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Slightly Ridiculous Gardening Questions

 
Posts: 64
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This is a thread for questions that we feel kind of ridiculous asking.  Everybody please join in!  I'll start.




Q:  What is "spring?"
When they say that it's best to plant this or that in the spring, what exactly do they mean?  Spring is a full 3 months long, and typical conditions on March 20 are very different than those on June 21.  I'm in central NJ on the border of zones 6 and 7.  My last frost date is supposed to be between May 11 and May 20.  Is it too late to plant a fig tree?  Does it matter that it's been way wetter and colder than usual?


Q:  What is "fall?"
Same as above but in reverse.  Last frost date is between Oct. 11 and Oct. 20.
 
gardener
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Spring: the point in which my cold tolerant seeds/seedlings hit a growth curve great enough to harvest.

Summer: the point in which my cold tolerant crops start to bolt and my cold intolerant seeds can be planted and quickly germinated.

Fall: the point in which it becomes uncomfortable to just hang out outside, but it's not too cold for plants to grow and live, though some have slowed growth curves.

Winter: the time in which plant growth is pretty well null.
 
Amit Enventres
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Fig trees are warm loving trees and can be planted any time it has enough time to establish a good root system. The root system establishment does depend on your soil. In short, fig tree planting ok.
 
master pollinator
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Our best fruit tree planting is the Fall or even Winter, but I have been planting Fig tree rooted cuttings this Spring. They are doing exceptionally well.



 
gardener
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Trees can be planted anytime. In winter its generally cheaper as you can get bare root trees vs more expensive potted trees.  Recent years it has been said that fall planting is best because the roots will keep growing and it will have better growth in spring as a result.

Anytime is fine as long as you keep it watered. I recently had to dig up established 3 year fruit trees due to some earthworks. Sometimes you don't have a choice.
 
Posts: 561
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It’s important to note that the ‘Four Season’ concept is simply part of inherited culture, which may apply to some areas but, in general, doesn’t apply in most. For example, our Aboriginals are correct in saying we have about (6) seasons rather than the typical European (4) – this has been somewhat validated by our National Bureau of Meteorology. Regardless, although our local climates are different, there’s still some duties that are performed universally each 'season':

Summer: in the tropics, this is where Satan goes for a holiday! Hot, steamy and generally uncomfortable 24/7, A large proportion of a gardeners times is spent trying to protect annuals from drying out and blowing away. No new plantings other than hardy ones or in purposely made microclimates. Although it is the traditional ‘wet season’, it depends on the local geography e.g. rain-shadow caused by mountain ranges, etc, so still need to ensure water is always available for plants and especially domestic animals and wildlife.

Best time to compost and relax in the shade with a few beers and a bucket of prawns!

Autumn: we don't have a lot of deciduous trees, so leaves don't 'fall' like elsewhere. Because the ground is still warm, and the weather now generally comfortable, it’s the best time to plant trees for a head start and maybe get bonus crops before Winter sets in.

After the hot and humid Summer, lots of time spent outside. For us it’s prime BBQ season.

Winter: variable weather patterns. For gardeners, important to note lower soil temperatures - nutrient availability for some plants. Best time to do maintenance work around the yard and clean out that BBQ - keep wood ashes for the potatoes and tomatoes.

Late Winter useful for propagation and growing seedlings.

Spring: much like Autumn but typically warmer days and warming nights. Hardening up seedlings ready for transplanting when the soil warms – watch out though, temperatures can escalate quickly.

Test fire that BBQ just in case!


For general interest, here's the (6) season calendars for our continent:

Indigenous Weather Knowledge


It would be interesting to know if your native peoples have similar calendars.

 
Elizabeth Geller
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Thanks, everybody.

F Agricola:   That's fascinating!  

Trying to think beyond the idea of having 4 seasons, I realized that New Jersey has 6 seasons as well

Depression Time: January thru early March.  The days are short and everything is dead.
Gloppy Time:  Mid March thru April.  Lots of rain and variable temperatures.
Happy Joy Time:  May thru late June.  Everything's blooming and the weather's fine!
Intensity Time:  Late June thru mid-September.  Hot and humid with thunderstorms.
Cozy Time:  Late September thru early November.  The people and plants are bedding down for the winter.
Cookie Time:  Late November thru December:  Weather? What weather?


