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Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

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Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Sat Feb 21, 2015 4:20 pm

I live in Northern Illinois in zone 5a.  My frost dates are May 15th and October 15th.

I'm in a subdivision on approximately 1/5 of an acre, that backs up to an open grass field that is about 200 feet deep and has a farm field behind it. At times I get very strong winds coming off of the fields.

I garden in raised beds we created with concrete blocks as well as in containers (mainly 5 gallon buckets) . I have 3 apple trees (Royal Empire, Braeburn and Twenty Ounce), 2 peach trees (Red Haven), a Santa Rosa plum tree, a Harglow Apricot tree, several blackberry bushes and 2 raspberry bushes. All of my fruit trees are semi dwarf except the Braeburn apple which is a dwarf. I'm planning to make a strawberry tower this year from a plastic drum or grow some in a vertical pallet garden.

In my front yard I have created a living fence row of roses and rhododendrons and another bed in front of my picture window of just roses. I have a mixture of hybrid tea, Florabunda and Grandiflora roses. I also have a Star Magnolia and a small lilac anchoring the ends of the bed by the picture window with the lilac nearest to my front door. I have an existing bed on the opposite side of my front door that has a small evergreen bush and a galvanized washtub planter. The new beds I installed last year are mulched with white marble chips but the existing bed containing the evergreen is mulched with red lava rock. I have one 18" by 10' bed on the back of the house that I have planted with Star Gazer Lilies and roses mulched with the white marble chips. On the fence near my garage is an old clematis that fills the whole length of the fence by the end of the summer. It is covered with dark purple flowers and blooms twice each season. Along my back and side fences I have a huge old pink peony, mallows and assorted flowers that have spread from my next door neighbor's garden. There is phlox, goldenrod, bee balm and a few others.

I have 2 (12" by 10 foot) raised beds set up strictly for growing vining crops. I used 2"OD pipe and 6"x6" opening rebar mesh to support the vines. I have 4 (30" by 10 foot) raised bed , a 30" by 4 foot raised bed, and a 36" by 20 foot raised bed as well as about 20 (5 gallon) buckets that I plant in. Two of my 30"raised beds have PVC pipes set in place on rebar stakes, for use as hoophouses to extend my growing season. I cover them with Agribon cloth and/or heavyweight greenhouse plastic to create the hoophouses.

I plan to use the 30"x 4' bed for garlic, onions and leeks this year. Last year I grew 2 black zucchini in that bed but I'd like to get the garlic and leeks out of the longer beds and by themselves.  In my 20 foot long bed I have 12 asparagus plants plus 2 rhubarb plants and a huge patch of comfrey. That bed runs long by back fence so I usually plant my pumpkins and watermelons in it so that the fencing can contain/support the vines.

Well, that pretty much sums up my homestead.


Last edited by PATRICE IN IL on Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:01 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by Harvey_Birdman on Sat Feb 21, 2015 6:30 pm

My cousin has his strawberries in one of these. it is a pyramid planter. his are doing great in it. I would get one for myself, but my strawberries are already well established, so I decided to just leave them be.
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Sat Feb 21, 2015 6:44 pm

Thanks for the link Chad. I'm looking to go vertical with the strawberries as I'm running out of room plus getting down to ground level is getting harder with my arthritis.
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by Farmfresh on Sat Feb 21, 2015 9:19 pm

Your rose fence sounds wonderful! I am hoping to get some more roses planted here. I miss my roses.
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Sat Feb 21, 2015 10:27 pm

I liked the way the living fence row looked after planting it last year and hope with a good amount of growth it will look spectacular. I mixed pink and yellow roses with white rhododendrens. The only thing I may change is one of the yellow roses, it's a hybrid tea rose and the rest in the group are Floribunda and Grandiflora. I was trying to get a good mix of roses in certain colors but couldn't find a second bush style in yellow.
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by Harvey_Birdman on Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:39 am

PATRICE IN IL wrote:Thanks for the link Chad. I'm looking to go vertical with the strawberries as I'm running out of room plus getting down to ground level is getting harder with my arthritis.

Look at this for an idea. I have a friend who is all about big gardening in small spaces, and she has done this for here herb with good results.
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:00 am

I saw a rain gutter set-up for growing herbs, lettuce or baby greens as well as strawberries. It was sections of gutter on brackets on the back of a garage. Fill the gutters with potting soil, add plants and you have an instant vertical garden.

