Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

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TRC
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Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby TRC » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:00 am

Hello Bogleheads!

After reading "All New Square Foot Gardening II: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space" we're planning to take vegetable gardening very seriously this season! I had six 4'x4' Cedar Raised Garden Bed boxes built & delivered from a guy on Craiglist and I'm excited to get the season underway. I live in MA and historically the last frost date is early / mid-May. We have our "wish list" of vegetables we want to plant this season and I'm wondering which ones we should start indoors from seeds, which ones we can plant in the garden as seeds and which ones we should simply buy as seedlings. Does anyone have experience they'd like to share? Any other Square Foot Gardeners out there?

strawberries - planning to plant one whole 4x4 box
Asparagus - planning to plant one whole 4x4 box
Tomatoes
Beets
Carrots
Onions
Garlic
Cucumber
Zucchini
Summer Squash
Broccoli and/or broccolini
Leaf Lettuce
Bush Bean
Beans (pole or bush?)
Spinach
Pepper
Pumpkins
Cauliflower
Cabbage
Corn

Thanks!
TRC

B. Wellington
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby B. Wellington » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:31 am

Urban Farmer here...Zone 6a.

First take it slow, a bigger garden is not always the way to go. More work, weeding, and expense. You want to make it an enjoyable hobby not a chore. Our beds are approximately 200 square feet, enough produce for 2 and extra to give to family and friends.

The only thing that I am buying as seedlings this year are hybrid tomatoes, some I do start from seed myself. (Specialty items.)

Tomatoes, peppers, and cabbage family crops are basically the only vegetable crops that need to be planted as seedlings. (To get a good jump start on a short growing season.) Everything else can be direct sown in the beds. Stick to the recommended planting dates and charts and you will be in great shape barring any unseasonal crazy weather...Best of Luck to you.

renue74
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby renue74 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:37 am

I did a square garden a few years ago. I think I used 12'x12' 2x8 boards for one large square. It was more of an experiment than anything.

One box was perfect for us. We had a mix of cucumbers, squash, watermelons, peppers, corn, basel, corn and a few others.

I used seed for all of it except the peppers. The local supply store (a real old feed & seed type place) sold me corn and I asked for "20 seeds." He looked at me like I was crazy and said "we sell them by the pound," so I got 1 pound and have enough seed for many, many, many years.

GLState
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby GLState » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:53 am

A lot depends on the scale. It makes little sense to buy a packet of seeds for 3 or 4 bucks to get 100 seeds when you only need 3 or 4 plants that cost 3 or 4 bucks. You don't say what facilities you have to grow seeds ....you need heat and lots of light and quite a bit of room. It also depends on the varieties that you want to plant...common varieties are available as seedlings. Less common varieties may be only available as seeds.

We use seeds for peas, beans, lettuce, cucumbers, corn, pumpkins and plant directly in the ground...no seed starting. We buy tomatoes and peppers as seedlings...we only need a couple plants. IMO, corn is wasted space in a small garden...it takes a lot of room with little yield and fresh sweet corn is easily found in the summer. Asparagus is a long-lived plant that will be in place for many years....it takes quite a few years to get a decent harvest. Most pumpkins, cucumbers, zucchini, and squash will quickly overtake a small garden...your garden will become a pumpkin patch. Strawberries are also a long term resident...buy these as plants, and be prepared to fight the birds for the fruits.

It is much harder to grow nice seedlings indoors than it is to plant in the ground. Grown indoors, by amateurs lacking a greenhouse, the resulting seedlings are often very leggy and don't do well when thrown outdoors. But, it is fun to try to grow plants from seeds.

I would suggest starting small. You don't have room for everything that you have on your list. Peas, beans, onions, carrots, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, peppers are all easy to grow and are fairly pest-free. Corn and pumpkins are more fun to grow than worthwhile. Squirrels and other critters will enjoy your corn before you do. In general, vegetables that make up a salad are easy to grow, can be planted early, and will provide for a long period. All summer, my wife makes salads from the garden. Spinach, leaf lettuce, swiss chard (her favorite), onions, etc. Cherry tomatoes come later later in the summer along with cucumbers (from bush varieties). Throw in peas (both shell and snap) and green beans...my granddaughters love to eat peas while standing in the garden.

