starting a garden in the woods

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by figmus, Jan 29, 2004.

  1. figmus

    figmus Member

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    DW & I are starting a homestead and I plan on building raised beds (soil is poor). It will be a couple of years before we can occupy the place but I would like to start building up the soil. I was thinking of burning the tree debris (from the area we plan to build) in the area that I want the garden and then planting a green manure crop. We have alot of cedar so I was going to use cedar to hold the beds together. Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated.
     
  2. bumpus

    bumpus Well-Known Member

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    Hard to have a garden in the woods. To much shade. Plants need sunlight.
     

  3. figmus

    figmus Member

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    Was going to clear out the spot and give at least a 50 foot buffer zone from the tree line.
     
  4. bumpus

    bumpus Well-Known Member

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    _________________________________-

    Hard to say for sure until the trees are cleaned out, and see if the first morning sun (very important) and the last sun of the day is shining on the garden or not.

    Any shade on the garden will stunt the plant growth.
     
  5. Jack

    Jack New Member

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    Gidday from down under.
    The best and easiest way of starting a garden is using bales of straw. Just put them in a row and spread a high nitrogen manure along the top and then just water it then keep it damp. The straw will heat up a lot, but as soon as it is cooled down you can plant straight into the straw. It works great, no weeds, no work, no dirt, and your root veges come out so clean. I have grown spuds, beetroot, carrots parsnips as well as green veges.

    Cheers
    Jack
     
  6. figmus

    figmus Member

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    Thanks for the advice
     
  7. RANDEL

    RANDEL Well-Known Member

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    figmus, it sounds like ur situation is very similar to mine, except that i'm hoping to be out on the property this spring. i wouldn't say my soil is poor, lots of grass where the cedars aren't, but it IS rocky and presumeably acid.
    what i've done is cut the trees from the entire garden area (almost exclusively cedar, some sumac), laid the trunks aside for later use, and burned the remainder. i open a single bed at a time; mine are usually about 4X8 or 4X12. it varies cuz of the stumps. i plan to get rid of them some other time.
    then i spread ashes and lime on the worked bed but of course don't have enough ash for the whole garden area. i have brush piles to burn elsewhere of course.
    the ashes are high in phosphorous and potassium. i'd prefer to spread the ash later when the soil is warm, cuz the soil microorganisms pick up some of the nutrients and hold them till they die, which is better than letting it all leach away.
    i plan to grow some green manure crops in some of the beds, but i am anxious to get a crop too. i ain't got a pick up truck yet so can't haul too much manure. probably use some sawdust to loosen the soil and add organic matter. then dig in some manure (bought by the bag which i hate) or maybe cottonseed meal. or maybe some alfalfa, which has almost as much nitrogen as manure, and is at least a bit nicer to haul in a car. and a LOT easire to carry on the roof!
    not all veggies need sunlight all day. some will tolerate some shade, esp. in warmer weather. the more sun the better of course, but i don't like killing trees. also if u surround ur garden area with flower plantings (which is said to attract beneficial insects and is just plain purty) the somewhat shaded area won't hurt them a bit.
    i'd like to know more about what ur doing.
     
  8. Save trees, clear less. Adjust later.

    I don't think you have to clear trees 50 ft from the space, I have a small garden in the city with trees on 3 sides and the house on the 4th. I know I would get better results in a more open area, but I have no choice. The garden still does great.

    Pay attention to drainage before you invest time and materials in boxes. You said the soil is poor, but it may drain well. If not, plan on plastic drain tile through the bottom of the boxes. It took me two growing seasons after I realized drainage was a problem to install the drains in my boxes.

    Cedar would do fine for the boxes, but I recommend you put a layer of plastic between the cedar and the soil. This will considerably extend the life of the cedar. It also isolates the soil and keeps it in the box.

    If you want a "clean" formal style to the boxes, you will need to figure out how to do the corners. This is where the boxes will come apart first.

