New homested

shamsunApril 17, 2013

I recently purchased a house in CT. Now that winter is gone and the snow has melted I'm discovering more and more of my property. I know the previous owners rented the property out for the past 3 years. The previous owners where into gardening and i can see the evidence buried under a few years of over growth. I'm thinking of maybe seeing whats in there and letting it grow and see what pops up. There is also what looks like a vineyard setup with few trees growing in there that i belive are black locust due to the spiny branches. I did a little digging around in the garden last night and i found chives growing out of a old broken pot, and a pile of compost under a tarp. I also found 3 water spigots out there as well, they seem to be cover in thick thorny briars, which i think are wild rose. Cant wait to go out after work and see what else i can find in there. Now i know nothing about gardening, this will be my first year. Any advise for a "new" new england gardener? Where to start? when to start? and how to start?

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Boy, it would be a big help to you to have an experienced person help you identify things instead of waiting for them to bloom. For example, here in NH, oriental poppies are just sprouting. In 3 years, a garden can get into pretty bad shape if you mean the place has been rented for the past 3 years by people who didn't garden.

I saw a used copy of Crockett's Flower Garden at a used bookstore and wished I had bought it. It has lots of photos and was based on a Boston tv show. If the Flower garden book is similar to his Victory Garden book for veggie gardeners, there's a month by month to-do list and what's happening in the garden.

Some things like tarragon seem to take forever to sprout in the spring so I would be careful about digging too much in what might be an herb garden. Crockett offered practical advice and never got too fancy. The "wild rose" if it's very spiny might be a rugosa that has large hips which are edible or it might be the invasive species that has sprays of tiny hips, pretty for dried arrangements but you really want to remove from the garden.

Do you see any sign of day lilies or iris? Take photos when things are larger so you'll remember where they are located. Once identified you can decide whether to dig out or keep. Make a map of the property. Visit some gardens and decide what you'd like to do next year after you are better acquainted with the property. On your map, once the trees are leafed out, make notes as to where it's sunny, where it's part-sun and where it's shady.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 1:28PM
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defrost49 has given you some great tips. Check your library for The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust, a book that has often been recommended by experienced gardeners here on GardenWeb. Once you know what's already growing in your garden, you'll have an easier time choosing companion plants when planting time rolls around.

First thing I did when I moved here was draw up a map of the entire property and its orientation with the compass. Note any structures, paths, trees or other features. Next I did a shade study to determine the amount of light each area received. It's recommended that a shade study be conducted on or close to the summer solstice.

I keep a garden diary each year to record what bloomed and when, what things suffered from wet or dry conditions and whether certain things were bothered by critters.

As for when to start, as soon as things start coming up is about right. I've started my spring clean-up now the wind has abated slightly.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 2:48PM
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Here are a few pics. Yeah i wish i had an experienced gardener to help me along a little. Will defiantly try to get a few books and keep a garden diary. The garden has been abandoned for more then 3 years. I ripped apart one raised bed that was infested with termites. I raked up the leaves in the front yard and now lillies of all colors are poping up. I acutaly do autcad for a living so i had already planed to draw the property and locate and document the shaded areas sun movement prdomint winds ect. I would eventaly like to move to a more permaculture design.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 7:38AM
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molie(z6 CT)

Congratulations on your new home and welcome to the forum! This is a great place to get help--- I've learned so much here. It sounds like you are really excited to learn about your new yard and are willing to do the work. I definitely agree with the suggestions to map the yard.

One thing in your second post that really jumped out at me for sure was the news about termites. Termites did considerable damage to my first home in a very short time, so I'd get that checked immediately. Call some companies and get some free estimates. Carpenter ants can be another problem (we battled those for several seasons) because they love to tunnel in wood. An extermination company will also check for them.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 9:10AM
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I had an exterminator come in when i first bought the house. Our house is made out of cmu blocks so the outside is pretty protected. He didnt notice any structural damage but he did notice 1 door sill with termites in it, Which i already removed. He also suggested to get rid of all the rotting wood which the old homeowner left behind and is the reason for the termites in the first place. I was in the process of doing this when i found them in the board. I also have my chickens close to the house and they are going crazy eating up the termites too.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 9:36AM
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Here are some shots of what my garden looked like after 6 years' worth of effort. Except for the crabapple tree & the oval bed, none of what you see in these snapshots existed prior to 2006--it was just grass, weeds, briars & poison ivy.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 1:59PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Welcome to the forum and congrats on your new property, Shamsun. You will find a lot of information here. It does look like you have your work cut out for you, but you may find some perennial treasures are hidden under the weeds and tall grass.

Gardenweed, your gardens are lovely! Your landscaping design is a style that appeals to me. You must have crammed many hours of landscaping into those 6 years! Time well spent! Your house is very cute too, and I'm envious of your bay window.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 3:06PM
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Love your photos, Gardenweed!

Shamsun, have you checked out for a permaculture group in your area? I can't remember how I first found it but that's how I met up with some others interested in permaculture. Different people host the meetings/potlucks so we can visit different gardens/homesteads. We were very lucky to be invited to visit a home in NH where they have been practicing permculture for years. Good luck. That looks like an awful mess right now. Hope to get to a mushroom growing class this year.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 7:15AM
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