What can I do right now?

mokittyNovember 17, 2012

Hello all,

I just recently moved to a new home in the Duvall/Carnation area of WA state (zone 8, according to the USDA hardiness map). We have three acres. We are in the foothills of mountains, and we get quite a bit of rain this time of year, and will be getting snow soon.

My questions is what can I do right now to prepare for the growing season(s)? I am a novice-level gardener, but I would like to grow a considerable vegetable garden. I'm interested in trying out the hugelkultur techniques as we have a lot of wood on our property. What should I be doing in terms of preparing and fertilizing soil? We have started a compost heap, but that won't be usable for some time (and I hope to start vermicomposting at some point, too).

Is there anything that I can actually grow this time of year? I would also like to plant various flowers and aesthetic plants on our property, as well as creating the vegetable garden.

I also have a large pond on the property, too (there is more info and some pics about that in the pond gardening forum).

Thanks for your input, everyone!

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mokitty

I should add also, we just moved to an area that has lots of deer among other creatures like rabbits that tend to show up in fairer weather.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 12:56PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Consider erecting effective animal fencing, that would be a good start. Otherwise you will be constantly raided and constricted by the animals and their preferences. Deer browse a not completely predictable range of woody plants, favored items will be nibbled down the the quick and kept there. Rabbits do things like mow off garlic plants.

Steve Solomon's vegetable gardening book(s) might be of interest, as well as Sunset magazine, the Sunset Western Garden Book and other productions of Sunset Publishing.

A friend gets yearround production just north of Seattle by using covered raised beds, in a fenced, sunny yard. If you (solid) fence or hedge around your vegetable area it makes a more pleasant environment for the vegetables and the gardener.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 3:04PM
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mokitty

Thanks for your response, bboy. How aggressive are dear usually? If I put up, say, tall chicken wire around the garden area, will they get through that? Do I need a wood or sturdy chain link fence to stop them?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 3:19PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

Mokitty, you need a very tall, fairly substantial fence to keep the blighters out. Ours is about 8 feet high. If you are going to only fence your veggie garden, then you will need to read up about the plants to grow that deer don't like. I don't want to live inside a stockade so I try different deterents but for veggies, they are safely enclosed. I still suffer losses from rabbits and birds.
On a positive note, spend this cold, dark wintertime reading about gardening in this area and planning. All gardeners are experimenters and we are happy to share results. Biggest thing: have fun.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 5:35PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Hello kitty,(I just had to do that)
Here is a link to a video that may give some ideas.Wood chips can be had for free,even delivery, from various Arborist companies.Check under "free stuff" with the words wood chips in Craigslist. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Eden Video

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 6:55PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Peeler poles with black deer netting aren't that obnoxious and sure beat having the animals come in and do whatever they like, whenever they like. Deer in particular have more impacts than just browsing. These include rubbing off of velvet using small evergreen specimens, which are liable to be left in a sad state afterward - as though they have been run over by a mower, then stood back up.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 10:54PM
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mokitty

Thanks everyone for the responses. I think I will take some time to read and plan my upcoming garden.

I'll talk to the husbeast about erecting anti-animal fencing. Some of our neighbors have vegetable gardens enclosed by chain link, which doesn't look too bad. I'll look into the poles and deer netting, too.

I got some tulip bulbs from one of the local stores here yesterday, so I'm planning to starting weeding some of the areas right by the house tomorrow so I can plant them. It's pretty overgrown in places, so that should be a project in and of itself.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 11:54AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Chain link, by itself will not cut wind. For best results you want to have a sheltering enclosure around a vegetable plot, both for the plants and for your own comfort. Deer sometimes eat the flowers off of tulips, so if you don't have them screened out by the time the tulips bud there may be losses.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 1:20PM
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Llanwenlys(8)

not to mention gophers Bboy..... but it's all worth it!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 3:40AM
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cedar_wa(z8)

We put in a 7' fence that is mostly in the woods around our whole yard. I know of a couple people who put in double fences of lower 4' fencing around the garden and then ran chickens in the "moat". I remember that they did have some fruit trees inside the double fencing. It seemed to work.
The hugelgarten is an interesting technique for making raised beds. From what I have seen, it works well with perennial crops. I would like to make some for strawberries. You could start stockpiling as you clean up the garden area.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 6:56PM
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oliveoyl3

Great idea to have a location for fallen limbs & branches from winter storms. Every year I have more than enough for Christmas greens for decorations.

Last January's ice storm gave us so much debris, by the time we got to the vegetable garden we were done hauling, so I just tossed them in our pallet garden. Later topped the garden with composted horse manure + pellet bedding a few months before planting.

The pallet garden is a combination of various scrap pallets into a large rectangle (maybe 12' long & 2 pallets wide) with a liftout pallet for access in the back. It's been super easy to layer compost ingredients & plant in spring or summer. So far we've grown potatoes 2 years (with new compost & no tilling) & last year with the branches underneath 2' of horse manure + bedding we grew winter squash with very little supplemental watering! This past spring we also laid some large flat double paned window pieces across the top to cover 2/3 of it. I can slide them over if I can't reach inside.

I plan to put any debris in it again this year prior to spring or summer planting and will keep rotating crops through it along with compost. It will take years to build up enough depth.

If any one is interested I could get a photo posted.

Corrine

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 5:17PM
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