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Rita Bliden

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since Jul 28, 2018
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Ever optimistic tree hugger. Grew up by the Jersey shore, rode horses, shoveled shit, worked for vets, then retail( health food store), junkyards, and now practice manager for 4 horse veterinarians. Married, no kids, one dog, and now own 7 shady acres. The words "food forest" give me hope.
Pinelands of New Jersey
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Recent posts by Rita Bliden

The concept of a chinese greenhouse helps remind us that we don't need an all glass/polycarbonate/etc exterior. Living on a very shaded property, we have had to locate plants and raised beds  where they will get the longest exposure to sunlight. We discovered  one side of our house not only had better growing conditions, but the deer were not as brazen in their foraging there. You would think with 7 acres of oak and pine they would leave the tomatoes alone! Our potted fig trees, potted strawberries and tomatoes did really well on the north side of the house, where the driveway turns into the garage. We also set up a small greenhouse(plastic snap together w/plastic cover) on our front porch (NE) to try and capture the morning sun this spring. Kale, basil and red sorrel did well. We are experimenting with some small raised beds close to the house on the south side as well. Cold frames are on my Christmas wish list!
2 months ago
Welcome Dan! We live on 7 shady acres in the Pinelands of NJ, and location is something we "discuss" often. I am excited to read some of the threads in this forum, and glean more information to help with our discussion.
2 months ago
Greg-The oils sound wonderful. I would order some when you have time to work out details.  I normally travel to NC for the holidays (family in Greensboro) but probably not this year. The artwork (I went to etsy shop) is outstanding. Hey it's still October so slowish shipping for holiday gifts will still work! Congrats on offspring!
3 months ago
Wow what a response! Sorry I missed out. If you need round two, I would be honored to test.
Excited for your cookbook!
Have fun everyone-happy testing!
5 months ago

Stanton de Riel wrote:I'm in zone 6b (Trenton NJ area), and figs are booming in our hot summer.
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Hey neighbor! I work 8 minutes from Trenton, and live in the Pine Barrens. "It's a small world after all". Sorry if I just planted an ear worm!
My figs plants look great, but only about a dozen figs on the oldest one. I do prune them back when I bring them in the garage in November. I am going to attempt some propagation from cuttings. If I find the receipts with the varieties listed, I will do some research to find out their attributes.
5 months ago

Anne Pratt wrote:I really want to grow figs.  There is a variety that's supposed to overwinter here (Vermont, Zone 5).  That hardly seems possible to me, but it's tempting.  I think I'm going to get better at growing what I have before buying more fruit trees.  I haven't actually killed any, but a few arrived dead due to shipping delays.  Still, I think I'll be a better gardener next year and the year after.

I love figs.  Fresh.  Delicious, and absurdly expensive the few days a year they are available here.



I love figs too! I don't know if it counts as "natural" to grow them in tubs and move them into a garage for the winter. Yes it is more work, but the trade off is you get figs!!! Bill's Figs in North Jersey has so many varieties I think he lost count. He grows them in self watering tubs, and moves them into an unheated dark garage from November 15-March 15. (he has lemon trees too!)Those dates would be different for VT. We experienced some extreme late frosts here in Jersey this year. I moved my 3 back in the garage for two of the frosts, but missed the warning on the third. The 4 yr old fig (forgot variety, it's on a receipt some where in my files) didn't lose any leaves, but the 2 and 3 year olds leaves were toast. Right now only the 4 yr old has figs. It may be the others are too young, or that they had to restart after the frost damage.
My 4 yr old started producing figs the first year I got it as a 2 yr old, even though Bill said it would not start until it was 3. Plants! Gotta love em!
The CSA I belong to planted figs along the side of one of their farm buildings, and then built a green house frame , which they cover in plastic,  to protect them through our winters.



6 months ago
Wow Daron great information. I don't know if we want weasels, because we plan to get chickens. It's such a balance. We are on 7 + shady Pinelands acres. NJ has a Woodlands Steward plan, for folks with at least  5 acres not including their home. The paperwork for our plan is due 8/1, and I was just  looking for wildlife habitat ideas  when I found you on the Permies dailyish. We need 2 habitats per acre (6 acres in the plan) Our property is mostly oak and pine, with a few maples hiding some place. Typical sandy loam. I have had to amend any where I have wanted to plant .
The ticks and chiggers are our biggest "pest" problem. We can't walk off our driveway with out being suited up with sprays and treated clothing. We will celebrate in October when we can visit the rest of our property. And install the wildlife habitats.
I have found a few small garter snakes, one in some leaf litter and one in our wood chip pile. I have come across a tree lizard and a few frogs in the front yard. Chipmunks have become scarce thanks to the raptors that cruise through our woods. There are squirrels ,but our dog chases them off. I have yet to see a rabbit. We do have wild turkey too.The deer pressure here is off the charts. We put up 7' deer fencing around the front yard in an effort to protect our raised vegetable beds, but something ate and or removed all the tomato, pepper and zucchini plants. I love shade, but most of the veggies we are trying to grow do not. The front yard is the sunniest area, so we  tried protecting that first.
6 months ago
All the tomato green bean and pepper plants that were eaten or disappeared were purchased already started.  Same for the kale, cauliflower broccoli nasturtium parsley red vein sorrel basil dill and rosemary. I was happy to support the local csa and organic farms that were selling the starts.  The kale never went in the ground. Half was in hanging baskets and half in large pot on my front porch which gets morning sun. Something ate all the kale.  Parsley is doing well in hanging basket. So are nasturtiums,  but heat is starting to affect them. The herbs are doing ok. Anything that went in the ground got eaten. I think the radishes bolted even though I started them in Match in a cold frame.
And the deer fence is 7' not 7". I didn't have my glasses on.
I will plant for fall and see if I can do kale in cooler weather.
Growing up we had great success with cukes, tomatoes peppers and zucchini. Great soil, great water, and lots of sun. I lived in a  bunch of rentals between then and now, so buckets were my only option. Now we own 7 shady acres in the Pine Barrens. We would really like to grow any of the veggies mentioned. I love radishes and was excited how fast they grow. I will try again. I think my focus needs to be on shade tolerant and then try to protect them from whatever "took" all our tomato plants. We have 7" deer fencing up. Moles and or voles may be our issue as well. We are not giving up! Hoping to have some luck this fall.

Laura Johnson wrote:The ants are farming scale. Watch for the scale - which look like little dots. Clean them off with rubbing alcohol and a rough rag. Then get some good worm castings to put around your lemon. For some reason it prevents scale.
It does not say what zone you are in. Lemons are hardy to 27 degrees.
I have a Meyer Lemon that is about 20 years old. It is in a huge pot. I bring it in to the greenhouse every November with a furniture dolly. The lemons ripen , then It blooms and sets fruit in the greenhouse.
If you live in a frost area, a few do not have a place to over winter the lemon, you can build a pvc pipe frame. Cover it with clear plastic and put some light bulbs in ther to turn on when it gets cold. The old kind of light bulbs that give off heat.


Hi Laura, I am in zone 6B, smack in the pinelands, with lots of oak and pine trees around (SHADE!). I bought a lil' Meyer lemon on Etsy, and want to repot it. What do you like to use as potting mix? How much bigger would you suggest I go with the pot size? I plan to bring the lemon tree indoors in the winter. I may have to go with artificial lights, because our home has a front and back porch, so the natural light is limited. A green house is in our future, just not this year. Currently it is enjoying the southern corner of our east-ish facing front porch.
I hope you don't mind me picking your brain about your 20 yo Meyer lemon tree. I think you may know a thing or two!