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lthenderson
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby lthenderson » Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:17 am

TRC wrote:strawberries - planning to plant one whole 4x4 box Buy seedlings
Asparagus - planning to plant one whole 4x4 box Buy crowns. Takes a couple years to establish before first harvest.
Tomatoes Buy seedlings
Beets Seeds
Carrots Seeds
Onions Some seeds and some starter sets
Garlic plant bulbs in late fall before ground freezes
Cucumber Seeds
Zucchini Seeds
Summer Squash Seeds
Broccoli and/or broccolini Buy seedlings
Leaf Lettuce Seeds
Bush Bean Seeds
Beans (pole or bush?) Seeds
Spinach Seeds
Pepper Buy seedlings
Pumpkins Seeds
Cauliflower Buy seedlings
Cabbage Seeds
Corn Seeds


Not sure how MA compares to my part of Iowa but traditionally I have done the following noted above in red. Note that anything that says buy seedlings can easily be grown by seed if you start early enough in a greenhouse. I know a few people who start their garden things in styrofoam cups inside their house and then harden off before planting in the garden. Everything listed as seeds generally has enough time to mature and produce their crop before the first frosts of fall. Some like tomatoes and pepper you could plant directly as seeds and get some harvest before the first frost kills the plant but you can harvest a lot more (by having a longer time at the mature state) by planting them as seedlings just as soon as it is warm enough. We even go so far as to put special water towers around them so we can plant them before the typical last frost of spring and squeeze an extra two or three weeks of production from them.

barnaclebob
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby barnaclebob » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:20 am

I agree with the poster above me. Im in the PNW and have had a lot of trouble with getting good brassica's. 4x4 is not enough space for strawberries unless you want a handful of berries a week for the month of June. At any given time about half to 1/3 of the bed wont be producing. Strawberries shouldn't be allowed to fruit the first year and need to be replaced after two years of fruiting because the berries get small and deformed. You might be able to get away with 4x4 by very careful plant management which is what I understand square foot gardening is all about. We have 4x16' devoted to strawberries but we really like strawberries. Don't fall for thinking that everbearing strawberries sound like a good idea unless you want few grape sized strawberries.

The main difficulty with gardening isn't growing the plants...its keeping insects and animals from harvesting before you do.

TRC
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby TRC » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:34 am

B. Wellington wrote:Urban Farmer here...Zone 6a.

First take it slow, a bigger garden is not always the way to go. More work, weeding, and expense. You want to make it an enjoyable hobby not a chore. Our beds are approximately 200 square feet, enough produce for 2 and extra to give to family and friends.

The only thing that I am buying as seedlings this year are hybrid tomatoes, some I do start from seed myself. (Specialty items.)

Tomatoes, peppers, and cabbage family crops are basically the only vegetable crops that need to be planted as seedlings. (To get a good jump start on a short growing season.) Everything else can be direct sown in the beds. Stick to the recommended planting dates and charts and you will be in great shape barring any unseasonal crazy weather...Best of Luck to you.


Appreciate the comments. Regarding taking it slow, I agree and have made some gardening mistakes in the past by taking on too much. Though I'm not sure if you're familiar with the SFG technique. The idea is that you plant 80% of the plants in 20% of the traditional space for just as high a yield with hardly any weeding since everything is growing so closely together. Hopefully this theory holds true!

B. Wellington
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby B. Wellington » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:22 am

TRC wrote:
B. Wellington wrote:Urban Farmer here...Zone 6a.

First take it slow, a bigger garden is not always the way to go. More work, weeding, and expense. You want to make it an enjoyable hobby not a chore. Our beds are approximately 200 square feet, enough produce for 2 and extra to give to family and friends.

The only thing that I am buying as seedlings this year are hybrid tomatoes, some I do start from seed myself. (Specialty items.)

Tomatoes, peppers, and cabbage family crops are basically the only vegetable crops that need to be planted as seedlings. (To get a good jump start on a short growing season.) Everything else can be direct sown in the beds. Stick to the recommended planting dates and charts and you will be in great shape barring any unseasonal crazy weather...Best of Luck to you.


Appreciate the comments. Regarding taking it slow, I agree and have made some gardening mistakes in the past by taking on too much. Though I'm not sure if you're familiar with the SFG technique. The idea is that you plant 80% of the plants in 20% of the traditional space for just as high a yield with hardly any weeding since everything is growing so closely together. Hopefully this theory holds true!


