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The Lazy Gardener

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The Lazy Gardener

Post  dk54321 on 10/22/2014, 6:52 pm

I have a confession. The main reason I SFG is that I'm lazy. 

I don't want to tend 5 times the garden space for the same produce. I don't want to hike way out back to water or weed, or every time I want a fresh tomato. I double-dug my first (labor) intensive beds when I was 14. Never again! I'm done digging! I don't want to spend hours or dollars improving my soil. I don't want to spend money to buy chemicals and more money to properly dispose of them. I don't want to buy or haul more Mel's mix than necessary. I don't want to worry about the weather, or water too much or not enough. I don't want acquire materials to cover my walkways, then pull the weeds that grow around and through them and then replace them as they break down. I don't want to measure or guess the spacing for every plant. I don't want to buy and plant extra seeds. I don't want to thin seedlings. 

I do derive enjoyment and satisfaction from gardening, but more work does not equal more satisfaction! Over the last thirty years, I've searched out or stumbled upon a number of ways to get more satisfaction from gardening with less work. I'm sure you have, too. Let's share our ideas for lazy, but productive and enjoyable gardening!

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The Lazy Gardener: Composting in Place

Post  dk54321 on 10/22/2014, 7:02 pm

I've seen several methods described as "composting in place".  Here's what I do: I put up a snow fence around a bed. Mel's vertical frames make good support for the corners, and are easier to install or remove than fenceposts. I fasten the snow fence to the corners and join the ends of the fence with cable ties. Then I start tossing compostables into it as they become available. I let them accumulate for 2-3 years. Compost happens. When I decide another bed needs refreshed, I put a snow fence around it and fork the uncomposted layers from the old bin into it. That's right, I only turn my compost once every 2-3 years. I could go longer if I set up more beds and devoted more space to composting.

Then I remove the snow fence from the old bin, and it goes back to being a bed, but with a thick layer of fresh compost already in place. I mark it into squares and plant it. Once the plants are 3-4 in tall, I start pulling handfuls of leaves, shredded paper, etc. from the new bin  and tuck them around the plants as mulch. As the plants get taller, I add more mulch. With all that mulch, I do very little weeding. Then again, mulch keeps most weeds from offering much competition, I'm not that particular about the appearance of my beds, and I'm lazy.

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/23/2014, 12:51 am

Wonderful idea for a topic, and laziness is my favorite hobby!

It's definitely one of the things that drew me to SFG. We have very hot summers, and Mel's Mix is the kind of highly-breathable, water-retentive soil that is necessary in so much of my gardening, especially in pots. It helps keep me from having to water sometimes three times a day, which could make gardening unpleasant if not impossible.

One of the things I am trying to do to be lazy is make some of my landscaping edible, and some of my garden beautiful. That way, I don't have to choose so much between garden and landscape or, as I like to think of it, edible and productive vs. pointless and fussy waste of time. I know others don't feel that way, but hey, I'm me, not them. I'm okay with them being them and hope they love it. Enjoy trimming your hedges, gals and fellas. When I trim my vegetables, I eat the trimmings! I like killing two birds with one stone.

Example: I planted fence-top planters with hanging lobelia and red giant mustard. The lobelia breaks up the blank spaces between the red mustards and makes it look like the box might have been put together purely for the visual appeal. The mustards loom with their dark reds over the blue lobelias and give more shape and drama and volume to the planting. Plus, I get to eat them!

Lobelias are water-loving flowers, and greens love water, which not only helps leaf growth but helps keep them from going bitter. So when I keep the lobelias happy, I am also keeping the leafy greens happy. How's that for lazy?

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  Turan on 10/25/2014, 10:50 pm

I have often thought about how nice it would be to have one bed for composting as part of the general rotation, but some how I always end up needing the bed.  So I have adapted and put my compost pile where the winter squash will be.  Also in the fall I make piles on beds where I think I will grow corn the following spring.  Today I built one in the greenhouse where next years tomatoes should go.  I am hoping it will help keep the greenhouse warm for a couple weeks while the last of the tomatoes and cucumbers mature.

This year I have been exploring camprn's way of using twine for stringing up some beans and tomatoes.  I am finding it easier to look after the tomatoes on a string and the beans climbed the strings with no help.  Clean up is a breeze because the twine goes in the compost along with the vines.

Last spring I planted carrots all at once.  I mixed some Nantes, Danvers half long, and Purple Sun and radish seeds and broad cast a 3x3 area.  The radishes came out first making room for the carrots.  Then I ignored them except to pull out the dill that had seeded itself.   End of July start of August my 6 yo neice came to visit.  She adores carrots and cherry tomatoes and knows she can pull and eat any carrot with shoulders.  So she pulled all the Nantes for her snacks and shared with the rest of us too.  That left more room for the remaining Danvers and Purple Suns.  I dug them out this month after 5 full months since seeding.  I got 20 pounds of gorgeous huge carrots perfect for winter storage and minimal fussing.

