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Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

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Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  Megan on 3/1/2011, 9:51 pm

Welcome to March in the Mid-Atlantic zone!

Here is my second attempt at an update. Somehow, the forum ate the post I wrote yesterday. Lesson learned; I will write long posts in WordPad or similar from here on out.

Some of my local friends seem to think winter is all over, with all the warm weather we've been having and the crazy thunderstorms. I am more dubious and think I am going to call it the "February Tease". We got one of those last year, too--a warm snap in February--and right after that, Snowmageddon hit. I guess we will find out, huh? I still think we are in for more winter weather in March and April.

Despite my doubt, I did plant 2 squares of lettuce a few weeks ago. It's an old French variety named "Merveille des Quatre Saisons", which translates more or less to "Four Seasons Wonder." This morning, I saw a spot of green. Is it the lettuce, or a weed teasing me? News at Eleven. The fall-planted pansies and mums are coming back, though. Jonquils, chives, salvia, onions and garlic are all sprouting, and best of all.... my wild yellow strawberries LIVED through the winter! I am so excited about that. I was worried that wintering over in a terracotta strawberry jar might kill them.

On Sunday I spent my first day of the year in my front yard. It was warm enough to actually go barefoot and enjoy it (down below freezing again now.) I spent a few hours cleaning up winterfall, trimming up the monster sage bush, and generally inspecting. I also emptied all the MM out of a 1' x 4' x 6" potato high-rise box and moved the MM, about 10 gallons, to the back yard. The box fell apart when I picked it up; the screws used had been too short. Oops! But just like the Bionic Man, we can rebuild him (or it, in this case.) Smile

I have a tentative planting planting plan for the front yard, which I hope to post tomorrow. Camprn saw a preview and she really cracked me up: "It looks bigger than I expected!" My response was something along the lines of, "It SHOULD look bigger, without the rampicante." Wink

The backyard is still a tremendous mess, but we reached a happy agreement with our neighbor and the big tree is coming out. There is also some work to be done in pulling out more trees between shed and fence, plus general cleanup including pulling out rampant rosebushes. (Anyone want some rosebushes??) I don't know yet how steep the incline is or how much I'll have to do about it to level out the boxes, but I have a tentative plan in place.

Indoors, nothing going yet except for two sweet potatoes. One has a nice slip growing on it, but no roots. The other has many roots, but no slips. Go figure! They are of different varieties, we'll see how it goes.

I just bought some Jiffy pellets...and am taking a hard look at Aero Gardens, as their compact size might work well for me. I still am keen on starting almost all of my seeds in situ, but given all the work to be done in the back yard, it might be quite helpful.

Happy Gardening! flower

What are YOU doing this March??? :?:
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My draft garden plans

Post  Megan on 3/2/2011, 6:58 pm

Here is my draft plan for the front yard this year: Link

This afternoon, I measured the back yard and the slope isn't much at all--barely noticeable, in fact, unlike the front yard. The biggest issue is the ground is just plain uneven due to tree roots, but that is easy enough to take care of in terms of setting the boxes. Phew!

I just finished this tentative layout for the backyard (Link) and I would love some feedback before I plan out the actual plants.

The bottom of the diagram is the back of the house, and remaining three sides are 6-ft privacy fence. There's a very large deciduous tree just off the right-hand fence. The right side of the yard gets the most sun.

The concrete patio, shed, a/c, door, gate, are existing and cannot be moved. The composter is an existing circular plastic lidded bin and can be moved. I'm thinking about selling it and converting to pallet-style compost bins, as marked with the box surrounding the existing composter. The blue circle is a possible future rain barrel. (I forgot to put in a potato box...I'll work that in somehow I guess.) I'm not quite sure what to use as ground cover. It is mostly landscaping fabric right now. Due to the tree dropping leaves, dh is reluctant to do anything like gravel, but doing all the exposed area in pavers sounds expensive to me.

If I counted right, this should add 152 square feet of gardening space. I may end up adding boxes in phases over a few years to help spread out the cost.

I'd love to hear your feedback, plus, of course, what your March plans are.