I have a copy of Mel B's book on my desk right now. Great for anyone wanting to start with a couple of 4' X 4' beds and then expand as much as they would like to take on.

I built the original garden space many years ago when we first moved to our new location and before I heard of SFG and Mel's book. I did however, build the beds 4 feet wide running 20-ish feet long which makes it easy to work in. (No tiller etc. needed.)

Yes, anyone just starting out, I would highly recommend the SFG method. :sharebeer

B. Wellington
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby B. Wellington » Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:32 pm

For those who are not quite sure what SFG is you may want to check out melbartholomew.com

Mel Bartholomew, originator and founder of the Square Foot Gardening Foundation. Author of the square foot gardening book will explain all of the basics in more detail. 4' x 4' Raised beds. No digging. No tilling. etc. And everything planted in a small space grid.

The only small drawback for some are the initial start-up costs. (Lumber and the special soil-less mix.)

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Pajamas
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby Pajamas » Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:26 pm

If you are just starting out, don't use any seeds that can't be planted directly into the ground. It's just not worth the effort, unless you specifically want to grow seedlings. You might experiment with rooting tomatoes from suckers or similar.

Best source of information is a neighbor with a nice vegetable garden (they almost always would be more than happy to give advice) or a knowledgeable employee at a garden store, which can sometimes be difficult to find.

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dm200
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby dm200 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:33 pm

Regarding tomatoes, in much (perhaps most) of the US, the growing season is probably not long enough to grow from seed. In addition, there is a wide difference in how long different varieties take to produce ripe tomatoes. In my opinion (and experieice) those varieties taking longer are, on balance, better. That leans to plants rather than seeds.

tidelandp
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby tidelandp » Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:07 pm

OP, I understand Massachusetts has three master gardener affiliate programs (Cape Code Master Gardener Assoc., Massachusetts Master Gardener Assoc. and West Massachusetts Master Gardener Assoc.). Such programs typically have volunteers and workshops to answer questions like the ones you raised for their particular regions. They could be resources for you.

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dm200
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby dm200 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:11 pm

I would think that seed vs plants would be the same for the various, nearly identical, Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli) which do better in cooler weather. In many climates, you plant seeds in the late spring/early summer then transplant them when 1-2 inches high.

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Elsebet
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby Elsebet » Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:58 pm

WSU Master Gardener here. :) I could talk about this stuff all day, but will just give some tomato tips for now:

Tomatoes are the plant everyone loves to grow because there is nothing like a fresh garden tomato compared to the tasteless hunks they sell in stores. If your summers are long and hot you won't have many issues but in any other climate they can be a pain. I could grow and can tons of tomatoes in Cincinnati, OH without trying but have not had as much fortune where we live now (east of Seattle, WA).

Do not put your tomato seedlings out until the nighttime lows are consistently over 50 degrees, preferably higher. This shouldn't be a problem where you are but in the PNW it doesn't get above 50 at night sometimes until July! Last year we had a near freeze at the beginning of August in my area (river valley) that seriously harmed my plants. Advanced tomato growers sometimes use cloches or other tricks to keep their tomatoes warm earlier in the season but don't try that stuff your first year.

Make sure your seedlings have been hardened off, meaning they have been gradually exposed to outside temperatures after living in the warm, cozy indoors all their lives. Also bury your tomato seedlings deep when you plant them in your garden, up to the second set of leaves, and cage them. Tomatoes are heavy feeders - they need calcium for fruiting. Plant them with some bone meal.

nymeria.stark
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby nymeria.stark » Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:32 pm

Elsebet wrote:WSU Master Gardener here. :) I could talk about this stuff all day, but will just give some tomato tips for now:

Tomatoes are the plant everyone loves to grow because there is nothing like a fresh garden tomato compared to the tasteless hunks they sell in stores. If your summers are long and hot you won't have many issues but in any other climate they can be a pain. I could grow and can tons of tomatoes in Cincinnati, OH without trying but have not had as much fortune where we live now (east of Seattle, WA).


I am so happy to hear I'm not the only person in the PNW having trouble with tomatoes. Seems like I finally get a nice, big, almost ripe one...and then it freezes. I've only had luck with Sweet 100s, which I plant on the far south side of my lawn in the one spot where there isn't afternoon shade. But as you said -- tastes better than anything in a store!

MP173
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby MP173 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:06 pm

My long rambling reply seems to have disappeared, so if suddenly it appears that is the reason.

