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Very Beginner Gardener Looking for Guidance

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Very Beginner Gardener Looking for Guidance

Postby Kelly.B » Mar 16, 2012 3:10 pm

Hi there,

I'm new to this forum and new to gardening in general. I've done yard clean ups and such for my parents in the past - raking, clearing dead leaves from gardens, that sort of thing. We now have a place of our own with a garden and the woman before us left a very good base. I should also mention that I am 35 weeks pregnant at the moment and so my gardening could be interrupted at anytime with the arrival of our first baby girl. I finish work in exactly one week and would like to get as much done before shes here as possible - also keeping in mind that my boyfriend won't let me lift much. I want this to be my summer project since I won't be working and can bring my newborn down in her bassinet whenever shes napping and if she starts crying can pause my work to tend to her.
I've done the yard clean up and notice that there are quite a few things sprouting so I know she must have some good perennials in place. I know there are also raspberry bushes and tomato plants in the back corner that my neighbor tells me have been quite successful.The soil in the gardens now seems to be dark and rich so I'm assuming it's good quality for growing. Our backyard is square and there's thin gardens along one fence and a quarter circle in the back corner (if that makes sense) and along the back fence we have several evergreens.
My boyfriends mother is very much into gardening and has a very beautiful and large perennial garden and I'm looking to model our garden after hers. Hers is very filled with all different kinds and it looks like an unplanned, untamed, beautiful mess if you know what I mean? Ours seems to be very planned and structured with space in between plants to look very orderly - which is not what I'm after at all!

What I want to do is widen the garden along the fence to allow for more plants to be put in and this would involve removing some of the lawn. Do you think this project is too big for me to start this year or would it be better left for either after the baby is here (latest possible date for that is April 28, then I'll need at least 3 weeks to recover, so end of May) or even next year? Should I just work with what I have this year?
I am also wanting to grow vines over the fences to add privacy - how long does this usually take? I don't image I'll be able to plant it and by the end of this year the fence will be covered so I'm looking for an approximate amount of time it takes for them to establish themselves. What kind of vine is the easiest to grow? Our one fence gets full sun and the other fence only gets partial sun so should I grow the same kind of vine on each or 2 different ones?

I am ordering a square yard of top soil - should I also order another yard of mulch or will I need mulch? Can you recommend what supplies I need to get started?

Thank you!!
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Re: Very Beginner Gardener Looking for Guidance

Postby Eeyore » Mar 16, 2012 4:40 pm

Hi Kelly and congratulations on your soon to be little bundle!

I think you are going to find that this year is going to be pretty much shot as far as any large projects go. New babies can keep you far busier than you would imagine and you may also find that keeping up with the MUST DO's and getting enough rest yourself will take up most of your time.

For this year I would plan on just observing the garden to see what is there. Sketch it out on paper and then decide what you want to keep and what should go. By the time fall comes you may have decided that some things need to be moved and fall is a good time to move perennials. It's also a good time to start planning for next year.

If you really feel that you have to get your hands in some dirt try planters for this year. You can start some "must have" perennials to plant out in the fall.
AB, Zone 3A
“Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” ` James Arthur Baldwin"
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Re: Very Beginner Gardener Looking for Guidance

Postby Kim1981 » Mar 16, 2012 7:55 pm

Congrats on the baby. I would defintely hold off on doing anything right now. Take the next couple of weeks to research plants and get an idea of what you want. When I moved into our house I was also preggo and got too ambitious around the yard and went into labour a month early. It doesn't take much. Digging up sod is pretty heavy work.
If this is your first than you may be too tired to get a lot done. I found that a newborn just sleeps and poops so I had lotsa time on my hands.
Hopefully by May you'll get a decent idea of whats in the garden already. Just do what you can and don't try to get it all done in a month.
One thing I've learned is gardening is a never ending job. DH calls it "the money pit" :lol:

As for a vine, my preference is a climbing hydrangae, or if your looking for an annual than maybe Morning Glory. They grow really fast and fill out good. As for the mulch, I wouldn't get it this year. If your going to create/expand a garden than I'd wait to have all your plants in it first (or the majority anyway). I had made a garden a few years back than loaded it up with mulch, found it a real pain to plant anything in it afterwards cuz I was constantly digging thru it.
Zone 5
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Re: Very Beginner Gardener Looking for Guidance

Postby Countryboy » Mar 17, 2012 1:34 pm

Here's a good stretching exercise . . . if it's possible: *wink*

Get some jute *for a natural look* and lace it up and down yr fence. If it's a wooden fence, put a nail every 16" *or so* along the top and bottom and lace the string round that.

