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I'm planting my first garden in the city. I'm limited on space, it’s a space about 6' by 9'. I may have been a little bit too eager and I went out and bought a ton of plants (list below). As I was digging up the space where I was to plant I realized that the construction crew that built/renovated the house years ago dumped a ton of bricks, cement and cinder blocks in the area. It took me about 5 hours of hardcore labor today to get them out. Do you think I should test the PH of my dirt since there was all that rubble in it? I hope the trash trucks can lift my cans in the alley (is it legal to dump construction waste in the trash cans?)

As I'm nursing my blisters, I wanted to share the beginning of my project and I’m certainly open to anyone’s tips on gardening in the city.

Specifically I’m wondering if anyone has tips on Intercropping which I read the definition as “Intercropping is the growing technique of planting fast growing vegetables among slow growing vegetables. An example of this technique would be planting radishes, lettuce or green onions among caged tomato plants.”

I have another small space if my quest is impossible and also about 5 or 6 fairly large pots I can plant in too but would hope to try to fit most in my garden space if I can with the exception of the shizo which I’ll probably plant elsewhere in the yard since I heard it’s basically a weed and will grow anywhere. The things I sprouted from seed are very abundant and I probably don’t need to plant them all. I guess any suggestions on how many to plant would be appreciated too. Also I’ll say how tall they are in case anyone has a suggestion of when to put them outside in the garden exposed to the weather.

Thanks for any suggestions on how, where, or when to plant them.

Anyhow, here is what I have:

15 to 20 - shizo (aka. perilla, aka. beefsteak plant) plants which I sprouted from seeds which are about 1 inch tall (anyone want one?)

10 to 15 - tomato plants which are now about 1.5 inches tall which I sprouted from seeds too.

10 to 15 – ??? ok sorry, this is an unknown lettuce leaf that I got from chicago food corp with the shizo, looks like it grows similar to collards, not in a head like head letuce.

1 – Cayenne pepper plant (about 4 inches tall)

1 - jalapeno plant (about 6 inches tall)

9 – Collard Greens Plants (few inches tall)

9 Brussel Sprouts plants (few inches tall)

I have seed packages of the following: 1 package - Lima beans

1 package - Beets

1 package - Scallions

Wow, writing out this list makes me realize that this is never going to happen in my garden space. I guess I’ll figure something out.
I’ll keep everyone updated with pics once I get them planted.
Last edited by laikom on May 8th 2008, 4:38am, edited 1 time in total.
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Testing the soil for lead is even more important than pH given all the construction debris that was hauled out. The probability of lead-based paint chips dispersed in the soil is high. The pH may well be fairly high from limestone and other components of concrete or lime mortar on old bricks.

Staked tomatoes pruned to a single stem need to be at least 18 inches apart. That close spacing will adversely affect production. Tomatoes produce better when they have plenty of room and full sun. Fewer plants are likely to yield more tomatoes.

I practice intercropping, which requires careful selection of plants so that one type is out of the way before another needs the room. With tomatoes this requires plants that are cold-tolerant and planted earlier than now. I have snow and sugar snap peas growing where one tomato trellis will be. I also have lettuce growing in space that the tomatoes will cover later on. You may be able to grow something near the edge of the plot holding tomatoes providing you pay attention to light requirements. The area for tomatoes is about six by ten feet and takes four tomatoes on one trellis and three tomatoes plus one hill of bush pickling cucumbers on the other. The trellises are three feet apart and six feet tall. We prune the tomatoes in more or less of a multi-stem espalier on the trellises. One side of the garden is next to a patio while there is a narrow strip of concrete between the other side and the garage.

In the other part of my two-year crop rotation I have spinach, mustard and arugula for early greens in space where succession plantings of herbs will go. Other herbs and late greens will follow onions in another part of this same rotation section. The Italian dandelions will produce for the full season.
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15 to 20 - shizo (aka. perilla, aka. beefsteak plant) plants which I sprouted from seeds which are about 1 inch tall (anyone want one?)


I'd love a couple of the little fellas, if you can spare them. I have a nice space with wonderful, well-drained soil and 8+ hours of sun a day for them - they'll be very happy among the ornamental alliums and the Asiatic lilies, near their relatives, the Thai basil. PM me! :D
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Thanks for the tips. I'll definately check for lead too, good point! Also, sundevilpeg, i sent you a PM. I probably have more like 30 of them so i'll be able to part with more if anyone else wants some. I dumped the extra seeds in a pot in the yard and they all sprouted too. They really do grow like weeds!
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