I planted cauliflower and broccoli seeds last week indoors and they have sprouted. I agree with another poster....they tend to be "leggy" and i have mixed success with my indoor seedlings. The garden center purchases do very well for the most part.

There is a certain amount of enjoyment tho watching these grow indoors while there is snow on the ground outdoors.

Regarding asparagus...buy the crowns and follow instructions. You will want to dig a trench about 12" deep and plant the crowns covering with a few inches of compost and adding more every couple of weeks. In two years you can harvest "lightly". Then it is massive production. We planted 10 crowns and the wife and I have more than enough for about 6 weeks.

I enjoy gardening and try to add something new every year. Certain things grow well, others do not. I really enjoy potatoes (Yukon gold, reds, and sweet potatoes), onions (buy the bundles of plants they grow much better than onion sets), carrots, peppers, lettuce and spinach. Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussel sprouts are a chore as the bugs destroy the plants if not careful.

Last year I grew peppercini and did a refrigerated pickling which turned out great. Pole beans are also great...seem to produce much longer and stronger than bush beans.

As summer peaks in August give thought to fall planting. It is much more tricky, often lettuce and spinach will not handle the heat well so you need to plant every 10 days or so.

Also...nothing quite like leeks for soup in the fall.

I can go on forever...

Ed

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dm200
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby dm200 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:13 pm

nymeria.stark wrote:
Elsebet wrote:WSU Master Gardener here. :) I could talk about this stuff all day, but will just give some tomato tips for now:

Tomatoes are the plant everyone loves to grow because there is nothing like a fresh garden tomato compared to the tasteless hunks they sell in stores. If your summers are long and hot you won't have many issues but in any other climate they can be a pain. I could grow and can tons of tomatoes in Cincinnati, OH without trying but have not had as much fortune where we live now (east of Seattle, WA).


I am so happy to hear I'm not the only person in the PNW having trouble with tomatoes. Seems like I finally get a nice, big, almost ripe one...and then it freezes. I've only had luck with Sweet 100s, which I plant on the far south side of my lawn in the one spot where there isn't afternoon shade. But as you said -- tastes better than anything in a store!


If your growing season (tomatoes need hot weather) is short, then look for varieties that mature earlier.

Back 50-75 years ago (period I grew up on a farm), commercial tomatoes were grown in the Northeast and we harvested many tons of tomatoes from about August 15 until frost (late Sept - early Oct). On uur farm we had a few acres of a variety that matured early, so we could start harvest about Aug 15, but this variety was not as productive as the ones that matured a little later -- but produced continuously until frost. One common mistake in growing tomatoes is to plant them before the weather is warm enough.

p14175
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby p14175 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:42 pm

I have been square foot gardening for several years and have about 200 sq ft in beds. You need about 100 sq ft per person. My garden feeds me and my husband with some left over for the neighbors. I followed Mel B's instructions for the first season but quickly discovered some of his gardening advice is probably more suited non-desert locations. Sorry Mel!

To keep the beds moist during the summer I use clay pot irrigation. A good book for this method is "Gardening with Less Water: Low-Tech, Low-Cost Techniques; Use up to 90% Less Water in Your Garden" by David Bainbridge.

Mel B's soil mix works great, but is expensive. I have one bed that started out 100% Mel's mix and I just add compost to it before each planting. The rest are a combination of garden soil, compost, peat moss, natural soil, and cow manure. Before planting I add about a 5 gal bucket of homemade compost, blood meal, ground up fish, and epsom salts to the bed.

I follow Mel B's advice for intensive planting and seed spacing. I made a couple for cardboard guides (11"x11" squares with holes at the proper intervals) for planting seed and transplants. My raised beds are in the middle of a grassy lawn that receives flood irrigation every 2 weeks during the summer. I am out there de-grassing and/or pulling weeds every day.

