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Existing beds, renting

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Existing beds, renting

Post  irishgirl76 on 7/24/2012, 8:10 am

Hi there,
I'm new to the forum!
I am currently renting a home and there is a 4x10 raised bed in the back yard. I've removed all the flowers that were in there (they were overgrown, and a mess), and a couple of small trees. There is still one tree in there, and I'm not sure if I can/should remove it or not. I would really like to turn it into a SFG. It is full of existing soil (I would say there is about 4 inches of empty space from the very top of the bed down to where the soil starts). I have bought some peat, vermiculite, and compost (but not enough to fill the whole bed), and was wondering if I could just mix it into the existing soil. I'm not sure how much longer I will be renting the house, so I hate to make a huge investment and have to walk away from it, plus removing the soil would be a lot of work, and I'm not sure where I would put it. Plus it is late in the year, and I'm only planting fall crops in it now.
Any thoughts? I'm a single mom and my resources (financial and otherwise) are very limited - I would love to supplement our grocery budget by growing some of our own.

Thanks for your help!


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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  camprn on 7/24/2012, 9:09 am

Hi Irish, Welcome to the Forum. I use the ingredients of the SFG (compost, and peat) often to amend the native soil when I am working on making a new flower bed and you can certainly do that. If you have good soil all the better for your garden. With the SFG and starting a new garden, the Mel's mix is what is going to make or break you garden, and it comes down to the quality of the 5 different composts that you choose to use. Give it a go.

Have you read the All New Square Foot Gardening book (2006) yet?

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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  moswell on 7/24/2012, 11:43 am

Welcome Irish. As someone who is now in the position of having to abandon her garden (I also rent a house, but my landlords have decided to sell the house), I understand your desire not to devote more resources than you have to. How big is the tree still in the bed?

At any rate, don't forget containers (most of mine are filled with Mel's Mix). I've got a lot of stuff already in containers, and I'm glad that I won't lose those when I move.

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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  J_in_HamiltonON on 7/24/2012, 12:46 pm

Hi Irishgirl, welcome fellow Ontarian. The previous owner of my house grew lots of flowers but no veggies (or so it seemed when we bought the house). There was one main bed and I pulled up and/or moved all of the flowers out of there to convert it into a veggie garden (although we still had a few surprise flowers pop up over the next 2 years). Anyway, I thought the soil was pretty good in there, it clearly had been ammended over the years probably with various amounts of potting soils / garden soils / manures. This year I found out about the SFG method and made mels mix for the first time. It is far better then the soil in that existing flower bed.
First off, I'd say do not grow veggies close to a tree, the tree will suck the life out of your plants with it's massive roots (at least that is what I am finding trying to grow hostas under a large maple). My suggestion (if you don't want to remove the tree) would be to subdivide the box to sort of isolate theh tree (to prevent the roots from going over to where the veggies are. you say you bed is 4 x 10 (how heigh is it?), so you could cut 2x6 or 2x8 or whatever to 4 foot lenghts and install those in to subdivide the box. Also consider whether the tree will shade out some of the plants
As far as amending the soil, what I did this year was to mix some compost and peat (actually I used the ASB Greenworld Original Growers Mix from Canadian Tire which is mostly peat plus lime and some compost) into the existing soil ( and then about 4" of mels mix on top of that (i plan to add more next year but thought this was a good start). Maybe if you need to you can stack some new wood to raise the bed height in order to allow for more soild to be added. hopefully all that makes some sense.
What sort of composts did you find. I had a hard time finding compost here in the Hamilton area - all the stores and greenhouses sell cow and sheep manure but nothing else.

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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  songstriss on 7/24/2012, 1:00 pm

glad you\'re here Hi and welcome. I love the idea of containers because you can move them around. If you're not overly familiar with sun and shade patterns in your yard you can move containers as needed. You put in the soil you want and you can take them with you. As far as containers go use your imagination with what you have. I use buckets from the hardware store, basins, plastic coffee cans, etc. As long as you put holes in the bottoms to allow for drainage. A lot of restaurants are going with plastic "to go" containers now. I use those under pots, etc for drainage. Hope this gives you some ideas. Happy gardening! flower

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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  walshevak on 7/24/2012, 6:58 pm

Four inches of MM is better than none. Topping off the existing beds makes sense if the tree doesn't interfere. Another possibility for you is the use of the cement mixing tub. Big enough to grow in, small enough to be portable with some help.

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t10982-cheap-plastic-2x3-boxes

Kay

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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  irishgirl76 on 7/24/2012, 11:05 pm

Thanks everyone!

