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Thread: The 2009 Garden Thread

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    The 2009 Garden Thread

    Tired of endless political speeches and ceremonies? Then welcome to the 2009 Garden Thread, where the only type of bushes we talk about are the kind you plant in the ground. Here we share gardening information, photographs, stories of successes/failures, tips, and ask questions about gardening related topics.
    [insert obligatory classic antique seed catalogue imagery]



    Let’s start this year’s thread out with a focus on things to construct. Several weeks ago an avid reader of last years’ garden thread sent me this link on how to construct a small greenhouse/coldframe….for about $20!!



    http://www.pondplantgirl.com/coldframe.htm
    You really should check this out, it’s quite ingenious. I will be constructing one to use in Maister gardens this spring to get the cool weather vegetables off to an early start. I may also set up a raised bed garden this year, but that will depend somewhat on how much free time I can muster. Last year a few Cyburbians mentioned they’d constructed raised beds. Could somehow share how they made theirs and how well/long they’ve held up? Does anyone have a particularly clever compost bin design? How about vertical supports you might use for peas, beans, squash, or tomatoes?

    This thread starts in January because that’s the traditional off-season for gardening (in the northern hemisphere) and it’s the best time for making garden layout plans for the springtime. Folks like myself who live in live in colder climates (zone 5) won’t have much to do except dream/plot/plan for a while but for those living in warmer climates indoor seed starting can commence in just a couple of weeks. Let’s hear what this lot of conniving planners have in mind for the coming year!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    I received my first flower catalog of the season about a week ago. Fun too look at but a bit to early for me to start planning. And alas, I have nothing to construct. No vegetable gardens or raised beds. The trees, size of our yard, and dog prohibit that.

    Come spring I'll be anxious to see if any of the bulbs I planted in the fall survived the squirrels and winter.



    More of a yard question that a gardening one, any suggestions on how to handle tree roots that are protruding from the ground?
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Since I live in an apartment, I generally just help out in my parents' massive garden when I visit with an understanding that I can stock up on beans, peas, cucumbers, tomatos, lettuce, peppers, etc (even raspberries and fresh eggs!) but it looks like Mrs. WSU MUP Student and I might be in our very own house sooner than we were originally thinking.

    While we won't have the amount of space available for a large garden like my parents' put in, I am actually more interested in being able to plant some flowers and cut the lawn and all of that fun stuff!
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  4. #4
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Raised Beds
    I got the plans from Sunset magazine a couple years ago, but they are so simple, they needn't anything complex.
    For a simple raised bed...
    I simply purchased a number of 2x6s and a couple 4x4 posts from the local lumber place. I cut the 2x6 boards to 4 lengths of 8 feet and 4 lenghts of 4 feet. I cut the posts into 3 foot lengths.
    Then I screwed them together in a rectangled fashion, leaving a length of the post sticking out (to be anchored into the ground). A simple coat of deck stain and Bob's your uncle.
    Here are the beds in real life.


    Closer view, not the post in the corner...


    I did trianglular ones last year, but it was the same concept.

    And one guarded by the Devil Dogs...
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    More of a yard question that a gardening one, any suggestions on how to handle tree roots that are protruding from the ground?
    University of Idaho extension has this to say on the subject.

    http://news.ag.uidaho.edu:591/News/H...ecid=84&-find=

  6. #6
    WE have had shared a group of plots in a community garden for over ten years now. the two things that grow best are garlic and blueberries. Tomatoes and peppers just really do well here (aybe its the sea breezes) - but we always try them anyway.

    Many of my fellow gardeners will be at our house to watch the Superbowl. Traditionally, that is when we decide what to plant.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    I haven't done the raised bed thing at my new place. I am converting as much lawn to garden beds as I can. One at a time. If you have good drainage and can dig out the poor soil, I have found that using an edging that comes in a roll works well to keep the grass out of the bed. I have used fiberglass reinforced plastic and a recycled plastic (uses waste wood fibers and plastic) and both work well. But I am now using the recycled stuff exclusively. I get it at Lowes. Overlap the ends by about a foot and the grass doesn't work its way into the bed. I have settled on a bed about 3 feet wide by 11 long. The edging comes in +/- 16 ft length so two are needed for my tycipal bed. You'll have to have rounded ends to the bed. The stuff will not make 90 degree corners. My oldest bed is three years and shows no sign of decay.