New question:


Q: What is the best way to figure out if two peach trees bloom around the same time?
I would like a dwarf peach tree, but they say that the self-pollinating ones fruit better if there is another one around even if it's a different variety.  I'd like to get two varieties to extend the harvest, but they'd need to bloom around the same time. Is the period between bloom and fruit pretty much the same whether the variety is early or late?

 
Posts: 335
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I recognise only three seasons:
Rising, where things are generally growing.  Usually starts about January, when the birds start singing and thinking ahead.
Falling, when things start dying back and you smell that first whiff of senescence.  Usually starts around the first few days of September and runs through to shortest night, after which things start rising again.
And the "hanging days" of late summer when everything has done its thing and is just waiting.

When people say "it's the first day of spring today, you know" because that's what it says on their calendar, it makes me laugh.  
 
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Amit Enventres wrote:Spring: the point in which my cold tolerant seeds/seedlings hit a growth curve great enough to harvest.

Summer: the point in which my cold tolerant crops start to bolt and my cold intolerant seeds can be planted and quickly germinated.

Fall: the point in which it becomes uncomfortable to just hang out outside, but it's not too cold for plants to grow and live, though some have slowed growth curves.

Winter: the time in which plant growth is pretty well null.



I love that you keep track similarly to myself!

Early Spring: When the daffodils start to send their flowers up. There may still be snow, but winter is on it's way out. This signals the last chance for mulching presummer.

Late Spring: When the little blue bell flowers I grow turn the flowers into seed pods. This is normally out of frost danger, but still lots of rain for germinating seeds left in the season. I have to plant my in ground seeds asap.

Summer: when all the irises are blooming, and the tomatoes start to fruit vigorously.

Fall: when my squash gets powdery mildew, the heat lovers start to grow less vigorously, some leaves are starting to look less deep green.

Winter: I see my breath in the morning.
 
wayne fajkus
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Elizabeth Geller wrote:


Q: What is the best way to figure out if two peach trees bloom around the same time?
I would like a dwarf peach tree, but they say that the self-pollinating ones fruit better if there is another one around even if it's a different variety.  I'd like to get two varieties to extend the harvest, but they'd need to bloom around the same time. Is the period between bloom and fruit pretty much the same whether the variety is early or late?



Get the same stated chill hours between varieties for similar bloom times. I do the opposite though. I go for random variety of chill hours. That way if a late frost takes out the blooms(lost the crop) i still get a crop from the other varieties.
 
pollinator
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You should be fine to plant a fig tree now. I like to grow them in pots a few years, so I can bring them inside for the winter. The older they are, the more  winter cold they can stand.
 
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Amit Enventres wrote:Fig trees are warm loving trees and can be planted any time it has enough time to establish a good root system. The root system establishment does depend on your soil. In short, fig tree planting ok.



I just picked up a sapling last week doesn't seem to be doing the best, lost all but 1 leaf.=/
 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
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Losing the leaves is pretty normal. Just moving a potted fig to a location with different lighting can make them drop their leaves. If the remaining leaf doesn’t  look healthy, you might jut pull it off. Their should.be green buds where the leaves fell off..
 
Elizabeth Geller
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These next ones aren’t as ridiculous, but I figured I’d just add them to the exising thread.

1.  I am now the proud mama of 8 Miracle on the Hudson shrub roses that are still in their pots.  I’d like to plant them in the early fall, and so need to keep them relatively happy until then.  I have them lined up in a pretty sunny spot and I’m piling moist mulch around them to hopefully keep the roots cooler. Of course I wil keep them well-watered. The question:  should I give them any fertilizer?  Any other tips?

On hand fertilizer-wise  I have some blood meal, some Neptune’s Harvest hydrolyzed fish/kelp liquid, and some Jobe’s organic granulated all-purpose whatever whatever.  I’d be happy to get anything else if it would be useful, however.  (I don’t have well-finished compost yet.  Just moved in)

2. A couple of days ago, a “dog vomit” slime mold appeared on my mulch pile. What a fascinating organism!  I know it does no harm and can be helpful in breaking down wood chips.  Do you think it would be helpful to scoop up some of the spores and put them in my compost bins?  The sources I read said it feeds on bacteria, so thout sounds like it might not be helpful.  What do you think?

