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Vegetable Garden Ideas


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Hi All... I'm currently the Sous at a kids camp in N.C. We have a nice herb garden that we use whenever possible. I've gotten the director to buy in on a vegetable garden to boot. We have lots of acreage and free man power (nice problem to have).

My question is .... What Top 5 items would you grow ???

on my list right now are....

...Heirloom Tomato

...Zucc & Squash

...Green bean

...White Corn

...Spring Onion

Thanks

Jimmy

Edited by JimmyWu (log)

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peas.

normally I wouldn't suggest corn, but at a summer camp, the lucky kids would really like it. just keep in mind that corn depletes nitrogen at a very high pace. Plant peas in the same place next year and dig in the pea plants.

potatoes are also fun for kids ... digging through the dirt for them is like treasure hunting.

I guess I would try to stick to product that is somehow kid-friendly.

Radishes are extremely fast to harvest, as little as a month.

I enjoyed pulling carrots as a kid. I don't know why but there was something satisfying about pulling up a carrot.

ETA: As a matter of fact ... we just put some radishes in a cold frame today! flicker set

Edited by mtigges (log)
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Like mtigges, I normally would not suggest corn -- but in your case, if you really have lots of space and lots of labor, it could work. Plant corn varieties that will ripen in succession, and space them to prevent cross-pollination.

Tomatoes are a must, of course. Lately, I've been focusing on cherry-tomatoes, and "one size up" from that (e.g., fruits from about 1/2" to about 2.5" diameter). They aren't as much trouble, and, again, it is fun for kids to harvest them.

With hbk, I'd go with snap peas, and perhaps (if labor really isn't a problem) traditional shelling peas, as well -- but only if you can get someone else to shell them. :rolleyes:

French fillet beans are a good choice from a culinary standpoint. But they are mostly bush beans, and growing pole beans might be more fun. Either way, though.

Er, that's four already, isn't it? Oh well. If I had to limit it to 5, I'd add some lettuce and call it. Otherwise I'd plant some cukes, some melons...

jk

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I'd add to the above:

White/yellow/red onions

Loose Leaf & Romaine lettuce (Fall/Spring)

Look into sheet composting or "lasagna" gardening, I did this in my back yard with great results and it costs very little to do.

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I would add some stuff they might not be inclined to eat, if they weren't growing it, like Japanese eggplant, or beets. Both are pretty to look at, easy, and just a little different.

Asparagus

Watermelon

Pumpkins

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I would add some stuff they might not be inclined to eat, if they weren't growing it, like Japanese eggplant, or beets.  Both are pretty to look at, easy, and just a little different.

Asparagus

Watermelon

Pumpkins

I could see kids getting a kick out of yard long beans if they aren't too difficult to grow.

My list would be:

Tomatoes

Cukes

Bell peppers

pole beans

Radishes/potatoes/carrots (one thing they can dig in the dirt for)

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Is this a summer camp? If so, the asparagus and peas will be done before the kids show up for camp.

Veggies that will produce subtantially for you throught the hot NC summer: squash, eggplant, okra (though good luck getting the kids to eat that!), peppers (they like the danger of hot peppers), arugula, cukes. They will certainly eat and enjoy salad greens.

Why not add some berries? Do you have the space for blackberries or blueberries? If your camp in in the mountains, there may be wild berry bushes on the property.

Watermelon is a camp must. When I was a camper, the owners brought in a truck load of melons, and we spent the evening eating slices (I always salted mine), spitting seeds and feeding the rinds to the horses. of course, space is an issue, and if you're in the mountains, you won't have melons until late July.

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Hey... Thanks for the great ideas, please keep them coming !

What I've decided to do is compile a list made from your suggestions and later submit it for approval. I'll update on the various goings on with the garden (i.e. dimensions, planting, varieties, pest control and harvesting).

In answer to a couple of questions.... We are a year round camp, not in the mountains but in the piedmont. For you non North Cackolacans that translates to the middle of the state. So the world is our oyster as far as growing season is concerned. I've been able to get 2 crops of tomato out in a year. Which translates to LOOOONNNG.

Here's what I have so far...

Mustard & Collards, Watermelon

Asparagus, Cantalope

Garlic, Strawberries

Lettuce, Potatoes

Cukes, R. & G. Peppers

Peas, Radishes

Carrots, All types of Onion

Pumpkin, Black and Blueberries

A question though... Asparagus takes 3 years to grow ? I didn't know that. Also, I don't believe cross pollination is a matter of concern unless we keep seed for the next year. But that being said, my experience in gardening up until this point has been home based.

Regards,

Jimmy

Edited by JimmyWu (log)

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Sounds like fun. The kids here like:

1. tomatoes

2. zucchini/squash

3. potatoes

4. chard/spinach

5. herbs - all kinds

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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As you have plenty of space, you might want to consider planting popcorn as well. The kids can plant in the spring, harvest in late fall, strip the ears during the winter, and then pop the stuff on an inexpensive hot air popper whenever snack time rolls around.

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Asparagus is a perennial. That part of your garden will be asparagus until it fails or you decide to dig it up. If grown from seed you will not see a yield the first year, and the second year you won't get much. You can purchase crowns, they're generally better but obviously more expensive. It's best not to harvest the first year regardless.

This seems like a good resource, I didn't read it all, and I think they're overly conservative to say 3 years from crowns for full production. It will increase each year until it is fully settled in, but you should have good harvest the second year.

It sounds though like you may be too warm there where you are.

Mark.

