Author Topic: Novice Veggie Gardener Needs Help With Silly Questions  (Read 4015 times)

Credaholic

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Novice Veggie Gardener Needs Help With Silly Questions
« on: May 05, 2015, 02:22:08 PM »
I'm probably going to sound like a total dummy, but I decided to jump in with both feet and plant a vegetable garden so my 2.5 year old son could watch food growing. I bought a bunch of starts at Fred Meyer, lettuces, spinach, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, etc.

Harvesting the greens - I imagined that I could just go out and peel off a few of the larger outer leaves for super fresh salads as these matured, but now I'm being told that you're supposed to harvest the whole lettuce once it's fully grown? (That would mean a lot of lettuce all at once!) Can I just pick what I want for that evening, or is this problematic?

I planted the cauliflower and broccoli plants too close together. Should I transplant some of them, or will they be okay?

I bought beans and squash seeds because they didn't have starts (wasn't time) and I think it's not the right time to start planting (Seattle area) but I don't know if I'm supposed to start these inside or outside. If I get better at this next year and go with seeds instead of purchasing starts, do I need a grow light for sowing indoors, or...?

Like I said, total novice. All advice on successful veggie gardening is much appreciated! Any tips on how to make it cost effective greatly appreciated too! Right now these are going to be some expensive salads ;)

Gone Fishing

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Re: Novice Veggie Gardener Needs Help With Silly Questions
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2015, 02:29:14 PM »
Head type lettuces are usually harvested whole.  Leaf type can be harvested as needed. 

When you say too close, how close are we talking? 12-18 inches should be okay. If not just adjust next year once you can visualize how much room they need.

Beans and squash usually do just fine for me directly seeded.  Peppers and tomatoes seem to do better when started in a warm area then transplanted into the garden.

Gone Fishing

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MayDay

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Re: Novice Veggie Gardener Needs Help With Silly Questions
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2015, 03:40:01 PM »
Yes you can peel off a few lettuce leaves at a time bit it will start to bolt (go to seed) and taste bitter at some point.

Beans and zucchini can (should) be direct seeded, start them now.

Leave the broccoli, unless it's like 6" or less apart.

Tomatoes and peppers definitely need to be started indoors, pretty much everything else can be directly grown from seed. It's probably not worth starting your own tomatoes and peppers (it's too late this year anyway) if that is all you want to start indoors. Just buy a few. Buy the smaller 3-packs, not the biggest ones they have.

h2ogal

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Re: Novice Veggie Gardener Needs Help With Silly Questions
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2015, 04:51:11 PM »
Baby Spinach and Baby Kale are just that....picking off leaves as the plant is growing.  this is the best. 

cdochow

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Re: Novice Veggie Gardener Needs Help With Silly Questions
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2015, 05:07:37 PM »
Seeing you're from Seattle let me recommend a couple good books, both available from the local libraries:

Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades
The Complete Guide to Organic Gardening
Solomon, Steve

Maritime Northwest Garden Guide
Planning Calendar for Year-round Organic Gardening
Taylor, Lisa

Since you're a new gardener I would recommend picking up some radish and lettuce seed packets.  Those are extremely easy and quick to grow, only about 30 days until first harvest (and much cheaper than buying starts).  Every week plant a few more seeds and you'll have a continuous supply all the way through fall.

Another easy and very unusual crop are nasturtiums.  Most people think they're just ornamental flowers but both the flower and leaves can be eaten.  They add an awesome peppery spicy bite and lots of color to salads - your friends will be very impressed!  A seed packet is just a couple dollars and you can save seeds year after year.

I would also highly recommend berries for Seattle.  Things like raspberries and strawberries do great around here and will spread and come back year after year.  A one time investment will yield a lifetime of berries.  I have dozens of extra strawberry and raspberry plants spreading all over my yard and would be happy to give you some if you're ever in the West Seattle area.