I am proud to be called a lazy gardener Very Happy

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  dk54321 on 10/26/2014, 1:50 am

Great ideas, Turan! I tried growing a bush-type summer squash once, but even allowing it a 3x3 ft space, it kept invading other squares. It was hard to cut it back because the leaves and stems were so prickly. The next year, I just threw some of the same seed into my compost pile. It thrived, and didn't take any of my bed space or any work.

Another year, my wife's employer had used pumpkins and straw bales to decorate with. When they were done with them, her boss was reluctant to send them to a landfill, and thrilled when I offered to take them for composting. I threw them all in my bin, and the next year, had more volunteer pumpkins than I knew what to do with. Again, a crop I wouldn't ordinarily grow because of its space requirements, but it thrived in my compost pile, and didn't seem to interfere with the composting process at all. I wonder how many other plants could be sown directly in the compost pile?

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The Lazy Gardener: Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave!

Post  dk54321 on 10/26/2014, 2:11 am

A simple change that has saved me a lot of work: Mel recommends nylon netting on his vertical frames (He used recommend synthetic string) because it could be re-used. I found it wasn't worth the effort of untangling the vines. 

I use strings made of whatever natural fiber is cheapest. At the end of the season, I snip the vines and string top and bottom, and compost the whole tangled mess.

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  CapeCoddess on 10/26/2014, 2:33 am

@dk54321 wrote:A simple change that has saved me a lot of work: Mel recommends nylon netting on his vertical frames (He used recommend synthetic string) because it could be re-used. I found it wasn't worth the effort of untangling the vines. 

I use strings made of whatever natural fiber is cheapest. At the end of the season, I snip the vines and string top and bottom, and compost the whole tangled mess.
This is how lazy I am...I use Mel's recommended netting and whatever doesn't dry up and come right off stays on.   If it doesn't blow off over winter, next yrs vines don't seem to care and will grow right over it.
Embarassed
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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  CapeCoddess on 10/26/2014, 3:29 am

@dk54321 wrote:Great ideas, Turan! I tried growing a bush-type summer squash once, but even allowing it a 3x3 ft space, it kept invading other squares. It was hard to cut it back because the leaves and stems were so prickly. The next year, I just threw some of the same seed into my compost pile. It thrived, and didn't take any of my bed space or any work.
 I wonder how many other plants could be sown directly in the compost pile?
Dk, is your pile in full sun?  Mine is in full shade so this wouldn't work, darn it.  Although I do have a surprise potato growing in there right now...  Rolling Eyes  ...and I occasionally have tomato seedlings that I've grabbed and transplanted to a sunny spot.  I've also seen onions leafing out in the pile, and other things, too, that I can't remember at the moment.  And I've grown wonderful peppers & melons in straight compost in pots, so those would probably grow in a sunny pile.

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  dk54321 on 10/26/2014, 6:12 pm

Yes, since I compost in my beds, which have full sun most the day, my compost gets full sun. If I could get all my plants to grow in compost piles, I wouldn't have to turn them at all!

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  Kelejan on 10/28/2014, 1:32 am

I had some self-sown scarlet runner beans in my compost pile this year and they turned out the best I have ever had. They were late blooming because they had a lot of shade compared to where I normally put them, and they were the longest and straightest and most tender ones ever. I could have put them in the local horticultural show and won a prize with them. (Especially as there were no runner beans entered) Very Happy
They grew up on the wire mesh that contained the pile.
I will do the same next year in the new compost pile and remember to enter them in the show.

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  camprn on 10/28/2014, 6:22 am

Congratulations kelejan!! Well done! cheers

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  dk54321 on 10/28/2014, 2:11 pm

@Kelejan wrote:I had some self-sown scarlet runner beans in my compost pile this year and they turned out the best I have ever had. They were late blooming because they had a lot of shade compared to where I normally put them, and they were the longest and straightest and most tender ones ever. I could have put them in the local horticultural show and won a prize with them. (Especially as there were no runner beans entered) Very Happy
They grew up on the wire mesh that contained the pile.
I will do the same next year in the new compost pile and remember to enter them in the show.
If there were a "Like" button I would click it for this post!

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  Kelejan on 10/28/2014, 5:17 pm

I like "like" buttons but I treasure the answers that are actually written.
Thank you, camprn and dk54321. Smile

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The Lazy Gardener:Stealing Compost

Post  dk54321 on 10/29/2014, 3:03 pm

I've always gardened in places with trees, and leaves that needed raking. I didn't particularly like this chore, but it provided the bulk of my compost. This year, I moved to a house with only an evergreen hedge. It's not only hotter in the summer, the few leaves that blow in from neighboring yards aren't enough to bother raking. 

