Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

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Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  milo on Thu 28 Apr 2011, 8:41 pm

I'm new to this whole gardening thing. I bought a condo so as to avoid the gardening, but I bought one in a building that got swindled by it's property manager and the money for landscaping is now going to pay off the swindle.

For two summers now I've been doing the grass and all the landscaping in my urban backyard. It's inner-city, so it's pretty small, just 100 feet by 40. A lot of it is shrubs, which I have learned to manicure the past few years. This year I "illegally" ripped out a bunch of them and put in well manicured bushes instead. I've also planted a bunch of heather.

I have a lot of raised border for the patio, on which I have place a whole bunch of large planter boxes. I have two trees and several large lavender bushes. I have also planted a bunch of annuals to make it look pretty.

We have been growing seedlings for veggies and herbs and will move them outside when they are a bit stronger.

I've had very little luck with anything other then annuals though. This year I made sure the containers had drain holes (rains a lot here) and used proper planter soil. I have many little pots of plants and flowers as well, and I learned that for most planters you need to put a layer of something that allows the planter to drain. I didn't know that, so most of my boxes don't have this. I did start doing it, so all of my newer ones have Styrofoam broken up in bits on the bottom to allow drainage.

Do I need to redo all my baskets with proper drainage stuff in the bottom or will I be ok? Also, I have a fancy mini tree in a large pot, which does not have drainage material in the bottom either...does it make sense for me to repot that one as well?

I'm so clueless when it comes to these things. I definitely am not a green thumb, though I really am trying.
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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  Cluelesskitty on Fri 29 Apr 2011, 2:00 am

If your boxes are plastic and doesn't have a drainage holes on the bottom, then the roots may rot even if you have
a drainage stuff there - first gravel, then styro on the bottom,
because the water can't escape anyway and the roots' mid- and upper system still will be clogged.
Particularly if the boxes are out in the open space.
If they are wooden then I guess the water can escape thru all the cracks, so the good layer of drainage should do.

I would recommend to wait until the soil dries out a little to form a good tight ball, then remove it from the box,
then drill plenty of holes in the bottom with an electric drill.

I would say yes, re-pot all the smaller planters if they are all out in the rain,
make sure there are holes and a good layer of drainage at the bottom.
Make sure the drainage hole is not clogged.


Most pots usually have one hole at the bottom, though - cover this hole with rounded piece of broken ceramic pot or something like that, i.e. curved little rock, pr two or three pieces (one over another for added strength) of an old plastic pot, and you have much better drainage,
plus the soil won't leak out and clog the bottom.

Now, I don't know what kind of plants do you have, but some plants need more acidic some more alkaline soil.
That might be another reason why some plants fail to thrive in your planters - maybe you need to adjust the pH of the soil
by adding more lime or some mulch, depends what you need.

Also, in the containers the soil nutrients get used very quickly, so it always pay to invest into fertilizer
and fertilize regularly.
I use for the flowers a Rose or Tomato fertilizer, the cheap one from Walmart or Canadian Tire, all thru the season,
starting now.

(I do not recommended that for organic growers, though)

As for the tree - if it's fine, do not disturb it. The general rule is, if something is looking good, leave it alone.
Just remember to move it out of rain if the pot or box have no drainage holes or the roots will rot from too much water
no matter how much Styrofoam is on the bottom.

Oh, and last but not least - unless your planter boxes have some "legs", do not put them directly on the floor.
Put them on even shaped rocks or buy some ceramic supports for this purpose at any garden store.
Or, if you want to splurge, and which I love for large containers, invest into wire supports on coasters - then you can also move the pots easily around!

Risa



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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  Enigma on Fri 29 Apr 2011, 8:07 am

[quote="milo"] Also, I have a fancy mini tree in a large pot, which does not have drainage material in the bottom either...does it make sense for me to repot that one as well?

quote]

If you look underneath and roots are poking through the holes, or you poke your finger in, or on the sides on top and it is tight, then it is time to repot to a bigger size. There is no such thing as too much drainage. The soil you pick can have good drainage too. Standard bagged compost mix that you buy from the store is usually rich and ready with nutrients, but tends to be dense so if you have a plant (like cucumbers) that needs more air around the roots, you need to add sea soil.

