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I'm brand new to gardening and just got one of these to put on my deck and try to grow some vegetables for the spring and summer. The bed is roughly 30 inches x 20 inches, so it is pretty small. Also, to give you an idea of climate, I live in Pittsburgh, PA.

I want to try to grow the following plants from seeds:

  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • carrots
  • kale
  • broccoli

My questions are - how far apart should I place each of these plants, and how many seeds per hole should I use? Also, is there anything else I should watch out for or avoid?

Thanks for your help, and happy gardening!

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Welcome to Vegetable Gardening! To start off, you want to prepare your soil. Mix some soil, compost and fertilizer in the planter. I prefer organic material but that is optional. In terms of spacing, that is generally provided on the seed packets. Take a look at the packet and it will give you recommendations on how far to space the seeds for planting. I have grown kale and broccoli and their leaves tend to be large so may take up a lot of space but it may also depend on the variety of kale. Best to look at the packets for spacing seeds. I generally put 2 seeds per hole. If both germinate (which happens often), I cut off (not pull) the one that does not look as healthy. You can start off with one seed per hold as well. If you can't fit all the vegetables in the planter, you may want to consider planting some of them in fall. Carrot would be a good candidate for that and perhaps others as well.

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Make sure you use potting soil! Do not use garden soil. What is this automatic watering gig with this planter? Put this planter in the sun for starters. Use good ole OSMOCOTE 14-14-14 one time at the beginning mixed into your soil. Less is better. I don't like starting seeds in such a large POT. It would be far better to purchase some of those little peat pots to start your plants. You will also be able to know what has germinated and what has not. Once you've got plants that have roots going out through the bottom it is time to plant in your planter.

I would try a huge batch of peas for the spring. These you won't have to start in tiny pots. Peas love the cold nights of spring and you won't go wrong. Press your potting soil down to get rid of air pockets. Place seeds on top 3 inches from each other. Forget rows. Push the seeds gently into the soil at least an inch to 1 1/2". You'll have to add a support once they get going.

Water by hand. Now is not the time to mess with automation anything. Water ONLY when dry at least one inch from the surface once your plants have 2 to 3 sets of leaves. Otherwise keep the surface moist while peas are babies. Try to not use tap water. Bottled water is far better. Peas are very forgiving.

The next batch of vegetables should be a SALAD BOWL. Mix all kinds of lettuce, spinach, radishes, carrots and after firming NEW SOIL and sprinkle over the top. Not too thickly. Cover with a 1/4 " of soil from your bag and again firm soil and seed. A couple of seeds per square inch. The radishes will mature first and you can pull them to eat and cause more room for the lettuce. As soon as the lettuce has baby leaves start gobbling them up. Choose a few lettuces to allow to mature. Pull the lettuce roots and all to allow room for a few mature heads. The carrots will mature last. While plants are tiny, use a spray bottle to moisten the soil, do not soak the entire pot of soil.

I'd get a few of these planters or go and get pots. Use STARTS from the store or try germinating your own; broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes. For a planter this size use only 2 tomato plants. Seriously. Using just pots with drain holes is plenty to grow all kinds of stuff. I've grown cucumbers, 4 starts per 10 gallon pot for instance. They all need sun all day to produce edibles in any quantity.

Make sure you use POTTING SOIL. Do not bother with making your own or using your garden soil! That Osmocote fertilizer will be all that is necessary, follow the directions to the letter! You should only use once for the season. Automatic watering is only for experts do not try to use that. Make sure your pot drains well...do not put any rock or gravel beneath the soil. Put a tray beneath to protect your deck and don't allow water to sit in the tray at the bottom beneath the drain hole where the pot is in contact with the water.

This is a great way to begin gardening. Don't expect total success and do keep asking questions. Every question you ask that we can answer will help you to not have to learn by mistakes...like the rest of us have already done!

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    All good advice, but I wouldn't recommend peas, because they won't produce much "yield per square foot of space", and they won't actually taste any better than good quality frozen peas! Also, they will probably all mature at once, so you will have more than you can eat for a few days, and nothing apart from that. Dwarf (or French) beans will give you much more to eat, and pretty flowers that attract butterflies and other insects as well. As for the general question, the basic information about planting distances etc should be printed on the seed packets - just follow the instructions! – alephzero Apr 5 '17 at 10:45
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    I just like to comment on the bottled water use recommedation: In europe you can use regular tap water, if you live in a region that doesn't add chlorine to the water. – Tschallacka Apr 5 '17 at 11:38
  • Thank you for the very thorough answer! Much appreciated! :-) – Nick Tiberi Apr 5 '17 at 13:43
  • @alephzero What the heck are you saying? Peas make a huge harvest, hell they go vertical and my 3X3' pea patches produce more than any other plant outside potatoes. There are as many vegetative leaves as there are peas by weight! Grins. Seriously! And they are one of the best plants that are not fussy or needy to give a great first harvest and a long one for this purpose, and gives someone a bit of confidence to try other things.... – stormy Apr 5 '17 at 19:13
  • @alephzero and they are the best for vertical gardening making even more harvest per sq. ft....you gotta explain to me mo betta!! – stormy Apr 5 '17 at 19:14

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