Note that I’m relying heavily on shredded paper for browns at the moment   Not sure if that makes a difference.

3. This one’s hypothetical, but I’m curious.  Say one were in possession of a green-and-yellow box full of bright turquoise powder with an NPK of 24-8-16.  If one’s compost pile really needed a dose of N, and one added some of this stuff, would there be any harm in having that extra P and K hanging around?

4. Sadly, I have a 5 pound bag of sugar that got wet. Given that I’m not going to be trying to salvage it, is there any  reason I shouldn’t just chuck it in the compost bin with a bunch of green weeds and such to balance it out?


 
master steward
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Elizabeth Geller wrote:These next ones aren’t as ridiculous, but I figured I’d just add them to the exising thread.

1.  I am now the proud mama of 8 Miracle on the Hudson shrub roses that are still in their pots.  I’d like to plant them in the early fall, and so need to keep them relatively happy until then.  I have them lined up in a pretty sunny spot and I’m piling moist mulch around them to hopefully keep the roots cooler. Of course I wil keep them well-watered. The question:  should I give them any fertilizer?  Any other tips?

On hand fertilizer-wise  I have some blood meal, some Neptune’s Harvest hydrolyzed fish/kelp liquid, and some Jobe’s organic granulated all-purpose whatever whatever.  I’d be happy to get anything else if it would be useful, however.  (I don’t have well-finished compost yet.  Just moved in)

2. A couple of days ago, a “dog vomit” slime mold appeared on my mulch pile. What a fascinating organism!  I know it does no harm and can be helpful in breaking down wood chips.  Do you think it would be helpful to scoop up some of the spores and put them in my compost bins?  The sources I read said it feeds on bacteria, so thout sounds like it might not be helpful.  What do you think?

Note that I’m relying heavily on shredded paper for browns at the moment   Not sure if that makes a difference.

3. This one’s hypothetical, but I’m curious.  Say one were in possession of a green-and-yellow box full of bright turquoise powder with an NPK of 24-8-16.  If one’s compost pile really needed a dose of N, and one added some of this stuff, would there be any harm in having that extra P and K hanging around?

4. Sadly, I have a 5 pound bag of sugar that got wet. Given that I’m not going to be trying to salvage it, is there any  reason I shouldn’t just chuck it in the compost bin with a bunch of green weeds and such to balance it out?




Hi Elizabeth, I'll offer some thoughts on a few of your questions.

1) if the rose bushes look good, just water them.

2) I don't know anything about the dog vomit fungi, sorry! :/

3) I advise against it, even in a compost pile. Those water soluble forms of NPK can really wreak havoc on microbes, and it's possible to end up with a compost that could burn plants. Good compost doesn't need it.

4) So microbes do indeed like sugars, and I use molasses to "feed' microbes, but I don't know much about using refined sugar. I will propose that it'll likely attract insects such as ants, and possibly critters. Raccoons, possum, dogs for example, like sweet things as much as people do
 
F Agricola
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I suggest:

  • 1.
  • since you intend to keep them in the pots until Autumn, do what a nursery would do – well watered and once a fortnight a drink of that fish/kelp liquid to maintain vigour. Since roses can be hungry buggers and do bloom better with a feed, a light sprinkling of blood meal (we call it blood & bone) once a month or so throughout the warm months will really make them flower.
  • 2.
  • No idea about that mould use. If it’s happy where it is, maybe leave it there?
  • 3.
  • NPK of 24-8-16 is a so-called ‘all round’ synthetic fertiliser. But, it is VERY concentrated so should be well diluted when using it. Since you’ve already got it, and it would be wasteful to throw it away, it could be used to fertilise most plants and lawn via a watering can. It won’t do anything useful in a compost bin. If the compost bin needs nitrogen, throw in more green stuff and a bit of manure.
  • 4.
  • Sugar – a carbohydrate – would feed microbes in the compost and the soil, so yep, sprinkle it throughout the compost bin. I’ve also read it can be diluted and used via a watering can around plants.

