Planning a new veg garden.

mcdougy

Feeling the Heat
Apr 15, 2014
438
ontario
Looking for some insight and direction on putting in a new veg garden. I try do things once and correctly. The spot I have in mind is full sun all day which is currently grassed. The dimensions are something that I'm looking for guidance on ., Raised bed is my thought as the area will lay water after significant rain. It's about a one acre space, so I can go fairly large if that's recommended. We are a family of 5 with many willing receipients of bounty close by. I definitely want to grow the standard crops such aas potatoes, beans, cucumbers, melons, carrots tomatoes, onions, etc ...
Wondering what do's and dont's you experienced folks might recommend.
 

Montanalocal

Feeling the Heat
Dec 22, 2014
382
Helena MT
Looking at the fields around it you would seem to be in an area with fairly good soil. So I would vote against raised beds. For one thing they are quite expensive, both to build, and especially to purchase and install soil into. Then there is always the question of importing foreign weed seed with imported soil.

It looks to the left of the grassy area there is a nice slight slope to the South. That is ideal, both from the standpoint of sun, and also of drainage that you mentioned. Also, when you have loose soil that is amended with compost etc. the rain will soak in faster.

If you want to have a large garden area there, I would just hire a local farmer to come in and moldboard plow it to deal with the grass. Then periodically harrow or even rototill to break up the large grass clumps further. You should not really expect to have good loamy garden soil ready for planting until next year starting this late.
 

mcdougy

Feeling the Heat
Apr 15, 2014
438
ontario
Looking at the fields around it you would seem to be in an area with fairly good soil. So I would vote against raised beds. For one thing they are quite expensive, both to build, and especially to purchase and install soil into. Then there is always the question of importing foreign weed seed with imported soil.

It looks to the left of the grassy area there is a nice slight slope to the South. That is ideal, both from the standpoint of sun, and also of drainage that you mentioned. Also, when you have loose soil that is amended with compost etc. the rain will soak in faster.

If you want to have a large garden area there, I would just hire a local farmer to come in and moldboard plow it to deal with the grass. Then periodically harrow or even rototill to break up the large grass clumps further. You should not really expect to have good loamy garden soil ready for planting until next year starting this late.
Yes, my plan is to prepare this year for next year's planting. For the "raised bed" idea, I was considering using 2x10's to create the perimeters, (mostly to give me something to mow up against) soil I have some screened topsoil that is from the neighbouring property (gravel pit) and understand I would benefit from adding compost to this topsoil.....should I still plow the soil with the sod beforehand? Truthfully I was thinking about spraying to kill the grass, then rotatilling the sod, then add the topsoil and compost? But that is why I'm asking here about proper procedure. What do folks think is a good size 20' x 60' , 30'x 40' bigger? Too big? I don't really know the requirements for size.
 

Montanalocal

Feeling the Heat
Dec 22, 2014
382
Helena MT
I think you should think bigger. I have my main garden about 25 by 100 ft. which is only 2,500 sq. ft. There is only two of us, and I do not grow either potatoes or sweet corn, two of the biggest space hogs.

I like it relatively long and narrow for three reasons. One, it makes for less turning when you are plowing it the long way with bigger equipment. Two, you can run your populations crosswise the whole width of the narrow dimension in a solid block, and it makes it easier to rotate crops to different places from year to year. and three, it makes watering easier, my reciprocating sprinklers just cover the narrow dimension, and I can move them up and down the long dimension as needed.

I have 30 running ft. of onions, 20 of strawberries, 20 of the cole crops such as cabbage, broccoli, etc, 12 of the root crops, which does not include potatoes. You can see the ground is used up fast. For your situation I would say 4 to 5 thousand sq. ft. would be advantageous.

For edging, what I do is not have a standing wood edging, but one that is buried. That is to keep the grass roots from creeping in. A 2 X 6 or 8 buried so its top is flush with the top of the ground will keep most creeping grass out and give you a clean edge to mow on. A standing edge will let the roots grow under. You will want to use treated, and seal the overlaps, corners, cracks and knot holes well with silicone seal. The grass roots will find their way into any opening. Adding a few inches of topsoil and compost really should not require sideboards.