Most 'lattice' won't work. The tendrils need something much smaller to wrap themselves around.

Sow some Morning Glory, Moonflower, 4 O'Clocks, Sweet Peas *my favourite 'cos they're fragrant!* . . . any climbing and flowering annuals. There's a few different kinds of them depending on yr zone.

The string will support the early growers . . . . and they'll support the others. That will eventually cover yr fence . . this Summer.

"Waiting" and "watching" are a large part of Gardening. 'Specially when you're not sure what's gonna come up. But discovering a new garden is all of the fun! *big grin* . . . with much less of the "Work" part of Gardening. *sad face* lol
Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.
.....Ralph Waldo Emmerson....

Frank . . ON5a
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Re: Very Beginner Gardener Looking for Guidance

Postby kelly_m » Mar 18, 2012 9:10 pm

I pretty much with the ladies on this one...Congrats kelly on your baby!!! At 35 weeks, however, you may not want to do much!LOL

Here is my what the others have and write down what you have...plan for massive moves next year. You may still want to use the plants that do come up, but you won't know what's there until they do.

However.....If your BF is willing to do the grunt work, get HIM to dig up your grass, to extend the garden.....and he should spread the topsoil too! You can always plant annuals in there for the time being while you watch and plan for you next years garden.

Babies can be tiring and really you should try to rest when they do....not because you need your strength as they are babies...but it's actually to store it up for when they are teenagers!! :lol:

But being summer time you will be able to get out more and like you said, bring baby out while she's long as you are not overdoing it, IMHO gardening can be as relaxing as a nap!

And Frank's idea is quick, easy, and going with morning glories or the like, you get instant gratification!!!

From another Kelly!
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Re: Very Beginner Gardener Looking for Guidance

Postby Lizcordysmum » Apr 07, 2012 9:29 pm

One of the first things I'd like to know is where you live! Your ZONE.

And I'd use your ma-in-law as a real source for helps (and cuttings.) since it sounds as tho she knows her onions.

Still, you will want to do it YOUR way, of course!

Country boy had LOTS of GOOD suggestions for this year...and next!

The former owner sounds as tho she was a very successful gardener...are you able to call her for advice? I think your soil might already be top might/could save some money there.

With a brand new location, this is your wait and see year...what you like, what you want, what you dislike. Remember gardening is like this forever and ever.

Check our Garden Gallery for the ABC Soup pictures...see what YOU like...learn how to plant and care for it, IF it can be grown (and survive winters where YOU live.)

And mucho congratulations on that precious wee baby girl!
Cordy's Mum, Liz
Rain Coast, BC Zone 7b/8a

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Re: Very Beginner Gardener Looking for Guidance

Postby Mygrandmeresgarden » May 23, 2012 10:03 pm

Congrats on the new baby. I would also watch and see what comes up. I love gardening with grape vines. I like the blue grapes for making jelly and I love how in about three years time they cover well....and produce fruit to make the best jelly ever! I live in zone 3 and there are varieties that are hardy if the vines are planted on the South side and mulched.

Take time to enjoy that new baby girl because they grow up sooooo fast!
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Re: Very Beginner Gardener Looking for Guidance

Postby RubyTuesday49 » Sep 02, 2012 7:28 pm

I'm sure by now you will have discovered that the baby is taking up a lot of your time. First year is best for observing and researching what plants grow well in your Zone. Check out gardens in your area - make lots of notes. Your Zone will dictate what you can do. Go slow - knowing that Rome Wasn't Built in a Day, and you can always change the garden. Research & planning - pay attention to the watering needs and group your plants accordingly. Have fun and enjoy - your baby first, then your garden! :-)
Gardening requires a lot of water - most of it in the form of perspiration.
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Re: Very Beginner Gardener Looking for Guidance

Postby Jersm » Sep 03, 2012 10:17 am

removing sod is a b*tch... even for a young guy like me it was quite a pain. I ende up taking those half moon blade things. I cut up the sod in 1'x1' squares and used a pitch fork type thing to pull off the squares.

If you are able to borrow a tiller, do it. Not only do you save on labour but th sod will break down and add nutrients to the garden.
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