    I dig out the clay down about 18 inches and fill with a mixture of mushroom compost, a little sand and a fair amount of vermiculite for drainage. (Perlite is cheeper, but works to the surface. One of the beds is at the bottom of the hill and I was concerned that it might get too wet. The mixture seems to work since it went through a hurricane and although there was water standing after the rain it disappeared within an hour.

    In Nrth Florida, winter is the best time to garden as there are few bugs and it is not so hot. I just picked the last brocoli, and will pick savoy cabbage within the next two weeks. Brussels sprouts are about three weeks away. Collards are ready now. Radishs are a constant crop. Been cutting mesclun for salads since Christmas.


    Of course come summer, I will be fighting bugs and heat well befor you yankees and you will be able to grow things I never can such as rubharb and rasberrys.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    We're having a couple of days here with highs in the 40's, so I'll probably start preparing our beds when it warms up in a few days. We picked up some topsoil and cow s*it (which RJ says is more politely referred to as "steer manure" out west) a couple weeks ago, and I'll be working that into the big bed in the back yard. I may try some blueberries this year.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I only do gardening up at the trailer park (ok, laugh now).

    Since I'm only there April-October, I tend to plant only hardy perennials. Then all I need to do is weed n feed.

  10. #10
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    Closer view, not the post in the corner...
    Spinach? I hate you.

    This year I WILL succeed in growing spinach! It is that important to me. I will water, mulch and fertilize each spinach plant individually every day. I will direct seed them outdoors. I will also start a backup set indoors from seed. I will cover them with a coldframe. I will stand over them for a week while they sprout and chase off any birds that come near. 2009 will be the long awaited year where I actually succeed in growing spinach (when it comes to spinach I think of mother nature as Lucy holding the football and I am Charlie Brown)

  11. #11
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Spinach? I hate you.

    This year I WILL succeed in growing spinach! It is that important to me. I will water, mulch and fertilize each spinach plant individually every day. I will direct seed them outdoors. I will also start a backup set indoors from seed. I will cover them with a coldframe. I will stand over them for a week while they sprout and chase off any birds that come near. 2009 will be the long awaited year where I actually succeed in growing spinach (when it comes to spinach I think of mother nature as Lucy holding the football and I am Charlie Brown)
    Well, my friend, this was before I had to scrap the whole crop due to weird, tiny orange eggs on each leaf....
    As for the lettuce, I will be doing crisp romaine instead of red/green leaf... I just didn't like that lettuce.

    As for my hot peppers, they weren't hot at all (2nd year in a row). I even starved them of water for a time. I think it got too cool, too quickly for them. Perhaps I shall yell at them and give them tough love this year?
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  12. #12
    Any ideas for attractive garden fencing? I did some about 3 years ago but it looks kind of ghetto.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  13. #13
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I got my Baker Creek catalog a few weeks back.

    Last year all I did was grow 2 different tomato varieties in pots. The cherry tomatoes were very good.

    Due to my relatively small city lot, I'm choosing to not develop any beds. The good thing is that my neighborhood started a community garden last year, so I'm hoping to get in on that this year. It will be yet another reason to take the girls on a walk, so we can tend to our little patch.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  14. #14
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I expanded our growing space this fall and overwintered two new beds. I also ordered some info on SPIN farming - small plot intensive - which is interesting and will make for a grand experiment this season. Essentially, it involves tediously charting out your whole planting and harvesting schedule ahead of time, taking advantage of things like sequential planting to make for more yield throughout the season. It also lets you space out harvesting so that you are not overwhelmed. We'll see how long I can keep that up...

    This will be the first year I have really thought carefully about what I plant. In the past, I have just planted what seemed interesting or what others gave to me without much thought as to when they fruit or how I would preserve it all.

    So far, I have charted out each bed with what will go in first and then what will go into that space once it is harvested. Also, you can stagger when you plant. So, for something like spinach, you might sow a little every week for 3-4 weeks and then on the harvest end, its not the mad dash to harvest and deal with so much produce.

    The other emphasis is on cleaning and bundling the produce in usable chunks. Then its easy to store and use as you go. It also makes for an easy way to share with others.

    Lastly, part of this year's idea is to focus on high yield foods. That is, things you pay a premium for in the store, while leaving the more affordable items to someone else. Corn, for example, takes a lot of nutrients out of the soil, takes a long time until harvest, requires diligence to foil corn worms and is dirt cheap in the markets anyway. Spinach, specialty greens, green beans, snap peas, beets, even potatoes, tend to cost more (at least here) and are the kinds of things I will be growing.

