Starting from Scratch- What to do???

seraphima(z4 AK)June 14, 2002

Starting from scratch

Several people have mentioned that they are starting with bare fields, or limited plantings of a few fruit trees and such. Where to start?

One place to start is with your survey from your house closing. Enlarge the survey and make a few copies. Draw in any features you especially need to consider, like a stream or pond, the septic field and tank, existing fruit trees and fences. Now you have a map to ponder, summer and winter, as you think and dream of what you can do.

Next, rough out your zone 1- the area you will most intensively garden and take care of. One easy way is: how far does your hose go? I keep extra lengths of hose to water plantings in zone 2 and 3, but they are only connected occasionally, so my zone one is really the area I keep a connected hose in. It helps to keep all containers of plants within zone one, and to have a nursery area for plants you buy or people give you here, also. This is very important because growing perennial plants for propagation and for good size will speed up your planting timetable in future years.

This year, start a bed for vegetables and herbs in zone 1. Sheet composting will save you the trouble of hauling compost from another site.

These are a few ideas to get started with. What ideas do you have?

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We also worked with sectors and exposures. Things like roads, soil types, wind patterns, sun and shadow through the seasons, wild animal traffic patterns and the slope of the land in working it all out.

In an urban or suburban situation there will be similar and different issues to work with. Roads and foot traffic (rather than animal traffic), fencing or lack of fencing, soil, patterns of sun and shadow through the seasons, grade of the lot, and wind patterns will be considered in a similar manner.

There are other things to deal with in an urban/suburban setting though ... Setback requirements for structures, shade from adjacent buildings or the possibility that such could be built (you can register solar rights in this state), street lights and area lights in neighbors yards, restrictions on the types of activities allowed (no shed for example) and aesthetic considerations (look at your land from their yard to see what they see) for maintaining happy neighbors.

Do not forget your own privacy needs. If you need it, be sure to allow for it. Also consider noise and build in systems to help reduce it.

I have drawn up maps of the land and worked with those also. Our plat did not show much.

"The field's set. Let's croq." Alas 4/28/01

    Bookmark   June 14, 2002 at 5:31PM
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Don't try to do too much at once! If you go out and try to buy all your plants in one sweep, you'll probably end up wondering how to get rid of a bunch...

Search around for cheap sources. You're not limited to nursery stock. Trade seeds and plants through gardenweb and your local gardening club, learn how to propagate plants through cuttings and seeds (without having to dig any up). Check with the government and ask if they organize native plant salvages in your area. See if your conservation district has plant sales in the spring. See if you can get a grant to install a restoration of native plants on your property. All of these options are available in my county.

Again don't plant too much at once. Be patient; the final size of plants is usually a lot bigger than the size you buy them at.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2002 at 11:13PM
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Also, don't forget about starts from the supermarket. I don't mean picture-packets on the seed rack, I mean whole spices, dry beans, and produce.

If you have access to bulk spices, this is a very economical way to get poppies, anise, cumin, coriander, fennel, dill, fenugreek, kalonji (nigella), and mustard. Dry beans will produce bush beans that you can use for green beans as well. The seeds of fruit will also sprout (tomatoes, melons, squash, citrus, apples, plums, pears, etc.), though these are usually hybrids so may not produce the best produce.

Roots can also be planted: potatoes, garlic, onions, sweet potatoes. Cut off the tops of leeks, carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, and rutabagas and plant them to harvest the seeds from. The only problem with these is that your garden has a greater possibility of contracting a disease.

Houseplants can be grown from avocadoes, citrus, pineapples, ginger, and tropical fruit seeds.

You could have a whole garden for free!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2002 at 11:26PM
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