     
    F Agricola
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    F Agricola wrote:
    I suggest:

  • 1.
  • since you intend to keep them in the pots until Autumn, do what a nursery would do – well watered and once a fortnight a drink of that fish/kelp liquid to maintain vigour. Since roses can be hungry buggers and do bloom better with a feed, a light sprinkling of blood meal (we call it blood & bone) once a month or so throughout the warm months will really make them flower. (And help keep black-spot away)
  • 2.
  • No idea about that mould use. If it’s happy where it is, maybe leave it there?
  • 3.
  • NPK of 24-8-16 is a so-called ‘all round’ synthetic fertiliser. But, it is VERY concentrated so should be well diluted when using it. Since you already have it, and it would be wasteful to throw it away, it could be used to fertilise most plants and lawn via a watering can. Won’t do anything useful in a compost bin. If the compost bin needs nitrogen, throw in more green stuff and a bit of manure.
  • 4.
  • Sugar – a carbohydrate – would feed microbes in the compost and the soil, so yep, sprinkle it throughout the compost bin. I’ve also read it can be diluted and used via a watering can around plants.

     
    Elizabeth Geller
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    Thanks guys.

    By the way, #3 was really a hypothetical.  I was just curious about the mechanics if it.    I do have a small box of Miracle Gro on my shelf, but I have no intention of using it in my compost. I have some alfalfa cubes stashed away in case of emergency.  

    I purchased the Miracle Gro because I was experimenting with concrete staining.  It didn’t work.   I’m hanging on to it though.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll need a miracle one of these days.
     
    Ken W Wilson
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    I think the sugar might attract ants if your compost isn’t pretty hot.
     
    Hester Winterbourne
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    Given that you said you don't want to salvage the sugar, do you have a) hummingbirds or b) bees that you could put it out in a feeder for?
     
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    I am from South Florida.  We only had five seasons.  Baseball season, basketball season, football season, golf season and fishing season!  See why I moved up to Tennessee.
     
    Elizabeth Geller
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    Ken W Wilson wrote:I think the sugar might attract ants if your compost isn’t pretty hot.


    My compost is typically pretty lukewarm.  The big pile got up to 120 degrees after the last turn, so that was pretty nice.  It's only about a half-yard...I dream of the day that I can make the thermometer hit 160.

    Yes, friends, I have goals and dreams.  The problem is that they are not necessarily ones that you can share with the average person.  I mean, I'm in commercial real estate transactions and analysis...can you imagine if I were sitting in a job interview and was asked where I see myself in 5 years?  "I see myself with 160 degree compost and a really effective system of rain barrels!"  

    Hester Winterbourne wrote:Given that you said you don't want to salvage the sugar, do you have a) hummingbirds or b) bees that you could put it out in a feeder for?


    Now there's an idea!  Bird feeders and such are kind of low on my priority list at the moment, but I'll hang on to the jar of sugar for later.  I didn't want to try to salvage it for kitchen use because I go through white sugar so slowly that I'd be spending years trying to find uses for chunky sugar.

    Oh wait...you make the sugar into a simple syrup for hummingbirds, right?  And there are other uses for simple syrup...

    Hmmm...I happen to have the following on hand
    - Lumpy sugar for simple syrup
    - A pot of mint that is trying to take over the patio
    - A sealed bottle of rum that has been sitting in my cupboard since 2004
    - A SodaStream machine
    - Crystallized lime.  Perhaps not as good as an actual lime, but it will do the job.

    PERMACULTURE MOJITOS!  Awesome.

    Stefanie Chandler wrote:I am from South Florida.  We only had five seasons.  Baseball season, basketball season, football season, golf season and fishing season!  See why I moved up to Tennessee.

     
    I don't blame you.  I only ever experienced one "season" in South Florida myself - the Visiting Elderly Relatives season.  I've experienced this season repeatedly.  Jupiter is nice, but the less said about West Palm Beach the better.

    See, I'm a nice Jewish girl from Long Island.  Or rather born in Queens, raised on LI.  I used to think the standard human life cycle went something like this:

    Get born in Queens/Brooklyn/the Bronx --->  Move to Long Island ---> Get old ---> Move to South Florida ---> Die ---> Get shipped back up to Long Island to get buried at either Mount Ararat or Wellwood - Your choice.

    Fortunately, my mom has chosen the alternate route, in which the Upper East Side replaces South Florida.  Let's hope that it's a good long time before she hits Wellwood.
     
    gardener
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    Please don't put sugar out for the bees.
     
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    Where I live in California we have fiveish seasons which seems to have wandered all over the calendar recently....

