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

 
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 2005
Location: mountains of Tennessee
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Figured this is a good place to share another hugel project.

 
Posts: 6
Location: Chilean now in Northeast PA
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Hi, newbie here and also in PA!  We just expanded our backyard garden from last year.  We're going into our second season.  We do raised beds, with wood leftover from the roofing company I work for.  During the winter, we buried the kitchen scraps directly in the beds.  The beds are laid out so that we can comfortably work without compacting soil.  Keyholes are also incorporated into the design for maximizing water infiltration.  

We rent the property, so we've kind of limited how much we do keeping in mind that we might end up converting it back to lawn depending on what the landlord wants.  

These photos are from last week of March when society shut down and the garden season started up.  
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Alex Torres
Posts: 6
Location: Chilean now in Northeast PA
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These are from last week (April 23ish?) - so you can get a sense of the progress in one month.  It's been a bit cool here but things are growing slowly but surely.
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Alex Torres
Posts: 6
Location: Chilean now in Northeast PA
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And these are from last year when we started - plus how the garden looked at its peak to get an idea of where we hope to be headed with this.
The-first-beds-2019.jpg
This is the closest thing I have to a "before picture." Just imagine standard lawn.
This is the closest thing I have to a
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Taken from second-floor window
Taken from second-floor window
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intensive vertical growing
intensive vertical growing
 
pollinator
Posts: 88
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Those are great pictures, Alex. It's helpful to see your setup at the beginning of the season, then all the growth! Those sunflowers are spectacular.
It's easy to see the effort and love put into these gardens.
 
pollinator
Posts: 142
Location: Lehigh Valley, PA zone 6b
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Alex, those gardens are absolutely brilliant! Looks like you get a ton of production out of a pretty tight space. And kudos for getting your child involved, too. I struggle with that a bit (but they are twins, so everything is a bit hairy).
 
pollinator
Posts: 406
Location: Vermont, USA
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The pandemic has prompted buy-in from my DH, who treated my gardening and chickens as annoyances last year (until he tasted the food). Suddenly he is Mr. Self-Sufficiency and happily built new raised beds and welcomed the wood chips instead of protesting mightily. I am not one to buy a lot of soil for raised beds, so mine are filled with rotten wood, chicken bedding, leaf mold, and compost.

In addition to the new beds, I’ve added two mulberry trees, an apple and a plum tree, elderberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. And ground cherries!  Mustn’t forget them!

I’ve mulched a much larger area around the raised beds for more flowers and herbs. I’m going to plant a moringa in a container; it will have to come in the house for the winter in Vermont, but it’s worth an experiment.

DH is helping me build an arched trellis to maximize the garden space. This is all so exciting that I almost forget there’s a horrible, frightening pandemic going on. I moved to Vermont to live like this, and having his support is a big help. He has gone from calling my wood chip pile an “eyesore” to asking when we can get a new delivery. <fist pump>!
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Sorry sideways. It keeps snowing!
Sorry sideways. It keeps snowing!
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Last fall
Last fall
 
pollinator
Posts: 1290
Location: Green County, Kentucky
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For all the bad, there are some good things coming out of all of this.  My middle daughter has always hated gardening, but she and her husband built several large container gardens on their deck this spring.  I know several other people who are either starting gardens, or increasing the size of existing gardens.  And I’m milking a goat again.  I’ve had goats for most of the last forty years (gosh, hard to believe it’s been that long!), but after hurting my back a few years ago I thought I was done with that.  I got my current goats after we moved here a couple of years ago, primarily for weed control.  Really wasn’t expecting to be milking again.  But here we are!
 
master gardener
Posts: 3434
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:

I’ve had goats for most of the last forty years (gosh, hard to believe it’s been that long!), but after hurting my back a few years ago I thought I was done with that.

There are lots of things people can do to change the height we need to do jobs. I've seen ramps up to raised milkers, for example, or those special chairs some dental hygienists use that support you as you lean forward. If your back hurts when milking, think about the position, possibly get someone to observe your position, and see what sort of creative ideas you, or our fellow permies can come up with. I've not milked personally, but it seems like it should be a sort of zen thing to do - not give you pain afterward!
 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
Posts: 1290
Location: Green County, Kentucky
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Jay Angler wrote:Kathleen Sanderson wrote:

I’ve had goats for most of the last forty years (gosh, hard to believe it’s been that long!), but after hurting my back a few years ago I thought I was done with that.

There are lots of things people can do to change the height we need to do jobs. I've seen ramps up to raised milkers, for example, or those special chairs some dental hygienists use that support you as you lean forward. If your back hurts when milking, think about the position, possibly get someone to observe your position, and see what sort of creative ideas you, or our fellow permies can come up with. I've not milked personally, but it seems like it should be a sort of zen thing to do - not give you pain afterward!



