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Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

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Is this the right region for Wichita, KS?

Post  kelhami on 3/6/2014, 8:40 am

Newbie gardener, having trouble identifying my correct region. HELP! Im in Wichita, KS, 67208.

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Re: Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

Post  camprn on 3/6/2014, 8:55 am


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Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

Post  kelhami on 3/6/2014, 9:04 am

I am a newbie in Wichita, KS and Im trying to figure out how to plan my garden. I have purchased supplies for 4 beds (over a year ago) and Im finally ready to commit, but as I try to plan what to plant where, Im at a loss. Im trying to take into consideration companion planting, sprout times, sun/shade requirements, staggered planting... and it all feels so overwhelming. Im afraid Ill spend yet another year with no garden and a garage full of supplies. Sad

I'd like to know the following:


  1. Are there any other SFGers in the Wichita area?
  2. Can I get some help in planning my beds?
  3. Should I use transplants since Im a first-time gardener?
  4. Where in Wichita should I buy my seeds/transplants?
  5. Should I buy seeds locally (recommended brands) or use a seed catalog?
  6. I was thinking of doing heirloom plants, but maybe thats too challenging for a first timer?
  7. I have 7 kids and would like to illicit their participation... recommendations on plants/box configuration?
  8. I want to do herbs, should they have their own box or be mixed in with veggies?
  9. We have a cat and alotta stray cats + racoons + possums + mice in our area, recommendations?


Here's a list of produce we eat fairly regularly and sum we dont eat much but are interested in trying.

Zucchini
Squash
Cucumbers
Lettuce (green leaf mostly)
Tomatoes
Carrots (for juicing)
Kale (for juicing)
Melons:
  -cantaloupe
  -honeydew
  -watermelon
Green Beans
Green Onions
Spinach
Bell Peppers
Sweet Peppers
Chili Peppers
Grapes
Strawberries
Sweet Corn
Bok Choy
Red/Yellow Onions
Shallots
Small Red/Yellow/Yukon, etc Potatoes
Parsnips
Celery

Cilantro
Garlic
Rosemary
Basil
Chives
Oregano
Lemon Grass
Sage
Thyme
Bay Leaves
Parsley

We also eat alot of:

Oranges
Apples
Pears
Bananas
Grapefruit

...but I figure I cant grow most of those in KS... can I? And besides they probably take years and years, and we rent, not own, so we may not be here forever. 

Obviously, I cant grow them all, lol! We have a family of 9, 7 kids, 2 adults, so we can go thru produce very fast, but I find when I buy it at the store, at least 1/2 ends up rotting before I finish using it. Great for compost, but bad for our wallets. I havent gotten into canning yet, I hope to, but Im not there yet. 

I am feeling really overwhelmed and a bit discouraged. I just want to get the beds designed and seeds/transplants purchased so I can get into it. I figure I can build my beds in an afternoon, fill them in another afternoon. So a weekend to prep. Not sure about starting seedlings indoor... which I why I was leaning on transplants. Just need alotta guidance. HELP!   bounce

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Re: Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

Post  herblover on 3/6/2014, 12:16 pm

Welcome Wichita!
I am not in your area but do have some suggestions. First, do you know what zone you are in? Find out that info and when the first/last frost dates are for your area. That will help you determine when to plant. Since you are just getting started I would do transplants except for those veggies that can be sown directly (lettuces, chard, kale, carrots, radishes, squash, beans). Hopefully someone more local to you can give suggestions on good local sources for transplants.
With the exception of oregano, thyme and sage the herbs you listed would be fine in an SFG. Chives are a perennial, so just know that they will always occupy that spot. Oregano and thyme will spread and sage will become a small bush in a happy spot; I have those in the ground.
Do you have the latest version of the SFG book? That will answer a lot of your questions also.
Good luck and post any questions you have; someone on the forums can almost always at least point you in the right direction. Also, check out past threads; lots of good info there also.

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Re: Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

Post  landarch on 3/6/2014, 1:27 pm

I am in Kansas City (sister went to Wichita State).  I would recommend getting a copy of Mels book...either purchase the new one or check for any edition at a local library. 

Four 4x4 boxes is a good number to start with.  I think one goal would be maximize your planning so that you can get three harvests: spring, summer, and fall.  My early season will consist of sugar peas, spinach, lettuce, radish, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, beets, carrots, and onions.  Some can be harvested in time to get the summer crops like tomatoes, peppers, and cukes into the squares.  Some take long enough (beets, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cabbage) that you can't do summer veggies in the same square...but in our area, you could put those same veggies back in for a fall crop.  Fall is actually a great time for some of our veggies because warm days and cool nights. 

Go ahead and pick out any summer (tomato, pepper, eggplant, etc) seeds and get started indoors this weekend.  Buy seedlings for other veggies that aren't direct seeded...look for people on Craigslist selling seedlings before heading off to a local garden center.

