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Plants to grow beside trailer. Shade...

 
Steve Nicolini
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Anybody have any info. on plants that do well butted up against houses?  Specifically, plants that get 3-4 hours of sunlight in autumn and a little less in winter.  The trailer is on wheels, so foundation is not a concern.  The side of the trailer creates somewhat of a microclimate, but it is extremely ugly.  We'd like to cover the ugliness with edible goods.  Also, there are no gutters so the soils on the east and west sides get pounded with runoff water.  Thanks y'all
 
paul wheaton
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Considering that you are in an area that is wetter than seattle, I think you need to weigh in the cloud factor.  Even if you are out in the middle of a wide open field, your sun is gonna be limited some by clouds. 

So with 3 hours of sun, plus the clouds, you might want to figure nearly full shade.

If you are considering edibles, I think there are two plants I would consider:  northern kiwi and raspberries. 

Northern Kiwi seems to thrive in the shade.  And raspberries seem to cope pretty well.  I raised some raspberries in pretty limited sun in Missoula and they did very well - provided that I gave them good mulch and soil.

Since this is a permie site, I would want to add in some other things to the guild ...  How about a black locust?  Since you don't have to worry about foundation, you can plant this near the house.  The first few years will be a bit shady, but once it gets past the roof line it should do well. 

I suppose lots of trees might fit into this space.  I would think that a tap rooted tree would be good too.  Maybe a northern pecan?  I would plant seeds instead of trees so that you can get the full taproot.

In the meantime I would think it would be wise to plant some other shade loving legumes ....  but I'm not sure what might be a fit. 

 
Leah Sattler
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what about taro? (elephant ears) they like partial shade and slightly acidic soil ( I think another post of yours was taking about lessening the acidity of the soil? maybe that was someone else) they also like partial shade and I have had much success growing them next to foundations.  I found them hardier than is typically mentioned, but being next to any substantial structure offers some protection. and if not you just have to dig them up in the winter.
 
Susan Monroe
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Goumi (Eleagnus multiflora) can grow in partial shade, and it is a nitrogen-fixing plant as well.

Cranberries can take partial shade, too.

As to the dripline, you should already know exactly where that is, and don't plant anything right there, as it will be beat to death with rain.

Sue
 
Steve Nicolini
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So Goumi, cranberry, northern kiwi, raspberry, taro, black locust, and northern pecan.  I have some research to do! 

How far from the dripline should I plant?  Does it depend on the species?
 
Leah Sattler
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Some will handle it more than others. put a couple of good flat rocks exactly where the water hits the ground to protect roots from eroding out. the foliage on the elepant ears I had reached into the drip line and they did fine, they are pretty sturdy. i don't know if the foliage would get stripped form the goumi or the raspberry, I have tried to grow rasberry in part sun and had dismal results. the taro likes part sun and doesn't just tolerate it. at least in my part of the country. I woudl think the black locust and pecan would not be good choices for near a structure. unless I am mistaken those are large trees aren't they?  by the time they started producing they would huge. I wonder how hazel nuts would do in that situation?
 
Steve Nicolini
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I thought about that too.  The big trees near the trailer.  How big does Pecan get to be?  The Locusts can get big.  THere is another question.  How do you regulate how large a tree grows?  Will simple pruning do the trick? 

We don't get a lot of wind here, and locust is pretty sturdy.  I doubt it would fall, but it might not be worth chancing it. 
 
Susan Monroe
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Pecans get to be 70-100 ft tall, black locust, 40-60 ft.  And black locusts produce suckers, too.  ("Honey, what is this tree growing through the floor?"

Some trees have root systems that can severely affect water and sewer lines.

Hazelnuts (I have two) are more multi-trunked shrubby-looking things, and spread at least as wide as they are tall (about 15 ft).  The outside trunks of mine are almost at 45-degree angles.

Do you think you could install a sturdy trellis and espalier something?

Regulating the size of a tree ranges between tricky and impossible.  Reduce prospective problems by going with the mature size of the tree as it grows naturally.  Trees that are dwarfed by grafting to certain rootstocks, and miniature trees could be an option.

I am the victim of some well-intentioned fool.  The original owners here (30 yrs ago) planted a row of Douglas Fir (the second-tallest conifer known -- to 400 ft) just inside my property line, about 15 ft from my house, on the windward side.  But they planted them about 3 feet apart.  When they got  about 30 ft tall, they had them topped.  Tree topping of any tree indicates the tree owner and the person who topped it are utter morons.

See this article on tree-topping on why it's such a stupid thing to do:
http://dnr.state.il.us/conservation/forestry/Urban/Treetopping.htm

I had an estimate on taking them out, and it's in the $thousands.

Plan ahead.

By the way, mention to your landlord that a home without gutters often acquires a badly damaged foundation (even a mobile) that can be incredibly expensive to repair.  Gutters are far cheaper and easier.  (Why You Need Gutters: http://www.superiorgutters.biz/why-gutters.html)

Sue


 
Steve Nicolini
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I might be able to install a trellis.  I have this picture in my head of hazelnut trees shooting out from the side of the house. 