    Winter.... rainy season... Good time to plant trees and grow cool weather crops like lettuce, peas and cole crops.  Use Reemay during frosty times which vary each year, this last winter we hardly had any frost.  Five winters ago we had citrus killing frosts.  Everything is green with grass.  A lot of citrus fruit ripen in winter.

    Spring .....rampant weed season, wildflowers blooming... Good time to plant a lot of other stuff.  We had a lot of rain through the spring... usually it stops around April, but we had big rain through June this year.  Just added to the weed load.  Best time for strawberries.

    summer.... Where I live it's foggy cool mornings and hot afternoons with lots of wind... Not good for planting anything because of aridity.  Rain is extremely rare here during the summer.   Or if you live in San Francisco, it's the coldest winter you ever had is summer in San Francisco (Mark Twain).  Rampant harvests of berries, stonefruit, corn, beans, tomatoes and tons of zuchini.  Time to do some summer pruning of fruit trees.  Grasslands go brown, wild mustard blooms.

    Indian Summer.... about three weeks in September where it's hot hot hot....   Or if you live in San Francisco, it's the two weeks in October where the temps rise to the 80's and there's no bone chilling fog.
    Fall.... can be lazy dreamy days.  Time to harvest apples and pears.
     
    gardener
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    Elizabeth Geller wrote:  Get shipped back up to Long Island to get buried at either Mount Ararat


    ROFL. You can literally go around the world escaping this but you never really get away (just went from my home down here in Bananaland to plant a relative in Mt Ararat last summer. Their trajectory started in LI and then went to the Bronx, then NJ, and eventually back to LI. Bless their hearts)

    That sugar... Not sure where you are right now but if you can get early plums, you can make plum liquor (umeshu) if they`re still hard. If you can get any kind of berries, mix them with whiskey to make sweet berry whiskey (like a sloe gin, but different). I`m also getting away from sugar but I do a lot of entertaining, these kinds of drinks are always appreciated and make good gifts.
     
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    Elizabeth Geller wrote:

    2. A couple of days ago, a “dog vomit” slime mold appeared on my mulch pile. What a fascinating organism!  I know it does no harm and can be helpful in breaking down wood chips.  Do you think it would be helpful to scoop up some of the spores and put them in my compost bins?  The sources I read said it feeds on bacteria, so thout sounds like it might not be helpful.  What do you think?

    3. This one’s hypothetical, but I’m curious.  Say one were in possession of a green-and-yellow box full of bright turquoise powder with an NPK of 24-8-16.  If one’s compost pile really needed a dose of N, and one added some of this stuff, would there be any harm in having that extra P and K hanging around?

    4. Sadly, I have a 5 pound bag of sugar that got wet. Given that I’m not going to be trying to salvage it, is there any  reason I shouldn’t just chuck it in the compost bin with a bunch of green weeds and such to balance it out?




    2.  They will only grow where they are happy.  So, why not try it.

    3.  The more I learn about chemical fertilizer, the more I think - leave it in the box.

    4.  Years (maybe a few decades) ago a gardening show was showing how to dilute apple juice to feed the microbes in the lawn to break down the thatch more naturally.  Basically it was the sugars in the juice feeding the microbes.  They were using 1 can of juice for 2000 or 3000 square feet.  So using a little sugar to feed your soil microbes should work, just use it sparingly.
     
    gardener
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    While it is true that the slime molds eat bacteria, this is true of all fungi to, so it isn't a thing for worries.
    I would take some of the slime mold and add it to the compost heap, you will be surprised at how much it actually helps plants.

    I have used MG on fresh straw bales to give them a jump start into decomposing, it works for that quite nicely (and the food coloring lets you know where you have treated the straw already).

    Sugar is not something to use for wild animals unless you are baiting them in to do them in.

