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Mon Dec 30, 2019, 07:35 PM

anyone doing any gardening?

we bought a new old house in May of 2019 and the lawn was depleted and part of it was used to keep dogs in cages. A lot of dogs.

Since then I began to work on a food forest, a totally new concept to me, and I had two and one half truck loads of wood chips delivered (free) to spread over the area. It's an area about 60 ft long and 20 feet wide from house to property line.

I began a garden in a "U" shaped area where I had the logs from a pine tree moved to. I had to have the tree taken down due to it leaning toward the neighbors house and it would have been a hassle to leave it up, Anyway, I ended up with a 12 ft x 12 ft x 12 ft area that I began lasagna gardening in. 2 inches of cardboard, 2 inches of leaves, 2 inches of box store topsoil, 2 inches of hay, a layer of compost, and more hay and topsoil. Then I planted 6 collard plants, 3 jalapeno pepper plants, 3 hungarian pepper plants, three squash plants (from seed), four tomato plants from seed, two cherry tomatos and two larger ones from tomatos I bought at a veg stand. then I planted beet seeds, 18 of them, only 8 lived and are growing, the other previous plants are growing and beginning to produce fruit (or veggies, whatever).

I planted 6 pineapple plants along the fence line, in dirt, and covered the ground around them with chips. They look great. Can't wait for a taste of the first pineapple of the year.

In separate raised beds and tubs I have Okra, beans, carrots and lettuce mix. All are at least growing, the carrots take forever but that's ok too.

Well, I just looked back over that scree and realized I'm very lucky to be semi retired. I live in the West Central Coast area of Floriduh and this is the first year I've ever had enough to eat from my own ground.

The wood chips were placed over cardboard to a depth of 10 inches, they've shrunk to a thickness of 5 inches in just 5 months.
the soil is transforming in an amazing way.

Best of everything to my friends on DU. May your hands get dirty (occassionally) and your hearts be full .

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply anyone doing any gardening? (Original post)
onethatcares Dec 30 OP
sinkingfeeling Dec 30 #1
onethatcares Dec 30 #2
Lefta Dissenter Dec 30 #3
sinkingfeeling Dec 30 #5
csziggy Dec 30 #7
onethatcares Dec 30 #8
Atticus Dec 30 #4
NRaleighLiberal Dec 30 #6
NJCher Jan 5 #9
onethatcares Jan 5 #10
NJCher Jan 5 #11
onethatcares Jan 6 #12
htuttle Mar 12 #13

Response to onethatcares (Original post)

Mon Dec 30, 2019, 07:39 PM

1. Hay or straw? Hay normally would have weed seeds.

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Response to sinkingfeeling (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 30, 2019, 07:43 PM

2. I think it's hay

It came in a bale with strings. Local scout group sells pumpkins in October and November and they always have bales of what they say is hay for 6 bucks a bale. They use them as decorations and shelving for the pumpkins. Can't beat the price.

I haven't had many weeds coming up at all.

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Response to onethatcares (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 30, 2019, 07:49 PM

3. Might be marsh hay

if it's not straw.

It's fun to read about your garden. I repotted a houseplant the other day. That's the closest to gardening I'll get until April or so.

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Response to onethatcares (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 30, 2019, 08:02 PM

5. Well, in the farm states, straw is normally used for Halloween decorations.

Straw is more yellow in color while hay tends to be grayish green. Straw is the stalks from grains and is usually used for bedding. Hay is mown grasses and is sun dried and baled as feed for animals. Because hay is 'food', it normally costs several times more than straw.
At $6 a bale, it might well be hay. Most people also use straw in compost.

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Response to onethatcares (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 30, 2019, 09:58 PM

7. Are the stems in the bales big and yellowish?

If so, it is straw. Hay in Central Florida is usually a pale greenish yellow with very fine stems.

Hay raised in Florida is generally a Bahia or Bermuda grass - and you really don't want those in your garden. The roots tend to spread as much or more than the seeds and can take over the plot.

Straw is better - usually it is oat, wheat or rye stalks after the grains have been harvested, so there will be less chance it will sprout and try to take over your garden.

Be prepared to mulch or get more aggressive if you start seeing grass come up in the spring. You won't see it yet - pasture and hay grass tends to grow with longer days and warmer nights.

I am no longer keeping up with gardening, but as a previous horse breeder, I do know my hays and straws.

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Response to csziggy (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 30, 2019, 10:07 PM

8. no seed heads to speak of

probably straw. stalks are yellow. It's all a part of the garden at this point with just the ends poking out of the rows.

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Response to onethatcares (Original post)

Mon Dec 30, 2019, 07:53 PM

4. If you have not already discovered her, Google "Ruth Stout". Her books and articles are way

too many to list. She was the "mother" of organic gardening and your "lasagna" garden is a refinement of her "deep mulch method".

Good luck.

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Response to onethatcares (Original post)

Mon Dec 30, 2019, 09:48 PM

6. getting ready to do garden planning. Next year will be all new for me!

After living in Raleigh for 28 years and developing my driveway into a container and straw-bale filled garden (due to where the sun now shines in my yard), I will have a new place to garden! We move in mid January, we have a big flat sunny back yard - less extreme summer heat. One must will be our first ever asparagus patch! I think I can see a mix of raised beds, in-ground planting - so lots of work to do with a pad and a pencil!

