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 Post subject: a tour of my garden. (aka scrounging for space)
PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:56 pm 
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Location: 5 mi east of philly
i live in a little town that's part of a cluster of little towns just outside camden NJ, so our lots aren't really all that big. (and i can't dig up the entire back yard because we have a dog, and she needs a bathroom and zoomie space) so i make due with what we have.

for the past 7 years i've only been working with the 3-4 foot deep separation between my foundation and the neighbor's driveway. for the first few years it was great, because we didn't have neighbors, or there were renters, but 3 years ago we got permanent neighbors and i'm antisocial, and feel bad about trodding on their driveway, so last year my tomatoes all rotted due to not feeling comfortable gardening there. (at least the tomatoes that weren't stolen by the neighborhood squirrels rotted that is.)

the first new garden space i built this year was for the tomatoes and peas (i wanted to take advantage of the support our 4 foot tall fence can provide, and it was awful having grass right up on the fence, cause it kept encroaching on the strawberry patch, and i ended up just giving up last year and letting the grass overtake. i sunk some garden edging down and on the outside of it, i put a line of bricks, so it's easy for the lawnmower to glide along, and the grass that isn't mown can easily be removed by hand or whacker.

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we have a planter on wheels in the concrete space just to the bottom of the picture filled with mint. it fits perfectly, and the gate opens up just fine.

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i'll put the rest behind a spoiler in case there's someone on a slow connection or something.
Spoiler: show
here you can see the boysenberries on the garage. i'm going to need to add some stakes and wire to the center of the plants. the wire trellis on the garage isn't enough.
as you can see, sinking the edging and adding bricks to that part of the garden wasn't a high priority, cause i wanted to get the other new gardens done. (and then it started getting too hot to do much of anything)

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this year i finally made use of the newspapers i've been storing in the garage since 2009. first i covered up the grass next to my other neighbor's fence (i'm sure she's happy since that's where she was growing her tomatoes, and we were bad neighbors/lazy and weeds were growing tall on that tiny plot.) i've planted chard and only 4 green bean plants (but more seeds are going in today to replace these when they are spent) 2 salt and pepper cucumbers and some kale. SO much better than the weeds. and this way we get produce out of it.

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the 2nd "new garden" project this year was replacing the front lawn with a garden. it turns out this method needs more soil than i was expecting, and it gets expensive, so i'll probably put off building the left hand side until next year. i realised all too late that i could use some of the cardboard i've been collecting as well as the newspaper. (it was taking a very large portion of my time separating the colored pages out of the newspaper, and then we had weeks of non-stop rain. it took much longer than i was expecting to build this one garden. if only i thought of the cardboard thing sooner. a combo of cardboard and newspaper seems to be ideal. (cardboard for the muscle, and newspaper under the gaps in the flaps, and a layer on top to keep the cardboard from slipping apart from each other, and avoid the soil/mulch from getting down in the cracks.) then i cut up the bags that the compost comes in to form the walkways, and i put mulch on top of that.

as you can see i am on a hiatus. this heatwave is brutal. i'll pick back up when it cools down a bit. (also, you can see my almost tipping wall. the previous owners were unskilled DIYers, and didn't provide any drainage.)
right now i am growing peppers and regrowing my zucchini after they died when i transplanted some lovely flowering vines. green bean seeds had been planted last week around the peppers in the center. i also bought some more strawberries for the front bit that hasn't been built yet, but it's been so long that the dormant roots are probably all dried out. (definitely underestimated how long it was going to take)
you can see the two plum trees and the oakleaf hydrangea (which the bees just LOVE!!!) on the far side (that needs to move slightly. we planted it when we had giant rhododendrons against the house. but one died, so we took them both down. i also wanted fruit trees instead anyway.) :-)

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which brings us around to the left side (most southerly side) of the house and the original first garden (and pretty much the only garden i was working with between 2005 and last year. i was avoiding working next to the garage because we had wasps. they hadn't been around this year, so whew! when we moved in, this part was covered by a concrete sidewalk and lined with irises along the foundation. they were renting out the upstairs, but it seems like a pointless walkway anyway, even if someone WAS renting. so out it came. the grape vine is a few years old. this is all new growth this year. (last year we had inadequate wire, and it totally snapped under the weight. this year i got picture hanging wire, and instead of zig-zagging it up the anchors as one long piece, i made separate appx 16-foot lengths. (that way there's less stress on the wire as a whole, and if there's a weak spot in one, the other wires will still be standing strong. it's working amazingly! the only thing is that we used plastic anchors last year, and the UV made them all crack. if they start to disintegrate more, we'll replace them with the metal ones. we did expand the trellis this year, so we got the lead anchors, and ended up just screwing regular galvanized screws into them instead of the eye hooks we had been using. (seems to be more convenient. no threading through. just wrap around once.)

