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Advisor

"Gardening for a Lifetime."

Like I said, order one book on retirement planning on amazon, and they will assault you with recommendations for a ton of "elder" titles.  A lot of them have been things I would rather not deal with yet, but the one above did catch my eye. 

It arrived via snail mail today. We are so remote now, with fuel so high, UPS rarely comes this far.  They drop our packages at the post office for the last leg of the trip to the farm.  I was late getting home from my lab practical this afternoon, so have had little time to get into it yet, but the first chapter looks very promising. 

Maybe it's having been so sick and thus short on energy this winter, and maybe it's all the things that have been let go in the yard with school so time-consuming the past fifteen months...I just do not see myself getting it all together in our landscape this year.  I am hoping this book will guide me in getting realistic about it all. 

A friend e-mailed me the other day that he had driven to Chapel Hill to replace his grandmother's roses, which he had let fall into disrepair.  I am just not feeling it that much anymore. 

I want to get the surroundings of the house into some state that may be more manageable, as we get less agile.  As you look at your yard ( I know, some of you are still uinder snow!), what is the thing, habit or standard,  that you would say will be the first to go? 

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Senior Contributor

Re: "Gardening for a Lifetime."

I went out a couple days ago & pruned raspberry bushes which should have been done last fall.

I was sick with bronchitis then so-.  Also pruned peach tree & drug DH out to look at the overgrown pear trees.  They were advertised as dwarf but are a far cry from dwarf.  They're not my favorite so I let their care up to DS & DH.  In other words, no care.  They need to come down.  Hopefully DS#1 will want the wood.

We have some very, very old honeysuckle bushes which are like hedges.  At some point there must have been a row of them but they have so much dead wood in them now.  They at least need to be chopped down in size.  And one is completely past it's prime; needs to go.  Then the bridal wreath bushes also need trimming down.  If it was up to me they'd be completely pulled out too.  They need trimming all the time and I have to admit DH does a much better job than I do other than I do do it. 

One time I went to a gardening forum where an expert on antique/old plants spoke.  He of course advocated saving all these old plants & bushes.  Treasures.  He probably has an army of helpers.  I look at all these old bushes & see LABOR. 

I made way too many flower beds & now a lot of the perennials need splitting, etc.  More work than I feel up to.  Hopefully I'll get more in the mood when the sun warms us.  It was cold & rainy today.  Not good for anything but snuggling with a good book.  (well, I guess I could have cleaned!)  I really need to prioritize & focus on my favorites.  I simply don't have the time & energy to do it all.

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Advisor

Re: "Gardening for a Lifetime."

Gray and rainy here today, too.  Seems those are what turns up when I have a whole day at home, and it's pretty and sunny when I have class and/or lab smack in the middle of the day. 

Pruning will get done late here this year, too.  I am sure the stuff I whack at will look rough all year long, but it's got to get controlled a lot better, ir it is going to take over!

Perennials are a lot of work...if you can imagine, this lady had several beds, and one of them was 100 feet by 15-20...YIKES!  Of course,the whole introduction was about all the hired help she had ketp on board for 25 years.  When it hit her - that she could not afford this luxury anymore - she realized that the helpers had made her own involvement more of an illusion than a reality. 

Maybe your pear trees were semi-dwarf, or were mislabelled..that happens.  I can understand the "expert" advice to save what you can.  It is impossible to replace a mature specimen with a newer one and get anywhere near the same effect, but overgrown shrubs are hard to lovie, aren't they?

The main reason I hung onto the old varieties in the yard back home was that many were family pass-alongs, mostly from my grandmother.  Here, many of the things I planted were bought at a nursery where a friend and gardening mentor worked.  She taught me a lot, and was an excellent salewoman, too! 

 I find that anything she recommended did well here as a rule.  Any old plants that survived in this yard, with no one here to maintain them for forty years, are just meant to be here.  I have learned to embrace privet hedge, and prune it up as small trees...it does well that way.  I also look for the million grape hyacinths in back of the house, where the old barnyard used to be, as an early sign of spring. 

We have two beds - one planted a bit and one that really never took hold because of the thin soil there.- that need to be dismantled.  I am trying to get up the gumption to load all the boulders I used as edging, at least on the empty one.  The other one holds most of my pretty spring bulbs, and I know I don't have the energy to move all of them...maybe need to move the boulders and just mow it, after the daffodils fade.   

I think a lot of aging in place comfortably has almost as much to do with the yard as with the house itself.  I will have to do war with some wisteria to stay here, for sure.  I recently got a book on using natural materials like vines to make baskets, so maybe the prunings will not all go to compost this year. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: "Gardening for a Lifetime."

