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Victory Gardens! How-to, what to grow, and so much more!

 
Posts: 65
Location: central Pennsylvania
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I, too, am jealous of you folks in warmer climes.  We had some unseasonably warm days in February and early March, here in central Pennsylvania,  and I was fooled into setting out snap peas and onion sets.  They didn't make it, alas, as the freezing temps  and damp came back.
My house gets very little natural light, so I can't even sprout seeds. All the talk here makes me want to get out there and dig!! Soon....
Have fun out there!
 
Posts: 68
Location: Unincorporated East Bay Area, CA
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I was inspired by this idea a few years ago, and started transforming my empty, dead yard. I recently bought a little greenhouse for my patio and have started tomatoes, tomatillos, several kinds of peppers, broccoli, beets, and lots and lots of greens (which we can grow year round). I have to say though, it's a little scary being surrounded by millions of people who grow nothing. Our goal is to move to a less populated area as soon as possible.

http://www.wargardenfarm.com/

Now if everyone was doing what we are doing, I'd feel differently. One can dream..
 
Posts: 2
Location: Boston area, USA
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We moved into our small suburban house and yard exactly two years ago and the first thing I started doing was digging up the lawn to turn it into garden.  The first summer I dug up almost the entire front yard and went from one to three raised beds in the back.  The second summer I finished digging up the back yard and in the autumn spread a huge load of woodchips in the paths and over piles of leaves to make the last few beds where we will plant fruit trees/shrubs/bushes this spring.  In mid-March my dad helped me build a cold frame out of free cabinet doors and some wood from the basement.  

I've been using whatever I have on hand to make the garden beds.  After the first two raised beds were built with purchased wood, I started using big rocks from a construction project across the street.  To start my new beds I put down a layer of sticks, small logs, and lots of leaves (which I collect from my neighbors; sometimes I even rake their lawns for them - with permission).  Then I put purchased organic garden soil on top, as I want to be careful about possible contaminants in the soil.  I am building up the soil by making compost and by putting any plants from weeding/pruning directly on top of the soil.  

Photos of my garden from last summer (back garden, then front garden), plus one of the back garden from the autumn so you can see the organization of the beds:
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master gardener
Posts: 3452
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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@Anna O'Malley - Welcome to permies! Wow! Great garden. This just goes to show it's possible to do wonderful things with very little money spent and lots of re-use, re-purpose, re-cycle! Using branches and leaves to build soil is exactly how it happens in nature (with lots of help from our friendly microbial helpers etc). Your garden looks lovely. With the current crisis, hopefully some of your neighbors will follow your example.


 
Jay Angler
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Victory Gardens traditionally focused on standard vegetables, but I thought I'd just mention that particularly if you worry about using front-yard space, there are lots of edible things that the average person just think are "pretty", or even if they do recognize, they won't get bent out of shape over. Unfortunately, deer like daylilies and strawberry plants just as much as I do, and there are a bunch of uncommon fruit bushes that look no different than less useful "ornamental shrubs", and there's lots of info here in the plants forum to help you.

For example, my front garden has Daylilies, walking onion, Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley, Sage, chives, Garlic (in a hanging basket that will get something colourful after the risk of frost), bright lights chard, a grape-vine covering some ugly cement and the odd bit of kale that's been self-seeding for years. There's so many variations of "green" with the odd flower, that most people don't realize it's mostly edible. I intentionally let things like the Rosemary and Oregano bloom as our bees and other winged garden helpers need the nectar. Many herbs are understory plants, so if you do have an existing ornamental tree, now is a great time to cut back the grass around its base to make a large bed and find plants that will work cooperatively with it that either feed wildlife or have medicinal uses, if not edible in their own right.

 
pollinator
Posts: 1292
Location: Green County, Kentucky
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This is for Gail, who was trying to decide whether to go camping somewhere with her bus for the duration.  I’ve been hearing reports of campgrounds being closed down, and campers sent away.  If you have a friend or relative who is willing to let you camp on their property, you should be fine, but camping on public lands right now is a no-go.  

If you think about it, there are some good reasons for closing the campgrounds.  For one thing, most of them have facilities which have to be cleaned regularly.  People are hired to do that, whether it’s a campground manager, or a designated person who only does cleaning.  These people are exposed to whatever bugs the campers may be carrying (my grandmother’s last employment was cleaning toilets in national forest campgrounds on the Oregon Coast; she got amoebic dysentery from that job one year).  Also, if they close the campgrounds, then the employees can stay home and do the social distancing thing.

