Raised Bed Gardeners - Help a newbie out please

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by Tacswa3, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. Tacswa3

    Tacswa3 Out Of The Brooder

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    This spring I will be fabricating at least 2 raised beds, either 4x8 OR 4x10. I have some experience with gardens just not with raised beds.

    Off the top of my head I will be planting Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash. I would like cantaloupe as well but my real questions are which plants will do best in raised beds?

    Because squash, cukes and cantaloupe spread so much, is it advisable to plant them in a bed?

    I'm really not picky on veggies, just not sure what goes best with what planted in close proximity in the beds.
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    You might want to review "Square Foot Gardening". It's a basic book re: close spacing in "square foot" increments. Has some nice ideas for trellis systems to control those sprawling viney crops. If you have room to let squash run, it might be the better option, at least as far as the squash is concerned. Squash likes to set roots at the nodes along the length of the vine which makes it less susceptible to death by vine borers. What ever you do, give those vine crops lots of sunshine and nutrients! If you can't trellis those vines, they're going to take up the whole bed. One of my "can't garden without it" items is cattle panels. They are super heavy duty wire fencing that comes in 16' x 50" panels. With minimal staking, they will stand alone as a fence, you can put 2 parallel to each other and plant a row of tomatoes between them. You can stand lengths lashed together at the top to make an A-frame trellis...
     
  3. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Go to your local library.

    Get this book: http://www.amazon.com/Square-Foot-G...ords=square+foot+gardening+by+mel+bartholomew

    Build it and the veggies will come!

    I've got 8x8' beds divided different ways each year - some years it's 4x4' squares; some years it's 2x8 rows; all contained in the raised bed. I use boards or old bricks to 'create' the different spaces so I remember where to step!

    I've grown cukes, squashes, zucchini's, watermelons - all those bigger spreader type veggies. I've put chicken-wire fencing around some to help 'contain' them to where I want them. I've trellised others (cukes work well this way). I've seen folks take 2 pallets, wire the short end together and lean them up to make an "A" frame. Nothing hard or complicated there.

    I've also made PVC trellis' - there's all sorts of connectors in the plumbing aisle! - and using string to help contain pesky runner beans (supposed to be bush - whoops!).

    Completely do-able. Easy. Fun. And the best part is, I can get more plants together so the harvest is better from a small space too!

    Another great book:
    Companion plants..... http://www.amazon.com/Carrots-Love-...1389913256&sr=8-2&keywords=companion+planting

    Between these two books, you'll be dreaming of warm weather!

    Good luck!
     
  4. Tacswa3

    Tacswa3 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you two for the reading recommendations :) I will get the book(s).

    Life is Good- watermelon? seriously...thats great! how many watermelons do you harvest on average?
     
  5. Cherterr

    Cherterr Out Of The Brooder

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    Square Foot Gardening is THE BEST 'method' there is. PERIOD.

    I assume you're trying to save some room in your beds for the 'other stuff'. If you want to plant your bigger plants elsewhere I guess you could, but just keep adding to your beds each year whenever you can afford materials. Remember, too that you can make a trellis and all kinds of things at one end of the SqFt beds. I used some cattle panels (the cheaper ones, may be 'sheep') and two posts on an 8 ft side for my green beans, peas, spag. squash, etc.

    I unfortunately, now know this after years of doing it, moving to a new place, and attempting two OTHER ways with Epic Fail results. :):) Yeah... DO NOT.. I repeat DO NOT waste your time or money on any thing else. SFG, once in, is pretty much self perpetuating with little addition required each year thereafter.

    Just FYI... the two methods I attempted: Straw Bale Gardening, and ?? Oh yeah... Back To Eden.
    Both require waaaayyyyyy too many 'rules'.. lol ;) When I did BTE, I left out the paper underneath the wood chips cause the dang wind wouldn't stop blowing. THEN on the SBG, the very DAY I was about to plant after prepping the bales for two frigin weeks.. it rained.. TWELVE inches, thereby totally squashing the (seriously fertilized already) bales to the ground.. *sigh*

    SO.. this year, I'm doing what I KNOW works. (SFG where I can afford, and rototill Until!:)

    Who all LOVES Mel Bartholemew?? :):) Yay SFG!!!
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Also, you might want to do some research on Lasagna gardening. I'm sold on this concept. Grew 185# of squash in a lasagna garden 3 x 4... of course the squash took over the entire rest of my garden. But 185#? Incredible. Even in mu regular garden, I'm doing at least one lasagna bed every year. Lasagna and SFG are very compatible systems. Use lasagna to build the bed, then plant SFG.

    I tried straw and hay bale gardens as well. Had better luck with hay, but honestly, those methods are for folks who don't have soil to work with, and folks who don't mind watering a lot... every day.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014
  7. Tacswa3

    Tacswa3 Out Of The Brooder

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    So let me get this straight..... crawling plants such as squash, cukes, cantaloupe. etc will grow up if a trellis is provided instead of across the ground?
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Yes, they all love to climb. You might need to assist in the beginning by guiding a tendril or vine to it's support. Cucumbers will grow nice and straight on a trellis. Your heavier fruiting plants may need to have the fruit supported to keep it from dragging the vine down off the trellis, or occasionally causing the weight of the fruit to cause it to fall off the vine b/fore it is ready. Slings can be made out of discarded panty hose, or any other fabric that will support the fruit without constricting it's growth. Just form a sling for the heavy fruit to sit in. The only down side to using a trellis is that if the vine is attacked by vine borers, it won't have the advantage (that vines growing on the ground do) of being able to continue growth from the benefit of roots grown at leaf nodes along the length of the vine. If you grow cucumbers on an A frame trellis, you can grow lettuce in the light shade under them... until they get so big that there's no sun there at all.
     
  9. Tacswa3

    Tacswa3 Out Of The Brooder

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    Great advice lazy gardener. Anyone have any pics of their trellis'?
     
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I don't have pics, but want to throw out there that your trellis will need to be pretty sturdy for most of these. The fruits of a cuke, or yellow squash, etc are pretty heavy, and that's going to be a lot of pull on your trellis. It needs to be fairly strong and well braced.

    On your squash, it depends on the kind. Zucchini isn't vining, it won't grow up a trellis. A good zucchini plant will take up to 6 feet of space, so plan accordingly.
     

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