I was wondering how I would fill my compost bin, when I saw the neighbor across the street had raked all her leaves into the street. The city sends a truck with a giant vacuum cleaner around about once a week in the fall to collect the leaves so people don't bag them and put them out with the trash. I grabbed my rake and an empty trash can (with wheels, of course). One sweep of the rake filled the trash can. I rolled it to my garden and emptied it into my compost bin. I filled my bin in a fraction of the time it used to take me because someone else had already done most the work!

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  Kelejan on 10/29/2014, 3:54 pm

Way to go, dk54321. I like when others have done the work.

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/29/2014, 5:24 pm

I love your leaf opportunity, but I don't have that way out here in the country. However, this year I've raked my leaves and picked them up into my wheelbarrow. Then I pre-crunch them using my hands in the wheelbarrow (takes about a minute) then dump the wheelbarrow into a big black trash bag and completely crunch the leaves in it.

All together it takes just a few minutes to do the crunching and I've found those leaves completely break down in my Berkeley hot compost pile within just a little more than a week.

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  Goosegirl on 10/29/2014, 7:24 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:
@dk54321 wrote:A simple change that has saved me a lot of work: Mel recommends nylon netting on his vertical frames (He used recommend synthetic string) because it could be re-used. I found it wasn't worth the effort of untangling the vines. 

I use strings made of whatever natural fiber is cheapest. At the end of the season, I snip the vines and string top and bottom, and compost the whole tangled mess.
This is how lazy I am...I use Mel's recommended netting and whatever doesn't dry up and come right off stays on.   If it doesn't blow off over winter, next yrs vines don't seem to care and will grow right over it.
Embarassed
CC
rofl This was my 4th season, and I have yet to clean off my netting! I tried at the end of the first season, but ended up breaking some of the netting so I gave up and what does not blow off stays as winter decoration and extra plant grippies the next season.

I am truly a COMATOSE gardener! This season, due to job changes and life stresses, if water did not fall from the sky my garden did not get watered. In spite of that, I still got a bumper crop of volunteer cilantro, several gallons of Calima green beans, some good tomatoes (not enough to freeze, but enough for some good pasta dinners), just pulled 3 canvas grocery bags of onions, and when I cleared out the onions and pulled some of the dried weedy cilantro stalks I found that I do in fact have some St. Valery carrots that managed to sprout and grow in spite of the cilantro forest which covered and shaded the entire box. And did I mention that until yesterday it has not rained since mid-July? cyclops Considering my personal lack of input, I am thrilled at the harvest. AND, I only managed to get 3 of my 7 main boxes planted this year. Now that I see what I got with less space, I am definitely going to use my bit of plastic chicken 'wire' to make it a temporary compost bin and just rotate it through my smaller boxes over the seasons.

I am looking forward to being more active here again. I am 6 weeks into my new job and I think it will allow me the energy to boost up my gardening to Lazy instead of Comatose!

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Additional Boxes = Lazier Composting

Post  dk54321 on 11/25/2014, 1:50 pm

I was thinking about adding more beds so I could compost in a bed and leave the pile alone until it is ready to plant, no turning or moving compost at all. Mel says the best wood is free wood, but I got one better: my brother just sold his house and he called and asked if I would be interested in his SFG beds. Would I! He has a trailer, so he loaded them up and delivered them to my back yard complete with Mel's Mix!

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  boffer on 11/25/2014, 2:38 pm

Sweet! alrighta

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  CapeCoddess on 11/25/2014, 3:21 pm

WOW, dk...whatta great score!

The people here at work save their bagged food scraps and put them out next to my car every day.   Shocked  One gal just stuck a small trash bag of turnip peelings out there.  Sometimes I go out there and there's dead plants in pots next to my car - dirt and all.

Life is good!

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  sanderson on 11/25/2014, 8:37 pm

dk and CC, You both score Very Happy

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/26/2014, 5:56 pm

Free beds AND Mel's Mix - tough to top that one!!!!

All I got was free beds, which only required us to raise up on piers, drill drain holes and cover the inside with landscape cloth.  So, for the cost of peat moss, $24 for the two 4x8x6" beds and Vermiculite (1/2 was left over, 1/2 needs to be purchased at around $28 for 6 cu. ft.) I'll have 64 new squares to play with!  Less than $1 per sq ft.

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  boffer on 11/26/2014, 6:33 pm

Wow, what a great price for vermiculite.

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Re: The Lazy Gardener

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/26/2014, 7:49 pm

@boffer wrote:Wow, what a great price for vermiculite.  
Going from memory - I may be wrong, but that's at an agriculture supply store.

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