In addition, imagine if people in the campgrounds started getting sick with the virus.  They would quickly overwhelm whatever little hospital was nearest.

Better to shelter in place, and if you can, do the community garden.
 
Posts: 43
Location: Kansas Temperate Zone
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I used to live on a farm and do miss having the large plot to grow on, Someday that option will become available again.
Until then I will keep planning for it and practicing on a small scale.
I just brought home about 20 pallets to lay out for planting in, thus stretching the mulch a little farther.
 
Posts: 67
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Got some seeds started today... will get more going this weekend. I can't wait for things to get going in light of the grocery stores being bare recently.
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organic seeds and seed pots
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
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Today I weeded and topped up a half-barrel so that it's ready for my baby lettuce. The lettuce has been hardening off on the front porch, although I tucked it right up against the side-light for tonight as the prediction is for +1 Celcius at the local government weather station and that means we could easily get freezing.

Inside the house, I had full germination of the Leaf Cabbage and close on the peas (15/16 and the last one may make it as it seemed to be thinking about it). The Kale is well behind, so I may re-seed tomorrow. I find in the spring that I have to do so much weeding to make room for the plants I want to grow that I hate having to kill any more seedlings than I have to. That means I tend to only plant the number I *want* rather than doing a bunch of spares, particularly for things which germinate quickly. Others may feel they are happier with extras - it's whatever gives you joy in your garden that matters.

I'd hoped to get some tomatoes started today, but a little project grew and I prepared a bin and a 1/2 barrel for potatoes instead. With the unpredictable weather we've been having, I want to find a way to put a little row cover over the bin and barrel before I actually plant the spuds.

I can't plant *anything* that deer will eat (yes, they'll happily eat potato greens) so I've been working on both fencing issues and ways to attach dog fur to sticks and fencing at about deer nose height. I often use stainless steel clothespins to pin the fur to the fencing, but the pins sometimes get knocked off and I don't want the lawn mower to find them for me, so I've been making little string leashes to loop around the fence wire. Since my friend has to prune her standard poodle anyway, we both "reuse" the fur to discourage deer. But we have little fur thieves in the neighborhood so it's entertaining to watch the hummingbirds and little yellow birds trying to pull the fur out of my bundles to line their nests.
 
pollinator
Posts: 129
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 8b
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Diggin' it for sure! I am in the beginning stages of setting up my first "real" garden so I am liking this thread. If I ever get it going I will post some pictures.

Here is where I am at:

Started 60 plants from seed last night in some paper cups. I mounded up some clay, manure, and woodchips and sticks last fall and cover cropped the beds with a soil builder mix. which was kicking ass until the deer found it about a month ago, hahaha. It's just now starting to re-kick ass even after a 2 foot snow, I hope to have some green matter to turn under. So now I gotta build a fence, cover the mounds with my collected and semi-composted organic matter (featuring biochar!) and till it in. Trust me, it needs to be manually incorporated, at least this first year. Then I plan to hit it with some aerated compost tea and mulch it heavily, wait a few days and plant my starts as well as direct seed some junk. Wish me luck!

It's like I always say when I raise 2 fingers: screw peace, VICTORY!

I love you all,

Dan
 
Posts: 78
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Mike Haasl wrote:

My notion is to lay out brown cardboard where the garden will be.  Soak it down really well and add 2-4" deep rows of soil and wood chips on the cardboard.  Soil rows about 2.5' wide, wood chips about 18".  Then mulch the soil with grass clippings throughout the summer (never more than 1" thick).  Seeds could be started in the soil and by the time their roots get to the cardboard they'll poke right through (I think?).  For transplants you'd cut through the cardboard and plant the seedlings, possibly mounding up the soil or digging down into the dead turf a bit.

Any thoughts on my "notion"?