It won't be perfect your first year...but you should have plenty of stuff to pick...use it as a teaching moment and always learn and prepare for the next season.

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Re: Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

Post  Laydera on 3/6/2014, 1:28 pm

Glad to see someone in my area! Welcome!! 

I LOVE SFG and I was just like you wanting to jump in with both feet. My family size is six or eight depending on the day so I can relate wanting to have it all the first year. My advice pick what you LOVE to eat, some staples and what doesnt get to your local store very often but you would eat if price and availabilty was there. START small. We started with 2 4x4 boxes. Next year added 2 more. This year added another 2x4 and 4x4 box. you WILL eat from your garden because it is so much better then store bought. My picky kids are eating foods they never dreamed.   

I started my list with vining things because I had limited space for them. then look at whats left in your list and sort by cold season and warm season. Fill your box with some cold season ones and as they fade away plant your warm season crops in thier place. Hopefully this will help you get started. This area has plant starts for a long time. I would buy your starts for the most part and plants seeds as you aquire them. Doing half and half gives you some instant gratification and you get to watch new babies grow.
my .02 cents

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Re: Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

Post  sanderson on 3/6/2014, 5:57 pm

Kelhami,  I feel your frustration.    What a Face   I'm going to let folks in your area address what to seed at what time, or whether to start seedlings indoors.

First, do your have the area selected for your 3 boxes?  If so, build them.  Lay weed fabric underneath the boxes or line in inside bottom of the boxes.  Let's get step one out of the way.  Is there expansion room for more boxes?  Square Foot Gardening can be addictive!

For the children, they can have one or 2 squares each to tend and watch for insects, etc.  Next year, they can have their own 2' x 2' or 3' by what ever length.

Second, do you have the ingredients for the Mel's Mix?  Vermiculite, peat moss (it doubles in volume when you fluff it), and 5 different types/sources of compost?  Let us know what you have for the 5 composts.  When you have all the ingredients, start mixing batches of it and fill your boxes with more than 6" of Mel's Mix (MM), water, and top off if it's less than 6".

Third, consider this year as the Great Experiment and relax.  Forget oranges, grapefruit, bananas (more tropical), and grapes (separate planting experience), lemon grass (hard to grow) and the bay leaf TREE.  Focus on the easier, fun stuff.  Last year was my Great Experiment.  I started with 28 squares plus one wood box 1 x 1 x 1'.  Each square had something different in it.  I didn't know about companion planting or what didn't like what.  Yet, everything grew to some level of success.  Use Mel's spacing guide for each type of plants.

Plant one zucchini transplant and one yellow squash transplant in two corners where they can spill out and over.  If you build Mel's trellises, plant a row of squares with peas or beans.  Plant at least 2 types of tomatoes  in two corners and plan on caging staking or trellising them.  Peppers and basil can also be planted in squares next to the tomatoes.  Somewhere a square of onion starts (nursery or a big box home improvement store) and a square of big garlic cloves (grocery store will do).

Local cheap seeds or seedlings are fine for your first year.  If you stay active on this Forum, you will get an idea of neat varieties to try next year.  Try 4 squares of corn (2' x 2').  Silver Queen has 2 or more ears per plant so you can get 4 sq x 4 seeds x 2+ ears = 32 ears of corn.   For now, get a copy of Baker Creek catalog at www.rareseeds.com).  You will have this fall and winter to drool over it.

How many squares have you got planted so far?  Sixteen.  Only, 32 left for fun.  Two more sunny corners for cantaloupes and water melon to spill over.  3-4 of bush beans.  I think if you were going to splurge on one seed catalog packet, it should be Dragon Tongue bush beans.  Really neat coloring (I'm thinking kids).

The main thing is to get going.  Don't worry about failures.  You will learn more from failures than successes.  We post photos of our funny looking or puny veggies.   Very Happy   We are here to help once you get going.  Also, use the search box in the upper left.  So much info on this Forum than you will ever be able to read.

PS: I started this this morning and just now got back to the computer.

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OMG Thank you so much!!!

Post  kelhami on 3/7/2014, 7:39 am

You guys have been so helpful! Squeeeeeeeee!!!! Hehehe, Im uber excited now. 

@Sanderson: Thank you so much for the specific advice on what to plant where in the garden box, that helps tremendously! It was exactly the kind of info I was looking for. I will use this as a guide to begin planning out the boxes. I plan to start building this weekend. I have the box supplies, but not the supplies for trellises and such, so Ill have to look in the book and figure out what Ill need there. I do have the area chosen, for the most part. The sunniest part of the yard, I figure. And I know where that is. I did some sun/shade study last year, so Ill dig that up.