You will want to plan for the placement of your perennial crops such as strawberries, asparagus, rhubarb, and any perennial herbs so they do not interfere with your tillage.

100_2155.JPG
 
Last edited:

mcdougy

Feeling the Heat
Apr 15, 2014
438
ontario
I think you should think bigger. I have my main garden about 25 by 100 ft. which is only 2,500 sq. ft. There is only two of us, and I do not grow either potatoes or sweet corn, two of the biggest space hogs.

I like it relatively long and narrow for three reasons. One, it makes for less turning when you are plowing it the long way with bigger equipment. Two, you can run your populations crosswise the whole width of the narrow dimension in a solid block, and it makes it easier to rotate crops to different places from year to year. and three, it makes watering easier, my reciprocating sprinklers just cover the narrow dimension, and I can move them up and down the long dimension as needed.

I have 30 running ft. of onions, 20 of strawberries, 20 of the cole crops such as cabbage, broccoli, etc, 12 of the root crops, which does not include potatoes. You can see the ground is used up fast. For your situation I would say 4 to 5 thousand sq. ft. would be advantageous.

For edging, what I do is not have a standing wood edging, but one that is buried. That is to keep the grass roots from creeping in. A 2 X 6 or 8 buried so its top is flush with the top of the ground will keep most creeping grass out and give you a clean edge to mow on. A standing edge will let the roots grow under. You will want to use treated, and seal the overlaps, corners, cracks and knot holes well with silicone seal. The grass roots will find their way into any opening. Adding a few inches of topsoil and compost really should not require sideboards.

You will want to plan for the placement of your perennial crops such as strawberries, asparagus, rhubarb, and any perennial herbs so they do not interfere with your tillage.

View attachment 260827
Is that a shady garden in the background as well?
 

Montanalocal

Feeling the Heat
Dec 22, 2014
382
Helena MT
No, that tall green stuff in the back is just tall grass along the edge of a fence. I do have another garden that only gets half a days sun that I plant my peas in.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,998
South Puget Sound, WA
View attachment 260818
Here's where I'm planning to put it. Barn would be the North side of it
You're lucky. That's a nice clean canvas to start with. #1, get the soil tested for the primary N, P,K content, carbon content, minerals, and pH. Amend the soil according to the testing results. In this space I would shoot for 4-5,000 sq ft of fenced garden, more if you want to plant corn too (which I recommend).
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,355
Northern NH
IMHO, start out with a "clean garden" and skip the chemicals to kill the grass. Make sure you have a good source of flowers for the growing season to encourage the local pollinators. If there are industrial farms nearby using neocotinoids, they can really mess up pollination.
 
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johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
2,865
Eastern Ontario
After spending 20 years looking after a very large veg. garden
3/4 of an acre. I wish you luck. Every weekend almost every night
weeding, picking, canning, and watering, getting bugs under control,
animals eating your young tender crop the list goes on and on. More than
happy it is back to grass just as easy to buy what you need than grow it.
Good luck and enjoy better you than me
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,834
SW Virginia
If I were starting with what you have I'd:
  • Consider a no-till method such as the Ruth Stout method.
  • Build both fenced and unfenced areas. I'd plant garlic, asparagus, and other stuff that deer don't like in the unfenced area.
  • Not spray any chemical where I planned to raise edibles.
  • Plan for lots of vertical structures for vining plants (tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, etc.) growing these vertically helps with pests, access, etc.
  • Plan to enhance your soil with lots of organic matter even if its only applied topically.
  • Try to work with natural processes such as soil development and earthworms rather than more tech heavy methods such as tilling, and manmade fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Go for low maintenance
This guy has a nice raised bed garden https://www.growingagreenerworld.com/episode-801-a-year-in-the-life-of-the-garden-farm-part-1/
You might check out this Youtube channel. This couple's situation seems similar to yours https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVQCQJyZQcIioTDQ4SACvZQ
 

DBoon

Minister of Fire
Jan 14, 2009
1,176
Central NY
If you have a year to prepare, you should Google soil solarization and read about using black plastic to kill the grass and create your garden bed. If combined with no till gardening methods, you'll be pretty weed free by the second year. I prepared my 2000 square foot garden this way. Be sure to mow tight to the ground first, and hold the black plastic tight to the ground at the edges. I use 8-10" long nails I get at Lowes with driven into the soil through long strips of pre-drilled wood to get a tight fit and prevent air movement under the black plastic.
 
