Renovations in 7b

Chico, CA(Zone 7b)

I recently was asked to start a veggie garden for a guy I do some yard work for. He gave me a pretty big area, about 80' by 8', and I' not sure what all will grow well here. I want to get some basics in the ground; tomatoes, strawberries, peas, cucumbers, zucchini, maybe some corn and a small patch for herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, sage, etc. Obviously with an area this large that would make for alot of those things though. Any suggestions? How far apart should they be planted? Is it too late for seeds? What kind of fertilizer would work best? It's not raised, and I have been using the prunings from the rest of the yard to compost the garden area and am planning on tilling in the fertilizer when I get it.

I also inherited 5 very large grape vines that are still dormant. I've pruned them back some, but he wants me to try to get them to finish covering a structure he built out there. The parts that I pruned back were dry and woody, like it was dead. Is there a certain fertilizer that I should use? Should I try pruning them back even further?

Sorry so many questions, this is my first go at a veggie garden and I would like to get it looking decent at least.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

That's plenty of room. Corn, if you do it, in a square, not a long single row. Taller things not shading short things on their north side. Strawberries will stay in one place(except for the runners!) for a few years. Look into 'square foot gardening'- basically you set up areas 4 ft square, or 3-4 feet wide, by the 8 feet, with paths between. Then you can reach in from the side to tend and pick stuff. I think 4 by 4 gets four tomatoes for example, or four cukes on cages, or one zucchini hill.
After planting, you could use his grass clippings to mulch and it really keeps the weeds down.
5-10-5 fert, or ask the garden center. till that in soon so it starts to break down. Check this out for when you can start planting-
now if you could tell me how to avoid housework longer without feeling guilty.....

This message was edited Mar 16, 2007 10:56 AM

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

You dont have a lot space in an 8 x 80 plot. First if want strawberries, you would need to dedicate a section as a semi permanent bed, since these will last several years. Many of your herbs also need a permanent bed. This Strawberry culture piece is about as acuurate and concise as any that I have seen. From Moonshine Designs Nursery.

Strawberry Culture
There are two different systems commonly used for strawberry culture. For June-bearing strawberries, the the matted row is recommended. For Everbearing or day neutral varieties, the hill system is sometimes used.

Matted row system: In the row, space the plants 18 inches to 2 feet apart in rows 4 feet apart. These plants will produce runners that will fill in the row. Be sure to leave a pathway about 18 inches wide down the center between rows. Remove or move any runners that root in your pathway or within 6 inches of an already rooted runner or plant.

Hill system: Space plants 1 foot apart in three rows that also are 1 foot apart, with 3 feet between each set of three rows. Remove all runners!

Frost will NOT harm your plants! Plant as early as the soil can be worked to get them off to a good start! Try to do your planting in the afternoon or evening to reduce wilting. Do NOT trim roots or remove any healthy leaves. However, DO remove flower buds, runners and damaged leaves before planting. Fan out the roots of the plant, and place the plant in the ground so that the soil level is even with the crown. Too deep or too shallow will result in a failed planting!! Press the soil firmly around the roots to eliminate any air pockets. Water each plant deeply after planting. Be careful not to wilted leaves into the soil. Some wilting is normal and the plants should snap out of it in a day or two. Be sure to keep watered.

Keep weeds down by hand weeding or hoeing. You might also consider a herbicide such as Preen or Dacthal. Apply this carefully according to label instructions. Mulch also works wonders at keeping weeds out. We use grass clippings and rarely have any weed problems.

First Year Care:
Remove all the blossoms that form at least once on the hill system and twice on the matted row system. This diverts the energy in the plant into producing a stronger plant and root system which will give you more and bigger berries next year. In the matted row system, this will encourage more runners. These plants will then bear more fruit than those allowed to fruit the first year. Later in the season everbearers or day neutral varieties will bear a light crop the first year.

In early July, fertilize the crop with 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. How does one figure that? We use Lawn fertilizer without the weed killer in a formulation of about 25-10-10. This would require 5 pounds for the 1000 square feet. If you broadcast the fertilizer, drag a rug or old blanket over the foliage to knock off the fertilizer and then water well. Failure to remove fertilizer from the leaves will result in fertilizer burn on the foliage. Do this again in September. Do not apply fertilizer in the spring before fruiting as it results in soft fruit and is not recommended.

Life of the bed:
As a rule, keep a strawberry bed for three years. For the matted row system, if the plants are still insect and disease free, you can plant a new bed in late August or early September by carefully removing good, healthy, rooted runners and using them for the new bed. If the plants are not healthy, order new plants in time for planting a bed in the spring and try to locate them in a different location.

Keep the soil damp until the first fall frost, then withhold water to help harden off the plants for winter. In severe winter areas and temperate areas where snow cover is sparse, cover the bed with clean straw 4-6" deep after the ground has frozen. Rake this into the pathway and spread around the base of the plants in early spring. This also keeps the berries clean and discourages slugs from feasting on your berries.


This should be a no-brainer! Only added suggestion is not to pick before ripe. Strawberries do not ripen after being picked!

Since your strip is only 8 feet wide, you may want to look up the square foot gardening method for your vegetables.

This message was edited Mar 16, 2007 10:59 AM

Chico, CA(Zone 7b)

Thank you Sallyg and FarmerDill, I was surprised to get responses so quickly! I'm gong to do a square foot garden for my herbs and most veggies and I'll put a three sisters garden in a seperate plot. I appreciate the tips, sometimes you just need a bump in the right direction!

Any ideas about the grapes? I attached a pic if that helps... :D


This message was edited Mar 16, 2007 7:51 PM

Thumbnail by chicoimport
Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

Yes the picture does help. Certainly you need to prune off that scraggly lower growth while they are still dormant, and I would prune back the top growth to a few leaders that are growing in the direction needed.

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