Good luck,

Cory

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Novice Veggie Gardener Needs Help With Silly Questions
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2015, 07:28:05 PM »
Here, read this: http://www.nwedible.com/to-do-may-2015/

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Harvesting the greens - I imagined that I could just go out and peel off a few of the larger outer leaves for super fresh salads as these matured, but now I'm being told that you're supposed to harvest the whole lettuce once it's fully grown? (That would mean a lot of lettuce all at once!) Can I just pick what I want for that evening, or is this problematic?
Harvest outer leaves as you want them. This is totally find. It's just a preference thing. I like harvesting romaine whole, cause I like that center part. Yum!
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I planted the cauliflower and broccoli plants too close together. Should I transplant some of them, or will they be okay?
How close is too close? You want these at least 12" apart in all directions.
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I bought beans and squash seeds because they didn't have starts (wasn't time) and I think it's not the right time to start planting (Seattle area) but I don't know if I'm supposed to start these inside or outside. If I get better at this next year and go with seeds instead of purchasing starts, do I need a grow light for sowing indoors, or...?
Slow down, friend. You're getting ahead of yourself. Just go stick your squash and bean seeds in your ground. Like, do it right now. Your timing is perfect. Tomorrow, go out and buy a tub of Sluggo and sprinkle it all the heck over the area where you planted so slugs don't eat your seedlings as soon as they come up.

For future reference, buying starts of beans, peas, squash or cucumber is kinda a sucker's game. These crops germinate fast and are very easy to direct seed. Never by seed at Fred Meyer EXCEPT the Ed Hume, and then never without a coupon - FM does 2 for 3 and 40% off with in-store coupon on seeds all the time.

Never buy the Burpee starts at FM - they inevitably suck. They are grown hot, come out leggy and poorly hardened off and then bake in the sun. The Organic Planet brand (or something like that) and the brand with the distinctively Japanese-sounding brand name (Kitazawa maybe?) are far, far better. For the best starts at FM, call the garden center and find out what day the vegetable start truck is coming in, and then go that day. The plants come off the truck nice but within 48 hours often aren't worth buying.

Holler if you have any more questions. Seattle-area vegetable gardening is what I'm all about. I put out monthly "to do lists" for our area and if you have a question and I know you're an MMM person I'll do my best to answer.

Noodle

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Re: Novice Veggie Gardener Needs Help With Silly Questions
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2015, 09:41:15 PM »
If you would like to visit with someone in person, the Master Gardeners can be a great resource. They are volunteers who love gardening, and love helping other people garden successfully (it's one of my dad's favorite retirement projects!). They do free clinics all over King County and are often at the various Farmer's Markets.

Credaholic

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Re: Novice Veggie Gardener Needs Help With Silly Questions
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2015, 01:13:56 PM »
Thank you all, especially loved reading the advise over on the making your garden 'worth it' thread.

Erica, I read and love your blog, but feel like I'm in over my head a lot when I read the garden posts. I love your advise on the other thread to plant the things that will be used regularly in your family and that are really different when homegrown - snap peas, tomatoes, and I think green beans are going to be staples in our garden. Herbs I think easily do pay for themselves and the convenience factor is insane (this is the one thing I have gardened before as an adult). Planning on fruit trees and berries once our house is done and we move on to landscaping. And my son loves potatoes so much I think we might try that in the future just because I think it'll be extra special for him. And salad greens. Finding that to be almost too easy, and will give seeds a try next year when our lives are more in order!

Cory, I will take you up on raspberries at some point, thank you!

The broc and cauliflower are 6 inches apart. I guess I'll keep my eye on them and cull if necessary.





jooles

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Re: Novice Veggie Gardener Needs Help With Silly Questions
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2015, 01:19:05 PM »
I too live near Seattle.  I just put my beans and squash in this last week.  You should be just fine.  With the broccoli and cawliflower if you're worried about them crowding each other moving them is fine, or you could just add a little food for them (compost, fertilizer).  Growing stuff with kids is great fun.  Enjoy :)

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Novice Veggie Gardener Needs Help With Silly Questions
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2015, 05:47:27 PM »
Thank you all, especially loved reading the advise over on the making your garden 'worth it' thread.