here you can see the huge grape vine, the tiny asparagus patch to the left, and some pumpkins. (there are some kale offscreen to the right) the squash were getting chlorotic a few weeks ago because of all the rain. i was afraid they weren't going to pull through, but now there is beautiful green growth at the tips. and next year i will definitely grow them in a hill. (now i understand why that's recommended.)

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i've decided to train part of the butternut up the trellis. (you can also see my bronze fennel flowering) i've got 2 babies! i hand pollinated them yesterday, and they're already getting bigger.

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closeup of the trellis. this was last year's test-run equipment with the plastic anchor and spray painted (non-galvanized) eye hook. (i am in love with this picture hanging wire.) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00504 ... UTF8&psc=1

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and finally we loop back around to the backyard where we have the blueberry patch. (the big 'un has been around for years, but for some reason, the ones closer to the house don't do very well. so i ordered some new ones that are supposed to handle heat better than some others. (that part gets a bit more sun than the big guy, so that's the only think i could think of.) they went in on thanksgiving along with the boysenberries and the plum trees. this plot will also get edging and bricks, but it's low priority.

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we're also tackling the ivy on the (crumbling) back wall in hopes of growing part-shade stuff. (maybe kale and lettuce might do better there.) that'll eventually be another 3 foot by 25 foot plot to work in. maybe next year. i was actually thinking honeyberries might do well there. maaaaaybe. :-) i hope you had fun.

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 Post subject: Re: a tour of my garden. (aka scrounging for space)
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:59 am 
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(maybe it was unwise to put most of my post behind a spoiler. it might have been easily missed. sorry if that was the case.)

i just started harvesting my blueberries the other day. i didn't net them cause it's a pain in the butt due to the fence. so i've been collecting the blue ones before they get super dark. they're still tasty, but really tart. i can't wait until next year when i have a boatload of boysenberries. eee!

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 Post subject: Re: a tour of my garden. (aka scrounging for space)
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:12 am 
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This looks awesome! I wish I had so much room for a garden. I have a balcony, but I've been traveling this summer and decided against creating some pots since I wouldn't be around to tend to them. Next year it's going to happen.


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 Post subject: Re: a tour of my garden. (aka scrounging for space)
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:20 pm 
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pickledtreats wrote:
This looks awesome! I wish I had so much room for a garden. I have a balcony, but I've been traveling this summer and decided against creating some pots since I wouldn't be around to tend to them. Next year it's going to happen.

soaker hoses on a timer is a lifesaver. does your balcony have a faucet? i also love the big boxes for planters. they hold a lot of soil so they're less likely to dry out.

also, if you're done traveling for the year, you might still have some time to plant. especially kale and other short season plants.

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 Post subject: Re: a tour of my garden. (aka scrounging for space)
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:43 am 
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Everything looks great!

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 Post subject: Re: a tour of my garden. (aka scrounging for space)
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 8:22 am 
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I have so much room and yet I only grow lemons. You should come down here in the fall and start a garden. (February is strawberry season!)

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 Post subject: Re: a tour of my garden. (aka scrounging for space)
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 11:11 am 
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IsaChandra wrote:
Everything looks great!

thanks! :-)

Vantine wrote:
I have so much room and yet I only grow lemons. You should come down here in the fall and start a garden. (February is strawberry season!)

i wish!

i had a short-lived dream of getting some land off an exit of a highway and building a farm and a sort of motel/grocery store combo. perfect for the road trippers. maybe some day. (if we ever win the lottery. pshaw!) maybe we can combine this idea with the PPK retirement home. :-)

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 Post subject: Re: a tour of my garden. (aka scrounging for space)
PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:11 pm 
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Great use of space for your front garden! That's what I did too, when I lived in Seattle on a tiny lot. Your soil pH may be too high for your Blueberries to thrive next to the wall - leaching from the mortar. Blueberries love acid soil.

