newbie gardener...

idafrances(4)March 16, 2008

...First, I'm wondering if there is a more appropriate forum to post before I annoy anyone here with my questions? :)

I've got the yard (finally!), the motivation, a vision in my head, some books, a few gift cards to Linders....what's next? I basically need a place to find some simple landscaping ideas. I've started some seeds indoors. Not sure where to go next. For example, I love the look of chamomile as a ground cover (saw it in a book)...where do I find it? I can't say I've ever seen it anywhere.

Sorry, lots of questions from an overwhelmed new home owner. Thanks in advance!

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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

Hi Ida. Welcome to the forum! Camomile is easy to grow from seed. You should be able to find it most anywhere, I believe. If you don't spot them locally, you can do a google search for camomile seeds, or go to (yes, they even carry them... just saw them there).

What other sorts of things are you interested in growing? Since you live in MN, you've definitely come to the right forum :-) You'll find lots of good answers here. Is your yard sunny or shady? Dry or damp? Do you like blooming plants or foliage plants or what? Are you interested in perennials, shrubs, trees, annuals, or all of the above?

Best of luck with the new garden!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 12:53AM
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Welcome...I don't think anyone here is annoyed by questions, that's the point, so feel free to ask away as you progress though the process. Often you can search past forums to get answers to your questions as a starting point.

I think the most important place to start is to really get to know your yard. In order to make good landscape and garden decisions you need to know where the sun and shade are, what the soil is like (sandy, loamy, clay) and understand any drainage issues you may or may not have. As you obeserve these things, answers will be easier to come by.

Meanwhile, I would go to the library and look for a gardening book and a landscape book that reads well for you. The following link has some really good books on it.

Have fun, stay in touch, and keep in mind that the bones of the garden, the shrubs and trees, are your most important (and expensive) choices and make them well...


Here is a link that might be useful: Books for northern gardeners

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 11:08AM
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Welcome to the MN gardening group! Where in MN are you? If you're near the cities, watch for the spring swap announcement, too. Lots of cool plants at the "right price"!

Helen is right, we don't get annoyed easily! LOL

I have grown chamomile from seed and it should be easy to find seeds at most any garden supply or nursery. Heck I think Wally World may even have them!


    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 1:54PM
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I did see chamomile seed packages in the Burpee's seed racks at both Wal-mart and Target. Probably at Menard's and the other big boxes, too.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 2:19PM
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zenpotter(z4 MN)

I can give you a good web site to get help. Please send me an email. It is a competitor and some times those links don't make it through here.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 9:24AM
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Thanks for the warm welcome everyone! I got a bit antsy this weekend and started some seeds indoors...poppies, morning glory, tomato, cucumber, and lots of herbs. I also ordered three blueberry bushes and a maple tree from a local organic farmer for a decent price...I'm excited as I am a blueberry freak.

My house faces south, so the back yard gets mostly sun, except for one side of the garage. The two trees I do have are in the front of the yard, so there is some room for shade-loving plants. Any idea how to identify a tree? I know one is a catalpa (they are hard to miss). I think another one may be a chokeberry.

I'm really interested in a bit of everything. I want to keep everything as organic and chemical free as I can. I am going to get some lily of the valley plants from a co-worker, and my sister gave me some perennials that we planted in the fall.

I'd like some kind of vine to help cover up our gawd-awful eyesore of a garage (it will be coming down some day when we can afford a new one). I also would love to get some roses. There are few plants that I don't like, which is good and bad.

I think my big road block is how to design everything. I am good at putting color together, but the actual landscaping part is baffling to me.

I can just picture myself going nuts at the garden center, and then coming home with a ton of plants, and not knowing where to put them. My husband has this weird notion of everything "matching" and being "symmetrical"....what?!?!!? I want the opposite. He usually likes what I end up doing, anyway :) He basically wants the yard to look less barren, so I think I am safe! Thanks!!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 1:11PM
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Welcome idafrances!

I am a newbie here as well. (Well, only a couple years into gardening.... I still consider that still a newbie!) The people are wonderful and full of great tips here on GW.
One thing that I have gotten into is Winter Sowing. It is an almost free way to get tons of new plants for your new yard! You can work on it right now... which is really fun considering our new batch of snow here! If you have any questions on it, feel free to email me! I would highly reccomend checking that forum out. If you look at the FAQ on that page you will find out tons of information on it!

Good luck with everything!
Don't forget to take before and after pictures!!! I hope that you post them here for us all to see!