Last year I started a bed in early spring by laying down cardboard and covering in ~ 24" of grass clippings. No wood chips- I didn't have them. We had tons of rain and things broke down very quickly - I was able to plant in it about 1.5-2 months later, with no cutting through the cardboard required. I then mulched with grass clippings all summer- A few inches thick. I had no issues with grass growing in my bed, no bug infestations, and very few weeds which were easy to pull. The key is to mulch thick enough that seeds can't contact the soil. I'm trying the same again in our new house. We had a dry week so I watered it thoroughly for the first couple days. We're getting snow now so the moisture is set for a day or two. One tip for the cardboard: folks will say you need to remove all the tape and stickers. Not so for me. When the cardboard breaks down and you're planting in the bed you can just pull them out as you come across them. Another option is to lay out the cardboard and soak it and peel them all off, but I sure hate extra steps.
 
steward
Posts: 8876
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Cool report S!  So could you plant seeds (lettuce, peas, beets, etc) right into the decomposing grass layer?

Am I understanding you correctly, you put 24" of grass clippings on the cardboard?  Or did you mean 2-4"?  
 
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 2015
Location: mountains of Tennessee
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Any other ways to start a Victory Garden from turf (especially one focused on food for this year)?



One thing I do is plant peanuts. Poke a hole in the ground & drop a seed in. Plant them thick to help block light to the lawn. That very simple method works fairly well. Even better, but much more work, is to flip the sod before planting. With either method it's easy to add compost or other organic matter when the crop is harvested in the fall. Add a thick layer of leaves on top to break down over winter. Year two plant potatoes & add more compost when the potatoes are harvested.

This is not the best method for beginning a new garden for fresh veggies this year. It is a good way to expand & start building the soil though. This year my peanut patch will have turnips & some grains & legumes planted among the peanuts. Probably some buckwheat too.

It's about food. It's about roots. It's about less lawn to mow!!!
 
S Greyzoll
Posts: 78
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Mike Haasl wrote:Cool report S!  So could you plant seeds (lettuce, peas, beets, etc) right into the decomposing grass layer?

Am I understanding you correctly, you put 24" of grass clippings on the cardboard?  Or did you mean 2-4"?  



I turned in the grass and cardboard before planting using one of those hand tillers you spin. The cardboard was mostly muck by then (it was a VERY wet spring). I used 2 full feet of dry grass clippings, they broke down a lot in that month or two. Plant into the amended soil after turning in. After the plants were a few inches tall each time I mowed all the clippings went into the bed as mulch, 2-3" deep. I did the same for all my potted fruit trees and shrubs. They all ended up with a compressed 3" of grass mulch on top of the soil. The water retention was amazing and it helped keep them warm over winter.
 
master steward
Posts: 14621
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I've been meaning to share pictures of the last garden bed I made. I wanted the potatoes in contact with soil, so I "just" flipped the sod over. It only took maybe 2 hours, but definetly was harder than I was expecting--lots of digging and flipping!

The reason I flipped the soil like this is because I'm not sure how much mulch I'll be able to locate this year, especially with the amount of garden beds I want to use the mulch on. So, I flipped the soil over to give the potatoes a bit of an advantage over the grass and other plants.

The area before (It's between a Frost Peach and a Honeycrisp Apple--I was able to convince my husband we didn't need that piece of lawn, and it'd be a lot easier to mow if we just turned it into a garden bed :-D)



I stick the shovel straight down to cut the grass and soil, going along the line. Then I go back over the line, putting the shovel in at an angle and wiggling to make  sure the sod is easy to lift.



I do this on both sides of a strip, and then pick up and flip over the strip. Here you can see a strip that's already been flipped over, as well as the next row I'm working on.



It took me a few rows to do the whole width. This was definitely one of the more intensive ways I've made a new garden bed, but it also was pretty fast. The flipping the sod over was harder than the digging of the sod.

Then I hauled over two fallen alder tree trunks to use as boarders so my husband doesn't mow over the garden, and to help contain the mulch.



We spaced the potatoes and put a little of the extra soil we had left over from digging elswhere, over the potatoes



After this, I mulched it all with duck bedding, and will add more mulch as the season progresses (I'll get a picture of it with mulch soon!) Here's the picture!

 
Anna O'Malley
Posts: 2
Location: Boston area, USA
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Nicole Alderman wrote: I've been meaning to share pictures of the last garden bed I made. I wanted the potatoes in contact with soil, so I "just" flipped the sod over. It only took maybe 2 hours, but definetly was harder than I was expecting--lots of digging and flipping!



This flipping over the sod method is exactly what I used to make almost all my garden beds, and it is both a really good workout and takes quite a while.  Eventually I started piling up all the prunings in an area and that killed the grass there, and then I needed to build some small ditches to move water away from the house and I put the soil from those on top of the grass where I would make future garden beds.  I was pretty happy when I moved to the longer-term process of bed making by piling up autumn leaves and covering them with a lot of fresh woodchips, as it's much easier and starts the process of building better soil.  

