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My garden, backyard, and challenges

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetables' started by Waite, Feb 18, 2018.

  1. Waite

    Waite Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2018
    Messages:
    216
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    Planting Zone:
    6A
    Our neighborhood presents some specific challenges for gardening. The neighborhood is very old, and with old you get many mature trees. Our home was built in 1873. The neighbor to the West tells me his home predates ours by 25 years or so, while the home to the East is closer to 1900. Large Silver Maples, Pines, Spruce, Oaks, and just about anything else you can imagine grow around us. We have only one tree in the back of our yard, but we're encumbered by the neighbors'.

    Before we moved here I kept decent sized traditional gardens. The first home we rented had a nice spot about 30' x 40' that got a bit of sun. After that we bought our first home, and it had a very sunny yard. There was plenty enough room for a 40' x 50' garden with full sun. Work eventually brought us to our current home and due to the amount of shade I pretty much gave up on gardening. I'd do a couple of container tomatoes, maybe some peppers and even strawberries on and off, but nothing very serious. Over time I noted where the sun hit and when, and eventually got the bug again. Still, I don't have a lot of space. After some research on options, I narrowed it down to shady area and square foot. Shady area scared me, I didn't want to put all of my eggs in an unknown basket and end up with nothing. I finally decided on square foot, with a test area in the shady part.

    The first year consisted of two beds with a wide variety of vegetables. It did pretty well on some things, not so well on others. My peppers were almost a complete failure that first year, while we got so many tomatoes we had to can them. Cucumbers were poor, pole beans were good. I think most of this was me knowing what I know and trying to fit that into square foot. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. I did learn that the area consider shady actually gets a ton of sun up high. So, cooler weather plants like lettuce and spinach work well there, squash does not. Tomatoes do well if trellised.

    Last year I pad a tree guy to trim back every branch that hung over the property line. That was helpful, and while it didn't gain me much new space it improved direct sunlight where the beds are. This winter the power company came through and hacked the heck out of the back, and I can already see how much it's going to help.

    Because space is so limited I am very picky about what I plant. I won't plant cabbage for example, because one head is a square foot. That same square foot will produce dozens of the right tomato, 50-100 Brussels spouts, a bunch of squash, or pounds of beans. I am also done with bush beans. I planted 70+ bush beans last year twice, and got about 6-8 lbs. of beans. They took up 13 Sq. Ft. I planted 48 pole beans which took up about 8 Sq. Ft. and got over 16 lbs. Bother in the same space, and tended the same.

    If I try something and it doesn't work, I evaluate. Was it me? Did I put it in a bad spot or maybe not tend it properly? If I conclude something would produce under different conditions or in a different location, I'll try again. If not, then I dedicate that space to something else. Nothing gets more than two chances.

    Here's a sketch of my yard. You can't see the trees, but the area at the top get sun from about 10:00 a.m. to dark. The small bed at the bottom gets good sun too, but there's no room to expand. That may change this year since power company trimmed, I'll have to wait and see.

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  2. Waite

    Waite Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2018
    Messages:
    216
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    Planting Zone:
    6A
    When the power company came through they almost destroyed the spruce tree. They did destroy our DISH antenna, and through a series of events it cannot be replaced. Again due to the many large trees we're limited as to where we can put our dish. This has been an ongoing thing now for a couple of months, and without having to involve the Michigan Public Services Commission (yet), they've agreed to take the spruce down to ground level. Once they do (if they do), this is the plan:

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Waite

    Waite Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2018
    Messages:
    216
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    Planting Zone:
    6A
    Well the tree guy finally came on Thursday. They did a nice job in taking the stump down almost to flush. I'll break out the chain saw and get it a few inches lower, then apply some stump rot.

    In the meantime, we're heading to the nursery tomorrow to pick up trees. Things are still dormant but temps are warming quickly. I want to get them in the ground ASAP.

    One of the largest nurseries in the state is about an hour away. They have potted trees that have already begun to bear fruit last season. They offer 20% off with cash and carry. I can save $120 over bare root online with shipping.
     
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  4. Waite

    Waite Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2018
    Messages:
    216
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    Planting Zone:
    6A
    Picked up a 11/16" caliper Montmorency cherry, a 1-1/4" caliper Stella cherry, and a 1" caliper Stanley Plum. These were the largest they had of each, all are semi-dwarf. Got the yard laid out and will plant them this week.
     
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