I love black locust so much I might not mind having it grow in the living room.  My landlord on the other hand...

Okay, scratch the locust and pecan.  What other plants could join this guild?

Does anyone have any beds butted up against the house?  Would a greenhouse on each side be a better choice?

 
Susan Monroe
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Moisture is the big problem when planting next to a house.  Moisture working under a house can damage the foundation, and an attached greenhouse (if you're not careful) can cause rot in the walls.

I am considering a very simple plastic lean-to greenhouse on the east side of my house, the side that gets the most sun in winter.  At first, I was thinking of getting some of that plastic that is designed to cover windows (to create a dead-air space), staple it to a 2x2" wooden frame, and tilt it against the house (mobile), tucking the top edge under the bottom edge of a siding panel and pounding a few stakes in the soil to pin the panels down.  Then I thought about the moisture problem, and now wonder if I had a similar piece of plastic stapled to the top edge and just hanging down along the house, if that would reduce moisture attacks.

Still thinking...

Sue
 
Steve Nicolini
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I think it would reduce the moisture attacks.  Could you staple that plastic to the sides of the frame as well?  It might cut off all moisture to the house. 

I didn't even think about the moisture on the wall.  Thanks Sue.
 
Susan Monroe
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Well, that could be a possibility, but I was thinking along the lines of extremely simple and cheap, and just using gravity  .  If I had to use a back frame, I don't think that I would be able to tuck it under that little 1/2" (or less) edge to keep it semi-anchored.  I was anticipating letting the back sheet hang down and onto the soil, and flipping the last foot or so inward and putting regular red bricks on it to keep it from flapping.

Still thinking....

Sue
 
Steve Nicolini
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Is the outside of your house weatherproofed? 

A bunch of bricks might be good.  I think if you still want it portable, it might be nice to have one solid weight at the bottom.  A nice piece of wood perhaps?
 
Susan Monroe
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"Weatherproofing" on a mobile home is a always a question.  I don't think there's anything more cheaply made, from the lowest quality materials than a mobile home.

A long piece of 2x4 might do as well as the bricks.

I was thinking of black plastic hanging down the back, and clear plastic stapled to the frames.

Maybe even some black containers (garbage cans?) filled with water and painted black to ameliorate the temperature.  Come to think of it, a water-filled garbage can placed on the black back plastic would eliminate the need for the bricks or 2x4...

Still thinking...

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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I've read that black locust usually doesn't sucker unless its roots are disturbed.  So planting it next to a trailer house should be fine. 

My obnoxious advice to anybody about greenhouses:  don't do it unless you have a spot that can get 80% direct sun in december.  So the east side or west side of a house is definitely out.  The north side is always out (and yes, I have seen people do this).

And if the south side gets only 20% direct sun due to conifers, and you aren't willing to drop the conifers, I strongly recommend that you let the idea of a greenhouse go - it just won't be worth the effort.

Think about it this way:  One of the primary functions of a greenhouse is to grow stuff during the winter.  Kinda hard around here already with all the clouds and rain.    Then, you add a layer of glass or plastic or whatever, and that cuts another 10% to 60%.    And then you put us way up north, and the days get mighty short.    And then you try to put it on the east side of a house where there are already some conifer trees and the like, so on the sunniest day you are getting only 30% of the possible direct sun. 

On top of all that, greenhouses have their challenges.  They are like a fungus incubator (which includes molds and mildews).  A lot of fungus can be thwarted with high temps and direct sun, but you sorta don't have that. 

And finally (yes, my last bit of obnoxious-ness in this post):  If you have a good sunny spot, I strong recommend that before you start anything, take a good long look at Oehler's book on greenhouses.  That is a radically different way that strikes me as far smarter and cheaper than other techniques.



 
Susan Monroe
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Black locusts sucker freely even if their roots aren't disturbed.  A friend bought five acres of cow pasture that had never been disturbed.  It has scattered locusts all over it, the predominant tree.  When she has dug some of the smaller ones, they were always attached to another tree.

Oehler's book is good if you can provide earthmoving equipment, and have room to maneuver such equipment.

I was thinking of using this temporary greenhouse for winter greens, which take less light than fruiting or flowering plants.

And it might not work.  But it's cheap enough to play around with. Yes, it will get marginal sunlight, and the plants may grow more slowly, but I won't know until try.  And if it doesn't work.... well, I've spent a lifetime of making experimental mistakes, and also had some surprising results.

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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Assuming that black locusts sucker like crazy ....  planting a black locust next to a trailer should still be okay ...  As the roots spread, they are going to prefer moisture and nutrients.  Under the trailer is dead, dry dirt.  So the roots are not going to be keen on going under there. 

Oehler's book goes into a lot of detail about digging holes manually.  In fact, it sounds like Oehler himself dug the holes for all of his own structures by hand.
 
Steve Nicolini
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By shovel. 

