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NWR: Gardening/Is spring here yet?

I posted on the nest gardening board this morning, but only have one reply so far so I thought I'd ask you guys since it's a Sunday and slow. I'm really aching for spring, just came home from the library armed with gardening books, and have a few random questions.

Do you guys have any gardening tips in general? We want to start a small veggie garden, and I know we want to do at least carrots, tomatoes, sweet corn, and bell peppers, plus some herbs and maybe some fruit. Are any of those really hard to care for?

Do any of you have any good gardening websites, books, or blogs to suggest?

Any ideas for good ground cover? We have a really steep area near the driveway that has grass right now, but it's a pain to mow. Would it be easier to do some ground cover or just mulch with a few perrenials?

What's your favorite flower? Favorite tree?

Good gardening stories, suggestions, or ideas?
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Re: NWR: Gardening/Is spring here yet?

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    NebbNebb member
    5 Love Its First Comment Combo Breaker
    edited February 2010
    YAAAY i love gardening talk. Im REALLY itching to get back out in the yard and garden, I miss being outside getting dirty. I think it depends largely on the type of soil you have and your area. I am in 6b and a lot of stuff is easy to grow here. I have never had luck with corn, but tomatoes are a breeze, really.

    My personal tips - leave enough space around everything to walk through and around to weed and pick veggies. If you dont leave enough space it makes life very difficult for you later in the year. I planted and put down mulch over the ground to help with weed growth - just dont let it touch the stem of the plants if you plant seedlings. If you plant from seed, I have no idea. I planted all of my herbs in planters, outside of my garden in the ground and had great results with it. What are you planning to plant, herb wise? I went a little nuts last year and planted lots of stuff I didnt even end up using so just be sure you will use it!

    I might try my hand at some green onions, garlic and zucchini this year. Im excited.

    Edit: I also tried planting bell peppers last year and it didnt work out very well. They didnt get any bigger than cubanelles and never colored fully. It was a big fat fail all around and im not sure if it was inexperience or the amount of sun they got. I had a LOT of luck with jalapeno and cubanelle though. I also had an incredible harvest of green and yellow beans, grown from seed in the ground. We ate nothing but beans for nearly a month.
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    Oh yes garlic I want to do that as well. I think for herbs we're just going to do basil, dill, cilantro, and either rosemary or lavendar (mostly for the smell :) ) at first. I use basil, dill, and cilantro in LOTS of food, so I know I'll use those. Same with garlic :)
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    I missed the boat with my garlic last year apparently (according to people ive talked to) I should have started it far earlier in the spring than I did. I did rosemary (did super well, I dried what was left and still have a lot), dill (it died for some reason, I think the plant was defective), chives, oregano, basil, thyme and mint. Just dont water too much (and I mean very much at all!) and you will be fine.
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    Oh I would also point out that unless you really eat tomatoes a lot, dont plant 23 tomatoe plants. It just doesnt work out well...
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    Oooh chives would be good too. I think I'm going to plant all of the herbs in pots so I can bring them inside during the winter.

    I also want to grow lettuce but for some reason that sounds hard. Hmm.

    I'm honestly just as excited about flowers as I am about food. I CANNOT wait until fall to plant lily and hyacinth and hydrangea and ranunculus bulbs.  We moved in November, and probably could have gotten a few in the ground, but got too distracted.  

    Oooh and sunflowers and honeysuckle and zinnias and I really want a crepe myrtle or 12.

    I'm so excited to finally have a house and yard to do this stuff instead of growing like one flower in one pot on a window sill that I always kill. I'm bad at indoor plants  for some reason.
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    Ha good to know. That's a lot of tomatoes.
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    Ive heard lettuce isnt hard, but its pretty much ruined once it bolts (grows the stalk with flowers for seeds), and that generally happens once it gets hot so you only have a short window to eat it in.

    I really love ranunculus, i need to find out if they can grow in my area and plant some of those this year. I also really love dalias but im not sure if they are perenials (nm I looked and they are). My mom and aunt garden a LOT and ive learned most of what I know from them - they mostly do flowers. They are big believers in planting a large variety of plants that all flower at different times. I took over my moms garden this summer and random people on the street kept coming up complementing the garden because it was always colorful and looks great. I dont even think I can count how many plants she has in there, but theyre always blooming.
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_nwr-gardeningis-spring-here-yet?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:cf9fbf54-f42b-4820-a26b-7d6831a4814bPost:3223bfe5-6686-499a-bd72-1c9c7709d681">Re: NWR: Gardening/Is spring here yet?</a>:
    [QUOTE]Ha good to know. That's a lot of tomatoes.
    Posted by tlv204[/QUOTE]
    It is! I have 2 shelves of bags of diced tomatoes in my freezer because of it. Thats a lot of bags that Im not sure I will ever get through...
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    i don't have much to contribute, except that i'm gonna have to learn something about yardwork real quick like once it starts warming up. our exterior is a catastrophe.

    first we have to remove all the existing vegetation, and then start from scratch.

    i'd love to have pretty landscaping in the front, and we have a cool area for a potential veggie garden. but i have NO clue. except that i love hydrangeas and anenomes, but those probably wouldn't work in our yard. i'd also like a dogwood tree.
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    NebbNebb member
    5 Love Its First Comment Combo Breaker
    edited February 2010
    Just find out what soil area you are in Jill, and go from there. It depends on whether you get full or partial sun as well. I think Hydrangeas are pretty hardy and grow in a lot of areas, so you would probably be good with those.
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    Ha yeah daff I'm in a similar situation. I love plants, but other than helping my mom when I was younger I don't have much experience. We have to pull out at least 3 pretty large bushes and redo our patio (which is currently brick but so wavy it looks like an ocean and no table or chairs will even stand up on it) before I actually move on to planting stuff.