I feel like I should utilize this bed now that I've ripped everything else out of it - there was even a layer of rocks on top (5 recycling bins' worth). The tree is not that big - I would guess 6 feet tall? Apparently it used to grow in some sort of spiral shape but it has been let go and is now just patchy and weird. It is close to one end of the bed. I wouldn't be able to remove it on my own, I'd need some help. My landlord passed away recently (2 weeks ago), so I feel strange about making any major changes without consulting with anyone. That's also why I'm unsure about how long I will get to keep living here - his wife may decide to sell (I'm guessing). But I would like to utilize it if I can in the mean time.

I do have lots of things growing in pots... 2 cherry tomato plants, a lemon cucumber, some onions, a green pepper, and an herb garden. I even have a blueberry bush still in a pot... I may put it in the ground and then just dig it up if I have to.

Please keep the suggestions coming!

If I was to add in the Mel's Mix... would it be better if I added it in a layer on top, or to mix it in with the soil?

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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  moswell on 7/24/2012, 11:07 pm

@irishgirl76 wrote:Thanks everyone!
My landlord passed away recently (2 weeks ago), so I feel strange about making any major changes without consulting with anyone. That's also why I'm unsure about how long I will get to keep living here - his wife may decide to sell (I'm guessing). But I would like to utilize it if I can in the mean time.

Oh geez, this is the exact situation I'm in at the moment. Be careful - I doubt things are as bad financially in Canada as in the US right now, but my poor landlord is concerned she might not be able to keep her own house, let alone the one I'm renting.


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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  walshevak on 7/24/2012, 11:40 pm

If I was to add in the Mel's Mix... would it be better if I added it in a layer on top, or to mix it in with the soil?

Best on top. A lot of things will actually grow in just the 4 inches.

Kay

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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  GWN on 7/25/2012, 12:10 pm

Hi there and WELCOME
Sounds like an interesting situation.
If I were you, I would perhaps add a little compost to the bed and plant there, AND make mels mix for some pots or buckets and that way you can save your mels mix for you next place. (you said you did not know how long you would be renting there)
If you do use mels mix on top of the other bed, I would take some dirt out of that bed, down about 2 inches, put some type of fabric down or cardboard or news papers and then put the dirt back and then the mels mix

I had several beds from last year before I started with mels mix and they were about 12 inches high and so I just got them down to 6 inches, added cardboard and then the mels mix (to decrease your weeding chore??)
COuld you take picture of the tree?

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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  irishgirl76 on 7/25/2012, 6:34 pm

Well, I dug up the tree!! Amazing what we can do when we're determined enough. Lol. My neighbour saw the tree and couldn't believe I'd done it myself. I'll try to post pics from the computer later if I figure out how. Made Mel's Mix to fill up the top 4 inches or so. Now just to grid it off and plant. Yaay! My kids are leaving on Saturday to go to their dad's for a month, so we hope to have some things planted before they leave. It will be exciting for them to see what grew while they were gone!

Now just keep your fingers crossed for me that we get to keep the house at least until fall. Smile

Thank you all SO much for your suggestions and encouragement! This seems like a great place to hang out!

Alissa

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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  Triciasgarden on 7/25/2012, 6:52 pm

Welcome Alissa! Well you don't let grass grow under your feet. Tree shouldn't be there, out it goes, lol!

It sounds like you are off to a great start! Your kids will be so surprised with how much the plants will grow in a month and it will probably keep you busy enough so you won't miss them too much! This is a great forum and I probably get on it too much but I learn so much and it's fun to see and hear what others are doing with their gardens. We also get some funny posts here and there.

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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  walshevak on 7/25/2012, 8:01 pm

Please post some pictures of the garden's progress.

Kay

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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  irishgirl76 on 7/25/2012, 10:05 pm

Ok, can anyone tell me how and where to post photos? Smile

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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  GWN on 7/25/2012, 10:16 pm

Just go up to host an image of the figures above the reply screen, just to the right of centre.
click on it and from there you can choose your picture and the host it.

It will be exciting for them to see what grew while they were gone!
What a great kids project. I think it is so important for kids to be exposed to gardening and see things grow.

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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  irishgirl76 on 7/31/2012, 7:11 am

Thanks, guys! I can't seem to get the image upload to work... but I managed to get the bed planted yesterday (was hoping to do it with the kids before they left but it didn't happen... so I told them I would send them pictures as soon as stuff starts coming up!). I transplanted in some of what I was growing in pots... I hope that was ok and that I didn't kill them! I guess I will find out. lol. I seeded everything else except lettuce and spinach, I'm guessing I should hold off for another couple weeks on those.

Thanks again for all your help!

Alissa

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Re: Existing beds, renting

Post  J_in_HamiltonON on 7/31/2012, 7:48 am

@irishgirl76 wrote:Ok, can anyone tell me how and where to post photos? Smile

See this thread for how to post photo's
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t129-how-to-post-a-picture-located-on-your-computer

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