W: Plant a large garden O: time, money and energy

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W: Plant a large garden O: time, money and energy

Postby Sandysmith » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:35 am

I have a large corner lot with a 20 -30 feet by 40 -50 feet space currently covered with dirt and weeds. I would love to convert it to a vegetable and flower garden. I am a painter and would like to journal and paint the plants through the season. I live alone and would like to grow enough vegetables to share with neighbors and family, and either sell or give away the excess. I also would like to teach painting classes in my garden.
Obstacles: the money required for preparing the soil, getting the plants and paying for the water. My water bill last summer was $123 a month without watering that space. I also have a lot of wild rabbits and currently no fence around the area. I live in Colorado and it can be very hot in the summer and I would have to do any work in the garden either early in the morning or evenings. That is also my prime walking and painting time.
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Re: W: Plant a large garden O: time, money and energy

Postby Jaime » Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:27 pm

You could start small and build the garden up over the years, so it's not so much investment all at once.

Or you could look for help. Is there an apartment complex near you, or a university with dorms? Maybe you could put up a flier asking if there are any frustrated gardeners living in places where they can't garden. You could split the veggies with them as payment for their work.

You might be able to help with the water bill by collecting rainwater and using it to water the garden. You get a barrel and put it under your gutter, as I understand (haven't done this myself). The site isn't letting me post a link, but you can do a search on rain water collection barrels if you are interested...
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Re: W: Plant a large garden O: time, money and energy

Postby Elaine Glimme » Thu Oct 25, 2012 6:58 pm

Do you know how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. That's how I tackled my front yard - much smaller than what you're describing, but I did it clearing off a small area at a time. And most of my front garden doesn't require much work to maintain it.

I love your wish, and I hope you get it. My friend Clyde collects rain water. He has about six barrels and he catches it off of the gutters. Also, you can recycle grey water - probably more for plants than for vegetables. Grey water is water from your clothes dryer. Read about it on the internet. You have to use detergents that won't harm your plants. And i don't know if Colorado has any permitting requirements for doing that.

Of course the obvious is to use mulch, drip irrigation, and any other water-saving practices you can come across. Also, use drought-tolerant plants where possible - not counting the vegetables. Do you have garden clubs in your area for ideas and encouragement?

I don't know what to do about the rabbits. I'm thinking a small portable fence that expands as you plant more and more of your garden.

Maybe you could sell some of your vegetables at a flea market or make a deal with your local grocery store to carry some of your produce. To help pay the cost of your water, etc. no one said gardening was cheap. Maybe some of the neighbors you were planning on giving the vegetables to could help with some of the work. In our area, gardening is a bonding thing. Neighbors get to be friends lending rototillers and helping with the planting and big chores. I love home grown vegetables. If I lived in Colorado, I'd help you plant and weed.
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Re: W: Plant a large garden O: time, money and energy

Postby Elaine Glimme » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:33 pm

See the wishes and obstacles post concerning permaculture. There might be some ideas there for you.
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Re: W: Plant a large garden O: time, money and energy

Postby nordlicht » Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:48 am

Particularly vegetables cause, as far as I know, a lot of work. You could also look for plants that really fit with the climate and soil you have, and plant them. They will even spread by themselves and bring a note of wilderness to your garden - and might look much more beautiful (for painting) than an "ordered garden" with rows, etc. And you would have to invest less for preparing the soil, water and fertilizer and ...
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Re: W: Plant a large garden O: time, money and energy

Postby Conrad » Mon Nov 12, 2012 4:51 pm

Sandysmith wrote: I would love to convert it to a vegetable and flower garden. I am a painter and would like to journal and paint the plants through the season. I live alone and would like to grow enough vegetables to share with neighbors and family, and either sell or give away the excess. I also would like to teach painting classes in my garden.

Elaborate on this more. How about painting the garden the way you see it. Paint the flowers and veggies the way you see them. How will these people feel when they taste your wonderful veggies? Your art is your passion. How can you get that same feeling from the garden as you do form painting?

Money: Do you plan out a monthly budget each month?