Same conditions here, although DH and his sprayer has already eliminated several of my favorite plants. I put out things in places I don't think he will bother but when he decides to spray, he sprays. He cut out the very old Bridal Wreath late last fall, I thought of it as a wind break on the NW side of the house. I have got to get rid of my beautiful iris bed, I just can't keep it weeded. We are having a terrible time with mulberry sprouts. That is a job waiting for us. It is snowing lightly here now and the river has flooded thousands and thousands of acres. A levy broke south of us, causing more problems there.  

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Advisor

Re: "Gardening for a Lifetime."

Sounds as though mulberry sprouts there are about like maple and pine ones here...thick as hairs on a dog's back some years in every bed where we don't mow.  I will let the ones that are not too close to the house or under a power line live, mostly, but the rest have to die. 

Sorry to hear about the flooding.  That makes for a late spring when the land is finally out from underneath. 

We do not let Mike choose where to spray here...that is my job, when it does get done.  The tank and wand on my golf cart make it a lot easier than using the backpack sprayer. 

I have a scheme for part fo the garden this year...usign the old trampolin eframe the kids outgrew, and that has a sort of dry-rotted fabric.  I'm planning to wrap it with a roll of wire, then fill it with leaves and compost soon, to rot for a few weeks.

Then, when it's warm enough, I want to plant my pumpkins and gourds in the middle, under the fabric, where they can grow unmolested by the lawnmower or feet and semi-shaded. The rest of the plan is to then put a ring of sunflowers around the outside ring, supported by the frame/springs, and let my cukes and squash climb the wire around them. 

I hope to start a few seeds indoors to get a headstart, but I need to get the compost going first.  Horse, then cart!

I think I am going to pull out my Ruth Stout's "Deep Mulch" video - have to take it to the little TV with VHS tape deck upstairs to view - and find the "Lasagna Gardening" book for inspiration.  The deer come to within maybe ten feet of the house and office, judging by tracks in the yard, now that my big yard dog Jack is gone. 

Mike says I can have all the lumber salvaged from the replacement of the pool deck, so I may get some new beds out of that, too. I need a DIY outdoor project to get me into the sunshine when it returns. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: "Gardening for a Lifetime."

Have been thinking about salvaging an old bin into a raised garden bed for a while. Would be nice not to feed the rabbits with our smaller vegetables. Whenever I want to start, something else takes higher priority, though. So it is still an idea in process.

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Advisor

Re: "Gardening for a Lifetime."

Coolest bin salvage idea I ever saw was an above-ground swimming pool made of bin rings, some reversed, to make a kidney-shaped pool.  It had a really neat architectural quality about it.  Corrugated galvanized metal is one of my favoirite materials, but I'd never thought of making a raised garden in a bin ring.  Neat one! 

If I had a bin to play with here, I'd want to make it into a residence, maybe a crafts retreat or guest house.  I've seen one in a book on unusual homes and it was awesome. 

How were you going to get into the ring?  I am thinking of building a stile (like in the rhyme, "There was a crooked man...") to get into my trampoline composter/planting bed.  I can hear Mike now...you want me to build a WHAT?

We've got enough stair stringers, from the pool steps that were torn down to re-do the deck, to make both sides of it easily.  I want to take some of the salvaged decking, and build a sitting area/deck in the garden, too.  Old pool chairs would make a neat place to crash and rest out there for a while. 

Need to think the whole thing through a bit better before we start.  Still not past our safe frost date, so time to spare right now.  Good luck with prioritizing  your project.  It sounds like a smart re-use idea. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: "Gardening for a Lifetime."

It is not a grain bin, but a feed bin about 6 ft in diameter. Have empty grain bins, but something else may have a higher priority for that space. Smiley Wink

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Veteran Contributor

Re: "Gardening for a Lifetime."

Let's call it the spring clean up...The DH always and I do mean always pushes the snow into some bad spots, pushes it up on to the grass and with snow comes rocks! so I always have to rake those sarn things out and not in just one spot but all over the farm here and there.

 

There is some rocks and plants on the north side of the house that I always need to clean out and blow the old remains away, I enjoy doing that...just not raking those d.. rocks out of the grass!!!

 

S.

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Honored Advisor

Re: "Gardening for a Lifetime."

Let's hope it's a bumper crop. 

The kids have re-purposed all of our old feed tanks from the VA farms.  IL hauled them here, and set some up at each horse barn, for bulk grain to hand- feed there.  Cuts their costs quite a bit, I am sure. 

Some friends use spent hog farm feed tanks for small ruminant housing...sections bolted in a half-circle, and laid down to form a shed for their goats. 

Nothing really goes to waste if you have a creative-enough mind, does it?

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