Happy gardening! flower
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  Weatherkid on 3/3/2011, 5:22 pm

My plans for the month include cleaning up the garden beds from winter litter, and adding more compost to the MM. At either the end of March or early April we'll begin to (trans)plant cool weather crops. I'm planning on lots of leafy crops this year, eg. lettuce, kale, collards, spinach, parsley etc as well as broccoli and onions.

Still counting down the days until the last frost!!

Joel
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  Mikesgardn on 3/4/2011, 9:02 am

I decided last weekend to plant peas and lettuce directly in the ground. It's a couple of weeks early, so I covered the boxes with clear plastic. At night, the ground has frozen a few times this week, so I'll have to see if the seeds germinate. I'll give them a couple of weeks before re-planting. Any other Marylanders planted peas yet?
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Mid-Atlantic March update

Post  NancyD on 3/4/2011, 4:32 pm

My plans the this weekend were to make a major dent in cleaning up the yard. It looks like it's now just Sat, as over an inch of rain is predicted for Sun. But the tulips are coming up, so I'd better get busy!

I know the SFGs are thawed, but I haven't planted yet. I'm tempted to try lettuce and radishes in a couple of squares. I will definitely start lettuce in a pot that I can roll into the garage, if necessary. I've also got herbs started in trays in the house. Yay!!

NancyD
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  Megan on 3/4/2011, 7:16 pm

I planted some lettuce a while back but nothing doing. There is SOMETHING coming up there, but it is definitely not lettuce. I have no idea what it is; could be a weed. I'll try to get a picture tomorrow if the light is good. Supposed to be cloudy tomorrow and rain on Sunday. Boo! I am eagerly working on planning my backyard, though.
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  windrider1967 on 3/4/2011, 9:30 pm

@Mikesgardn wrote:I decided last weekend to plant peas and lettuce directly in the ground. It's a couple of weeks early, so I covered the boxes with clear plastic. At night, the ground has frozen a few times this week, so I'll have to see if the seeds germinate. I'll give them a couple of weeks before re-planting. Any other Marylanders planted peas yet?

No peas yet but I have started my spinach, we'll see how it goes. I have been covering them and my strawberries in the evenings, Haven't had any true ground freezes but some light to heavy frost, so I am going to hope that they come through. Not SFG on those beds.

I am planning to spend tomorrow doing the cuts for my boxes and maybe laying them out to see how the fit is. Nice thing with the SFG is if I need to make an odd shaped area it is definatly easier than trying to till up an L, rounder, or just odd beds. If I have time I am going to start the digging. I am going to double dig the area in the boxes and mix in some compost as I can't afford to do the Mel's mix this year. Also need to start a compost pile - first year so I am behind the ball. affraid
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  Megan on 3/4/2011, 9:50 pm

This feels really, really early for me to start anything outside. This is only 2nd year for me and last year was Snowmageddon. But, I'll still try a few things anyway.

Windrider -- Welcome! glad you\'re here

I completely understand about the double-digging, but my back aches for you already. Ten years ago, I double-dug our landscaping beds down to 22" or hardpan (whichever came first), mixed in steer manure, and it just about killed me. You will have weeds to contend with but it's still way better than the red clay. If you can find ANYTHING to lighten the soil, it will help. Perlite or vermiculte is best (yeah, spendy) but anything, really. Last year I got free straw from Southern Supply... just bring bags (I used landscaping paper bags) and ask for loose / bad straw, they will be happy to let you clean up their trailer for them. You can mix that in when you're double-digging. It will probably sprout on you (they call it straw, but it's still got seeds in it!) but you can dig the sprouts back in as green compost.
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  jerzyjen on 3/5/2011, 1:52 pm

Megan - I thought your HOA made you take out your front yard boxes?

I've got a mini hoop house set up on one of my table tops and it's been working out pretty good. I've got some baby lettuces transplanted in there and planted spinach seed. It's a bit cramped (although I can extend it) so I only have 6 lettuce, 6 spinach seeds, but soon enough I'll be removing in the inner layer and hopefully the water bottles and getting more seeds in. I have it on my calendar to start peas i think 2 weeks from now, but I couldn't wait, I planted them on the first. I've heard they can tolerate a little cold, I don't even have them covered (well except for with soil lol). If they start poking through soon, great, if not, I'll replant in a few weeks. Worst thing I've lost is a few seeds. Best thing I could gain is earlier peas....