It just takes some healthy young men, like myself, to dig out your trench.  Maybe I'll even dig with no shirt.  HAHA, just kidding.

This black locust thing.  I don't think we will know for sure until we try.  Plus, I kinda like the idea of a tree in the house .

Not much wind where I am, plus, if what Paul says is true, the roots will probably hold that beauty in place.
 
                                  
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The question of what to do with a trailer is one I've had as well, but I come at it a bit differently.  I've read that running ivy or other climbing vines up the walls can improve the insulation value in summer by up to 70% and prevent heat loss in winter by up to 30%. 

On a trailer you could probably grow them over the roof as well given sufficient time, and get some insulation value up there where it's most needed.  Putting up a green roof of moss or clover is probably not feasible given the added weight on the trailer frame.  But since many trailers now come with rubber roofs, maybe a double coating of that in addition to the vines might prevent more heat loss up there.

The main thing I'd wonder about with vines, though, would be any damage to the fiberglass or metal walls of the trailer (although they would shield the walls from any UV wave damage).  A long trellis for the vines, maybe a foot away from the walls might be the solution if one is needed.  This foot of distance would also trap air and therefore possibly add still further to the insulation value of the vines, while protecting the trailer walls from vine damage.  Getting fast growing, attractive, evergreen vines with a food yield and habitat value, and storm drainage value, would be a good way to stack functions. 

Mollison mentions somewhere that ivy on a wall will lengthen the life of brick walls considerably but is harmful to wood.  I don't think he says anything about fiberglass or metal on trailers, though.

I've also read about a new type of insulative exterior paint developed by NASA that takes ordinary paint up to an insulation value of R9.  It's a powder that you can add to your favorite paint or buy it premixed.  Whether it works or not, I don't know.
 
                          
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You could grow Burdock. If you aren't afraid to grow and eat a 'weed'. The young roots can be sliced and stir fried, or boiled like potatoes and are high in vitamins and nutrients. The plants get HUGE beautiful elephant ear style leaves, and LOVE shade and rain.

You can get seeds from an online supplier, or look for the 'burrs' and collect the seeds yourself.

I'll look for a picture I took of them in our field the other day for you.
 
Leah Sattler
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bruc33ef wrote:
I've also read about a new type of insulative exterior paint developed by NASA that takes ordinary paint up to an insulation value of R9.  It's a powder that you can add to your favorite paint or buy it premixed.  Whether it works or not, I don't know.



I would love to know more about that! do you have any links?
 
Brenda Groth
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In all the areas around my house I have planted mixed beds..a combination of dwarf trees, vines, climbing roses, tall med and short perennials..and shrubs.

on the south side I have peach and almond dwarf trees out about 8 to 10 feet, lilacs, smoke bush, spirea, hollyhocks, cl roses, hibiscus, clematis, woodbine vines over wooden trellis, daylilies, hostas in the shade of the climbing roses and lilacs, sib and bearded iris, regular roses, coreopsis, rudbeckia, peonies, columbines, lychnis, sweet williams, anthemis, sedum, poppies, lady's mantle, pinks, monarda, russian sage, etc etc etc.

on the east end is mostly pear trees, daylillies, forsythia cause it is protected, iris and sib iris, daisies, popppies, hollyhocks, rudbeckia, and comfrey with a few strazzberries. and other things..

on the west is crab apple, privit, lilacs, clematis, daylillies, iris, sib iris, popppies, cr thyme and marjoram, vinca, (steep slope), hostas, etc..and in the rear it is mostly shade so there are filipendula, aruncus, hosta, ferns, violets, ligularia, cl rose, clematis, lilacs, spirea, barberry, mock orange, honeysuckle, foxgloves, jacobs ladder, monkshood, vinca, lady's mantle, etc..

this is all within the 10 feet around the house on all 4 sides..i have gardens that go out about 150 in front and about 250 feet in back..as well..but this is just around the house
 
                                  
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Leah Sattler wrote:
I would love to know more about that! do you have any links?


Sure, here are two that I had bookmarked:

http://www.railway-technology.com/contractors/paints/coolshield/
http://www.hytechsales.com/

Vajk wrote:
You could grow Burdock. If you aren't afraid to grow and eat a 'weed'. The young roots can be sliced and stir fried, or boiled like potatoes and are high in vitamins and nutrients. .


I hadn't thought of that one.  I was thinking more in terms of a true climber or creeper, and something fruity like grapes, maybe, but it's worth considering.

Brenda Groth wrote:
In all the areas around my house I have planted mixed beds..a combination of dwarf trees, vines, climbing roses, tall med and short perennials..and shrubs....
this is all within the 10 feet around the house on all 4 sides..i have gardens that go out about 150 in front and about 250 feet in back..as well..but this is just around the house


With all that biomass, it sounds like you ought to be able to heat your house with just your warm breath! 


 
Brenda Groth
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my own warm breath and 40 cord of firewood last year..we have a wood boiler hooked up to 3 buildings including our son's house and huge pole barn..so we heat it all with wood
 
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