I'm thinking of using pallets stood upright but with a slight tilt so everything gets even sunlight. I'll use heavyweight landscape fabric stapled on to create pockets to hold the potting mix and 2x4's for the stand bracing. I should be able to get a good number of plants in a four foot pallet.
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by 12acrehome on Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:42 am

I saw that same set up, it was pretty cool. My only concern would be keeping it watered

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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Sun Feb 22, 2015 2:44 am

The pallet would be easier because the wood will absorb water that the plants can then use. Wink
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by Farmfresh on Sun Feb 22, 2015 7:11 am

I would also use that soil with the water holding gel in it. It will take a lot of watering to keep it saturated enough otherwise.
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Sun Feb 22, 2015 7:16 am

Good idea, I was probably going to add a thick layer of wood chip mulch as well as a layer in the base of the landscape fabric pockets.
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:55 am

I decided to order some heirloom rare variety seeds from Baker Creek since I'm hearing rumblings of hyperinflation supposedly hitting by this summer. Sad

I'm planning to grow more root crops and brassicas since we eat more of those than tomatoes and peppers. I've been having issues with tomatoes and peppers for a while now so I'll devote less space to them and more space to things that agree with me.

I have quite a bit of seeds on hand but splurged on some varieties I've never seen before, they are all pre-1940's and some are from other countries. We'll see how they grow with this goofy weather.
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Tue Feb 24, 2015 11:10 am

Here's what I ordered from Baker Creek , some standards and a bunch of new things to try this year.
Waltham 29 Broccoli
Long Island Improved Brussels Sprouts
Brunswick Cabbage
Glory of Enkhuizer Cabbage
Nantes Scarlet Carrots
Giant of Naples Cauliflower
Zwolsche Krul Celery
Zebrune Shallot Onion
Tokyo Long White Bunch Onion
Giant Musselburgh Leek
Melitopolski Watermelon
Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin
Sugar Snap Peas
Monstrueux De Viroflay Spinach
Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:48 pm

I'm going to try and make some bug bonnets to put over my 5 gallon buckets to see if I can get any cabbage, broccoli  and cauliflower without pests in them this year.  I bought some drapery sheers last year and think I'm going to make a simple drawstring or elastic casing bag that can be tied to the rim of the bucket to keep the bugs out.  I might even make some longer ones so I can grow broccoli and Brussels sprouts in my buckets as well.

I had such bad problems with slugs and white moth caterpillars last year. The bugs got all my cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. I don't want to use any pesticides so I'm hoping that the sheers material will work.

I have 20 buckets so I could essentially get a decent crop out of them, especially if I did both a Spring and Fall planting. I'm thinking maybe 6 each of cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli and 2 Brussels sprouts. I have 3 different varieties of cabbage that I want to grow so if I put 1 in each bucket and fertilizer it well I should get some nice big heads.

By growing the brassicas in my buckets that will free up quite a bit of space in the raised beds. I'm actually thinking of using the frost barrier cloth over the hoops in one bed to try and grow some red, yellow and orange bell peppers as well as paprika peppers this year. It never seems to get hot enough here to get any peppers so if I keep the frost blanket on the bed it should add another 10-15 degrees or more to the temperature in that bed. At least that's what I'm hoping will happen.

I think I'm going to try growing potatoes in fabric bags again this year. When I did it a few years ago they grew fairly well and I got a decent amount of potatoes per bag, probably close to 10 pounds. The only thing I don't have is the straw to hill up the potatoes as they grow. I might try using the pile of leaves I put near the garden unless I decide to use them to mulch the raised beds with instead. Does anyone know if I'd get more potatoes by hilling them with potting mix vs straw?

I'm thinking I might try growing some sweet potatoes this year. I've never grown them before.  Any advice for growing location, starting slips or helpful hints to get a decent crop production? Do you think they'd grow well in landscape fabric bags?
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by dizzy on Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:40 pm

I grew sweet taters last year in large containers. I filled up the containers w/stuff I cleaned out of the goat pen, then stuck the slips right in that. I stuck a piece of cattle panel between the containers so they'd have something to climb on. It worked well.

Instead of trying to get slips started yourself, see if they carry any in a store. I got my slips from either Lowes or Walmart last year. I had no luck getting any slips started. But, once you get them growing, it's easy enough to get slips for the following year. I not only have enough for myself, but will be giving some to friends.

They need a long growing period, like about 4 months or so. I harvested mine the day B4 they were calling for our first frost. I just cut the vines, then tipped the containers. Some of them weighed around 5 lbs!

