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A few beginner questions

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  NC7acreproject on 9/1/2013, 10:55 pm

Bnoles, are your beds 4' wide?  It looks like you have some longer beds.  I have read on forums that several people said they wish they would have stuck to 4x4, do you feel that way or are you happy with your longer beds?

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  sanderson on 9/2/2013, 5:26 am

NC7,

Because of your soil, you don't have a lot of ground options.  I thought of pool liner or shower pan liner for the walkways, covered with gravel.  But over time, walking on the gravel, the liner may start to shred between the shale and gravel.  Plus that is a lot of chlorinated vinyl degrading in the area.  Plus it is expensive. Then I though of another option.  Take a look at this thread. Brainchasm used cinder blocks and gravel for his garden.  It's all nice and tidy and looks good in his back yard in Las Vegas where grass is a premium.

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t14727-newbie-in-las-vegas-year-1?highlight=Las+Vegas

Your garden area has a lot of weeds that could grow up through gravel.  If you used cinder blocks and gravel, you could use a small flame thrower to periodically burn off weeds from your pathways. Seriously.  No worry about catching the beds on fire!!  In time, you could paint the outside of the blocks with epoxy cement paint, even in a gray on gray pattern like rock work!  If you put capstones on the blocks, you could sit on the edges.  Use a knee pad for kneeling.  And the cinder blocks will never rot and need replacing.

The gravel should be small enough so that you can run a wheel barrow on it without bogging down.  Or run 12" x 12" x 2" pavers down the middle for the front tire.

Mel recommends no wider than 4' but no limit on how long the beds are.  I personally, like my 2' wide beds, but I'm kind of short. If I had land like some of you have, I would still limit to 3' wide for comfort.  And 3-4 feet wide isles.  No wider rows because of the watering and wasted growing space.  I wouldn't want to drag a hose more than 40' in either direction.  Laying 1/2" drip line to each bed can be costly so the more compact the entire garden can be, the cheaper and easier.  Someone has a 2,000 sq ft garden but I can't find the topic.  They discuss watering a large area. Someone will find the thread and post the link!

Instead of thinking about a tractor going down the gravel rows, you could use an ATV with a small trailer attached for hauling in new compost or flats of seedlings, or for collecting your bumper crops.  Best of luck.  I can't wait to see the photos of your endeavors.

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  camprn on 9/2/2013, 6:56 am

@NC7acreproject wrote:

How is the wood chips on the knees?  I thought about them, I like the look of them better than standard mulch.  Seems to be a little more uniform.

When Mulch turns into organic matter, are you saying scoop into up and use as compost or it will just create a organic matter in isles?
Yes I was thinking wood chips would make a good mulch and create organic matter in the aisles where the dirt is so thin or the rock is actually exposed.

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  TxGramma on 9/2/2013, 10:26 am

@sanderson wrote:Someone has a 2,000 sq ft garden but I can't find the topic.  They discuss watering a large area. Someone will find the thread and post the link!
Here you go: 2,000 Sq. Foot Garden Need Plant Ideas

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  sanderson on 9/2/2013, 1:17 pm

@TxGramma wrote:
@sanderson wrote:Someone has a 2,000 sq ft garden but I can't find the topic.  They discuss watering a large area. Someone will find the thread and post the link!
Here you go: 2,000 Sq. Foot Garden Need Plant Ideas
Thanks, TXGramma

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  TxGramma on 9/2/2013, 3:26 pm

Your welcome. Glad to help anytime. flower 

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  jimmy cee on 9/4/2013, 10:43 pm

Here is what I have been using for many years, cedar chips..need to replaced about every 4 years.



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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  sanderson on 9/5/2013, 1:13 am

Jimmy, Your garden looks so nice. So pleasant.

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  southern gardener on 9/5/2013, 3:07 am

@NC7acreproject wrote:A lot of work.  Tractor shed needs to be resided, beds built, small 12x12 barn will be moved from our old house to here this week, green house built, fence fixed(existing fence is a wore out wire horse fence), etc. etc etc.  Overwhelming.

