New to IA Gardening!

tannabananaMarch 7, 2006

Hello!

My family and I moved to IA from CA this December. My California garden was really a large accomplishment for me and I loved it dearly. Sad to say good-bye to all those plants in our little back yard but I am excited to "transform" our yard here. We moved into a beautiful house on an average sized city lot and will be starting basically from scratch, as all the previous owner had was sod. And the sod is in very bad shape due to their dog, er, over ferilizing the area.

So, it is time to get to work! Before we start digging planting beds and toying with the idea of putting on a deck, I'd like to know your feelings as to irrigation systems. In So. California, we needed them obviously because it wouldn't rain for 6 months. But here, I know that we will get rain but the question is, will it be enough? Do you routinely water by hand if the rain doesn't come? I think a drip system would be a fine idea as it saves on water usage and can be programed. But I'd like to get your thoughts!

Thanks,

Tanna B.

BTW - I grew up in ND so this winter has been nothing! ;)

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diannp

Hi Tannabanna! Welcome to Iowa, specifically eastern Iowa. :) How big is your back yard? What do you plan on growing? Food, ornamentals or both? Last year I did a lot of watering because we really had some rough months of drought. Normally, I might water a bit in August and that's about it. Hopefully, this year will be better.

Diann
IA z5a

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 4:59PM
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tannabanana

Hi Diann. Thanks for the welcome! Our backyard is about 75x60. I'm planning on having perinnial beds and then a veggie/herb garden that is about 10x20. We'd like to put in a tree or two as well. I'm favoring a red maple but we'll see - maybe an ornamental pear instead.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 6:17PM
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Maude_IA(z5-SE Iowa)

Hi Tannabanana, and welcome!

I'm like Diann - I water occasionally in late summer, but not regularly through the growing season, and then just in the spots that need it - some areas never get a drink unless, like last summer, it is especially dry. Unless your soil is very sandy and drains quickly, I'd use irrigation $$$s in other ways.

Mary

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 8:50AM
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diannp

Ok, well, I don't water my perennial beds unless things are really dry and hot, then they get a drink. Veggie gardens, well, they tend to get pampered a bit more, because most of the stuff there isn't there for the long haul, it will grow, be ate and something planted in it's place either later in the season or the following year. So that does get a bit more attention and depending on what it is it might get watered more often. Hope this helps. :)

Diann

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 11:44AM
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tannabanana

Okay, I think we'll save the cash and maybe think about doing our front yard too this year ;) I happen to like more drought tolerant perennials - like coneflowers, asters and such. Even an ornamental grass or two. So hopefully I won't have to spend an hour or two a few times a week out there with a hose!

Yes, veggie gardens do tend to acquire more pampering. At least you don't have to dead head them though. Last year, I had a horrible problem with earwigs in CA. I wonder what bugs IA will bring? I remember the potato bugs and cut worms we had in ND. Every area seems to have it's challenges!

Thanks for your replys

Tanna B.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 1:14PM
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diannp

I have problems with Northern Corn Rootworm, but I live right next to corn fields, so go figure. :) They like my perennial hibiscuses and roses. I haven't really noticed anything else being much of a problem. In the fall we can have an influx of Asian Lady Beetles, but only when I'm surrounded by bean fields.... :) My husband does most of the veggie gardening and it's very rarel that he has to break out chemicals for pest control. Check with the county extension folks they can tell you want to expect.

Diann

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 4:47PM
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marilou(z4 IA)

Welcome, tb! If you have no shade, you may need to water some--esp. since these would be freshly-planted and not established plants. I collect rainwater, which makes it fun to go around watering here and there. Just dunk the can and go! I water just the new plants and containers, though--that's the only "routine" watering I do. I hardly ever get the hose out because I plant mostly plants that are native to the area and don't need babying.

I don't know what ND soil is like, but you might like the soil we have here. If I ever move from Iowa, I'll have to have soil trucked to my new home! It's fertile, has good structure, and has beneficial critters in it.