I can grow year-round so my garden is never at rest. Every spring I dedicate a raised bed to flowers. I usually grow zinnias or marigolds. This spring so far I have planted melons, tomatoes, lettuce, chili peppers, and herbs, and I'll be trying yams a little bit later. In the summer my main crops are okra, winter squash, melons, and beans to eat and more beans as a manure crop to refresh some of the raised beds before going into fall planting. Fall is spring in central AZ. My fall crops last year were chicory, beets, rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, cabbage, fava beans, onions, garlic, and chard. I try to grow some special crops. Last year I tried wild cherry tomatoes (itty bitty tomatoes with a lot of flavor), purple tomatillos (giant caterpillars devoured them), and some flowers that just didn't make it. This year I am trying Armenian cucumbers. It took a few years to figure out that there are some vegetables I was better off buying than growing like summer squash (we don't eat a lot of it) and cauliflower (takes up too much space). The one thing I learned was to only grow one type of vegetable per box so that I get enough to feed the two of us, plus it makes it easier to maintain.

As far as seeds. I buy mostly from Baker Creek and Native Seed/SEARCH, a local non-profit that specializes in desert adapted seeds. I grow everything from seed and the ones that don't make it don't get planted again. Nothing gets babied except the watermelons. Last year we had a coyote destroy our watermelon crop. Now we cage the bed.

TRC
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby TRC » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:49 am

p14175 wrote:I have been square foot gardening for several years and have about 200 sq ft in beds. You need about 100 sq ft per person. My garden feeds me and my husband with some left over for the neighbors. I followed Mel B's instructions for the first season but quickly discovered some of his gardening advice is probably more suited non-desert locations. Sorry Mel!

To keep the beds moist during the summer I use clay pot irrigation. A good book for this method is "Gardening with Less Water: Low-Tech, Low-Cost Techniques; Use up to 90% Less Water in Your Garden" by David Bainbridge.

Mel B's soil mix works great, but is expensive. I have one bed that started out 100% Mel's mix and I just add compost to it before each planting. The rest are a combination of garden soil, compost, peat moss, natural soil, and cow manure. Before planting I add about a 5 gal bucket of homemade compost, blood meal, ground up fish, and epsom salts to the bed.

I follow Mel B's advice for intensive planting and seed spacing. I made a couple for cardboard guides (11"x11" squares with holes at the proper intervals) for planting seed and transplants. My raised beds are in the middle of a grassy lawn that receives flood irrigation every 2 weeks during the summer. I am out there de-grassing and/or pulling weeds every day.

I can grow year-round so my garden is never at rest. Every spring I dedicate a raised bed to flowers. I usually grow zinnias or marigolds. This spring so far I have planted melons, tomatoes, lettuce, chili peppers, and herbs, and I'll be trying yams a little bit later. In the summer my main crops are okra, winter squash, melons, and beans to eat and more beans as a manure crop to refresh some of the raised beds before going into fall planting. Fall is spring in central AZ. My fall crops last year were chicory, beets, rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, cabbage, fava beans, onions, garlic, and chard. I try to grow some special crops. Last year I tried wild cherry tomatoes (itty bitty tomatoes with a lot of flavor), purple tomatillos (giant caterpillars devoured them), and some flowers that just didn't make it. This year I am trying Armenian cucumbers. It took a few years to figure out that there are some vegetables I was better off buying than growing like summer squash (we don't eat a lot of it) and cauliflower (takes up too much space). The one thing I learned was to only grow one type of vegetable per box so that I get enough to feed the two of us, plus it makes it easier to maintain.

As far as seeds. I buy mostly from Baker Creek and Native Seed/SEARCH, a local non-profit that specializes in desert adapted seeds. I grow everything from seed and the ones that don't make it don't get planted again. Nothing gets babied except the watermelons. Last year we had a coyote destroy our watermelon crop. Now we cage the bed.


This is exciting to hear! Our six 4'x4' beds are for a family of 4 with 2 little kids who are still learning to like vegetables. Since we're doing one whole bed of Strawberries and one whole bed of Asparagus, I figure the remaining 4 beds shouldn't be too much work to maintain. We chose to have our beds made taller than he recommends at 12" high since we want to do some root vegetables.

I appreciate your advice on the soil.

How did you make out with getting the crawling vegetables to grow vertically (ie. cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, etc.)?

We're very excited to get the season underway!

barnaclebob
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby barnaclebob » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:25 am

cucumbers can be trellised easily, just lift them up and sling them over the rungs as they grow. Zucchini...one zucchini plant is enough for a family of 4 and I don't trellis ours. Just let it grow out into the yard if need be. Same with the vine vegetables. Also with zucchini, don't leave them on the plant too long or they balloon up over 1 or two days. Its easy to spot beginning gardeners on facebook because they are so proud of their giant zucchinis which are really just normal zucchinis filled with water. You can still eat them this way its just they might be mushier.

letsgobobby
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby letsgobobby » Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:31 am

TRC wrote:Hello Bogleheads!