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Response to onethatcares (Original post)

Sun Jan 5, 2020, 08:29 PM

9. cardboard questions

Was the cardboard layer you put down shredded or was it flat pieces of cardboard? If it was shredded, how did you shred it?

How did you learn about lasagna gardening?

I'm envious of your ability to grow pineapples!

Today when I was working at my community garden, I was digging up wood chips. The wood chips were delivered last spring. We used most of them up last year but there are still some left and I was digging them to use on the paths. Most had already composted!

However, I think some wood chip compost skews the ph level, so I have to check into that before I put any into the beds. I need to do a soil test anyway.

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Response to NJCher (Reply #9)

Sun Jan 5, 2020, 09:06 PM

10. i used a layer of

cardboard sheets under the initial layer of wood chips.. In areas where I put raised beds I removed the wood chips, put the cardboard down, both sheet and shredded (really whatever I had on hand. ) it takes about 3 months for the cardboard to become a part of the soil. In the raised beds I put a layer of cardboard, a layer of cheap topsoil, then a layer of straw or hay, then a layer of greens, (grass clippings, plants I ran over with the lawnmower and coffee grounds.) I finished with a 2 inch layer of cheap topsoil from the box stores, I buy broken bags to save money. I mix perlite in the topsoil to help aeration, then I planted and put wood chips over the beds about 2 inches thick. I did not plant directly into wood chips due to nitrogen being used while they break down. My walkways are wood chips, about 6 - 12 inches deep in places. I needed to go that thick due to above ground tree roots that I constantly tripped over. They(the chips) have settled to about 3 to 8 inches after 4 months and some good rain.

I used the internet to search, research, read, re again, search some more and just started experimenting. I want to go as far organic as I possibly can, this is my first year and the only pesticide I am using is diatemacious earth powder. The only fertilizer I'm using is composted horse manure and compost. I do pick tomato hornworms off my plants by hand. Have not had a big problem with them yet but my fingers are crossed. I'm semi retired so work doesn't interfere with my hobby.

Lasagna gardening was my first find. Food forests were my second. I'm just working on growing things without hassle. Reading about food forests I ran across a guy in New Jersey that said, "It's not easy, but it's simple".. I find that to be a fact

The pineapples were easy. Cut the tops off, put in dirt (originally 10 inch clay pots), let them root, and wait. 2nd year is the charm and there are no sweeter pineapples than the ones you take from the stalk to the table. Mmmmmmmmm.

Basically my entire side yard is a compost pile approx 30 ft wide x 60 ft long with a depth of 8 inches. I wouldn't trade it for all the grass in the world.

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Response to onethatcares (Reply #10)

Sun Jan 5, 2020, 11:46 PM

11. wood, composting, and paths

Ah, clever, the broken bags technique. I used to have a big nursery/greenhouse operation as one of my web clients and I learned about that option there. There are a LOT of broken bags in an operation that size. I always took the broken bags--nothing wrong with them at all.

What's the difference between a food forest and a regular garden, like a raised bed garden? I looked up a definition on the web but not sure it's what you're talking about.

I was curious about the cardboard because I use it a lot to hold down weeds, however, you can also compost cardboard like egg cartons. I'm not so sure I want to take the time to shred all the cardboard around here, though. Also, since I am organic, I wouldn't want to put cardboard with colored pictures or printing on it in my mix as I don't know how organic that is. White cardboard, of course, has been bleached. Tearing cardboard when it's wet is pretty easy, though.

Thanks for the info in the first paragraph on how much the pathway chips broke down. I can see now I'll be ordering more on Monday. I love it that wood chips are free! I order mine from a tree guy here who goes by "Squirrel." If you ask his real name, he says "all you need to know is 'Squirrel."

Let us know when you get that first pineapple!

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Response to NJCher (Reply #11)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 09:00 AM

12. check out

the gardening channel with James Priogoni on youtube.

that's where the food forest idea came from, then I watched back to eden gardening, and a bunch of other yt videos.

those are the "wood chippers".

I'm west central florida/zone 9/10 and winter has become weather weird rainwise. For a long time we got none at this time, This year we've been having almost weekly showers. I keep 5 55 gal barrels and about 30 one gal milk jugs of water for the dry times. It amazes me how little water the deep cardboard requires to stay moist under the chips

One of these days I'll learn to post pix on DU and show how it's working for me.

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Response to onethatcares (Original post)

Thu Mar 12, 2020, 08:47 PM

13. I bought a new old house about 7 years ago, and the backyard was the same

Did the same lasagna gardening treatment in the backyard. Worked great, and kept all the tall weeds that had taken over down.

Even as little as 4 years later, there was no trace of the cardboard I'd placed initially. There might still be some down there, but there's a half foot or more of topsoil on top of it now.

I stopped gardening for a few years, since I got a better job, which correspondingly came with less free time. But this week I decided that I'm going to dig up the backyard again this year (about 1/20th acre of plantable area, not huge) and go the victory garden route.

Just seems like a good idea.

Going to skip the squash this time though, since I don't care for it, and go with some melons instead. I love some melon.

Tomatoes always go well, Chard, Peppers, then standards like Onions, Potatoes and Carrots.

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