Maybe you wouldnt mind looking at these yard pics I took last year? Any suggestions you have on placement and what not are welcome! https://www.facebook.com/kelona16/media_set?set=a.10150958658526546.409395.566066545&type=3

I have *some* of the Mel's mix, just need my 5 composts now. Will be checking craigslist and probably heading to Home Depot for the rest. I will stick with all transplants for the indoor starter stuff, since that would be a whole new set of supplies and materials and more work when Im first starting. If you have recommendations for the types of composts, please do share. I know theres a wealth of types to choose from.

kelhami

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Re: Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

Post  kelhami on 3/7/2014, 7:46 am

@Laydera wrote:Glad to see someone in my area! Welcome!! 

I LOVE SFG and I was just like you wanting to jump in with both feet. My family size is six or eight depending on the day so I can relate wanting to have it all the first year. My advice pick what you LOVE to eat, some staples and what doesnt get to your local store very often but you would eat if price and availabilty was there. START small. We started with 2 4x4 boxes. Next year added 2 more. This year added another 2x4 and 4x4 box. you WILL eat from your garden because it is so much better then store bought. My picky kids are eating foods they never dreamed.   

I started my list with vining things because I had limited space for them. then look at whats left in your list and sort by cold season and warm season. Fill your box with some cold season ones and as they fade away plant your warm season crops in thier place. Hopefully this will help you get started. This area has plant starts for a long time. I would buy your starts for the most part and plants seeds as you aquire them. Doing half and half gives you some instant gratification and you get to watch new babies grow.
my .02 cents

Laydera

@Laydera: Yay! Another big family. This is great advice, thanks so much. Where is the best place locally to buy transplants, compost and supplies? ARe there any specific varieties youve worked with that stand up well to Wichita weather? I will def shape the boxes around the trellised plants since they take up alotta space. Quick question: how did you build your trellises, did you follow the directions in the book or try something else? Which direction do the trellised plants face? Im trying to understand how the shadow will be cast and how that will affect the shorter veggies. 

Did you do companion planting? Any advice there? Thank you again for all your help. Maybe you can take a look at my yard in the link below and see if you have any advice for placement of boxes and such?  https://www.facebook.com/kelona16/media_set?set=a.10150958658526546.409395.566066545&type=3


Thank you again!

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CL!

Post  kelhami on 3/7/2014, 7:53 am

@landarch wrote:I am in Kansas City (sister went to Wichita State).  I would recommend getting a copy of Mels book...either purchase the new one or check for any edition at a local library. 

Four 4x4 boxes is a good number to start with.  I think one goal would be maximize your planning so that you can get three harvests: spring, summer, and fall.  My early season will consist of sugar peas, spinach, lettuce, radish, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, beets, carrots, and onions.  Some can be harvested in time to get the summer crops like tomatoes, peppers, and cukes into the squares.  Some take long enough (beets, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cabbage) that you can't do summer veggies in the same square...but in our area, you could put those same veggies back in for a fall crop.  Fall is actually a great time for some of our veggies because warm days and cool nights. 

Go ahead and pick out any summer (tomato, pepper, eggplant, etc) seeds and get started indoors this weekend.  Buy seedlings for other veggies that aren't direct seeded...look for people on Craigslist selling seedlings before heading off to a local garden center.

It won't be perfect your first year...but you should have plenty of stuff to pick...use it as a teaching moment and always learn and prepare for the next season.

Thanks for the advice. Im going to compare your list with mine and try to follow your lead a bit since youve probably had the best success with those plants. I do have the book, the new version, wonderful book, but nothing too Kansas-specific, which is why I joined the forum with all of you great folks! Im using the book for the planting timings and building and such. Ive never done seedlings indoor... advice on supplies and such? Is it necessary to do seedlings for those summer crops or can I buy transplants at the appropriate time? What would you recommend for a first timer?

I never thought of buying seedlings on CL, wow! Thats an awesome idea. WIll def look into that. I was looking for compost on there too... llama dung, rabbit pellets and such. Is that a good idea or stick to the big box stores for compost?

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Re: Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

Post  kelhami on 3/7/2014, 7:58 am

@herblover wrote:Welcome Wichita!  
I am not in your area but do have some suggestions.  First, do you know what zone you are in?  Find out that info and when the first/last frost dates are for your area.  That will help you determine when to plant.  Since you are just getting started I would do transplants except for those veggies that can be sown directly (lettuces, chard, kale, carrots, radishes, squash, beans).  Hopefully someone more local to you can give suggestions on good local sources for transplants.
With the exception of oregano, thyme and sage the herbs you listed would be fine in an SFG.  Chives are a perennial, so just know that they will always occupy that spot.  Oregano and thyme will spread and sage will become a small bush in a happy spot; I have those in the ground.
Do you have the latest version of the SFG book?  That will answer a lot of your questions also.  
Good luck and post any questions you have; someone on the forums can almost always at least point you in the right direction.  Also, check out past threads; lots of good info there also.
Howdy herblover!