After reading "All New Square Foot Gardening II: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space" we're planning to take vegetable gardening very seriously this season! I had six 4'x4' Cedar Raised Garden Bed boxes built & delivered from a guy on Craiglist and I'm excited to get the season underway. I live in MA and historically the last frost date is early / mid-May. We have our "wish list" of vegetables we want to plant this season and I'm wondering which ones we should start indoors from seeds, which ones we can plant in the garden as seeds and which ones we should simply buy as seedlings. Does anyone have experience they'd like to share? Any other Square Foot Gardeners out there?

strawberries - planning to plant one whole 4x4 box
Asparagus - planning to plant one whole 4x4 box
Tomatoes
Beets
Carrots
Onions
Garlic
Cucumber
Zucchini
Summer Squash
Broccoli and/or broccolini
Leaf Lettuce
Bush Bean
Beans (pole or bush?)
Spinach
Pepper
Pumpkins
Cauliflower
Cabbage
Corn

Thanks!
TRC

the answer has a lot to do with location and the specific plants you're growing. I'm a beginning gardener too so far from an expert, but in our first truncated year in the PNW we had success directly sowing beets, carrots, onions, zucchini, kale, and chard. We planted seedlings of tomatoes and broccoli and do not generally get enough heat for corn, peppers, eggplants, etc without a lot of extra work.

This year we are adding to the above pumpkins, watermelons, gourds/winter squash, garlic (from cloves), spinach, arugula, peas, bok choi. All of these are or will be directly sowed. We will be doing seedlings (starting seeds indoors) of leeks, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, and possibly cucumbers - I believe those are indoor starts. The watermelons are a longshot in our climate but I selected 3 varieties that have had some success locally. The key will be all the soil prep - drying out and heating up the soil with black plastic for several weeks prior to planting. We've never had a problem with aggressive predation by mammals except for a few rabbits that have sometimes come into our raised beds, but the darn crows are a real terror.

One reason to grow from seed is that you can get a much wider variety of plants than from seedlings. For instance we are growing 6 different kinds of broccoli this year so we can have nearly a year round harvest including an overwintering variety for early next spring. We are also growing romanesco, which is very expensive at the store and not available locally in seedlings.

For tomatoes we did research all winter on the varieties that will do best near us, which means short-season and often Russian imported varieties. We also did a lot of research on soil, water, fertilizer, pruning, and staking requirements for tomatoes. We really wanted the best tasting tomatoes possible so ended up buying seeds for about 6 different varieties. Sungold has been very prolific for us in the past, it's a cherry that is sweet and flavored and just keeps going. We also have a couple of less common varieties including Black Krim and Cherokee Purple - again, looking for that perfect balance of sweet and acid. If successful we will have too many tomatoes, but we can give them away as I just cannot stand grocery store tomatoes.

We dedicated 25 feet to asparagus and bought 30 crowns which may go in the ground this weekend. I'm a little worried I don't have enough height in my mounded soil but I'm not going to use up one of my beds forever for asparagus - it wouldn't be enough asparagus for our family and once asparagus are established they're supposed to be pretty tough, as long as they don't get wet crowns.

Good luck

MP173
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby MP173 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:53 am

Over the weekend I planted seeds (indoors) for leeks. In the past I have planted leek seeds directly in the soil and have had good luck, am going to do both this year.

Also planted sugar snap peas (outdoors) and radishes.

My broccoli and cauliflower seedlings are up and beginning to bend towards the window for the light. Any suggestions for keeping them on the straight and narrow would be appreciated.

Ed

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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby Alto Astral » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:20 am

MP173 wrote:Over the weekend I planted seeds (indoors) for leeks. In the past I have planted leek seeds directly in the soil and have had good luck, am going to do both this year.

Also planted sugar snap peas (outdoors) and radishes.

My broccoli and cauliflower seedlings are up and beginning to bend towards the window for the light. Any suggestions for keeping them on the straight and narrow would be appreciated.