When I get barn moved I will send another pic, I think you guys will like the sink I had built on the side of it.  It was built for cooking at the lake.  Now it will become a gardening sink.  I will also explain how I built it with the pics.  

I need all the ideas for the best isle covering.  Grass, pea gravel, patio blocks, mulch, etc.  and reason you like it the best.
" />" />
We put down a gray fabric weed cover about 17 years ago?? We then laid pea gravel over the top and put our SFG beds in. Someone mention that no matter what you put down, there's maintenance. We have had very little if ANY maintenance with the pea gravel in the aisles. I would love grass, but it seems like it would be very time consuming to edge/mow etc. I always wondered how you would water the grass in the aisles without getting your SFG beds wet (ie withOUT overhead watering) To me, that was the deal breaker in regards to grass aisles. The pea gravel is nice, neat and clean. It's not as beautiful as grass, but for us, there were many more pros vs. cons. Good luck in whatever you chose!!

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  Marc Iverson on 9/5/2013, 4:58 am

pics of pea gravel aisles?

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  southern gardener on 9/5/2013, 11:50 am

@Marc Iverson wrote:pics of pea gravel aisles?
This is a picture of my grandson a couple of years ago with a big old turnip, but you can see the gravel aisles in the background. The weed fabric we got was sort of a gray very light material, but BOY has it held up! We have had NO weeds come through it whatsoever. We have had some sprout on TOP of the cloth, but they are only growing in the gravel, so super easy to pull out.  Here's the pic Smile


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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  jimmy cee on 9/5/2013, 7:01 pm

Sanderson
Thanks for the nice words.
I suppose we all enjoy hearing them, especially when relating to all that hard work
that goes into gardening.

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  Marc Iverson on 9/5/2013, 9:11 pm

Very neat looking.

Good thing you had hardware cloth down under the gravel. Weeding gravel when it's full of weeds is bloody work.

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  southern gardener on 9/6/2013, 1:20 am

@Marc Iverson wrote:Very neat looking.

Good thing you had hardware cloth down under the gravel.  Weeding gravel when it's full of weeds is bloody work.
We don't have hardware cloth, it's weed fabric, is that what you meant? I wouldn't want the gravel directly over soil, that's for sure! It would be a big mess! The gravel has really worked nicely. It's not very colorful, but it's really been easy to take care of, you can roll a wheel barrow over it nicely, doesn't turn muddy when it rains. So far, we really like it Smile

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  NC7acreproject on 9/19/2013, 12:06 pm

Great Looking Garden Jimmy Cee!  I really like the looks of it.  Kind of what I had in my head for mine.

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Busy, Busy

Post  NC7acreproject on 9/19/2013, 12:21 pm

Been busy moving and unpacking.  Sorry for no updates lately.  So far I have bought a new tractor, Mowed the masture, fixed a washed out tractor path to pasture with tractor, planted my wifes plants in flower beds in front of house, had some gravel poured on driveway, bought 2- Blueberry bushes, 2- Muscadine grape vines, and 1- Blackberry bush.  I have someone spreading mulch around front flower gardens today.  Making house look pretty is more important to my wife than my mini farm plans.

Soil is horrible.  I have been trying to dig holes for Blueberry bushes and so far I am at 18" since Monday.  Process has been dig as much as possible fill with water and repeat the next evening.

This weekend I will finish Cutting a hole out of tractor shed to fit tractor in, organize garden shed and tool shed(so I can find something within an hour), and hopefully finish planting blackberry bush and Blueberry bushes.

Next weekend I plan on building my triple stall compost bin.

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Using Mel's Mix

Post  NC7acreproject on 9/19/2013, 12:23 pm

Has anyone used mix on planting other things than vegetables?  Like Fruit bushes or Fruit Trees?