Here in central Iowa, The main pests are rabbits!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 2:09PM
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linda_in_iowa

Welcome to Iowa! I moved to central Iowa last October from California. I need to landscape my front and back yards and don't know what kind of flowers to plant. I adopted out all my California plants before I moved. Just hated to part with my roses, gardenias and fuschias. I have lots of rabbits in my neighborhood. Do they eat flowers, or just veggies?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 2:24PM
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tannabanana

Hello Marilou ~ great point about watering newly planted plants. I guess I will be standing out there with a hose - oh well, I'll just let the kiddos run around me while I do it and hopefully they won't trip - hehehe. Do you think I could teach my 3 yr old to water? I bet he'd have a blast (no pun intended!)

Rabbits, eh? I've seen a neighborhood bunny or two cozying up to our house when the weather was colder. Linda, I don't know if they eat flowers. We never had a problem with them in ND and I lived pretty far inside our small town in CA. I'm glad you were able to give away some of your plants in CA. I'll miss the ease of growing roses there and don't think I'll try it here for awhile. I'll also miss lavendar. On the upside, I can't wait to try peonies here.

Any rabbit deterent tips are appreciated. Maybe I should make a new thread?

Later,
Tanna B.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2006 at 9:16AM
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diannp

Tannabanna, check out Buck Roses. Dr. Griffith Buck hybridized roses at Iowa State University specifically for the Iowa climate. His stuff is really tough, disease resistant and doesn't need to be coddled. Just Google Buck Roses and you'll get tons of information on them.

Diann

    Bookmark   March 10, 2006 at 12:17PM
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Maude_IA(z5-SE Iowa)

Rabbits eat flowers.
My crocus buds are just the bottom half, and rabbits are very fond of any young veggie sprout too.

Tanna, lavendar near the house foundation in a sheltered spot lives in Iowa. I've had it for maybe 10 years now. I "let" the fall leaves collect around the plant and find that the lower branches are fine, but I often have some dead tops.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2006 at 10:22AM
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tannabanana

Quote: "Rabbits eat flowers"

Darn!

Thanks for the info ladies, about plants such as roses and lavendar having a fighting chance here!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2006 at 11:04AM
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koszta_kid(Iowazone 5)

Think best thing to kkep rabbits away is liquid fence. Or good hunting beagle. I also grow munstead lavender. Need sand in bottom of hole. And this isn't normal cold snowy winter. But at least getting much needed rain. I use soaker hoses for veggy and flowers+++ lots of mulch.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2006 at 8:15PM
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marilou(z4 IA)

tannabanana said, "I've seen a neighborhood bunny or two cozying up to our house"

Uh oh. Won't be long and you'll have fifty. They reproduce like, uh, rabbits. :o)

Rabbits eat flowers, veggies, and also shrubs. They will even strip the bark off young trees if they are starving in winter. Another way to protect from rabbit damage is to place chicken wire around plants. But in reality, it probably takes ALL measures to keep the rabbits away--Liquid Fence, regular fencing, pellet guns, dogs, etc.

Roses in Iowa aren't as lush and floriferous as they are in California, but there are plenty to choose from that are hardy to zones 4/5. Buck roses, David Austin roses, even Brand X roses sold at the Big Box stores. I grow hybrid teas on the south side of my house without winter protection. Just be sure to plant the graft deep. Peonies last a hundred years around here.

You'll have a blast discovering all the varieties and cultivars for this area!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 1:46PM
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tannabanana

I have another quick question about the rabbits (I think I've hijacked my own thread). We are going to be putting a black vinyl chain link fence around the whole yard - mostly to keep the kids in - Do you think this will also help deter the critters?