It wasn’t milking itself that was the issue.  At the time I hurt my back, we were living in the high desert and buying most of our feed, and lived on a steep slope.  So hauling bags of grain and bales of hay around was an issue, and carrying water in the winter was an issue.  At the worst point, I couldn’t even get out there to take care of them - it was all I could do to get from my bed to the bathroom.  My back is somewhat better now, plus our property is mostly more level, and the climate is milder.  Those of us who are getting older, and/or have physical disabilities, have to think about those things, and, if necessary, sometimes even relocate to a different property that is more suitable for our limitations.  Another decision I made was to get smaller goats (Kinder goats instead of Nubians).  They are a little easier to handle.  I have made one adaptation to my milking stand - it is higher than the others I’ve had, because of the goats being shorter.
 
Mike Barkley
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 2005
Location: mountains of Tennessee
792
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This is the same lawn smothering victory gardenish area I showed here a while back. The buckwheat is the most predominate thing so far. It grows fast. The first round of beans planted at the same time got hit with a late cold snap last week. You win some, you lose some. Have no fear. There are plenty of peanuts that haven't sprouted quite yet. With a fresh batch of beans carefully planted. Plus a round of rowdy grex beans were thrown onto it when this week's rains started. It also has an experimental sweet potato or two & sunroot seeds that look promising. There will almost certainly be a lot of relatively easy food coming from what was lawn.

Less lawn, more food. It can be done. I hope everyone who started brand new victory gardens this year is doing at least this well. The recent pix from everyone look great!!!






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Posts: 67
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Update ... harvesting greens (all sorts) and french breakfast radishes (which are super mild compared to any other radishes I've had previously).

Tomatoes and peppers mostly transplanted but off to a slow start with this cool spring and late frost Mother's Day weekend. Actually covered them with pickle jars that weekend.

Started sweet potato slips and am working on building a "window" box to grow the off the ground inside our waterfowl pen. I figure they can nibble at any greens spilling over within reach.
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organically grown french radishes
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french red breakfast radishes
 
Anne Pratt
pollinator
Posts: 406
Location: Vermont, USA
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Aren't those radishes pretty!  I just planted some, and I can't wait to try them.  And the hoops!  Just beautiful!
 
pollinator
Posts: 704
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
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A few random notes that may interest:

Many seed suppliers, faced with CV19, initially thought the year would be a complete disaster. They wondered if they would have to shut down or even close their doors forever.

- McKenzie Seeds, reputable supplier out of Brandon, Manitoba, saw a 100% increase in seed orders over their projected sales.

- Vesey's Seeds, long-standing (and excellent) supplier out of Prince Edward Island (maritimes) saw an increase in orders of 450%.

- We bought started plants many weeks earlier than usual from our local greenhouses, and kept them inside. Good thing we did: when we went looking at the appropriate time to plant, the pickings were slim. Talking to the owners, it turns out that newbie gardeners bought stuff and put it in the ground because it seemed nice out. Then late frosts hit as they always do, and killed everything, and they bought again. When experienced gardeners showed up, the cupboard was pretty bare.
 
Mike Barkley
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 2005
Location: mountains of Tennessee
792
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This is yet another lawn smothering project. It's where a nuisance small hole (potential ankle breaker) was that I added some wood to mostly just to fill the hole. Then layered on corn husks, bean vines, straw, & other assorted compostable materials. Followed by a thick coat of leaves for winter. Today I dug up & few potatoes started there last fall & removed any weeds. Added about 6 inches of well composted manure & worms down the center. Lots of worms. It will be finished within the next few days. The main goal is to have more watermelons but I also planted some corn, pumpkins, cilantro, purple beans, sunflowers, lavender & wildflowers. I worked around a few existing squash & watermelons & some small comfrey & elderberry plants plus one lonely sunroot. Almost no digging has been done. We'll see what wants to grow.

I'm calling it a victory garden because I didn't have to move the poo for a change. A neighbor brought it over. Victory!!! It's quite strenuous to get my wheelbarrow up & down hills across thick grass & bumpy terrain into the pasture. This was super easy today. Less lawn more food. That's still the plan.


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victory garden poster
victory garden poster
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pollinator
Posts: 131
Location: Zone 8B Blackland Prairie, Tx
72
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This is my little patch of happiness!
We lucked out when we bought our house and ended up with one of the biggest backyards in the neighborhood (Almost 3500 sq ft)! I've got plans to put in a landscaped butterfly bed, a rock garden, and more. We want to do it right and will be xeriscaping all the new beds using waterwise native and adapted plants.