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 Post subject: Re: a tour of my garden. (aka scrounging for space)
PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:13 pm 
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i put some iron pellets in the soil when i planted them. (also, NJ naturally has really high pH, so at worst, it's probably 7.)

but i just noticed that my plum (on the side that we dug up the stupid sidewalk) is suddenly showing signs of chlorosis. i'll dump some of the iron pellets and compost into the soil in hopes of raising it in time. (and maybe something else to raise it quickly) it's also possible it was reacting to the 8 inches of rain we got on sunday night. gah! that was amazing! it was more rain than we got from the hurricanes! the lake across the street overflowed it's banks and actually covered the bottom step that goes down to the park.

my butternut on the wall is actually bigger than the ones that i hand pollinated on the same day that are on the ground. (one of the guys on the wall got damaged though, and i had to pull it off. i was trying to support it hammock-style up to the wire with a pair of stockings and it banged against the brick and then the stem ripped a bit. :-( i'm trying to ripen it in the sun. i'll report back. (it was only a week old, so it was probably too young to detach.) the one that was wedged between the wall and the wire is doing wonderfully though.

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 Post subject: Re: a tour of my garden. (aka scrounging for space)
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:31 pm 
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Using iron pellets is new to me. Is iron deficiency common to your area? Blueberries want really, really acid soil - like a pH between 4.1 and 5. When I was in school we were told to use sulfur to lower the pH, and mulch with things like pine needles. But I think a pH around 7 would be fine for your plum. What sort of fertilizer did you use when you planted it, and did the rain water stagnate in the planting hole or drain away quickly?

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/hil/hil-8207.html
http://urbanext.illinois.edu/focus/chlorosis.cfm

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 Post subject: Re: a tour of my garden. (aka scrounging for space)
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:48 pm 
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i have a horticulture degree too. :-)

i took a look at the bag i have. it's called "garden iron" by espoma. but it also has sulfur in it. it says it lowers pH. (it looks like they might have discontinued it? or renamed it.)

as for the plum, i took a closer look. it seems like it was new growth that has matured. (it's normal sized leaves at the mid-point of some of the little baby limbs, which below and closer to the tip have green leaves.) i am going to attribute it to the 2+ weeks straight of rain we had earlier in the season. but i did half-ass the planting last thanksgiving. i mean, i wanted to do thanksgiving-y things, but i also wanted to get the tree in the ground before getting on the road. (darn stark bros. for delivering at an inopportune time) i incorporated some jobes spikes that had started to disintegrate into the planting holes. now that i have some good high quality 10-10-10, i'm going to definitely incorporate some of that into the baby root zone and a bit farther out for future use. the weeds on that side of the house are persistent. i'm sure that has something to do with it too. someday they'll be overcome. :-)

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 Post subject: Re: a tour of my garden. (aka scrounging for space)
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:47 pm 
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I would imagine your soil was pretty crappy if it was under a sidewalk for many years? I'd concentrate more on improving the area with compost and heavy organic mulching, and think more about potassium and trace minerals and not add so much nitrogen as in 10-10-10. (I repeatedly jumped in too quickly to plant major trees and shrubs - just didn't want to wait, and have regretted it as my native soil is very poor. I would love a do-over, but it's not going to happen!)

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 Post subject: Re: a tour of my garden. (aka scrounging for space)
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:38 pm 
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yeah, the compost suggestion is a good one. i think what i might do is put an inch of compost, and then a layer of newspaper to help smother the weeds and then some more compost. we took the sidewalk out nearly 9 years ago, and up until last year,there were gigantic rhododendrons "lining the path" right behind where the plums are now, somewhat keeping the soil in check. the oakleaf hydrangea that we planted shortly after we moved in is doing pretty well, so i don't think the sidewalk was all that detrimental. the majority of the sidewalk was on the long side garden where the grape and squashes are, and i think i've managed to heal it pretty quickly. i remember planting tomatoes pretty early on, and i remember a little blossom end rot, so that's kind-of counterintuitive re calcium and whatnot, but i guess it also means the pH was too low. i hadn't noticed any nutrient issues in my squashes since the deluge this year. but i did incorporate some of that 10-10-10 when i planted, so that's probably why. maybe i'll add a little more of the iron stuff next year just in case.

i wonder how many years the sidewalk was there anyway. it didn't look brand new (if i remember correctly, it was exposed aggregate, and they generally don't do that anymore. at least not as default.) and there was a really long line of pretty mature dense irises between the house and the sidewalk.

i just learned that my part of town was originally farmland between 1680 and 1890, so i assume they were using some pretty organic practices, so i think my soil is definitely better off than it could have been.

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