I transplanted a few bushes (weigelas) and need to divide up my daylillies really soon (like this weekend) before they start greening up. I saw I have a crocus out front, just a reminder to hang tight that spring is really coming!
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  Megan on 3/6/2011, 4:19 am

Jerzyjen, they insisted we remove the plants, but no mention was made of the hardscape. The front yard boxes aren't really boxes, per say, in that they are made from landscaping timbers. I'm hoping to replant them with flowers and with some surreptitious edibles like lettuce, basil, mustard, and there are some onions and garlic out there as well. Main production will be moving to the back yard....I hope. The real struggle back there will be sunlight, but removing some of the trees will help.

Your hoop house sounds lovely. And I am COMPLETELY with you on trying to plant things. Like I always remind myself, it's only seeds! I am itching to get started out back, but it'll be hard to do anything until that tree crew comes in.

I'm considering pulling out my rosebushes and day lillies. They've been there for 10 years now, and don't seem to be as strong as they once were. I haven't seen a trace of my crocus yet--I think most got dug up when putting in the beds last year... there might be a few left--but the jonquils are coming up nicely, and the chives and strawberries are greening up.
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  walshevak on 3/6/2011, 4:07 pm

Megan, all parts of the daylily are edible. Laughing Stuff the blooms just like squash blossoms.

Kay
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  Megan on 3/6/2011, 4:23 pm

Thanks for the reminder, Kay. I think I actually had heard of that one time, but had forgotten!
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  jerzyjen on 3/6/2011, 4:27 pm

I just put in a few more spinach & lettuce seeds and extended the area a bit in my hoop house. Just as i was about to finish up the rain started really pouring. Hopefully it slows up in the next hour so I can close it up for the night before it gets too cold.
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  Megan on 3/6/2011, 4:45 pm

It is absolutely pouring here.... there is nearly an inch of standing water in my front yard beds...ack! (And we are on a great big hill, too.... there is bound to be flooding at lower elevations.)
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  windrider1967 on 3/7/2011, 10:56 pm

Well I got the first 3 beds cut and discovered that the corrogated plastic I am using is not as easy as I thought it would be. Got the first bed mainly dug - hit gravel at a single shovel depth - yuck. Did loosen everything up and added 2 bags of compost, even tho everything was soaked. Gonna add some peat moss in and remix when things dry out a bit.

Hope everyone has a great week

Trish
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  Megan on 3/7/2011, 11:02 pm

If you can get 4" to 6" down, you will be okay; that, or build it up in the raised beds. Gravel is better than hardpan clay, which is what we have around here...the drainage from that is "not optimal", to say the least. Sounds like you are on your way! Smile
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  windrider1967 on 3/8/2011, 12:00 pm

@Megan wrote:If you can get 4" to 6" down, you will be okay; that, or build it up in the raised beds. Gravel is better than hardpan clay, which is what we have around here...the drainage from that is "not optimal", to say the least. Sounds like you are on your way! Smile

Thanks Megan. I stole some of my hubby's scrap 2x6s and built two beds since my darn plastic isn't really working out. I am going to stop at 84 lumber and see if they have any 2x6 culls and try and sweet talk them into cutting them to 4 ft for me. I have 7 more I need to build and really can't afford the good stuff.

I haven't added the peat to the first bed yet and I am almost 3/4 of the way up the bed just from cutting in 2 bags of manure into the loose soil that was there. Gonna keep remixing as it dries out to make sure I get a good mix. On a side note - splinters HURT!!!

