those in mine. I was conviced she had planted carrots. Every few days I would pull out a plant to look at the roots for a carrot. I was very disappointed when at the end all I had was a single marigold!

    In the meantime to appease myself, everytime I found a worm, I "planted" it in a patch I claimed was my worm garden. I couldn't understand why they didn't grow into snakes!

    True story.
    sylvia