Time: It may seem like you have no time on a daily basis, but it's amazing what you can accomplish in the long run.

options: Decided not to do it.
Have a friend help you out.
Plan out a weekly schedule and build momentum. There are no failures, only results.
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Re: W: Plant a large garden O: time, money and energy

Postby tui » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:22 am

Suggest you check out http://www.gardenweb.com and look at the forum for the Rockies. I know they have useful events such as plant swaps and there is plenty of very useful info for gardeners in the challenges of Colorado (height asl, four seasons in a day weather, and the challenges of keeping the yard watered - or not.)

If you are planning to host classes perhaps getting that area set up first would help the garden settle into place around it with vital matters such as wide-enough paths, that can be used 4-season if necessary, set in place.

See if you can source free or near-free mulch to keep the weeds down, the moisture in, and the workload at a friendly level.

Just as in painting - get the bones in first - the shrubs, any trees (almonds can be gorgeous and edible) and any hard architecture - arches, pavilions or gazebos. You can wander the space with a sketchbook in hand (and a means of accurately measuring) and imagine what you would like to have as well as how it might look in five years. Think about the styles you admire - that reflect the ways you are - and try them out on paper first. (Cheaper...)

Gardening for food is very much about planning and preparing months ahead. If you want plenty to conserve and share then the cheapest way to do so is by seed raising. And you certainly won't have enough room on the south facing window sills to raise the quantities required. Think about spaces in or by your house you could adapt for seed raising. You could haunt your local Freecycle for old windows, or the ingredients for a poly-tunnel. (Or, shhh, go dumpster diving :shock: )

Always quarantine gift plants. Always. It's too easy to import weeds and pests - even from garden centres, and I'm sure you'd rather be painting or teaching than battling some pesky outbreak.

If you don't already have a favourite brand - do your best to find gardening gloves that fit comfortably. Nitrile coated are pretty good though they don't keep thorns out. They make nail-cleaning much quicker. If they aren't comfortable you can end up with ache-y hands after a day's fine weeding.

Two sources that might be helpful are videos on youtube for Sepp Holzer and John Jeavons's grow more system, which seems related to the square-foot gardening system. You might also want to check out lasagne gardening if you know the neighbours are tolerant of 'different'.

And - start small. Get to know the soil and site. Experiment and play. You can always break in a bit more as you go. (You'll know you're a lost cause when you start converting every single path into a resting place for containers and pretties. :lol: ) If it ever gets to be a hideous chore - cover the excess with mulch and enjoy freedom again.

Go well.
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Re: W: Plant a large garden O: time, money and energy

Postby DoYourDream » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:25 pm

Someone who attends Idea Parties regularly had a huge back yard and just didn't want it to go to waste. So she created a "community garden' people in her neighbourhood were invited to come and plant something and take care of it. She didn't have to do anything yet has a beautiful garden to look out at, receives a ton of free fresh veges and flowers - all because she "gave" first without wanting anything in return.
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Re: W: Plant a large garden O: time, money and energy

Postby Wolf Goddess » Wed Dec 18, 2013 1:26 pm

I was going to suggest making it into a community garden or a co-op but someone already posted the idea.

You could pitch the idea to the whole community or limit it to a school, a college or a senior or disabled center.

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Re: W: Plant a large garden O: time, money and energy

Postby heater » Sat Dec 21, 2013 8:49 am

The dream is a great one.

The suggestions regarding a community garden are ones I really cheer! If you want inspiration, go to TED because their are inspirational stories of what people have done. Are you willing to consider multiple locations and a broadened dream? If yes, consider creating a community (public space) gardening movement. This might get you half way to your dream and it might give you need contacts to help with the other part of the dream.
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Re: W: Plant a large garden O: time, money and energy

Postby wanttowin » Mon Jun 30, 2014 12:58 am

WWOOFusa (willing workers on organic farms) is great to get help with your garden! It costs 5 bucks to register on their website for a year. And you post info about whatyou need and what you are willing to exchange for help (typically room and board to lovely people who are traveling the world wanting to learn more about organic farming)

to save money on water.... If you take baths, you can bring out a bucket or two of your used bath water for your garden. Or I've heard of a family that keeps a bucket in their shower to catch water while they are showering, and using that for watering plants. There is also hooking up the outflow of your dishwasher and/or washing machine to a hose that leads to a container or to outside, so you can water your plants with that. Just works better if you use plant friendly soaps.
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