Hubby may laugh at my hammer swinging - but I got them done, on my own, and they are even square! Who says girld can't build? Even tho shop was only for boys in my day. Considering hubby does construction, if I can't do something as aimple as a 4x4 box I would be in serious trouble
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  Megan on 3/8/2011, 5:17 pm

Congratulations on your first boxes! cheers

You might be able to find some good wood on Craigslist or maybe your dh might now of places you could look to find scrap. I found this place: http://www.rebuildwarehouse.org/Inventory.html

Haven't been there yet but it looks like they've got all sorts of interesting things for sale. If I am reading their website correctly, they are selling 8-foot 2x4's for approx $1.20 each. I can afford that! Springfield is probably a haul for you, but maybe there is something similar that is closer to your area.
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  windrider1967 on 3/9/2011, 7:58 am

Well my visit to 84 didn't go great, their 2x6s were almost $4.50 each and they only sell their culls in bulk bundles. They recommended a local commercial lumberyard, and not only were their 2x6s a dollar less but I got culls for $2 each. They cut them for me and some are a bit more than 4' and some are shorter, so I am gonna try and match up the lengths as best I can and just have a few short boxes. Got a total of 3 built so far and hope to finish them up today
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  Megan on 3/9/2011, 5:51 pm

Woohoo! cheers rock on
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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  Megan on 3/11/2011, 8:56 pm

Trish, did I miss something somewhere about the corrugated plastic? Or am I just having a senior moment? I'd like to hear more about that. And yes, when I was digging in the front yard, I hit nasty stuff not very far down....that's why raised beds are so great, but, you can only do what you can do....and makeshift is better than nada! Smile

Tomorrow is the big day... the trees are coming out. I can't wait! Very Happy rock on

As a direct result, dh's motorcycle is parked INSIDE THE HOUSE, for the night and tomorrow. I normally frown on this sort of thing (to put it mildly!) but I don't want to have to live with the DH if something goes amiss with the tree removal and his shiny bike gets scratched. (He doesn't want to wheel it out through the gate due to sharp, pointy branches around.) The cats are all wearing "what is that huge shiny thing in the basement??!?" expressions. Too funny.
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March

Post  SQFTBIX on 3/14/2011, 12:41 pm

For me, March is just a start up period. I have planted in early and late March only to run right smack dab into a pretty bad frost. More work than it is worth truthfully. Gave it up as several natives to my area advised that mid to late April works better. I am in the process of laying down a block patio on the top end of my gardens. I have the aisles and perimeter of the gardens completed. It is looking very nice if I say so myself. Can't wait to get the patio area completed.
I must say, with the patio blocks laid down, the cement block borders of the gardens don't look so bad. I just want to make it nice enough that my neighbors will like it. Plus, no more mud when it rains! And, all materials were FREE. Very Happy Not bad for an area of about 300 square feet give or take.

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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  Megan on 3/14/2011, 6:32 pm

I agree with you 100% there.... I ended up with late April last year and it worked out fine. (Just itching to get going, is all!)

Do you have any photos to share of your patio blocks and the cement borders? I am still hm'ing over what to use for my backyard.
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Photos

Post  SQFTBIX on 3/15/2011, 10:05 am

Megan,
When I get the chance, I will share some photos. While I have been attempting to get this project completed, we have had several medical issues with our extended family that have taken our focus away. Added to that is the whole college search for our son who graduating this Spring. But, maybe if the weather cooperates, I can get some "in process" pictures on Sunday. Smile

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Re: Mid-Atlantic March update 2011

Post  windrider1967 on 3/15/2011, 10:25 am

@Megan wrote:Trish, did I miss something somewhere about the corrugated plastic? Or am I just having a senior moment? I'd like to hear more about that. And yes, when I was digging in the front yard, I hit nasty stuff not very far down....that's why raised beds are so great, but, you can only do what you can do....and makeshift is better than nada! Smile

Tomorrow is the big day... the trees are coming out. I can't wait! Very Happy

As a direct result, dh's motorcycle is parked INSIDE THE HOUSE, for the night and tomorrow. I normally frown on this sort of thing (to put it mildly!) but I don't want to have to live with the DH if something goes amiss with the tree removal and his shiny bike gets scratched. (He doesn't want to wheel it out through the gate due to sharp, pointy branches around.) The cats are all wearing "what is that huge shiny thing in the basement??!?" expressions. Too funny.

Megan - don't know how I missed this post. One of hubby's old employers used 4x10 sheets of corrogated plastic construction panels as a temporary wall during construction. About an inch to and inch and a half thick. Not useing them (except for maybe a bed or two)

As to the motrocycle - I feel for you. Luckily hubby's goes in the workshop. I am sure if we had the room it might go inside in bad weather LOL
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