When I started digging up the front yard I planted flowers, but over time it has transitioned to mostly veggies and herbs, and now this spring I'm planting all the fruit and nut bushes and trees.  I just finished adding the last branches to a large trellis in the backyard built out of the branches of ornamental shrubs I cut down in the fall to make room for fruit trees.  My dad helped me build a cold frame out of free cabinet doors and some wood we found in the basement so we should have an earlier harvest of greens over the next month.  

This is what our backyard garden looks like now with the cold frames and trellis (with my five-year-old running out to play mud kitchen with the rain barrel water):
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Noel Young
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Mucked the duck run today (part of it anyway) and applied 13 wheel barrows full of compost to the summer garden. We bed the waterfowl outdoor run with fall leaves and wood chips from the electric company over the fall/winter. No greens or root vegetables will be grown here and nothing that harvests in <90days.
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steward & bricolagier
Posts: 6325
Location: SW Missouri
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Danger Danger!!
Beware of buried utility lines!
Thankfully I thought about it before we got the tractor out there.
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
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Very much so, Pearl! My brother and sister-in-law are transforming a hill in their backyard into terraced garden beds (yay!!!), and thankfully remembered to look for the gas and septic and electrical lines before hand!

And, these wires aren't always down deep, either! When I was making the garden by our well house, digging by hand to get some weeds out, I encountered electrical wire just 4 or 6 inches below the soil level!
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
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Nicole Alderman wrote:And, these wires aren't always down deep, either! When I was making the garden by our well house, digging by hand to get some weeds out, I encountered electrical wire just 4 or 6 inches below the soil level!

This is why even in places that are "no codes", reading what national/international codes are, and emulating the intent, even if you can't or feel it isn't necessary to follow them precisely, it is good to build better than what the codes require. "No Code" usually meant isolated, therefor far away from hospitals and fire departments. Electrocuting one's self or blowing yourself up is considered bad form. Hubby was trying to reach a friend this morning. The friend answered his cell and admitted he was being driven to the hospital for stitches - nothing life-threatening, but a good reminded to please play safe!
 
gardener
Posts: 531
Location: Ontario - Gardening in zone 3b, 4b, or 6b, depending on the day
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As an FYI, here in Canada it is/has been best practice, probably code, for decades to put flagging tape buried in the ground about a foot above buried electrical wires etc. That way, when you hit the tape you know to STOP. I didn't know that before I saw it, so sharing in case someone else is unaware.

Always fun when you hit that stuff on a job in a location where the site records dont show it and the utility marker didn't mark. Also great fun when stuff is 20-100 m over from where the plans say it is.

Call before you dig folks, and never trust site plans!
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
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Also, utilities don't check everywhere. We called them to come mark the lines, and they just did where the power enters our property...not where any other lines were. The previous owner of our place has lines: going from wellhouse to a plug in, to a breaker box, to a big outbuilding, to our where our duck house is, to the big pond, to our house, and to who knows where else! And, none of these lines are marked!

(The guy also broke the septic system pipe in at least two places. One was duct taped together. The other--get this--was connected by about two feet of gravel. So septic system =====GRAVEL=====sandpit. As if the poop water will flow up hill through gravel! )
 
Mike Haasl
steward
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Utilities can't really find wires that you've buried (or the previous homeowner) since they don't know where they come from or go to and can't hook their magic tracer equipment up to them.
 
gardener
Posts: 569
Location: Central Texas
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Love seeing everyone's pictures and reading about their methods & gardens!

I'll try to get some photos of my different gardens, and share. My slow/weak internet connection doesn't always get along with the Permies server when it comes to photos, but I'll see what I can do.
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
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What I sometimes do is add one picture, and then go back and edit and add another. If I try to add them all at once, I have problems.
 
Pearl Sutton
steward & bricolagier
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And after posting to watch for underground utilities earlier today, thinking about it because we decided not to do one neighbor's place where we had planned to, this was in my yard. The place I'm clearing had a pool at one point, I'd say it had a pump. And there were no breakers labeled about it, and this house is wired horribly (the outlet I have my computers on turns out to be on the Ground Fault Interrupt of a bathroom....) so I powered down the whole place, and treated it as if it were a hot line as I cut and capped it. Will enclose it in a waterproof box and bury it deep.  No telling where it hooks into this house, there's no place that looks like a connection. Whee!

