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Distance PDC course struggles  RSS feed

 
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Hi all

I've been doing an online PDC course and part of the assessment is to design a site. I've chosen a garden that's around 8m x 9m big and had to provide some concepts before the final design. I found this part really difficult as although I've read the theory, I'm finding it really hard to work out even rough planting locations based on the plants' needs, along with taking all the site factors into account.

Anyway, the feedback I've had is that the proposals are too complex with too many elements for someone to look after. The owner can dedicate about 7-8 hours per week in maintaining the garden (he's also a ornamental gardener by trade) so I've been told to take this more into account. However, I find it really hard to know how long general maintenance takes as I'm not an experienced gardener by any stretch of the imagination (two false starts in veg gardening)!

The designs have a small pond, an espalier fruit tree, a pergola with climbers, an dwarf fruit tree (with Russian comfrey underneath), 2 chickens, a compost heap, some ornamental beds, some herb beds, a wild "meadow patch" and some standard lawn. There is a small bed for salads and another for potatoes and beans. In terms of simplifying it, what do you think would take the most maintenance? I have no idea how much work a pond needs but I'm thinking that I'll need to scrap the chickens. Again, I know dwarf trees and espaliers are more time consuming than vigorous, but no idea of how much time needs to be dedicated.

On another note, I'm advised comfrey isn't good to plant under fruit trees when they're young - would I be better off with lavender, hyssop, nasturtiums, etc? And at what age can you start planting comfrey.

Thanks!
 
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Hi Louise, my very rough guess would be that two chickens would consume 20-30 minutes a day on average.  Much more to get going with a coop and predator security.  Two is a minimum and if one dies the other will need a replacement friend pretty quickly.  Three are about the same amount of work as two so I'd get an extra if possible.  But they would suck up about half of the allotted time for the customer.

Is the pond just a water feature?  Irrigation source?  Fish home?  Depending on the complexity it either would take zero time or a modest amount (once it's established).

I'm not sure about the comfrey under new fruit trees.  I hadn't heard that but that definitely doesn't mean is it's a concern.
 
Louise Watts
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Thanks Mike! That info alone about the chickens is really helpful as would substantially eat into the customer's weekly allotted time. They have quite a lot of existing ornamentals they'd like to keep so with the added elements, it's probably too much.

The pond is mainly for aesthetics, although I'd hoped any overflow could irrigate the fruit tree. I'd originally hoped it could attract more wildlife (it was positioned next to the salad bed), but the customer has 2 cats (plus the neighbourhood Tom that frequents the garden) so establishing a frog population would probably be nigh on impossible!
 
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Once built a garden can be really low maintenance- it is the building taking up time that I struggle with! My garden has similar features to this once (but is twice the size)- and I don't spend anywhere near that much time on it for most of the year (seed starting aside)

I keep 6 chickens and spend about 10 mins a day sorting out food and letting them in/out. Then another 20 mins once a fortnight to clean out the coop. I buy food/bedding once a year and it takes about 20 mins. So  i'm only averaging 12 minutes a day. I do spend longer than this just watching them.. but that isn't mandatory.

Ponds can be mega amounts of work (think ornamental koi ponds) or minimal (my small wildlife ponds- I drag foliage out of it once a year and it takes about half an hour)
 
Mike Jay
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I agree that gardens don't take that much time.  Ours is 60' by 120' and we probably spend 30 minutes a day on it most of the summer.  That includes watering by hand a fair bit.  Planting season requires a bit more time.  Getting it set up in the first place is much more work as Charli suggests.
 
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Louise Watts wrote:Hi all

I've been doing an online PDC course and part of the assessment is to design a site. I've chosen a garden that's around 8m x 9m big and had to provide some concepts before the final design. I found this part really difficult as although I've read the theory, I'm finding it really hard to work out even rough planting locations based on the plants' needs, along with taking all the site factors into account.

Anyway, the feedback I've had is that the proposals are too complex with too many elements for someone to look after. The owner can dedicate about 7-8 hours per week in maintaining the garden (he's also a ornamental gardener by trade) so I've been told to take this more into account. However, I find it really hard to know how long general maintenance takes as I'm not an experienced gardener by any stretch of the imagination (two false starts in veg gardening)!

The designs have a small pond, an espalier fruit tree, a pergola with climbers, an dwarf fruit tree (with Russian comfrey underneath), 2 chickens, a compost heap, some ornamental beds, some herb beds, a wild "meadow patch" and some standard lawn. There is a small bed for salads and another for potatoes and beans. In terms of simplifying it, what do you think would take the most maintenance? I have no idea how much work a pond needs but I'm thinking that I'll need to scrap the chickens. Again, I know dwarf trees and espaliers are more time consuming than vigorous, but no idea of how much time needs to be dedicated.

On another note, I'm advised comfrey isn't good to plant under fruit trees when they're young - would I be better off with lavender, hyssop, nasturtiums, etc? And at what age can you start planting comfrey.

Thanks!



If the pond has Koi in it, the maintenance will be about 2 hours per week or less.
Espalier will take about 2.5 hours per year for pruning then you have fruit harvesting, same will go for the dwarf fruit tree. These will do well with Lavender beneath them (comfrey is best at 5 years and older trees).
What kind of climbers on the pergola? some take twice a year pruning and others once a year.
Compost heaps with chickens take around 1 hour per week, the chickens will do the turning for you so all you do is additions and moisture content.
garden beds are about 1 hour per week
Lawn is about an hour per week (includes mowing time).

Hope that helps you out.
 
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