I am a new gardener and probably overly-ambitious.
I have a garden space (that was left by the previous homeowners) that measures 8.5X18.5 feet.
I will list the items that I would like to plant. My questions are do I have enough room and if not, which items I forego for now?
Here is my list:
pumpkin (maybe the jack be little or a small "bush" kind)
It is possible to plant most of these, if you subdivide this space into roughly 4x4 squares with narrow paths in between, and try intensive planting and crop rotation techniques - especially look for "square foot" gardening and other "intensive" gardening ideas.
When you're doing small-scale gardening, corn should be placed in "blocks" insted of rows to ensure pollination. Look for bush varieties of beans, melons and pumpkins, and/or build or buy trellises or frames for the vining plants. Strawberries can be planted as an "edging" around one or two beds, or you can build a raised/tier bed for them.
The one plant I'm not sure about would be sweet potatoes - never planted them, so I can't give any advice. Broccoli needs to go in early; garlic could go in as a fall crop to harvest next year.
A few things that might help you... Most of this advice I've read and don't have direct experience with so take it for what it's worth...
The Lettuce and Broccoli can go in now and hopefully be out in time to plant some of the others. According to the 'Square foot gardening method', you can plant the Lettuce 6" apart and the Broccoli 12" apart. You should be able to get Broccoli plants from nurseries around now, maybe lettuce too.
Carrots and Onions can also go in now (but will be there longer) and be placed pretty close together, like every 3". Use plants or sets for onions, since you don't have enough time for seed.
Plant the sunflowers and corn (if you decide to plant corn) on the north side so they don't shade anything else. Maybe try the green beans as a pole variety at the base of the sunflowers/corn and train them to grow up the sunflowers. All of this needs to wait until more like April to be planted.
Since you said a 'bush kind' of pumpkin I'm guessin you know that they as well as the Cantaloupe and Watermelons are generally vine plants and would eat up that space pretty quickly. So the question I have there is, do you have one side of the garden where you could let the vines sprawl out of? For instance could you plant a hill or 2 of each on the south side of the garden space and let them grow out onto your lawn? You might have to discourage them from growing north with some plywood or something... I'm going to try this 'controlled sprawling myself this year.
For the Strawberries, why not add a container or two? Those 'Strawberry Jars' they sell look neat and you wouldn't be tying up a big chunk of the garden for several years.
That is exactly the type of "arranging" info that I need. Is there such a book on ways to "design" or the best ways to "place" these items in various spaces?
As far as the "space to sprawl"? Hmmmm... Actually I do! I could put them at the very "south" end. (It is very sunny there. The north side is partially shaded.) If I understood correctly, the north is where I should put the sunflowers, corn, beans etc. Is it ok that it is partially shaded?
I have considered the strawberry containers. I think that would be a good idea for me. Do strawberries actually produce fruit the first year?
You all have given me some great material to start with. I am excited!
Corn might be a bit ambitious. It takes quite a few plants to properly pollinate and get ears...and they only produce 2 ears..(if you're lucky) per plant. I would guess that 30 plants would be an absolute minimum, and they need about a foot each way between plants.
The sunflowers are a good choice though...and I would go 'up' with your vining plants. And the pole type green beans are designed to climb. There are also small varieties of canteloupe and other melons that will trellis with a bit of help. Make a sling out of old pantyhose to support the melons to the trellis. (choose varieties under 3 pounds)You didn't mention cucumbers, but they are wonderful on a trellis. The little pumpkins would be quite happy on a trellis too. All of these take up a large amount of space if left to sprawl on the ground. Even the compact types will surprise you. You can't prune the vines either. It is necessary for proper production to have the proper amount of vine to help the fruits grow. By providing support...and helping them along by tying the vines up as they grow, you can free up quite a bit of space in your plot and still grow many different things. Make sure that your melon trellises are sturdy...the vines will pull over something 'wimpy'. Pole beans are happy on bamboo poles tied into a tee-pee form. The poles need to be about 8' tall.
Sweet potatoes take up loads of space too and they have to have such a long growing season that nothing else could be rotated and planted in their place later. You need to plant sweet potatoes in a mound type of bed so that water drains off and the tubers don't rot. When you mound up the soil, it takes up more space in your bed too.
Peppers will do well. Give them about 18" between plants. They will grow bigger than this , but peppers like for their 'hands' to touch and will be quite content when a little crowded.
Strawberries are something that will do nicely in a container. I would consider giving them their own home. There are two different types of strawberries. One is day sensitive and the length of the days triggers the blooms. The others are everbearing and are day neutral.. You can get berries from both, but if you pick the blooms off this year, next year's crop will be much nicer. The everbearing types do not put out as much production all at once as their crop is spread out over the course of the summer...pretty much the same amount of berries per plant...one just takes longer to produce them. They need a nice permenant place to live year round.
I'd like to second Melody's comments about corn and sweet potatoes. I do volunteer work at our community garden, and we tried corn (it was requested ), but it did not pollinate well - we have raised beds so the physically challenged can work in them, and we simply couldn't plant enough for good pollination. They don't produce much for the effort. The sweet potatoes will take up a great deal of space, though some gardeners interplant with them. Do you mean that a good Southerner has no space for okra? LOL Our okra always produces well, and the school children just love to watch it grow and produce. Good gardening!
Thanks melody. Hey, sowersjoy, plant what you like! We're just talkin'. I wish you well with your new one. We now have grandchildren who will be doing that for us in awhile. It's the best time of your life! What a grand experience. Tell that jersey boy to expand his palate - heck, he probably doesn't like grits! OK, I'm a transplanted Hoosier who doesn't either, but my wonderful wife just luvs 'em.:))
I do a modified raised bed system (I don't plant as close as Mel Bartholomew suggests, but I squeeze quite a bit of stuff into each 4x4 bed.) I've done corn very successfully (just as the raccoons!) with 4 "rows" of 8-10 stalks per row - everything is about 8-0" apart.
It's not a lot of corn, but having a couple meals out of it (If the raccoons don't beat me to the punch) is worth it to me, at least for "braggin' rights" ;o)
Maybe my eyes skipped past it, but I didn't see tomatoes on your list. I devote about 6 of my 4' beds to 'maters and I have about 30 plants all-told. Enough to eat all summer, and I put up a lot of canned tomatoes, salsa and puree. It's probably the best use of my garden space and effort, as far as our enjoyment of the "fruits of my labor" all year round.
You could grow all of it (except maybe the corn) -- what you need to regulate is how many plants of each you will put in. I plan to grow 14 different veggies & herbs in one 4x8' bed plus 3 large pots, as follows:
6 snow pea plants; 1 artichoke plant; 4 rues; 4 hyssop; 4 tomatoes; 1 husk cherry; a dozen bok choi; and however many butterhead lettuces, mesclun, chard, marigolds, and dill come up from direct sowing. Into the 3 pots will go 6 potato plants and 18 leeks. The snow peas will go in first (ideally next weekend but more likely the weekend after), and when they're done those plants will come out and the tomato plants will take their place. I plan to sow the lettuces weekly for about 3 weeks this spring, and then again in September before our first frost expected late October. -- Oh, yes, #14: sunflowers against the back fence. The last are for the birds but everything else is to feed just one person, and maybe to share some with friends. If you're growing for more people then you'll want more of everything. If you don't want to completely fill your bed your first year, you can sow a cover crop like clover on the unused section, to attract beneficial insects, keep the weeds out, and enrich the soil for next year.