The best thing to do is not treat each plant the same. Look up each individual plant on the internet and see what it's needs are. Then create a log book because you just can't remember all this stuff when you are new.

You can also try to find a soil testing kit to see what nutrients you plant may be lacking if it isn't doing well (amazon online).

Like Risa said, if its fine, don't disturb it. Some plants don't like to be fussed over or fertilized.

Going to a greenhouse and asking the senior people who work there to help you make choices is great. Tell them your conditions and your skill level and what you want your area to look like and they will set you up with success. After all, you are paying premium price for their expertise.

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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  milo on Fri 29 Apr 2011, 10:40 am

Wow, it sounds so complicated! So I can head to walmart this weekend and pick up some fertilizer. How often do I feed them? And do I need to feed shrubs and trees?

I'm worried sick right now because I know they are washing the building and the windows and I'm scared they are going to knock over some of my favorites. I suppose I should have moved them Sad

Also, where do I buy inexpensive stands?
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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  Enigma on Fri 29 Apr 2011, 2:53 pm

Flea markets, garage sales, second hand stores. Now is the season to pick these up on the weekend. Paint the up is you need to and they look awesome.

Local hardware and plant stores charge a fortune for what they are.
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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  Cluelesskitty on Fri 29 Apr 2011, 6:00 pm


Also, where do I buy inexpensive stands?

It's true, the cheapest way is to buy at the end of the season when everything is on sale,
the later the sale the cheaper it is.
I got mine wire coaster plant stands 75% off at London Drugs,
but the second hand stores and flea markets is a super idea, too!

I understand Milo how everything seem to be terribly complicated at first.
I was the same as you as a beginning gardener,
I thought I will never understand it but it only takes patience and practice. And time.
You can always check what kind of soil a plant needs online, and adjust pH easily
with either bit of lime or sand, or mulch.

About fertilizer- it is always written on the box, don't worry. Do pay attention to the instruction.

For this sized pots:


I usually would
~ for the biggest one sprinkle a good handful once a month on the top of the soil
~ for smaller once a pinch once a month- bigger pinch for the bigger pot, smaller for the smaller one.

In any way, always start fertilizing slowly, or you may burn the plant with too much fertilizer.
If you see it growing or blooming nicely with the amount you do, then you are 'doping' it just right.

Happy Gardening, Miss Greenthumbs!

Don't forget to visit Mandeville Garden store, now Garden Works off Marine Dr.

Risa
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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  milo on Fri 29 Apr 2011, 7:33 pm

Mandeville is SOOOOOOO expensive! But has so many cool things.

I'll go buy fertilizer tonight if my head lets up a bit. I'd love to see these cute flowers grow big and even prettier. The stands, well they may be another story, but I'll start looking. I'm kinda cheap. Sad
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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  Cluelesskitty on Fri 29 Apr 2011, 7:51 pm

It is expensive, I should have had add:
- "and just look around only", lololol

but these farms around the Mandeville are much cheaper.

Risa

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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  Angela on Sat 30 Apr 2011, 9:52 am

Oh God, not any of the Garden works or Manderville. WAY too expensive. Go just around the corner on the old Marine Way (1/4 block eat East) and there is Jennys and another privately owned one. You save maybe a third of the price. Also, Real Canadian Superstore is decent in pricing and they have it right outside the store front.

And right now the Cloverdale flea market has great deals and assortment. Go early but still TONS of stock if you go at 1:00. I have never been there at teh end of the day, but I wonder if they would give deals so they don't have to take it home. All kinds of different plants. I bet stands too, but I wasn't looking.

As for fertilizer, just get the brand name stuff that sells the best. You cant go wrong. If you want to go organic then the numbers are under 10. Chemical stuff is over 10.

Veggies need more fertilizer than flowers from what I understand so for flowers think once a month and just a pinch. That has worked for me. I'm still learning on that though.

HAPPY GARDENING. I love gardening cause travelling makes me ill.
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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  milo on Sat 30 Apr 2011, 10:15 am

Whooooohooooo....I bought some fert and today I will feed my babies. My head is STILL bad but the sun is out and I'm detemined not to waste this day.