Yes, I am using the frost dates and matching that with the book to figure out what to plant when. I have really compacted clay soil, what about growing those herbs in pots? DO you suppose that would be better? I wish I could just do a box with nothing but herbs, like a 2x4 up on a table maybe... but dunno if it would be better to mix the herbs in with veggies for companion planting. 

Thanks so much for your help. Im feeling a bit less overwhelmed and more directed since posting in the forum. Still have a lotta questions, but you guys have helped tremendously.

I have a question... we're renting, and I was thinking, is there a way to design my boxes so theyd be easier to transport if we move in a year or two... I know the wood eventually rots and I know theyd weigh a ton, I was just wondering, is it feasible? I know I could put them up on cinderblocks, so they dont sink in/rot in the ground too much... anyone have experience with that?

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Re: Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

Post  boffer on 3/7/2014, 8:42 am

@kelhami wrote:I have a question... we're renting, and I was thinking, is there a way to design my boxes so theyd be easier to transport if we move in a year or two... I know the wood eventually rots and I know theyd weigh a ton, I was just wondering, is it feasible? I know I could put them up on cinderblocks, so they dont sink in/rot in the ground too much... anyone have experience with that?

Lots of info about that!  Look up 'table tops' in the index of the ANSFG book.  Then search the forum for the same thing.  Many of us have boxes off the ground, and even on wheels!

You're correct, a box full of saturated MM is heavy.  But let the MM dry out, and two wimps like me can pick the box up.   Very Happy

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Re: Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

Post  sanderson on 3/7/2014, 9:39 am

Or dry and double-bag it for the trip. Or buy 33 gallon lidded garbage cans on wheels. The cans can be re-purposed to hold finished compost, mixed MM, or dry chopped fall leaves for next spring's compost pile. I have a bad back so I shoveled and scooped out the MM, and then I could move my little boxes (1 x 3 and 1 x 4). Rehydrate the MM when you get to your new home to revive the microbes.

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Re: Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

Post  herblover on 3/7/2014, 12:23 pm

My boxes have a plywood bottom and are elevated (not very far) on bricks because the area they are in is not level, is the swale where water flows to the storm sewer and is also a utility easement.  Movable if necessary.

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Re: Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

Post  quiltbea on 3/7/2014, 1:10 pm

And yes, putting herbs in large pots is ideal.  You can place them close to your kitchen door so you can snip whatever you need for supper tonite.  As a rule, herbs don't need as much water as regular crops.

parsley in a pot.

I agree on two other things.  Start small.  Don't overwhelm yourself the first year.  And yes, you do want to get started THIS year.  Get your hands dirty for a season before expanding.

Buy your transplants and herbs this first year except for things that can be sown directly from seed in your garden: spinach, peas, lettuce, radishes, greens, bush beans, carrots and such.

Good luck.

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Re: Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

Post  sanderson on 3/7/2014, 3:09 pm

@quiltbea wrote:And yes, putting herbs in large pots is ideal.  You can place them close to your kitchen door so you can snip whatever you need for supper tonite. 

I agree on two other things.  Start small.  Don't overwhelm yourself the first year.  And yes, you do want to get started THIS year.  Get your hands dirty for a season before expanding.

Good luck.

+1

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Re: Newbie in Wichita, KS. Where to begin? What to plant?

Post  Goosegirl on 3/9/2014, 6:42 am

@quiltbea wrote:And yes, putting herbs in large pots is ideal.  You can place them close to your kitchen door so you can snip whatever you need for supper tonite.  As a rule, herbs don't need as much water as regular crops.

parsley in a pot.

I agree on two other things.  Start small.  Don't overwhelm yourself the first year.  And yes, you do want to get started THIS year.  Get your hands dirty for a season before expanding.

Buy your transplants and herbs this first year except for things that can be sown directly from seed in your garden: spinach, peas, lettuce, radishes, greens, bush beans, carrots and such.

Good luck.
+1 what Quiltbea said!

A belated welcome to the N&C Midwest region!  I have been out of commission for about a month and am now trying to catch up on the forum.  Definitely start off easy but GET DIRTY! 

As far as starting seeds indoors, I waited until the second season to attempt it, just so I had more time to plan it out and budget it.  I started with an 18" undercounter fluorescent fixture velcro'd to the underside of a bookshelf and a heating pad.  It worked!  Each year I have expanded a bit so as not to overwhelm myself.  but anything that will sprout inground and be able to grow to maturity within my limited season does not get planted indoors by me.  I save that effort for some experiments!

GG

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