Eventually we're gonna pour a nice concrete patio and build a sun-shade/gazebo thing over it, put in a small pond, and have a nice fire pit.

The whole left half of the yard is set aside for gardening beds; we've only got a few small ones in now, but are starting to gather up the necessary supplies to build more.
We're trying to source as much material as possible from local Buy Nothing groups, so it may take a while.

All of our little beds are done in miniature Hugelkultur style, with a large layer of burried wood at the bottom and composted material topping that, with the garden dirt going on the very top.








 
Carolyne Castner
pollinator
Posts: 131
Location: Zone 8B Blackland Prairie, Tx
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Ok, let me try that again with pics as attachments and see if they actually show up!

Canteloupe-in-temporary-bed.jpg
cantelope in temporary bed
cantelope in temporary bed
Burr-Oak-staked.JPG
Burr oak staked
Burr oak staked
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herb pots
herb pots
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lettuce bed added thyme and oregano
lettuce bed added thyme and oregano
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middle onion planter
middle onion planter
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new bed composted
new bed composted
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oldest garden bed
oldest garden bed
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planter rack and new bed
planter rack and new bed
Panorama.jpg
panorama
panorama
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potted mint and basil volunteers
potted mint and basil volunteers
potato-pot.jpg
potato pot
potato pot
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shishito with blossoms
shishito with blossoms
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tomatoes going nuts
tomatoes going nuts
Volunteer-tomato.jpg
volunteer tomato
volunteer tomato
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yellow crookneck squash
yellow crookneck squash
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
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Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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I've been doing more "polyculture" among my annuals and perennials and letting plants do their own thing as much out of being overwhelmed as by planning sometimes (often?). Yesterday I was picking the blackcurrants in an effort to get the ripe ones before the robins spot them, and I came face to face with a potato flower - literally - the potato flower was over 5 feet off the ground trying to out-compete the raspberry canes and current bush. I really must root around in the underbrush there and add a few buckets of finished compost in my version of "hilling" the potato plant in the hopes of getting edible tubers! I'd never seen a 5 1/2 foot tall potato plant before, but there's a first time for everything I suppose.
 
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I love to see all do-it-yourself creations without store bought trappings! I have a new acre that I've sadly not been able to get ready for a garden, yet. I'll be looking for ways to do some late planting.
 
Jay Angler
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Brian DuBridge wrote:I love to see all do-it-yourself creations without store bought trappings! I have a new acre that I've sadly not been able to get ready for a garden, yet. I'll be looking for ways to do some late planting.

Welcome to permies Brian!

There are lots of things you can do to prepare land for planting even if it's the wrong time of year to plant. There are good starter books like "Gaia's Garden" by Toby Hemenway ( https://permies.com/wiki/40202/Gaia-Garden-Toby-Hemenway ) or other suggestions here: https://permies.com/w/book-reviews

This is a really good time to "observe" your land and see which areas are wetter, dryer, windier, sunnier etc. If the land is worn out or has been abused, collecting anything that composts and making heaps right on top of areas you hope to plant will help the soil, and if it's mostly woody stuff, even more so if you inoculate the heap with mushrooms to encourage decomposition of the wood into things plants like.

It's also good to get a good plant ID book or ap and go and see what's already growing. Adding dock, dandelion and any other of the many "edible wild plants" (I don't like to call them weeds unless they're being *really* knotty) to soups, stir-fries or broths is a great way to start benefiting your diet with minimal work. Don't be afraid to make up some stakes and labels so you keep similar plants straight in your head if this is new to you.

Good luck! J.
 
master steward
Posts: 14555
Location: Pacific Northwest
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Brian, there's also some plants you can grow for a fall garden! Some areas are a bit more restricted in what they can grow, but you should still be able to plant radishes.

What you can also do is start making garden beds. There's lots of ways to make garden beds. If you start making the garden bed now, it'll be ready for spring, or even fall perennial planting!
 
Posts: 80
Location: Leeds, United Kingdom
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It’s sweet what you’ve done for your kids, Nicole.
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
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Location: Pacific Northwest
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Aww, thank you, Helen! The kids have both really been enjoying their potato patches this year. They both want me to dig up potatoes from THEIR patch for dinner, so I often have to visit both kid's garden beds for a meal. A little bit extra walking to get supper doesn't hurt, and I love encouraging their excitement for gardening!
 
Helen Butt
Posts: 80
Location: Leeds, United Kingdom
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That sounds absolutely great - glad to hear your kids are enthusiastic growers/harvesters :-)
 
Mike Barkley
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 2005
Location: mountains of Tennessee
792
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Here's pix from the same victory garden about a month later. It did very well with zero attention after planting. It's almost done for the season now except for one pumpkin & some sweet potatoes.
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