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Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

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Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 4/11/2016, 11:45 pm

Hi!
My parents were old-style square-foot gardeners. I picked up a used copy of the new book late spring last year, and I have a hybrid old/new square foot garden. I've been browsing bits of the forum and finally decided to join. My ambitious plans for this year mean I'll have questions, and my experiences last year can hopefully help others. Looking forward to sharing!
 - BeetlesPerSqFt

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  sanderson on 4/12/2016, 12:23 am

Hi Beetles, Welcome to the Forum from California! glad you\'re here

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/12/2016, 10:27 am

Hi Beetles! 

Perfect time to start gardening!

I would love to know more about your "hybrid old/new square foot garden".  I think I may have one or two of those.  lol

Look forward to your questions and your experiences.

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More about my hybrid garden

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 4/12/2016, 3:26 pm

Thanks for the welcome Sanderson and CC!

My main garden is in the west side yard. The front (south) yard is small and too close to a semi-major road (gravel, salt spray, trash…) and already mostly taken up by landscape beds, one of which slopes pretty hard.  We rent, so I can’t take out the landscape beds/bushes, but I’ve been throwing herbs in between things were I can. The east yard definitely doesn’t get enough light and the house has no windows facing that way.  And the backyard (north of the house) progresses from full shade to septic mound/field to poor drainage/gets flooded by the creek.  The west side is close to the house, and the water spigot, and even though it gets some shade from the house and an elm tree, it’s still the best choice for what I have to work with.  Plus, I can stand on the deck and "survey my domain." Very Happy

The fenced in area is about 25’ x 35’. New-style sq.ft. garden-wise, I have four 4x8 raised beds and one 4x4 raised bed (so, 144 sq ft total) in the main garden.  I’m hoping to add three smaller boxes outside the main garden – one (about 3x3) for strawberries in the flat corner of the landscaping bed, one for zucchini (if I can figure out how to handle the sloped landscaping bed without digging), and a very narrow one against the front of the house for runner beans.  My main garden also has 100 sq ft (not including path space) old-style sq ft garden – amended dirt, not in raised beds, but with sq ft grids. And then I have another 100 sq ft section in the main garden that’s not gridded, but uses square foot garden spacing:  two mostly-flower beds, one mostly-herbs bed, and a section for Jerusalem artichokes that will be bordered on the south by nasturtiums.  This year I planned better than last and I won’t be trying to grow anything north of the Jerusalem artichokes! (If you aren’t familiar with them – they are tall sunflower relatives that one grows for the edible tubers. They aren’t polite vegetables, in many ways, and I wouldn’t recommend planting them in a raised bed.)   It may seem big for a square foot garden, but it’s based on what I got last year per plant/square (due in part to the shading) – and I’m growing a number of things for storage, and quite a few flowers for the neighbor's honey bees, and other pollinators (including beetles!)

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  AtlantaMarie on 4/12/2016, 6:47 pm

Hi BeetlesPerSqFt. Let me add a welcome from Atlanta, GA!

Your garden is about the same size as mine. Looking forward to seeing what you do with it! :-)

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  sanderson on 4/13/2016, 3:23 am

Beetles, Can you post some photos of your spread? Hint. Very Happy

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  Scorpio Rising on 4/13/2016, 7:37 am

Welcome, beetles, from your neighbor to the west! Sounds like a solid plan, glad you found us! Pictures would be great!

happy hi

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Photos: Bigger than last year, and more square foot-y

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 4/13/2016, 5:23 pm

Thanks for the welcome, Scorpio and Marie!
Here's a photo of the garden from May 21, 2015 (lots of things wrong in this picture, I know!)


And as requested, here's a photo of where the garden is at today:



I tried direct sowing some greens 2 weeks ago (in the raised beds), but nothing has come up yet. I blame that 19 degree low we had. Since it's been two weeks, I've started the next round of greens - indoors this time. I've still got two shallow 2" boxes to put in, and some weeding to do. The first of the peas (Alaska) are hydrating and will go out tomorrow. The trellises are still in the garage -- along with the top bar for the half-done covered wagon frame, because the drill battery needs to be charged. The fence is mostly deer netting, and I'm still in the process of re-setting it from having enlarged the garden. My grids are hard to see in the photo, but they are red yarn.

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  Kelejan on 4/13/2016, 5:57 pm

glad you\'re here Beetles happy hi 
from Kelejan :canada: in British Columbia

You sure have quite a lot going on in not ideal conditions.  You seem to be doing well for a renter, as so many renters are not allowed to do anything.

But I am convinced that a renter like you is an asset to any home-letter.

Look forward to seeing your progression.

Kelejan


Last edited by Kelejan on 4/13/2016, 6:09 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  yolos on 4/13/2016, 6:08 pm

That's a nice size garden. I bet it was a lot of work to get set up. You will be able to grow a lot of yummy veggies there. Good Luck

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 4/13/2016, 6:21 pm

Thanks, Kelejan!   Our previous rental situation had lots of rules, and a only a shady balcony for growing things outside.  But my husband and I had the fortune of having a few different options when we were picking someplace new to move to, and I picked the place that would both allow me to garden (I asked up front before we signed the lease), and has a basement.  I certainly try to be a good renter, because I’m grateful to be able to garden. So no planting invasive plants like mint and lemon balm, and no planting paw paw trees where they can grow into the septic... 

I’m looking forward to seeing the garden green up, too.

Hi Yolos! - Lots of work, but setting up the raised beds was less laborious than digging the beds in the ground, especially with the dirt needing to dry out first (it's fairly clay heavy). Finding vermiculite, trying to fit 8 ft boards in the station wagon, and getting a big load of compost dropped off for the raised beds were all time consuming, but didn't provide much exercise.