- Caarin

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 3:27PM
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Hi Caarin,

Thanks for the tip. I actually had looked at the website for winter sowing...Since I started seeds this weekend, do I put them outside and not water them? Or keep them inside and mist them? Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 4:09PM
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If you would like to email me, I would be happy to give you any addtional info! (Just click on my name and it should show you a link to email me.)

Basically how you do it... as far as I know and have been doing, is as follows:

_ take the container of your choice. (mine favorites happen to be milk gallons, 2 liter soda bottles, gallon apple juice container, and gallon water jugs) The container either needs to be somewhat translucent or you will need to use a plastic bag over the top of it.

- take the container, clean it out, and cut it 3/4 of the way around in the middle. It is easiest to cut right under the handle.(....again if you email me I would be happy to send you a few pictures of mine in the process) Leave a small section attached to be used for a "hindge".
- Poke plenty of holes onto the bottom of the container. (I use a pocket knife, but I know a lot of people on the winter sowing forum that use a soldering gun to melt through the plastic. Which ever is easiest.)
- fill the container with potting soil. (I think I heard somewhere along the way that the depth of the dirt should be over the length of your thumb, approx.) So somewhere around 2-3+ inches.
- water the potting soil. I prepare my containers in my kitchen sink, so I just use the sprayer and REALLY give the potting soil a good saturation. I think it should be quite muddy.
-You then let the water drain out mostly. (I normally let them drain for between 10-30 mins, at least.)
- Then you put your seeds on top of the potting soil. (If they are larger seeds I put a sprinkle of potting soil over the top of the seeds and water a little again.)
- I label the inside of the container by sticking a platic plant marker (normally my markers are homemade.
- Then I take duct tape and tape up the hinge cut.
- You throw away the top to the bottles (No need for it)
- I label the outside of the container with what is growing in the inside with a permanent marker. (I am still to new to be able to identify it from a seedling.)
- Finally, you place them outside, in the snow or where ever. I normally place them in a sunnier location. You don't need to water them until it the snow is gone and it gets much warmer outside. If there is rain, obvioulsy they will get watered.

Now, idafrances, I am not saying that I do it correctly, after all this is my first year trying it... so I haven't seen any germination yet, but it is worth a try! :)
Once it gets warmer outside I think you are suppossed to start to take the duct tape off of the containers and start to open them up to "harden" them. You will need to begin watering them after it gets warmer, if you notice that they are dry. I think generally, the smaller the container, the more watering you will have to do.
Again, there are many many different containers that you can use, and different ways of doing it. If you have any general questions I would go to the winter sowing forum on this website and ask. The people there have been doing it for some time and are very knowledgable about it!

Good luck! I hope that info explained some questions!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 5:37PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

You may also want to have a soil test done so you can find out the ph of your soil. Most plants are pretty adaptable to a wide range of soil ph. Some however will not be happy unless they have acidic soil (ph below 5.5). I mention this because you said you have a blueberry plant ordered and that's one that must have acidic soil to do well. You should be able to contact your county extension office and pick up a bag and form for having a soil test done, take soil samples from your yard and send in for testing.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 8:49PM
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When I started gardening I made several trips to the Landscape Arboretum in Chaska during the summer (with a notebook in hand). They have beautiful gardens to give you some great ideas on plant choices and combinations.

I'll post a link below. They have also revamped their website (just noticed now since I haven't been there in a while) and it looks like there is quite a library of plant information as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Minnesota lanscape arboretum

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 8:48PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Another welcome to the Minnesota Forum!

If you live in the northeast half of the state, your native soil is probably acid enough for blueberries. That is assuming you have native soil to work with. If you are in a housing development where all the topsoil was skimmed off first to build, you are dealing with subsoil layers, which are almost always alkaline.

Now you get to learn how to use the search function here (if you haven't already) because there has been a lot of good discussions on growing blueberries on this forum and the Wisconsin forum.

Go to these forums' opening pages, scroll down to the search box and type "blueberries". You'll have some good readin'.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 11:02PM
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Thanks for all of the advice! Now I just want this golsarnit snow to melt so I can get going.

One question on winter sowing: should I put all of my seeds out in the snow??? They are in plastic containers in pseudo-peat pots. Or should I keep them on the porch in full sun and mist them?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 7:54PM
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For my wintersown containers I put them all right out in the snow. With drainage holes in the bottom, caps off, etc.
If they are setting on snow, you just have to watch that they don't tip over as the snow melts.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 9:11PM
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