Beware of Neighbors Bearing Plants!

Claudia, our neighbor to the west, hailed Mary over the fence. You may remember the TV show, “Home Improvement”, where Tim Allen would talk to his neighbor, Wilson, through the fence. You couldn’t see his face but he and Tim would hold life-solving conversations. Anyway, our fence is kind of like that.

The usual conversation over the fence goes like this:

Claudia: You know the house for sale down the street?

Mary: The one where the guy is always peeking over the fence?

Claudia: Yes. Guess what they’re asking?

Mary: A billion six?

Claudia: More.

Mary: Three trillion?

Claudia: More.

Today’s conversation, however, involved me which is never a good sign.

Claudia to Mary, “I’m getting ready to take this old rose out, would you be interested?”   “I know you and Brian love roses and I hate to just throw it away.”

Mary, “Let me ask Brian. That was such a great rose I hate to see it go.”

My run-for-the-hills instinct should have kicked in but I replied to Mary’s query with “Sure, let me see if I can find a home for it.”

We had a rose croak in a corner and had never replaced it because it’s in a difficult place to dig and work so, of course, I thought; perfect location. I dug out the dead rose and remembered why I didn’t like working here plus there was an old cement block that had been buried that needed to come out as well.

Ok, that hole has been dug, now let’s go get the other rose from Claudia. She had started to dig the rose bush out but I could see this was going to be one of those jobs that you think will take 10 minutes but takes 90 minutes. I commandeered the shovel and went to work. This was one stubborn rose, clinging to the dirt for its life, it didn’t want to budge. I was right, a good hour later I finally broke it loose. It was easily twice as big as the hole I had dug for it.

Get the wheelbarrow and lug the rose back to our backyard. Dig out the cement block which required a sledge hammer to break up, increase the hole to the size of a small crater, drag the rose bush to the hole, push it in and cover with dirt and compost.

I see people heading to the gym for a workout and think you really should try gardening! Not only do you get a good workout but you get something to show for it. Vegetables to harvest, roses for a bouquet, fruit to enjoy, herbs for cooking, limes for your margarita!

The rose may not make it, and both of us will be sore in the morning but hopefully we found a new home for another vagrant plant. A triumph of for hole-in-the fence negotiations.

Dragonfly small

Mary and Brian are backyard gardeners who like to share their passion for all things gardening. 

Visit them at TheBackyardGardeners.

Our first garden book. “Backyard Garden Basics” is now available at Amazon! Click this link to check it out!

Please leave a comment below right now.

Also, we would appreciate it if you would consider sharing this blog post with your community if you thought it was helpful to you. If you do, we really appreciate it.

The Backyard Garden Basics Super Sale!

For 24 hours only, on Wednesday May 20, our new book Backyard Garden Basics will be a featured book on Buck Books  Daily Deals. You’ll be able to buy our book, and 4 other quality books, for $0.99 in eBook format (including Kindle).

Folks, we have some good news and some bad news. To start, the bad: due to the file size of the Kindle version of my book, Amazon won’t let me lower the price of Backyard Garden Basics to $.99 (too many pictures – who doesn’t like pictures???), but instead we have to charge the outrageous sum of $1.99 instead.

But here is the good news: the eBook versions of our gardening book is usually $5.49 across the board, so either way this is a great time to buy. Remember that this sale is for today only!

To buy the Kindle version for $1.99 , click here.

Happy shopping, and I hope you enjoyed this little sale! Remember that you can use the Kindle app on any smartphone or tablet to access the books, no need to own an actual Kindle device. There are also a ton of other great eBooks on sale today, click here to see the full list.

If you would like emails from Buck Books telling you when books are available for $1 or less, sign up for the Buck Books email list.

Our Square Foot Garden Project – Phase One

In an effort to make our vegetable garden more efficient and water wise, we’re devoting one of our raised beds to the SFG principle. What is SFG? Square Foot Gardening, a concept popularized by Mel Bartholomew in 1981 in his book All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More In Less Space“>”All New Square Foot Gardening”.  The idea is to divide your garden space, in our case a raised bed, into 1 foot sections and each square will be planted individually based on the size of the plant. Should turn in to a nicely stuffed garden, like a family of ten living in a 1 bedroom apartment.

For example; a single tomato plant would take up a full 1′ x 1′ square, strawberry plants planted 4 to a square, and radishes planted 16 to a square. Tall or climbing plants like corn or pole beans could be planted at the north end so as not to shade other plants.

Laying Out the Garden
Laying Out the Garden

Step 1.  First things first, we’re planting a cover crop.

To improve the soil in the raised bed, we decided to plant a cover crop in the fall that consisted of field peas and hulled oats. This cover crop should improve our chances of a successful Square Foot Garden in the spring. Oats are used for green manure and the peas are a source of organic matter and nitrogen. Both should improve the health of the soil in the bed. Work the soil with a garden rake, broadcast the seeds over the soil, and then rake to cover the seeds. Birds think you’ve scattered the seeds for their benefit so try to cover well with soil.

Cover crops are very low-maintenance but will require water initially to get started. After the crops get growing they’ll need little attention and minimal water.

One of the downsides to cover crops is that you will be giving up one of your growing beds for about 3 months. However, we feel that the benefits to improving the soil far outweigh the loss of a bed for a short time. In fact, in most of our beds we’ll plant a cover crop from time to time to improve the soil. Cover crops are well suited to all gardens, whether they’re big or small.

I wish all of our plants grew this well!
Cover Crop. We wish all of our plants grew this well!

Step 2. Cut down the cover crop

Before the cover crop goes to seed it’s time to chop it down. Depending on how big an area your cover crop is you can use a GreenWorks 25022 12 Amp Corded 20-Inch Lawn Mower“>lawn mower, a GreenWorks 21212 4Amp 13-Inch Corded String Trimmer“>weed eater or, in our case, Fiskars 25-33 Inch Power-Lever Extendable Hedge Shear (9169)“>hedge shears. Cut it down to about 2 inches in height and let it dry out for 2 to 3 days.

Here is the cover crop after it’s been cut to about 2 inches. You can see why it’s called green manure. This rich, green cover crop will be dug into the soil to add much needed organic matter. After you’ve cut the crop down let it sit for a couple of days until the leaves and stems dry out.

Cover crop cut to about 3 inches
Cover crop cut to about 3 inches

Step 3. Dig the cover crop into the soil.

Now that the cover crop has dried for a few days it’s time to dig it into the bed. You’ll have some long pieces of stems and vines but it won’t take long before these partially decompose.  Now the hard part, after turning under a cover crop of grasses you have to wait 2 to 3 weeks before planting vegetables or flowers.

All of this material will add a lot of good organic matter to your soil. This green manure will also help hold water thereby reducing the amount needed. Once we plant vegetables in the garden we will add mulch which will also reduce the amount of water required.

We’ll be using a soaker hose to water the beds which we installed when we built the beds. As much as possible we trying to minimize our water usage.

Wait 2-3 days before digging the cover crop in.
Wait 2-3 days before digging the cover crop in.

In Phase 2 we’ll get started on the Square Foot Garden layout and planting.

Mary and Brian are backyard gardeners who like to share their passion for all things gardening. 

Visit them at TheBackyardGardeners.

Our first garden book. “Backyard Garden Basics” is now available at Amazon! Click this link to check it out!

Please leave a comment below right now.

Also, we would appreciate it if you would consider sharing this blog post with your community if you thought it was helpful to you. If you do, we really appreciate it.