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Old 05-21-2008, 01:29 PM   #1
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Initiate the rookie gardener (me!)

Hey folks,

I used to lurk here a few years back and posted occassionally. Now that I'm married and doing much more cooking, I'm back to stay. :)

Last week we took a trip to the local garden center and bought some pots, soil, a tomatoe plant and a bunch of herbs (rosemary, basil, oregano, cuban oregano, and parsely). The rosemary, oregano, and parsely are all together in a large pot. The tomatoe is planted with 3 lettuce plants in a large pot. The basil is on its own in a medium pot. The cuban oregano is on its own in a small pot indoors.

I'm really concerned about the amount of sunlight in the tomatoe and lettuce are getting. Our "yard" is between a tall house and a garage in an urban area, so they'll be in shade most of the day. I THINK the area between the houses gets more direct sun but I can't be sure. Question 1: Does tomatoe need as much big bright sun as I hear? Question 2: The tomatoe plant's leaves drape over the lettuce quite a bit. The plants also sit 2 or 3 inches lower than the rim of the pot. Is the lettuce going to get enough sun?

Question3: At what point can I start taking a bit of the herbs for cooking? Their only a few inches tall and I'm affraid by taking much of the leaves I'll kill off the plant

Question 4: What were some of the things you learned the hard way when you first started gardening?

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Old 05-21-2008, 01:51 PM   #2
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Well, let's see. First, welcome back to DC!

1. My neighbor has her tomato pots in most-day shade and she gets tons of tomatoes. She plants Early Girls, which are ready for her to pick the latter part of August. Tomatoes like hot weather - where are you?

2. Lettuce likes cooler weather. You may be done with your lettuce before the tomatoes ripen, so the tomato leaves shouldn't be a problem. If it's hot where you are, and depending on your variety, your lettuce may bolt early.

3. Not sure how to answer the question about when the herbs will be ready to be picked. You really have to eyeball it, and just not decimate the plants. Make sure you pinch off flower buds and flowers, so the herbs will keep growing and not go to seed.

4. I've learned:
- For the most part, I like to grow each herb and vegetable in it's own pot. I know people do some creative and beautiful mixed containers, but I'm not good at that. Plus, I like each plant to grow as large as possible.

- I use ALL plastic containers (I leave the soil in them and leave them out all winter, which you cannot do with terra cotta and some other materials).

- I water every day when the sun is out (you may not have to), and small containers get watered twice a day. So do large containers of sunflowers.

- Mix in some pots of flowers with your edibles. Attracts bees and makes the garden even more beautiful!

Lee
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Old 05-21-2008, 02:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QSis View Post
1. My neighbor has her tomato pots in most-day shade and she gets tons of tomatoes. She plants Early Girls, which are ready for her to pick the latter part of August. Tomatoes like hot weather - where are you?
Chicago. I guess it would have been smart for me to remember what variety of tomatoe we got... so I'll have to ask my lovely wife tonight. I believe it was the "heartland" variety.

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Originally Posted by QSis View Post
2. Lettuce likes cooler weather. You may be done with your lettuce before the tomatoes ripen, so the tomato leaves shouldn't be a problem. If it's hot where you are, and depending on your variety, your lettuce may bolt early.
The lady at the greenhouse told us basically the same. The lettuce is going to be "done" before the tomatoes. I guess I was just worried that the tomatoe plant cut off the sunlight from the lettuce.

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3. Not sure how to answer the question about when the herbs will be ready to be picked. You really have to eyeball it, and just not decimate the plants. Make sure you pinch off flower buds and flowers, so the herbs will keep growing and not go to seed.
I guess I don't have a feeling for "decimating", but I was originally thinking about 10 % of the available sprigs... which when you think of it is decimation in the literal sense. :)

Question on Potting: Do you fill it mostly to the rim with soil? Ours have 3 inches or more from the rim to the top of the soil.
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Old 05-21-2008, 02:52 PM   #4
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I wanted to welcome you back, but I did not have any words of wisdom for your gardening questions. I actually was watching this thread for the answers you got and then pop in and say "HI!". I too have just started gardening this past year and could be in the "rookie" division with you.
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Old 05-22-2008, 08:16 AM   #5
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Question on Potting: Do you fill it mostly to the rim with soil? Ours have 3 inches or more from the rim to the top of the soil.

I'm assuming that your pots are pretty big, so that seems reasonable. I start out new pots with about that much "headroom", then when I top them off and mix in new soil every spring, they fill up more. You don't really pull out much dirt when you rip up the plants, so after a couple of years, I actually have to remove some old soil to replace it with new stuff.

And, I think if you take up to 10% of your young herbs, you will be fine.

Lee
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Old 05-22-2008, 10:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QSis View Post
Well, let's see. First, welcome back to DC!

1. My neighbor has her tomato pots in most-day shade and she gets tons of tomatoes. She plants Early Girls, which are ready for her to pick the latter part of August. Tomatoes like hot weather - where are you?
Is this deep shade, as in blocked by a wall, or dappled shade, as in under trees? That makes a difference. Tomatoes really do need quite a bit of sun to do well.
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Old 05-22-2008, 10:22 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Medwayman View Post
I guess I don't have a feeling for "decimating", but I was originally thinking about 10 % of the available sprigs... which when you think of it is decimation in the literal sense. :)
I would wait until the herbs are at least a foot high and wide before harvesting. Then, 10 percent is reasonable, and never take more than 1/3.

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Question on Potting: Do you fill it mostly to the rim with soil? Ours have 3 inches or more from the rim to the top of the soil.
Most of my herbs and veggies are in the ground, but I always put mulch on top of the soil of potted plants. This minimizes moisture loss and helps keep the roots cool. I'd add a couple inches of mulch to your pots. HTH.
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Old 05-22-2008, 04:21 PM   #8
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Is this deep shade, as in blocked by a wall, or dappled shade, as in under trees? That makes a difference. Tomatoes really do need quite a bit of sun to do well.
Blocked by wall. Back yard looks like this (pipes indicating walls, slashes indicates shade zone): |\/| (first half of the day, the house wall creates shade. Late afternoon its getting some sun, but its not as intense as that bright morning sun.

There's a narrow walkway that gets a pretty constant beam of sun through the morning and we're thking of moving them all there.
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Old 05-23-2008, 06:03 AM   #9
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QSis is dead on. Herbs, about 6" and don't pick more than 1/3 at a time. Pinching back allows plants to get bushy rather than leggy and going to seed. And they like that and will reward you doing so. Herbs like rich, drainable soil and not kept too wet. Let the soil dry between watering and not sit in water.
If you just remember where there natural environment is and duplicate it, everything should thrive.
Most of all, enjoy!
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Old 05-23-2008, 07:00 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
Is this deep shade, as in blocked by a wall, or dappled shade, as in under trees? That makes a difference. Tomatoes really do need quite a bit of sun to do well.
Well, the sun hits my neighbors' tomatoes around noon, then the tomatoes are shaded by trees from maybe 3 pm. on. So I guess 3 hours is plenty.

Here are pictures of their very last picking in September, after harvesting tons of tomatoes for a month.

Lee


By qsis, shot with Canon PowerShot S230 at 2008-05-23


By qsis, shot with Canon PowerShot S230 at 2008-05-23


By qsis, shot with Canon PowerShot S230 at 2008-05-23
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