    Simple syrup is a great use for sugar just not so great for bees unless you are in a deep winter and their hive doesn't have enough honey to get them through, in that one case it is acceptable to feed the bees but it needs to be pretty thick, just like honey.
    Several of my bee keeper buddies had to feed their bees three years ago (we had a freak hard freeze that lasted three weeks that year) and the feed we made up looked and flowed just like the honey the bees made. (I am a good watcher of work by others)
    That was when I decided to never rob my bees, so now they do their thing and my fruit trees and other plants get pollinated, the bees like that I don't bother them I think, I can go around the hive and never get stung. (which could kill me)

    Redhawk
     
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    I think Elizabeth's question has probably been answered, but if not, in a very barebones sense, there are two big categories of annual plants based on whether or not they'll die in a frost. Lots of common garden plants (including tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil, sweet potatoes, summer squash, winter squash, and cucumbers) will die if you get a frost, so you need to wait to plant them out until after the last frost of the spring (you can often transplant them to hurry them along), and you should try to get them all harvested before the first frost of the fall. These crops will generally refer to the frost on the seed packet and say something like "Transplant after all threat of frost has passed."

    The other big category is plants that will survive a mild frost, including lettuce, mustard greens, kale, chard, collards, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, beets, onions, turnips, rutabagas, peas, and potatoes. That doesn't mean you want to plant them outdoors in the middle of winter, but you can get away with planting them when the ground has thawed out in the spring and you're unlikely to see many nights below 25 F or so. Seed packets will often list this as "plant in spring as soon as the ground can be worked." If you're using a no-till garden system, you may not have to do any "working" at all, so just make sure the soil isn't frozen and is also not completely waterlogged - if you can turn it over with a shovel and the soil you dig up can't be wrung out like a dirty dishrag, you're fine.

    Here in southern Pennsylvania, I can generally plant my first outdoor crops between March 15 and April 15. It depends on the year - sometimes we have three feet of snow on the ground in early April, and sometimes it feels balmy and tropical in mid-March. I won't spend a lot of time planting if the 10-day forecast shows a lot of chilly nights and a high chance of snow, but I know that we're very unlikely to get a low in the teens by this point. Where the equivalent spot would be for you depends on your climate - in southern Virginia, you might have greens planted out by mid-February, but in Wisconsin the ground might still be frozen solid on April 1st.

    There are some more complex cases (for instance, you can harvest field corn in the depths of winter, but around here you can't plant till mid-May), but in general, when something says "plant in spring", it means "once you can turn over a shovelful of soil and not find it full of ice chunks or completely saturated with water, go ahead and plant it".
     
    pollinator
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    Interesting thread! There's no such thing as a 'stupid question'. But probably this thread will become too long and too diverse (even a little chaotic) with several different questions. Why not ask your questions all over Permies, each in their own thread somewhere in the forum, where it fits?

    About seasons: Officially we have four seasons here, but weather in the Netherlands is so unpredictable and ever-changing, I would say: we have 365 seasons each year, or even more!
     
    pollinator
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    Location: Yukon Territory, Canada. Zone 1a
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    OK my turn for a stupid question. By the way, my pat response when people ask me if they might ask a stupid question is; " Theres no such thing as a stupid question... only stupid people." The later half is usually muttered under my breath.

    If I run chickens over half my garden plot for a year, then plant in that half the next spring (rotating chicken/plant sides annually), will the soil be too 'hot' with nitrogen? Also: will I need any other amendments over and above the compost and bio-char that I currently use?
     
    gardener
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    Chris Sturgeon wrote:will the soil be too 'hot' with nitrogen? Also: will I need any other amendments over and above the compost and bio-char that I currently use?



    In my experience, no, it will not be too hot.  But I only have 8 chickens and they get moved around in the chicken tractor so they don't stay in any one place longer than 2 weeks or so.  They move through the orchard and scratch away at the wood chip mulch.  I would imagine that the more carbon you have on the ground in the form of mulch, the less of a concern excess nitrogen will be.

    How many birds are we talking about?  If you had 50 birds in a confined space, then, yes, all the N would be too hot.  But a standard 10 or 12?  You should be fine.  Plants like tomatoes or corn are nitrogen pigs.  Comfrey can't seem to get enough of it.  All that N will cycle through your system and will ultimately end up back in your compost pile.

    Joel Salatin tractors his broilers as well as his layers, and he's careful to not run them over the same piece of property more than twice a year.  His pens are 10 x 10 (if memory serves me correctly) and he puts 60 birds in them.  They get moved to fresh grass daily, leaving a checkerboard of squares across his pasture.  The grass very quickly returns after a few days, particularly if he gets rain.  I believe that he harvests the birds after 12 or 13 weeks, and when they're young, their nitrogen footprint would be minimal.  Layers, on the other hand, are big birds and they crap a lot.  You've got to keep moving them around, but again, I wouldn't get too worried about it if there is adequate carbon on the ground/bedding.