    I'm also planning to expand our water harvesting with 5 new barrels (I found a place to get 55 gallon ones, with screens and spigots for $60/each). The downspouts are already in place.

    The wife thinks I'm a little excessive (or is it obsessive?) but with 10 years of marriage under our belt, this shouldn't be a surprise...

    I can get some of this stuff in the ground by February 15th, so I am getting ready to make some orders for seeds and start sprouting int he next two weeks. Am I ready? Do I know what I am doing? Not really...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  15. #15
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    wahday, you and I need to go bowling somtime! Sounds like we are engaged in much the same endeavor. I assume you are already familiar with square-foot gardening? If not, I highly recommend the book, it's a valuable resource because it provides a very comprehensive spacing/timing guide for the 22 most popular vegetables. Intercropping and succession planting are a cinch, as the author has already done much of the experimentation for you.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Bowling sounds great!

    You know, I have been aware of and even knew people who endeavored to "square foot garden" but I have never actually looked at it in any detail myself (for no good reason but laziness). Looks like I need to expand my reading list...

    Thanks for the link!
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Maister, is it preferable to:
    (1) keep this an all-encompassing gardening thread, or
    (2) make this a food-gardening thread and start an *other* (flower/shrubs/trees) gardening thread?


    As you no doubt guessed from my question, I'd like to discuss winter gardening in the *other* category.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seana View post
    Maister, is it preferable to:
    (1) keep this an all-encompassing gardening thread, or
    (2) make this a food-gardening thread and start an *other* (flower/shrubs/trees) gardening thread?


    As you no doubt guessed from my question, I'd like to discuss winter gardening in the *other* category.
    Moderator note:
    Let's keep it broad.

    -Chet

  19. #19
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet View post
    Moderator note:
    Let's keep it broad.

    -Chet
    or alternately: "Let's keep it, broad."

    Seana, we've always discussed all facets of gardening/landscaping on the annual garden thread. It's no secret my "expertise" and interest on the thread is fairly one-dimensional (growing fruits and vegetables), but others often post things about their flower beds, shrubs and various other landscaping considerations. Having a broad focus has worked out fairly well in the past.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Eventually I'd like to plant some fruit/vegetables, but having just moved into my house this past summer I have way too much to do yet than to try my hand at that. However, I LOVE landscaping and have lots of ideas already for this spring. The people I bought the house from had it landscaped about four years ago, and it does look nice, but there are some things I want to change, some shrubs that need to be replaced, etc.

    I also want to come up with a plan for the backyard. I have an awesome sun room that sticks out the back of the house (it's a typical rectangular ranch) and I want to eventually get a hot tub and a patio, but want to make sure I pre-plan where its going and any future additions (if I stay there that long).

  21. #21
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Frost zone map (posted for reference)


  22. #22
    Cyburbian Flying Monkeys's avatar
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    Yeah! The Garden Thread! That means spring is almost here! Yeah!

    The year before last I built the raised beds and a cucumber trellis. Last year I built a bunch of cool moveable planters. The planters worked great (grew peppers in them and kept them away from other veggies) and will be used this year.

    I think this year I want to concentrate on redoing the beds and becoming more efficient and orderly at gardening. I am also going to keep my plant selection down to those I have had good luck with, and those we regularly ate (had way more peppers than I could use last year.)
    What’s in a name? – Your reputation….:)

  23. #23
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Frost zone map (posted for reference)

    There's something wrong with this map but I can't quite put my finger on it...

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    I'm planning to do a garden this year...my very first. I'm planning to do a small raised bed garden this year in the backyard on my new house.

    I grew up on a farm but retained none of the knowledge about how to grow things (or repressed it...).

    I'm looking for all the newbee suggestions you have -- such as what are good starter plants/breeds, how much to plant, what is the most VITAL pieces of equipment, and what are the most important things to do. I'm in Northern Illinois, so I have lot of time before I can even start...but I am just starting to receive seed catalogues and dreaming of fresh produce (I can already taste the tomatoes).

    I want to start small and manageable. Even if I'm just producing the fixins for salsa, I'd be so proud to grow my own veggies. Martha Stewart, here I come.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tranplanner View post
    There's something wrong with this map but I can't quite put my finger on it...
    ALL of Canuckistan is Zone 2. Make sure the curling sheet in the backyard has melted before planting your crops.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

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