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Thanks for the link Mark...It's a good read. I had no idea asparagus was that involved, no wonder it tastes so good. It probably is to warm here though, quite a shame to invest years pushing a square peg into a round hole. I like the idea of nurturing something like that for the table though. Makes me wonder about some fruit trees and their viability.

As a side note, I now have an excuse to compost. Till now i've been bringing home the scraps for my own compost pile in the woods.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Actually, people do grow asparagus in the Piedmont. A friend of mine used to be an asparagus picker! Here're the facts from the NC State extension office: Asparagus

If your camp is year-round, then you can add some other crops, such as broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, kale, hardy spinach, collards, etc. Don't forget sweet potatoes! They are the state vegetable.

My neighbor is a North Carolina Master Gardener, and she suggested this link to me for in-depth info on Vegetable Crops for the Southeastern United States

This is a long document, but a great resource as it will give you suggestions for best varieties

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kids are more likely to stay interested in things that:

grow quickly

have interesting colors

taste good

so...

Easter Egg Radishes: purple, white, pink & red. Approx. 30 days

Red lettuce

Thai basil

Yellow tomatoes

Striped zucchini or romanesco

Of course, it makes life easier if the stuff we grow is also easy to prepare and serve :-)

and don't forget hardy herbs, like rosemary (although a lot of kids don't like it), parsley, thyme, basil. And sunflowers. Or, edible flowers?

Karen Dar Woon

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Hey... Thanks for the great ideas, please keep them coming !

A question though... Asparagus takes 3 years to grow ? I didn't know that. Also, I don't believe cross pollination is a matter of concern unless we keep seed for the next year. But that being said, my experience in gardening up until this point has been home based.

Regards,

Jimmy

Cross-pollination is generally not a problem unless you are saving seeds for next year. Corn is a different story. You are eating the seeds (corn kernels) in the year in which they are grown, and cross-pollinated corn is usually a disaster. You can avoid this problem by planting early maturing and a late maturing varieties. Just don't plant two or more varieties that mature at around the same time.

Asparagus crowns are a much better choice than seed for most gardens. You can get a small crop the second year, and a good crop the third year. Do some research on this. The crowns need to be planted in trenches with lots of compost.

Jim

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fun topic!

You mentioned that you already had an herb garden. Does that mean enough room for a big patch of basil? kids like it, and like making pesto since it involves pasta, a favorite food group.

A berry patch (strawberries, raspberies, blueberries, etc.) is is a great idea. Your kids may not be growing them from seed, but they'll love picking and eating them. And if you plant the full range, then there will always be some berry in season for each group of kids. it will be less work for you, in the long run, to have something that you can count on annually.

also, if you want kids to be able to eat what they sow, then something like radishes, which germinate quickly, are essential. otherwise, snap peas and beans, which climb quickly enough for kids to notice, are fun and delicious.

in the tomato family, for kids, cherry tomatoes are a must.

I am so jealous of your long growing season!!


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Thanks for the replies.... I had been thinking about edible flowers especially for garnishing purposes. Sunflowers are a great idea as well as a berry patch. Strawberries being my favorite !!!

A quick update on what's going on with the garden. Discussions are under way as to how and what type of garden to do. We have many options...

We have been growing herbs in huge 50 gallon planters. Cherry tomatoes could be planted in more of these to give kids quick access to picking, washing and eating.

The CEO and camp founder owns a farm and has previously expressed interest in growing produce for the camp.

My desire would be to place it behind our eating hall, as this would expedite time management for the kitchenstaff as well as me.

Lastly, it would be placed in a central location and become a new program for the kids to take place in on a regular basis. This is probably the best option all around. We may be able to expose a child to gardening/farming who has never set foot on a farm before. Also, that one picky eater just might try a bite of tomato because he or she picked it.

On a side note, I can't wait to see the expressions on some on our externs faces when it's their turn to shovel horse manure for the compost pile...

-Jimmy

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I totally agree on the cherry tomatoes - the smaller they are, the faster they ripen, and the less chance there is for disease or pests to get at them, meaning that you can often avoid pesticides, fungicides etc.

Somebody mentioned yard-long beans (AKA snake beans). They are very resistant to disease, and tender if cooked when young (before the beans inside make the pod swell at all. Especially good in stir-fries), but they need temps in the high 80s F (over 30degC) to germinate, and they are not truly happy until the temperatures are in the mid-90s. However, even if flowers fail to fully open, they seem to be pollinated by ants etc crawling into the flowers. If you don't cut off the flower stems, they will grow new flower buds at the ENDS of those stems - they don't grow new flower stems from the main vine, as you might expect!

Seems to me that your climate would suit zucchini most of the summer? You can use the male blossoms as well as the fruit, of course.

Pea-sprouts - Sow peas very thickly, and simply shear off the young sprouts to use in stirfries etc. I like the fact that I can get 2-3 cuttings from these.

All these (unless you plant bush zucchini) will climb, and it might be fun to make bowers or garden seating shade areas with climbers.

Asian eggplants are smaller and crop faster than regular large ones.

Eda-mame (green soybeans) are super-easy to grow, and very easy to eat (simply trim the leaves, and snip the stem between "bunches" of pods, serve sprinkled with coarse salt, and allow diners to pop them out the pods straight into their mouths). Buy a soybean variety specially intended for eating as eda-mame.

For fall, what about flowering broccoli rabe and varieties of asian mustard that are eaten flowers and all? Brassica campestris "autumn poem" is one, but there are several others.

Friends also tell me that brussels sprouts are more resistant to disease and pests than other hearting cabbages or broccoli/cauliflower, and you can "cut and come again" with them over a period of time.

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