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Danger!!
Danger!!
 
pollinator
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Glad to find this thread! A couple of weeks ago, I got the green light to start ripping up the front lawn to plant our Covidctory Garden. The front yard in our urban neighborhood is the only place where we have sun. Eastern Pennsylvania, zone 6b

Last fall, I pushed out the foundation planting area out another. It is tied into our downspouts with an irrigation swale, and it can go 5 weeks without rain before requiring irrigation. It’s definitely the most “permie” thing I’ve done. Lotta work up front, far less after.

Here are some of the new beds. We cut the grass and peeled it back by hand. Really tedious work, but our 5-year-old twins were great at rescuing the worms amongst the roots. Then I broke up the hard-packed clay with a digging fork, spread some compost, and spun it in with one of those mixing fork tools. My poor compost pile is empty, and it’s only April.

These beds will require supplemental irrigation if we have a dry year. But hey, we are all home! The rocks were all scavenged from nearby crumbling cliff faces along roadsides. It’s going to be 80-90 percent annuals, at least this year.

I’m sure it’s just accidental that they currently look like graves. I hope  

The round bed is where we lost a large ornamental maple last year. That’s where a lot of that wood chip pile came from. (Oddly enough (not really), since this lockdown started, neighbors keep commenting about how much they wish they had some mulch this year. ) I mixed the stump grindings/mud mixture with some compost and covered it with chopped leaves. This week, I planted a Carmine Jewel bush cherry  and moved a couple of young blueberries there.
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Jay Angler
master gardener
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@Dan Ackerman - awesome job! The one little suggestion I'd make is to trade a little of your wood-chip mulch for some pine needle mulch to put around your baby blueberries - they *really* like acid soil and acidic rainwater if at all possible! We try not to use peat moss as it's unsustainably harvested in many locations, and dropped pine-needles fill the same niche if you have access to them.

Don't stress about needing to plant annuals this year - they will still hold nutrients in the soil and start some good soil biome going. Now if Eric Hanson spots this post, he'll tell you all about his success inoculating wood chip beds with mushrooms, but I've not managed to try that yet, as what wood chips I've got get inoculated with duck shit instead!

Rocks are sooo... useful - most gardeners don't give them the respect they deserve! In some locations, flat rocks were used as mulch, but that would be more for perennials.
 
Mike Barkley
gardener & hugelmaster
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Looks great Daniel. I think I recognize that awesome porch from a previous post. It will look even better with food growing where the lawn used to be.

Here's a link to part of my lawn smothering project.
 
Daniel Ackerman
pollinator
Posts: 142
Location: Lehigh Valley, PA zone 6b
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Thanks, Jay! Rocks..... just the best! I do have pine needles thanks to a large curly pine that drops about half of its needles every year, and these young bushes were planted under it. I took as much of that acidic soil as I could when I moved them. They were mulched in their new homes with pine needles, too. Tea leaves and coffee grounds usually find their way to the blueberries. And yes, I’m mostly hoping to get a bunch of food in and get the gardens semi-established.

Yep, Mike, that’s the same porch. It is a wonderful place to be. I’m looking  forward to reading that post.

D
 
pioneer
Posts: 89
Location: north west Michigan
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I have built a few hugelkulture beds using a homemade cart and a shovel. One of my beds is just sod from the path flipped up on the bed. My tallest bed is around 5' now and will be about 6' when done. I am not mulching them yet to let the soil warm up because it is still in the low 30s at night.

Now I need to build a junk pole fence.
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This cart is a beast
This cart is a beast
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Posts: 11
Location: Casper, WY zone: 4a
2
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Alley driveway v garden.  Used to 2 car driveway now 1 car.  
 
Chad Pivik
Posts: 11
Location: Casper, WY zone: 4a
2
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Pics
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Garden
Garden
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Chad Pivik
Posts: 11
Location: Casper, WY zone: 4a
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All that is just potato onions now.  When it stops snowing will plant Hamburg parsley and later than that hopefully some ground cherry.
 
Dan Fish
pollinator
Posts: 129
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 8b
25
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OK, just to prove I wasn't lying, here is my victory garden. Which I actually started the year before. Look at me with the "si vis pacem, para bellum", hahaha.