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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:09 pm

Wow 5 pounds each, that must have been a great harvest. I'll definitely check my local garden centers for the slips. I didn't realize they were climbers. I have an 18" round planter that is about 18" tall, would that work? Maybe I could use a taller tomato cage to support the vines?
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by Harvey_Birdman on Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:41 am

I have read that if you pour a ring of coffee grounds around the base of your cabbages it will keep the slugs off them. I have not tried this yet, but I did read it in more than one place so it may be true.
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:14 am

Thanks Chad, I'll have to try that. I've also heard to put a ring of crushed egg shells around them too because the slugs won't cross them.
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by Farmfresh on Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:33 am

They use fancy types of sweet potatoes as ornamentals in containers a lot of the time because of the pretty trailing leaves. Hubby has a friend that works on the grounds crew where they both work and he was telling me how big some of the potatoes are when they dig them out to re-pot the planters for the winter months.
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:24 am

My sister didn't realize the potatoes that grew from those vines were edible, she threw them away when she repotted her planter.
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:19 pm

Gurney's has a coupon sale going until March 4th and I'm thinking of ordering a Goji bush($19.99) along with some lightweight insect barrier cloth(8'x48' $19.99) and a few other seeds that I forgot to order from Baker Creek. Sunflower seeds, kohlrabi seeds, Blue Lake Pole Beans,  artichoke seeds, parsnips, rutabaga, turnip, chives, stevia, rosemary, Echinacea and a Gold Medal Grandiflora rose($12.99) for the living fence in the front bed.

Do I need more than 1 Goji plant to get a better harvest?
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by 12acrehome on Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:09 am

I bought 2 from Stark Bro's, different varieties, because they recommended those for a better harvest. Both types were listed as self pollinating though. One actually produced a few small berries last year (just a few months after being planted) I am hoping they both survived this winter. If they did they should have a growth spurt, and will hopefully produce larger berries and more of them. Once they start bearing they are supposed to bear continuously until a frost. My fingers are crossed.

I remember one was called "Big Life Berry", but I don't remember the other one...sweet something I think. I also have lost track of which one was which.

I do also remember that they both required a lot of lime to be added to my soil.

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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:49 am

Thanks Keith
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:56 pm

I decided to expand my garden again but not too much space wise but variety wise. I'm adding to my fruit production with a Goji berry bush and 3 Hansen's cherry bushes. Many of the vegetable seeds are things I haven't grown before but figured I'd give them a try to add some variety to our diets.

This time I ordered from Gurney's with a coupon special---spend $100 get $50 off. Below is what I ordered with quantity, the catalog # and expected shipping dates.

1 02159 CANDY STEVIA PKT 03/05/15-03/07/15
1 08507 HANSEN'S BUSH CHERRY 18-24" 03/12/15-03/17/15
1 14600 HERB - ROSEMARY PKT/G 03/05/15-03/07/15
1 64596 YARD LONG BEAN ORIENT WONDER 03/05/15-03/07/15
1 64606 HERB ECHINACEA - 100 SEED PKT 03/05/15-03/07/15
1 66305 RUTABAGA LAURENTIAN PKT 03/05/15-03/07/15
1 75314 GOJI BERRY 03/26/15-03/31/15
1 14202 POLE BEAN BLUE LAKE 2 OZ 03/05/15-03/07/15
1 14665 KOHLRABI EARLY WHITE VIENNA PKT 03/05/15-03/07/15
1 14681 FL - SUNFLOWER MAMMOTH GRAY 03/05/15-03/07/15
1 14687 FL - SUNFLOWER SUNSPOT PKT/G 03/05/15-03/07/15
1 14694 PARSNIP ALL AMERICAN PKT/G 03/05/15-03/07/15
1 14722 TURNIP PURPLE TOP WHITE GLOBE PKT 03/05/15-03/07/15
1 64560 EGGPLANT ROSA BIANCA - 30 SEED PKT 03/05/15-03/07/15
1 2002 SUPER LIGHT INSECT BARRIER 8' X 48' 03/05/15-03/07/15
1 94704 GOLD MEDAL GRANDIFLORA ROSE 03/26/15-03/31/15

I'm adding the rose to the living fence in the front yard and will be making individual bug bonnets from the insect barrier to fit my 5 gallon buckets that I'm planning to plant my brassicas in this year.
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Re: Patrice's Patch Garden Journal

Post by PATRICE IN IL on Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:44 am

My Meijer had plants and seeds in already, I bought a Goji Berry bush "Firecracker" for $6.99 - 10% employee discount and an additional 10% weekend special sale. I also bought a few packages of Burpee herb seeds.
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