Marilou Quote: Uh oh. Won't be long and you'll have fifty. They reproduce like, uh, rabbits. :o)

LOL!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 1:43PM
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iowgardenangel(zn5 IA)

hi and welcome, youd be amazed, what you can grow here. i have many roses, peonies,fruit trees etc, even a passion vine hardy HERE, just up next to house and mulched.as maude knows, i have my own little plant world out here. and every yr i dig up and plant bulbs for cannas etc. for somthing tropical. Dessa

    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 9:33PM
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sheryl_ann(4)

I live in NE Iowa. When would be the best time to plant datura (moonflower) and hibiscus seeds?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2006 at 11:41AM
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marilou(z4 IA)

Hi tb,

I don't think you've hijacked your thread, to me the discussion is still about being new to Iowa gardening and that includes more than just watering. :o)

Others might have experience with this, but I think the chain link fence will help with rabbits so long as they can't dig under it.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2006 at 1:43PM
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moon_child(z4b/5a IA)

Tannabanana, I'm also new to Iowa Gardening, although I've been living here for 12 years now. But, more amazingly, I'm also from ND! That is coincidence!

Moon

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 2:07PM
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prairiegal(4/5 NW Iowa)

Hi,

I've been gardening (all over) in Iowa for 18 years, so I've killed a lot of plants. :-) However, I've learned a lot, too:

--forget regular hybrid tea roses unless you're a glutton for punishment (except super-cold hardy ones like Buck) and concentrate, instead on (the more lovely, and scented) heirloom and David Austen roses.

--You can grow nearly all the stereotypical "cottage garden" flowers successfully in zone 4 and MOST of them will survive in zone 4. My delphinums, daisies, geraniums, lilies and so forth actually are doing BETTER here in my fertile zone 4 soil on a windy prairie, than they were in warmer clay soil, for instance.

--There are a fantastic selection of trees that'll do just fine, here, including nearly all the colorful maples (except Japanese; they're iffy), crabapples, hawthorns, birches, oaks, etc. I've got one redbud doing just fine, and there are magnolias (like 'Jane') that even survive, believe it or not.

--in my shady areas, I've got plenty of different ferns, bleeding heart, astilbe, brunera, pulmonaria, hostas, etc. I don't do well with azaleas and rhodies, though, but that's just as much the fault of my alkaline soil, as well as the temps, I think.

--you can grow lilacs!!! Tulips!! You couldn't, in California. Aren't you happy, now? :-)

If you click on "my 2004 garden" you can see some of the "fussy cottage plants" that I grew successfully in Sioux City, Iowa, on clay soil:

Here is a link that might be useful: Prairie Home

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 9:59PM
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prairiegal(4/5 NW Iowa)

***in zone 4 and MOST ***

I meant you can grow them in zone FIVE and most will survive in zone 4...

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 10:01PM
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tannabanana

Hey Moon ~ ND, eh? Where at? I'm from a little town called Tuttle that is about an hour NW of Bismarck. I'm loving the fact that spring comes earlier to IA than ND.

Prairiegal ~ thanks for all the helpful info. I planted a Carpet Rose that is supposed to be hardy to 30 below. It is also near the house so maybe it'll make it! The plan I have drawn up includes lots of perennials that are drought-tolerant. I love the cottage garden look but perhaps a little neater than some of them (not so overgrown, kwim?). The link to your page isn't working. What was your fussiest plant? Just wondering ;)

Here's the funny thing - in CA we had a lilac bush which came from some friends there that owned a lilac farm. Can you believe it? We were up in the mountains so it got cold enough there. I also had my lovely tulips (my favorite flower) and they were going on 3 years strong.

Tanna B.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 9:32AM
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prairiegal(4/5 NW Iowa)

***The link to your page isn't working. What was your fussiest plant? Just wondering ;)***

Ooops..maybe I left something off when I posted it, or AOL got hinky (it's been known to happen ;-).

I can't grow lupines anymore, to save my life. I could grow them in south/central Iowa, but I was almost on the Missouri border and our soil was black as night, and rich as Midas.

Here is a link that might be useful: prairie home

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 12:39AM
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