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Montanalocal

Feeling the Heat
Dec 22, 2014
382
Helena MT
BED PLANTING

While this thread is active I wanted to send along some info on planting arrangements I have learned in over 60 years of gardening.

The main thing is to not waste space by planting in the conventional way you see in many gardening pictures, with a single row of plants, then a path, then another single row, etc. This is incredibly wasteful of space.

What I have always done is plant in beds, about 3 ft. wide or so, then a path, then another bed. Within these beds I plant solid, that is, plants equal distant in all directions, consistent with what I am planting. So carrots 2 in. apart in all directions, beets 4 in. and so forth.

What you want is that the bed is planted to the maximum density, such that when the plants are larger and actively growing in the latter summer, they will completely cover the ground with their foliage and thus be self-mulching.

On way to get the spacing right and make thinning easier, is to use what I call my in-bed mini-row system. That is, when seeding, I make short planting rows crosswise in my 3 ft beds, as far apart as I want my final spacing to be, thus 2 in. for carrots, etc. That way the thinning in one direction is already established. Thus, when I am thinning, I only have to thin the min-rows to my final spacing, and I will automatically have my grid established in both directions in the bed.

I know it sound a bit complicated, but in practice it is the simplest way to get the maximum density in a bed with the least amount of work. Check out my pics.

100_2149.JPG 100_1721.JPG Good.JPG full.JPG 100_1613.JPG
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,998
South Puget Sound, WA
That is how I laid out the test garden I did a few years ago. It worked out well. Each bed was 1 meter wide and 10 meters long.
 

mcdougy

Feeling the Heat
Apr 15, 2014
438
ontario
Thanks everyone so far for the info. I sure am interested in reducing the amount of weeding that can be required. The black plastic idea will get looked into. The 4-5000 sqft garden was a bit larger than I was thinking, but trust everyone's opinion that I will fill it up with ease.

Johneh I respect and understand what your saying, but I am motivated to become selfsustained as possible.It always been part of my DNA. Truthfully we don't tend to buy many fresh vegetables due to the cost and worry about chemicals and such.
Unfortunately we don't have any neighbours like the folks here, with the big beautiful gardens, who more than likely share their bounty, so it looks like I will become "that" guy. There's also enough traffic on our road that I'm sure the kids could run a stand and make a few bucks, which might stir their interest to help out and learn a few more things.
1591739111999-15617603.jpg
Please keep the ideas flowing my way, I will always listen to advice. This took me 18months to build almost everything with my father, it now needs a veg garden
. 1591739499631-1257713428.jpg
Thats where I spend my winter's cutting the wood and putting a bit of food in the freezer.
1591740484358-650325337.jpg
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,355
Northern NH
Instead of black plastic I use a woven mat product that came with holes punched in it. The company was out of VT and sold a couple of hole patterns. It keeps the weeds down and I put my soaker hose underneath it.

You definitely need to plan on a compost operation. Aged manure is okay but no match for good organic compost.
 

mcdougy

Feeling the Heat
Apr 15, 2014
438
ontario
Instead of black plastic I use a woven mat product that came with holes punched in it. The company was out of VT and sold a couple of hole patterns. It keeps the weeds down and I put my soaker hose underneath it.

You definitely need to plan on a compost operation. Aged manure is okay but no match for good organic compost.
Yes, I had to dethatch the lawn this spring from a over fertilize mishap last spring, anywho I ended up with 27 lawnsweepers worth. I realize it is not green full of nitrogen grass but do think it will be a good start to a compost pile. There is about 4acres of grass here. So yes a compost pile is my plan
 

mcdougy

Feeling the Heat
Apr 15, 2014
438
ontario
Looks like a 3000sqft garden will fit the best in the area I'm thinking, 30x100. The lawn area is bigger than that but I need to respect the drainage from the water coming off the barn roof and it's direction of flow.