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  sanderson on 4/13/2016, 7:59 pm

Wow! Shocked

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  AtlantaMarie on 4/13/2016, 11:05 pm

+1!!!

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  floyd1440 on 4/14/2016, 7:16 pm

Glad you joined!  I am from western pa and seem to be close in our zones 

Gardens look great!  Nice job.

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 4/18/2016, 3:49 pm

Thanks, Floyd! I'll try to keep an eye out for your posts; local info about when to plant what and how is definitely something I need. I purchased transplants last year for several plants that I'm trying to do myself from seed this year, and I'm planting many things this year that I didn't last year.  Lots to do... ! Smile

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  floyd1440 on 4/18/2016, 4:28 pm

I know that it is expensive to buy transplants but had to do it the first two years.  That fall I set up some shelves and asked a lot of people who are on this forum for advice and the helped.

Had purchased some seed packets in the late summer, cheap then, and planted some peppers,tomatoes,herbs inside and figured out how to do it.

The following year I started most of my plants from seeds..Saves a TON of money and you get more selection from seed catalogs.

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 4/18/2016, 9:37 pm

The variety available from the catalogs is part of the "problem" Very Happy  I think I spent as much on seeds as I did on transplants last year... but I keep reminding myself most of them will last several years, and I'll be spending much less next year. I'm doing all my tomatoes (5 kinds) this year, half my peppers (4 types of 8 ), and all my eggplants (2 types) - last year was closer to 2/3rds, 1/6th, and none. I've been increasing my herbs every year, gotta love perennials. Someone divided their chives and shared them with me last year (after THREE failures at trying to start them from seed...), and I've been very happy to see them popping back up.  Thanks for the encouragement!


Last edited by sanderson on 4/19/2016, 3:36 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : eight parenthesis resulted in unintended emoticon)

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  Scorpio Rising on 4/18/2016, 10:04 pm

Unintended emoticon..... lol!

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  wyldhawk9 on 4/18/2016, 10:46 pm

Beetles - welcome to the forum. I'm very interested to see your progress this year. Please do post picture updates. It is remarkable the difference in your garden last year and this year just in layout alone. Hope you get an excellent crop to reward your efforts!

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 4/27/2016, 5:40 pm

@wyldhawk9 wrote:Beetles - welcome to the forum. I'm very interested to see your progress this year. Please do post picture updates. It is remarkable the difference in your garden last year and this year just in layout alone. Hope you get an excellent crop to reward your efforts!
As requested by Wyldhawk, Here is a "2 weeks later" photo update:

The Kozy Coat/Walls of Water (WOWs) are up, the pea/cuke/squash trellises are up, the pepper cages are in, the tomatillo cages are in (I expect a mess from that part of my plan), the wagon hoop frames are part way up, I got my two remaining grid-line frames in - but I still need to weed one of the frames and string the grid. I redid one side of the fence and replaced the barely functional mismash I had in one section. Putting my fence stakes into buckets filled with rocks means my fence isn't taking up grow-space where I'm running into the sidewalk/driveway, the collection of rocks I dug out are being put to use, and I can adjust the fence border on the side of the ground cherry bed as they grow (shown part way out right now since I was sowing my first carrot seeds -- underneath the rectangular black pot trays to help keep them moist.)

The spring broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage have been transplanted. The first round of kales and collards have been transplanted. The first round, and some second rounds of greens are in (lettuces, arugulas, spinach, mustard, mache, chrysanthemum, and claytonia.) The peas are in. All three successions of spring radishes have been sown. I moved cilantro volunteers so I have those sooner than planned. The garlics keep growing. The Jerusalem artichokes that weren't where they were supposed to be have been coming up -- I haven't seen the intentional ones yet, but they have a thick layer of mulch to work through. And I think my Denebian grub devils (my family's name for Stachys affinis tubers) are sprouting. Very Happy

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  Scorpio Rising on 4/27/2016, 6:47 pm

OK, chrysanthemum as a green? Curious! Does your mache overwinter?

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 4/27/2016, 8:41 pm

@Scorpio Rising wrote:OK, chrysanthemum as a green?  Curious!  Does your mache overwinter?
Yes, garland chrysanthemum (Glebionis cornaria rather than a Chrysanthemum sp.) as a green. Sometimes called shungiku or chop suey green. I got my seeds from Baker's Creek, but I'm pretty sure I found them for sale elsewhere, too. I had the greens at a hot pot restaurant for Chinese New Year and decided it was a Must-Grow this year.

I bought mache seeds because I heard it could over-winter and I have a bunch of windows to turn into cold-frames sitting in the garage -- but this is the first time I've grown it, so I don't know if I can over-winter it or not.

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  Scorpio Rising on 4/27/2016, 10:12 pm

Ahh, makes sense now.

I too am looking into what will make it here...will need a cold frame here

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  sfg4uKim on 4/28/2016, 10:33 pm

LOL I'm a little late to the party, but hello from Maryland.

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 4/28/2016, 11:42 pm

@sfg4uKim wrote:LOL I'm a little late to the party, but hello from Maryland.
Hi Kim from Maryland!
Good to hear from someone from the Mid-Atlantic region. Looks like you're south of me and a zone or two warmer -- what plants are you putting in now? I'm trying to get a handle on optimizing sowing/planting times. The long range forecast here in my part of PA looks like we've had our last frost already, so I popped in my first cucumbers a few weeks early, under a milk jug cloche (if they don't make it, I've got more seeds.)
 - Beetles

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania

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