The beds I mounded up last summer which was BRUTAL. Clay so hard I had to use a demo hammer to break it up. Mixed in horse poo and oak leaves and planted some soil builder mix (legumes and vetch and rye I think?). It's hard to tell but the sunken paths are actually about a foot deep of wood chips so the beds are deeper than they look. I sunk em cause I live whee it doesn't rain and wanted to conserve some water.


Anyways here they are covered with some biochar and 75% finished compost hahaha.

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Dan Fish
pollinator
Posts: 129
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 8b
25
dog forest garden fish fungi trees hunting books food preservation building wood heat homestead
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Ahhhh what the heck? Sorry I don't know why that posted before I was ready. No Matter!

(BED2) Anyway, here is the next part. I turned the biochar in along with some of the cover crop and then added another good layer of "compost".

(BED3) Then I sprayed some aerated compost tea all over and covered with a layer of half dissolved wood chips.

VICTORY!

Well if I ever get off my lazy butt and finished the fence it will be at least...
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Mike Barkley
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 2015
Location: mountains of Tennessee
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Thought I would show this lawn smothering project here. It's sort of a victory garden. It started last year as a 4 foot wide stretch of flipped sod. (flipping sod was the only hard part) Grew peanuts & oats in it. Then covered it in thick leaves after the harvest. Widened it to about 8 feet with leaves. Not much grass left after winter & the 4 foot area in the center is fairly good soil now. Many worms in there. Intended to grow flowers in it this year but food seems more important now. So a few days ago I raked the leaves to the edges & threw a couple pounds of beans on it. Pinto beans, navy beans, & a bag of 16 bean soup. We had some rains & when the beans started sprouting I weed whacked the leaves back onto the soil to cover the beans a little. Transplanted a comfrey & an elderberry cutting into it today. More veggies will be added as the season progresses.

More food. Less lawn. That's the plan.


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pollinator
Posts: 212
Location: WV
46
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Emilie McVey wrote:I, too, am jealous of you folks in warmer climes.  We had some unseasonably warm days in February and early March, here in central Pennsylvania,  and I was fooled into setting out snap peas and onion sets.  They didn't make it, alas, as the freezing temps  and damp came back.
My house gets very little natural light, so I can't even sprout seeds. All the talk here makes me want to get out there and dig!! Soon....
Have fun out there!



I use a 4' fluorescent shop light in my kitchen counter.  I also used a couple of gooseneck desk lamps and a CFL bulb when I had more seedlings that room under the light.  

I'm south of you in West Virginia and planted my first bed of potatoes March 28.  Most of the potatoes have popped through the ground and there are five volunteer potatoes in the bed also that are 5-6" tall.  When it was calling for frost I covered the bed with an old bedspread, but we had some freezing nights and snow lately so I covered each plant with a plastic nursery pot before placing the bedspread on.  No damage to the plants so far.
 
Michelle Heath
pollinator
Posts: 212
Location: WV
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Pearl Sutton wrote:And after posting to watch for underground utilities earlier today, thinking about it because we decided not to do one neighbor's place where we had planned to, this was in my yard. The place I'm clearing had a pool at one point, I'd say it had a pump. And there were no breakers labeled about it, and this house is wired horribly (the outlet I have my computers on turns out to be on the Ground Fault Interrupt of a bathroom....) so I powered down the whole place, and treated it as if it were a hot line as I cut and capped it. Will enclose it in a waterproof box and bury it deep.  No telling where it hooks into this house, there's no place that looks like a connection. Whee!



About twenty years ago we hired a guy to hook in to the water line that ran from the well to our old house. He used a trencher for most of the job but ran into problems when he ran into roots from a large maple tree.  He was using a mattock to chop through the roots but unfortunately one of those roots was the phone line that ran through our property. It took out all the phones on our road on a holiday weekend. When the repair guys finally came it took most of the day to splice everything together again.

A few years before that I was using a garden tractor with a tiller attachment to widen a flower bed.  The tiller jammed up and I assumed I had a rock caught in the tines but discovered that it was a power line ran to our old garage.  Luckily I was on the garden tractor when I cut through and shorted that line out or I'd likely have been toast.

If you are on property with an old septic system make sure you know where that tank is.  My husband found that out the hard way as the metal tank collapsed sinking the back of our truck.  Thankfully the septic tank hadn't been used in over ten years but it was located thirty feet from where I was told it was.
 
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