    As for your second question, additional amendments: well . . . depends.  Some people believe in remineralizing soil that has been abused and neglected.  I bought a bag of azomite and I throw a big handful into the wheelbarrow when I'm mixing my potting soil in the spring.  I haven't seen any appreciable difference, but it's been some time since I've done a soil test.  Maybe I should get one done and then do a compare and contrast with previous tests.  Turkeys are also a great way to re-mineralize soils because they eat so much gravel/grit, and it's constantly being ground down into rock dust, which they promptly poop all over.  So the grit that you put out for the birds to help with their digestion ultimately is a soil amendment.

    I'm a bit fan of mimicking nature as much as possible.  I mulch heavily, and assume that all that carbon will help with any soil deficiencies that may be there.  We put down at least 3 big truck loads of wood chips every year, scattered heavily through the food forest.  Since trees are the ultimate dynamic accumulators, my hunch is that the soil lacks nothing because we've been mulching with this stuff for almost 20 years.
     
    Chris Sturgeon
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    Thanks for your reply and your experienced based advice, Marco!

    I'll only be keeping about 6 laying hens, but the space is not huge, half of the 30'x30' garden (divided diagonally into a triangle), rotated each year. I'm located in the Yukon, so the ground is frozen for about 7 months of the year... I'll still let the girls out in the long Winter, but there won't be a lot of forage for them from freeze up in October until thaw in May. I plan on using feed, but supplementing heavily with scraps, restaurant waste, and what have you.

    Very interesting about gizzards being rock dust factories! I'll be sure to head over to the Alaska coast to gather shells and oysters.

    Mulch is funny up here. I deep mulched my raspberries with straw to keep the wild rose from taking over, and had very little grown in the berries. When I dug down to investigate, I found my soil was still frozen... In mid July! The sun must hit the 'soil' or it just keeps it's cool. I guess I could use black plastic... but just no.That's the fun of growing in different climates, mimicking the local nature sometimes causes a "duh! of course, why didn't I think about that" surprise
     
    Elizabeth Geller
    Posts: 64
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    Hey, I thought I responded to this thread...I must not have hit "submit."  Oops.

    Bryant RedHawk wrote:
    Sugar is not something to use for wild animals unless you are baiting them in to do them in.  



    Don't worry - unless a bee wants to share some of my permaculture mojitos, he's not getting any of my sugar.

    Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Why not ask your questions all over Permies, each in their own thread somewhere in the forum, where it fits?  


    This is more fun!  

    New question - do you think it would be feasible to use papercrete as fill for a berm?  I know that it's not supposed to be good for ground contact because it absorbs water and gets moldy, but I'm not sure if that would be a problem or not if it was deep inside a berm.


    I'm not concerned about it blocking water flow - it will go across the back of my property in order to slow down or stop the water from my back neighbor's yard from flooding my yard every time it rains.  Due to the configuration of the land, the backed up water would only affect the way back of his property - an area that he doesn't ever use or visit.

    My property is way too small to dig up my own soil to use for the berm, so I'll have to bring in materials to build it. The fact that I don't have a truck makes collecting materials a bit more of a challenge as well.

    Why papercrete instead of something else?  A. Because I have soooo much paper, much of which can't be recycled normally because it would need to be shredded for confidentiality reasons.  B. I like the idea of using what I have on hand.  C. It's cheap, and D. I'm just really intrigued by papercrete.

    There are other possibilities.  I could bring in lots and lots of dirt, but since I need about 40 feet of berm, that could get very very costly. I'll have to bring in lots of dirt anyway to cover over whatever I use for fill. Very cheap or free fill is preferred.

    I like the idea of using logs because I'd end up with something akin to a hugelkultur bed.  The problem is sourcing enough appropriately-sized logs in the 'burbs and moving them into place if they're really heavy.  It's possible a tree service would be willing to cut them to a manageable size if I'd be willing to accept them, but who knows.

    Another idea would be to fill it with concrete chunks or pavers.  Trying to scrounge concrete chunks is problematic for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes you can find free bricks or pavers on letgo or Craigslist, so that could be a good source.