    If the look of the garden boxes is secondary, forget using the wood. Go with Jack's suggestion. You'll be done in a day.

    Make the paths between the boxes wide enough for your wheelbarrow.

    Where's the water??
    good luck, gobug
     
  9. figmus

    figmus Member

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    We plan on taking down the fewest trees but want to build a pasture path behind the garden. The well will be about 50 feet away and the septic will be about 75 feet downhill of the garden. We do not need a "clean" look to the wood as it's only purpose is to keep the dirt from wsahing down the slope. The slope is about 7 degrees. I did not think of the plastic wrap between the wood and the ground and will keep that in mind. Once were down there 24/7 we plan on chicken tractoring, but in the mean time I figure anything to start the process is good.So I figure to plant green manure and keep digging it back in, I will have to find a local farmer for the manure. This fall I am hoping to plant some berry crops, but that is getting ahead of the plan.

    My question now is on how to run the drainage under the box, should I run it north south or east west (south facing slope) and how deep did anyone run the drainage?
     
  10. my boxes are only about a foot high, so I had to dig the drain below the bottom of the boxes to allow turning the soil without hitting the drains. I use a 12" bladed narrow shovel to turn the soil.

    Start on the high spot if you must add drainage. I ran a drain down the middle through the length of each box and connected the drains to one that runs out of the garden. With a 7 degree slope, you might be able to just trench and fill the trench with gravel to the low end of the garden.

    Make your boxes level.

    You might have the neighbor till the whole space before you start laying drains.

    My boxes are 4 x 20. I ran 1" black pvc sprinkler pipe to each box and put a plastic valve on each. I can water each box as needed. I usually work one box while I water the others. I still end up doing some watering by hand.

    Plumbing and draining are a little expensive/time consuming and you can't change things easily. My limited understanding of chicken tractoring is that you let the chickens do their thing, then move them somewhere else the next year, and garden where they were. This doesn't sound compatible with a box garden.

    Give thought to the paths between the boxes. Grass is probably fine, but you'll wear a path that will get muddy. I covered the paths with 4mil plastic and 4" of roadbase gravel. Over the years, soil from the boxes has spilled into the paths. Now I use an old window screen to sift the dirt from the gravel. I do this when I plant in the spring and use the fine sifted soil to cover the seeds. I just lay the screen over the section I plant and scoop the gravel on top. Then I rub my hand across the screen.

    Make your boxes a standard size so you can interchange things like arbors, trellis', sprinklers, row covers, and cold frames.

    good luck, gobug - forgot my password, can't log in yet
     
  11. RANDEL

    RANDEL Well-Known Member

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    paths in the garden: i've used old carpet, wood, mulch, and clover. mulch or clover are more attractive than the first two of course unless u made nice boardwalks or something. my favorite was clover. i'm planning to do it in my new garden, but this time making the paths wide enough for a lawnmower. in addition to controlling the mud (not perfectly) the clover can give u a few handsful of mulch occasionally and draws the bees. also probably feeds the plants in the beds, at least a little. (nitrogen).
     
  12. Amy Jo

    Amy Jo Well-Known Member

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    For paths look into plants called "steppables" They actually thrive and replant by being walked on. They don't grow tall enough to mow and make a beautiful pathway... each stem starts to grow roots at the bottoms, so when you walk on them you help them to take root and spread. There were certain kinds of Thyme and I can't remember what all... I saw it on a gardening show on HGTV when I was recovering from the flu and all I can remember is "steppables"
     
  13. figmus

    figmus Member

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    Thanks, I kind of like the idea of a "green' path. Will do some more research & will start by looking at Thyme plants.
     
  14. Jack. I Grow In Hay And It's Great. I Don't Think I Had To Weed A Bag Of Weeds For The Whole Season. I Have Hundreds Of Bales As Gardens. My Plans Are To Continue With This Great Method Of Care Free Gardening.