Do any of you want to share pics of tour successes? I'll try to get some of mine today if I can.
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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  milo on Tue 10 May 2011, 7:03 pm

Ok all you greenthumbs...please give me your advice.

I have a cement wall on one side of my garden. It is very tall and can have something grow on it. It does get some sun, but not sun all day.

I was thinking I could put some sort of climber on it. Do I need to find a way to rig up netting or are there things that will climb the wall without a net? I love the clematis that you guys showed and would LOVE it if I could get something like that to grow.
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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  Cluelesskitty on Tue 10 May 2011, 10:18 pm

Clematis usually needs sun to flower, so I am afraid it is not the best choice for the mostly shady wall
unless at least the top gets a lot of sun. Otherwise it's a risk.
Some clematis varieties that you could try in shade are:
~ Nelly Moser
~ Blue Bird (early variety)
~ Silver Moon

but hey read here:
http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/clematis/msg0913492816854.html?21

there is some hope :]

For deep shade, I would go with Climbing Hydrangea H.anomala petiolaris, which self-attach:

http://www.baystateperennial.com/html/vines.html

there are varieties with a tad larger flowers, like Hydrangea anomala ‘Skyland Giant:

but supposedly not fragrant.

Next, what can do surprisingly well in shade but needs support is Japanese Honeysuckle,
or Common Honeysuckle.
But, be warned- if you are allergic, first check their scent at the store.
I am to mine, but oh, what a gorgeous scent!!!

Lonicera periclymenum -Common Honeysuckle


Lonicera Japonica Halliana- Japanese Honeysuckle



next,
sometimes under-appreciated for it doesn't have a showy flowers is a humble Ivy.
but if you get one with variegated leaves, you can have an astounding wall:

There is so many varietes of Ivy to choose from, it is really worth to consider this humble plant.

Last but not least I would consider is Parthenocissus vine
again, so many varieties to choose from,
added interest - leaves turning a palette of colors in fall.
some are blooming.


...........................................



Other names for Parthenocissus - Boston Ivy, Virginia Creeper, Woodbine.

http://www.suite101.com/content/best-climbing-plants-to-grow-in-shady-places-a172013

Risa

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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  milo on Sun 15 May 2011, 7:39 pm

I think I've become addicted. Are you considered addicted when you garden in the pouring rain and you really don't need to be out?

OK, just a little pic of one of the trees I am sooooo in love with...



I have been to so many garden farms. I now have no less then five trees growing in large pots and waaaaayyyy too many planter boxes. Yesterday I was doing some of the building's gardening and got to look at my garden from above and it looks AWESOME!!!!

For the cement wall I have bought a bunch of ivy. How many plants do you think I should plant? It is probably about 30 feet by 30. And does Ivy need something to grow on or will it climb the wall to get at the light?
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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  Cluelesskitty on Sun 15 May 2011, 7:56 pm

. Are you considered addicted when you garden in the pouring rain and you really don't need to be out?

Is that a rhetorical question ? Laughing


Gardening bug is extremely contagious and incurable, ain't it!, though, lolol

The pretty tree in the pot, judging by the leaves could be some kid of Hamamelis - a Witch Hazel?

And hmm does Ivy needs support? Generally, I don't think so, look carefully at the stems
and see if they have in places some sort of tiny "teeth" or "hair", but I think with a smooth cement wall maybe
indeed they will do better if you do provide some form of support, like a cheap wooden trellis nailed to the wall.

Ivy is slow growing but very expanding, so not that many - one for each corner, one in the middle
and perhaps one in between these, depending how much space you have.
Always ask for advice the salesperson in the store as some species may be more invasive than other.

Risa

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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  milo on Sun 15 May 2011, 8:56 pm

Is invasive good or bad?
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Re: Gardening tips for a newbie gardener

Post  Cluelesskitty on Sun 15 May 2011, 10:20 pm

It depends - if you want something grow quickly over a large area, then yes.
If it's a weed, then definitely not, lolol

Risa

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