Ed

We did all from seeds: tomatoes, chard, kale, cucumbers. We started off some of the tomatoes indoors. They ended up being spindly and bending. We transplanted them in spring and also put some more tomato seeds. Seeds and seedlings both turned out fine. This year, I'll just do the seeds directly outside

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dm200
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby dm200 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:24 am

Comment on cucumbers - there are two types of cucumbers you can grow. One type is for pickling and the other type is for fresh use (slicing). You can slice/eat the picking type but I don't think you can pickle the fresh/slicing type.

Michread
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby Michread » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:05 am

p14175 wrote:I have been square foot gardening for several years and have about 200 sq ft in beds.

To keep the beds moist during the summer I use clay pot irrigation. A good book for this method is "Gardening with Less Water: Low-Tech, Low-Cost Techniques; Use up to 90% Less Water in Your Garden" by David Bainbridge.

Mel B's soil mix works great, but is expensive. I have one bed that started out 100% Mel's mix and I just add compost to it before each planting. The rest are a combination of garden soil, compost, peat moss, natural soil, and cow manure. Before planting I add about a 5 gal bucket of homemade compost, blood meal, ground up fish, and epsom salts to the bed.



d.


Thanks, I ordered that book from the library! I'm always looking for easy inexpensive ways to garden esp. for food.

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Elsebet
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby Elsebet » Wed Mar 22, 2017 6:02 pm

For cucumbers, my motto is "pick early, pick often" to avoid having them become bitter. Also keep them evenly watered. I prefer the pickling variety as they are small and tasty even fresh without a lot of seeds, plus you can pickle them if desired. They like to hide on the plant so be mindful and don't let them get too big.

I buy a roll of remesh for around $100-120 and make cages out of them for tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans and trellises for other veggies. If you get a roll that isn't already rusty you can spray some anti-rust gunk on them but I don't bother. I have noticed the rolls I get lately are weaker than ones I have bought in years past, not sure why.

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blaugranamd
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby blaugranamd » Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:17 pm

TRC wrote:Asparagus - planning to plant one whole 4x4 box
Cucumber
Zucchini
Summer Squash
Pumpkins


Are you planning to plant ALL of those things you listed in just 6 4'x4' garden beds? If so, bear in mind that the one's I've singled out above will take up a LOT of space. We have a partitioned garden area in our yard that's about 24x20 and have grown asparagus, cucumbers, squash, and watermelon and a single plant can take up a an entire box that you describe, asparagus gets much bigger than I realized and can take a year or two before it's really harvestable, I actually wish I hadn't wasted the space in the garden on it due to how much space and sunlight it takes up. For the vining stuff listed above, are you planning to use the vertical space? It certainly improves space utilization and makes getting at the veggies easier.

To answer your question: I have done seeds in the past, I'm not great at starting them indoors so I just opt for seedlings from our local nursery, they're fairly inexpensive and things that like warmer climates like peppers or eggplant you'll appreciate having them already grown for 1-2 months before putting them out into your climate where they ordinarily shouldn't be living.
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby Dhs » Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:52 pm

If you are going to plant from seeds, using a seed mat (Amazon) will speed up germination. I was amazed how quickly the seeds sprouted. Of course, it needs to be inside, best covered (to increase humidity), and use fresh seed starting mix. Once the seedling pops through, remove the mat so you don't fry the roots. Give plenty of light (still covered for a while). I highly recommend the seed mat, growing from seed is fun, and you'll have many more types of veggies to experiment with.

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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby itstoomuch » Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:22 am

Mid Valley Oregon.
I put in kale starts and leaf lettuce starts this week. Kale in the open. leaf under plastic. Also planted seeds oudoors but weather is still too cold. I'll plant some kale, mustard and lettuce seeds this week inside. Replant sunchokes in pots. Normally we have volunteer kale and mustard that should be coming on strong at this time but nothing made it this winter.
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scooter
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Re: Vegetable Gardening - seeds vs seedlings?

Postby scooter » Fri Mar 24, 2017 1:13 pm

Also from Mass North shore.

Have used the square foot for years around the perimeter of my garden but not in raised beds.

Plant tomatoes and bush beans in rows.
Plant beans in a wide row 1 foot and stagger the beans two wide in row.

3rd or 4th week in May is safe. Starting sooner requires covering and nothing gained if can't get soil warm enough.

Had problems with rabbits past 2 years and lost a lot of beans etc. Fenced entire garden with small mesh plastic 4' fencing.

buy tomato, some lettuce, pepper plants and brocolli
start cucks, lettuce in house on heat pad
plant rest seeds
good luck


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