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  sanderson on 9/19/2013, 1:55 pm

NC7,  I think blueberries can be planted in large containers above ground.  I think the Mel Mix has to be richer in peat moss, but I'm sure others out there can give you more precise information.

My question is can grapes and berry vines be planted in tall large, long boxes?  I would sure give it a try.  My concern is that if you are digging in miserable ground, a water pit may be created which will drown the roots.  That happened to the landscape bushes planted in the hard pan at our house just before we moved in 18 years ago.  We moved in October and the winter rains showed how poorly the dirt drained in our area.  The fix was arduous but worth it.  Too long to detail it here as I have to leave the house, now.

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  NC7acreproject on 9/19/2013, 3:23 pm

Should start a new thread, not in into section to keep everyone updated on progress of my project.

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  jimmy cee on 9/19/2013, 10:25 pm

This past season I used MM on everything I planted.
All experimental for me..it has proven itself to me, I have 1 fellow hooked already, working on 2 more.
One way or the other, success or failure, I am using MM on everything I plant in the future.

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  NC7acreproject on 9/20/2013, 7:55 am

I think i will try it as well. On the blueberries I'm going to mix in some pine straw to help raise acidity.

Do you think MM will be to loose for fruit trees?

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  VJ72584 on 9/20/2013, 10:30 am

I saw a program on ETV in SC recently showing a blueberry farm and the bushes were growing in containers. They were large and I didn't pay close attention to the process, but I think they were feeding them something in the water.

If your soil is really poor, it might be an opportunity to test the "Back to Eden" method in that area.

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  donnainzone5 on 9/20/2013, 12:08 pm

I haven't tried planting fruit trees in Mel's Mix, but my gut feeling is that the mix would be too soft and loose.

Can someone who has tried it please weigh in? The local "experts" say to use 50% native soil, plus 50% amendments, because trees and shrubs (supposedly) don't need a particularly rich growing medium.

Regarding blueberries: This year, I made a raised bed with cinder blocks and filled it with a modified MM consisting of lots of peat moss, vermiculite, and acid planting mix. I plan to add some partially decomposed pine needles and/or sawdust to lower the pH, which ideally should be about 4.5 - 5.5. The pH of MM is typically about 6.8 - 7.0. And perhaps I'll add a dash of homemade compost....

By all means, try planting berry vines in raised beds. You can see examples of expensive examples at www.gardeners.com. Blackberries especially will need support.

The beds don't need to be very deep; probably 7 - 8" is sufficient.

The plants have survived, so far, and have been producing new growth recently.

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  sanderson on 9/20/2013, 1:56 pm

NC7,  I've seen photos of dwarf fruit and citrus trees in half wine barrels.  We had a tall podacarpus tree in a barrel for years.  We also have a mature Zylosma in a 3' x 3' x 2" tall box and it has withstood up to 50 mph winds.  I would use MM in taller containers (like wine barrels or 3 high cinder blocks) and try the vines and trees.  I think the roots will spread out vertically

By Donna, "By all means, try planting berry vines in raised beds. You can see examples of expensive examples at www.gardeners.com. Blackberries especially will need support."  Did you mean Intensive instead of expensive?  The URL didn't work.  :-(

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Re: A few beginner questions

Post  donnainzone5 on 9/20/2013, 2:41 pm

http://www.gardeners.com/Raspberry-Raised-Bed/8586753,default,pd.html?start=3&cgid=SpecialtyRaisedBeds_Cat

Here's the link to a raspberry bed.

It would be relatively easy to put together something similar but much less expensive. My own idea is to assemble a cinder-block raised bed, fill it and the perimeter holes with a suitable MM variant, pound rebar into the holes in the four corners (probably 18" rebar, depending upon your soil conditions and climate), and slip on the electrical conduit. Some sort of wire or nylon netting would then be attached to the supporting conduit.

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Re: A few beginner questions

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