    Of course, if papercrete is at all feasible, I could use it in conjunction with the above ideas.

    Yeah, I know this is a bit harebrained, but I have a streak of mad scientist in me.
     
    Bryant RedHawk
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    I like the idea of using what is on hand far more than going out and purchasing something for a specific need that other items would cover.

    If you are building a berm, one of the things you need to consider is the development of a water plume down hill from that berm. (ask me how I know)
    For the simple reason of my own experiences, I now build swales and berms so the water will slowly flow across the slope then find a shallow pond which gives it an exit to flow back in the opposite direction until it hits the bottom of the slope.
    I do have one part of our mountain that allows for that type of setup, the rest is going to have to be terraces with bottom seeps to help with water control.

    I don't see any reason, except for possible contamination of ground water, for not making use of papercrete as a foundation for a berm.

    Redhawk
     
    Elizabeth Geller
    Posts: 64
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    Bryant RedHawk wrote:
    If you are building a berm, one of the things you need to consider is the development of a water plume down hill from that berm. (ask me how I know)


    How do you know?  

    For the simple reason of my own experiences, I now build swales and berms so the water will slowly flow across the slope then find a shallow pond which gives it an exit to flow back in the opposite direction until it hits the bottom of the slope.


    The back corner of my yard IS the bottom of the slope!  It's the lowest point around and water will collect there no matter what.  I have no problem with that - it's a great opportunity to have some fun with water-loving plants.   I guess you could say that I'm just trying to keep my yard from turning into an insta-lake every time it rains.  When I say that 1/3 of my yard is under water, I mean literally under water.  If there is no more rain, it usually drains pretty well in a couple of days, so it's not like I can have a natural pond.  I'm thinking that if I slow down the water coming in from the other yards, I'll end up with more of a swamp and less of a lake.  

    (I'm cool with having a swamp. It's appropriate for the area.)

    I also have a lot of water that comes from two downspouts on one side of the house.  I'm probably going to  use a more traditional berm/swale arrangement to deal with that. The whole yard is about 35 x 50 feet, so I don't have a whole lot of room to work with.

    Thanks to you and everybody else for all the help!
     
    Elizabeth Geller
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    I have a definition of spring and fall!  I was just reviewing a landscaping site plan for a retail building that is also in zone 6b.  It says, "Acceptable seasonal plant installation dates for woody plant material:  Spring:  March 16 to June 15.  Fall:   September 15 to November 24."  Naturally, these dates are only part of the equation, but I was happy to find them.  

    Bryant RedHawk wrote:
    For the simple reason of my own experiences, I now build swales and berms so the water will slowly flow across the slope then find a shallow pond which gives it an exit to flow back in the opposite direction until it hits the bottom of the slope.

    Quoting you again here, because I realized that I can apply this to the berm I'm planning to build inside the yard that will slow down the water from the downspouts and route it to the lowest area in the back corner.  I wasn't happy with my plan before, but this bit of advice is the missing link to fixing the plan.  Thanks again!
     
    Elizabeth Geller
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    Great news!  My efforts to maintain good relations with my ex-husband have paid off yet again.  Guess who has a pile of partially rotted ex-firewood that he'd love to get rid of?  Picture below (I hope).  It will make some nifty fill for my berm.  I also found a pile of yard waste out by a curb on may way home that had a bunch of wood pieces cut to manageable sizes.  I was able to cut some of it into smaller sized firewood for my fire pit too.  Score!  I think I can assemble a mixture of materials to create my berm that will not require making a bunch of papercrete.  Early experiments suggest that the papercrete would probably be more time and bother than it's worth for this purpose.

    In other great news, I have a bunch of nifty-looking mushrooms that have colonized the edge of the flat stump in the wet part of my yard. Mushroom slurry ahoy!  And I have a few different shrooms in other places...and my dog vomit slime mold is back.  It's not quite as large or spectacular as before, but I'm looking forward to distributing it here and there.

    I'm very grateful to this community, not only for the good ideas and advice, but for also giving me a place where I can share my excitement about making mushroom milkshakes and things of that nature.
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    I didn't like the taste of tongue and it didn't like the taste of me. I will now try this tiny ad:
    holiday shopping for 2019
    https://permies.com/t/128446/holiday-shopping
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