Erica, I read and love your blog, but feel like I'm in over my head a lot when I read the garden posts. I love your advise on the other thread to plant the things that will be used regularly in your family and that are really different when homegrown - snap peas, tomatoes, and I think green beans are going to be staples in our garden. Herbs I think easily do pay for themselves and the convenience factor is insane (this is the one thing I have gardened before as an adult). Planning on fruit trees and berries once our house is done and we move on to landscaping. And my son loves potatoes so much I think we might try that in the future just because I think it'll be extra special for him. And salad greens. Finding that to be almost too easy, and will give seeds a try next year when our lives are more in order!

That's great feedback. If you could get me to answer 3 questions, just for you, what would they be? Doesn't matter how simple or basic they seem - if YOU have these questions, other people do to and I'd love to add them to my blogging calendar. Some of my best posts come when answering people's questions.

Specific thoughts: peas grow really well in this area. You should be fine. To sow once and harvest for a while, plant the pole type. The bush type still really need support, but they do one big harvest of peas and then they are kinda done. With the pole types you get them over the whole early summer season. I like Super Sugar Snap Pole.

Tomatoes: cherries are always a surer bet than the big slicers up here, and Sungold is a crowd favorite for a reason.

Green beans: no problem. Same advice as the peas. Pole varieties for long fresh eating; bush varieties if you want to can a bunch of dilly beans.

Potatoes: French Fingerling is my favorite. Skip all the fancy "100 pounds of potatoes in 4 square feet" things you'll see - that's all crap. Just put them in the soil and have fun with your kids digging for them.
In general, with gardening, just keep trying until one day people think you know what you are doing. That's what I've done. Still learning, all the time.

Herbs: yes - thank you not making me preach to the choir. The most cost effective edible, oz. for oz., that you can grow.

Good luck!

jooles

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Re: Novice Veggie Gardener Needs Help With Silly Questions
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2015, 12:07:55 PM »
Thanks for all the great info.  I'm on my 4th year as a veggie gardener.  In the Pacific Northwest tomatoes are sooo hard to grow.  Sungold here I come.

Le Poisson

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Re: Novice Veggie Gardener Needs Help With Silly Questions
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2015, 12:27:20 PM »
A few different ideas...

For your broccoli, leave them. Even if they are 6" apart. But go out tomorrow and mark off every second plant. Now as you harvest, take out the marked plants first. This will open up space for the others to fill in as they need it.

I agree with the above comments regarding lettuce. If its leaf lettuce, harvest it as you need it by breaking off leafs. Head lettuce this won't work for - you need to harvest the whole head. What sort of lettuce do you have? If it is leaf lettuce, you should be ready to reseed additional rows. That way as one row bolt (gets bitter and sends up seed stalks) you will have another row ready to eat. We do about 3 rows of lettuce on a one-week rotation. (row 1 is just planted, row 2 is 2 weeks old, row 3 is 3 weeks old) We direct seed lettuce.

Beans are direct seeded here too. No worries there. Also, some bean seeds sold as ornamentals (Scarlet Runners - http://www.eattheweeds.com/scarlet-runner-bean/) produce a nice eating bean. These are good because you can sneak them into ornamental gardens. We do this with our tomatoes too - wherever we notice a hole open up in a garden we sneak in a non-staking tomato (bush type AKA determinate Tomatoes - http://faq.gardenweb.com/discussions/2766765/what-is-the-difference-between-determinate-and-indeterminate-tomatoes) plant for greenery. If they make food its a bonus, if not, its a cheap way to get a big spot filled.

See if you can get your hands on a rhubarb root. They cover a lot of ground, but come back every year and take no maintenance. I can share a really good rhubarb pie recipe if you want it. We also stew ours for a cheap dessert.

Lots of folks here willing to help - looks like you're in good hands!