    I want to get our patio over with. I have a feeling I'm greatly underestimating how much it will cost, but I dont' even want to get estimates until we have the tax credit money in our account, which won't be for several more weeks most likely.
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    i never even helped anyone with gardening. i know zip. this should be...interesting. but hells yes on the tomatoes! i love tomatoes.


    white hydrangeas could work, but i think with the colors of the house we need to go with a warm palette (as opposed to the blue hydrangeas that i love).

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    oh, and our tax credit is going towards wood fencing. wheee!
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    I don't have a green thumb, but as a farmer's daughter, I wouldn't recommend trying corn.  Personally, I don't think it has a high enough yield to be worth growing in a back yard garden.  It has a really long growing season, and wouldn't even be ready until mid-to-late August.
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    T and Jill, PLEASE plant magnolias!  I LOVE magnolia trees, and you guys are in the perfect environment for them. I also have mad love for wisterias.

    Another thing to remember-- when things bloom.  The garden I inherited from the previous owner of our house had a lot of spring blooming things.  Also, be careful on planting things that spread.  OMG... there were lambs ear EVERYWHERE and they're a freaky, fuzzy plant and I hate them.  HATE them. 

    But there are two GORGEOUS peonie plants back there. *sigh*  I suck at gardening, but I'd love to have one again.
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    Oh, and careful with the mulch.  It attracts termites.
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    Don't worry, magnolias are definitely on our list :) My mom has a giant Japanese magnolia tree in her front yard, and my favorite time of year is always when that thing  blooms.

    I'm having issues trying to decide where or if to plant larger trees. If it were up to me, I'd have like twelve 50' high crepe myrtles in all colors, apple trees, magnolia trees, etc. But there are power lines all along one of our fences and the electric company is full of tree cutting nazies (I mean, rightly so, I'd rather not explode), so I'm afraid to plant anything over there that will get to tall.  And the other side already has a big maple, and the back has a shed, and I can't figure out where to plant trees other than right in the middle. Which would not bode well for H's impromptu soccer and football games with himself.  Sometimes with Leo.
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    And that makes me sad about corn :( I guess I'll just rely on farmers markets for that.
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    Umm this might make the apple part easier at least:

    http://www.gardenoasis.co.uk/dwarf-growing-golden-apple-tree-p-456.html

    Can that really work? It's not even a tree really! How does it make so much fruit? I'm suspicious.
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    Well, we grew corn (and lettuce, zucchini, pumpkins, green beans, etc) and it was fine.  It's not that hard to grow, really. 

    Perhaps, instead of putting the magnolia in the back, you could put it in the front (god, it's taking me forever to type stuff cause I'm making so may typos!)
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    Ha, I think I at least have a picture of the wavy patio:




    This next one is facing the back of the house from the middle of the yard. We're also open to removing some bushes so we have a decent amount of room at least.




    These are from before we moved in.  I forgot how much stuff there was when it's green. It's all barren looking now.


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    What do you think of smoke bushes TLV? theyre really pretty and have nice color.
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    I had never heard of them, but I just went to look them up and they're pretty! I wonder if there's a reason I've never noticed them around here. I do like the color.
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    You need some definite pop of color and some taller elements on the side.  I'm too drunkded and tired to be of much help at the moment, but definitely think about doing a water feature too!
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    Maybe its a location thing, a lot of yards in my area have one. We have one that is about 3 years old and it isnt as "smokey" as they get when they are older but the leaves are a beautiful maroon/pink color.
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    Hurray for spring! Right now I just have my balcony garden so it's mainly flowers and some seedlings that I grow for my mom, but my mom goes all out. The balcony garden normally consists of begonias, peonies, pansies, purple heart, mint varieties, sage, basil, parsley, rosemary and blackberry lilies (straight from George Washington's flower garden)
    Her entire fence line of the yard (she has a lot and a half) is lined with peas and various gourds so we eat peas like crazy. Then her veggie garden has green peppers, radishes, calorabi (not sure how to spell it, like a radish), different lettuce, zucchini, etc. Then she has three huge raspberry bushes and a strawberry patch.
    Setcreasea pallia (purple heart) is my favorite plant in the world and you can use it for edgeing or ground cover. My mom uses ajuga as ground cover in her yard as well as chicks n hens (I think that's what they are called).

    I just love going to various plant stores and seeing what's out there.


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    Oh! And my one trick I learned is to line the house with mint plants. You can get a bunch of different varieties (chocolate mint is yummy) and you can use the plants for teas or cooking. They also keep the bugs away so if you plant them by doors it helps with little biting bugs. Also incredibly fast growing so if Dh weed wacks them by accident they grow back quickly (learned from experience, poor dad)

    My mom says her front yard walkway is lined with setums, and you can walk on them all the time and they wont be damaged.
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    Mint is invasive though so be careful.

    I desperately miss having raspberry bushes. There was one in the yard but it was ripped out by an idiotic landscaper once who thought it was some kind of random bush. Idiot.
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    Just a word of warning that cilantro can be really hard to grow...don't be disappointed if you don't get it on the first try :)
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