The Ruth Stout theory does seem intriguing, has anyone given it a try and had good results?
@begreen and others whom have done test gardens what system seems the best compromise of decent results and not having a full time job tending to the garden?
I have been looking at the blog of the couple that are trying different approaches, but have not gotten far enough to see there overall results they are getting from the different beds types.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,998
South Puget Sound, WA
I did the Ruth Stout method decades ago. It relies on a large supply of seed-free hay or straw, but does work if you keep up with it. So will other processes that introduce organics into the soil. Are you intending to plant this year or will this be a prep year? If the intent is to plant this year and you have a tiller on a tractor, then I would start by tilling the area a few times. That will incorporate the grass into the soil. Then test the soil to find out what baseline amendments need to be added to adjust pH, carbon, NPK, etc. Apply the amendments and till them in. Lay out the beds, put in drip irrigation and then plant. Lay down heavy, seed-free mulch between the rows.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,998
South Puget Sound, WA
In 3000 sq ft, you might want to consider doing more vertical gardening. Trellises are cheap to make out of cattle panels and they are durable.
 
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mcdougy

Feeling the Heat
Apr 15, 2014
438
ontario
Wild asparagus......as thinking about this garden I recalled that I saw some wild asparagus growing at the edge of our field a few falls ago. So I went and had a look and sure enough it is back there still. I will guess there may be 3 crowns of it?? As there are 3 areas that have 6' spears growing and have some distance between them. If I want to nuture these Ferral plants along is there anything I should do to them? The area is quite "wild" and they have alot of natural competition for the space. Should I be pulling the plants around them and loosening the soil? Sprinkle a little something on the ground to promote stronger plants next spring?
2 of the "crowns "have a single spear and the third has 4 spears.
Thanks for the advice.
KIMG0550.jpg
 

Montanalocal

Feeling the Heat
Dec 22, 2014
382
Helena MT
As I am sure you are aware, when it gets to this stage of growth it is not edible. I have some in my garden I have had for many years, and to pick it at the stage where it is edible I literally have to check it every day when it is growing fast. When I snap off the edible spear, another will emerge a short while later. I keep picking for about a month during the early spring, and then I let it go to make the fern that you see here, so that it can accumulate root reserves for next spring.

If it were me, I would dig a part of the root balls out very early next spring and transplant it to a part of my yard where I could keep a closer eye on it to pick it at the right stage. There is a very large big round ball of tangled roots under each crown. You do not need, nor will you be able to, dig all the roots, just dig a part of the ball out. Keep as much grass out of the area of the root balls as possible to keep the competition down.
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,834
SW Virginia
All good advice above. You will likely also find seedlings nearby that you can easily transplant to your garden area. Asparagus propagates by seed. I've never fertilized our 20+ year old asparagus other than top coating with mulch or compost.
 
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mcdougy

Feeling the Heat
Apr 15, 2014
438
ontario
I did the Ruth Stout method decades ago. It relies on a large supply of seed-free hay or straw, but does work if you keep up with it. So will other processes that introduce organics into the soil. Are you intending to plant this year or will this be a prep year? If the intent is to plant this year and you have a tiller on a tractor, then I would start by tilling the area a few times. That will incorporate the grass into the soil. Then test the soil to find out what baseline amendments need to be added to adjust pH, carbon, NPK, etc. Apply the amendments and till them in. Lay out the beds, put in drip irrigation and then plant. Lay down heavy, seed-free mulch between the rows.
The intention this year is not to plant, just get a start on the space and try to mitigate as many issues and weeds as possible this year. If that seems reasonable? I do have access to small implements for the tractor (3 furrow plow, small disks, and small cultivator) which may be helpful if required. My wonder is, if deep tilling (plow) is going to expose more weed seeds that may be deep in the soil? As stated earlier I was thinking I would add some new topsoil (4-6") and approximately the same (4-6") of organic compost. I could also get manure as there are most types of the typical animal farms nearby.(cow,sheep,goat,chicken,horse)
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,834
SW Virginia
Even though I'm an advocate of no-till methods I do think there may be some benefit in tilling the first year to loosen the soil to make it more suitable for root crops. This should give you a jump start on establishing good no-till beds if you decide to go that way. Otherwise, you may have to wait a few years before soils loosen enough naturally to grown nice long carrots and such.
 
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