Author: Terry Burns

Making a Yard

When we moved here there was very little yard, mostly weeds. When it was wet out the dogs would track mud in the house like crazy. Unfortunately some of the best grass on the place was located at the spot that was perfect for the garden. It was not in me to waste that much good grass so I transplanted it into areas where I needed it. For many months it was dig up weeds, dig up grass, transplant grass in new location one shovelful at a time where I dug the weed out. Areas were seeded as well with water poured on the seeds daily to keep the ground moist. It was back breaking work for most of a year but the seeded areas began to come up. The transplanted grass began to flourish and spread. There were some areas that resisted all efforts, however. I had a master gardener out for an hour consult and got some great tips on the garden and greenhouses. She also had a comment on the lawn. She said we had a high clay content and to fill in those problem areas we needed to actually dig them up and amend the soil. Yes, “amend the soil,” we needed to actually get some better soil in place. That gave me a problem. I didn’t want another winter of the dogs tracking in...

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Our outside garden

   Our first year here in the new location, we had a small garden at first where we grew squash, okra, zucchini and green beans. It was a nice start, but the following year we decided to try bale gardening. We prepared the plot of ground and designed it to hold five rows of nine bales. It was an area more than double the size of our starter garden. A farmer delivered 50 straw bales for $200 and we set them out in the rows and were off and running. We conditioned the bales with ammonium sulfate to start them “cooking” and while we waited several weeks for them to prepare we built the infrastructure around them. (picture on the left is pre-planting and on the right later in the season) We fenced it to keep our unwanted guests. (Our Brittany Spaniel helps with that task,) We drove six foot fence posts at both ends of the bales and in the center. We tied all the fence posts together with 2×4 headers and ran three wires to tie plants to. We used electric fence wire as the perfect size wire to use for this and many other tasks. We built a frame over the first row where tomatoes were to be planted and covered it with 40% shade cloth. We ran a PVC cross brace to keep the heads...

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Aquaponics – Hydroponics

Continuing the gardening blog: We had very little space before moving out where we are now and where we have a little more room for gardening. We started with a 6 x 10 pre-fab greenhouse which would fit the small area we had with a little room left over for a garden in the soil roughly the same size. It took quite a while to get the ph of the water balanced and the bacteria in the grow beds balanced where we could introduce the plants and the fish. I half-buried a 300 gallon water tank for the fish and built the grow beds out of 2×4 stock and plywood then lined them with very heavy pond liner. The grow beds are raised to waist level. You’ll see in all of my writing about our gardening that we are pretty big on raised gardening. At my age and with recurring back problems it makes it much easier on me. I put a window in the end of the greenhouse to get some cross ventilation and put insulation between the grow beds and the outside of the greenhouse from the top of the bed to the floor. We plumbed a PVC collar around both grow beds with small holes drilled every six inches and connected the PVC to a pump down in the bottom of the water tank. A hole...

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Moving the Greenhouse

   We do live in a manufactured home and moving it was an ordeal. We moved the house, a covered front porch, a large back deck, a pergola with a hot tub, a 16×24 shop . . . and a 6×10 aquaponic greenhouse. I had built the grow beds in the greenhouse where they were actually attached to the structure so separating it and moving it was quite a chore. A 300 gallon water tank was half-buried beneath it but where it would sit at the new location would actually be on an existing concrete slab exactly the right size to fit it. That meant the tank could not be buried. We made the move and solved the water tank problem by going from the single tank to two 100 gallon tanks under each grow bed. We went away from the fish at this point which means it converts from Aquaponic to Hydroponic. Aquaponic uses the fish to fertilize and Hydroponics relies on supplements being added to the water to feed what is planted. We have considered going with some small goldfish in both tanks and going Aquaponic again but have not done so at this point. As a byproduct of the move we also put new energy efficient windows in the house. We took the windows coming out and used them to make a larger greenhouse. They were...

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Mama’s roses

Our interest in gardening is centered very much on producing food for the table, but it is certainly not restricted to that. We have a lot of flowers in the yard as well. Many of them are in pots lining the yard, and these have now gone into the greenhouse for the winter. (With a freeze warning we cut what was left of the tomatoes and these are hanging in the greenhouse to ripen as well) But the driving force on the flowers is mama’s roses. Mama was in her 90’s, and one of the ways we enticed her to come live with us was replacing the roses she loved so much where she lived. We did it with a variety of brand new roses from Jackson-Perkins on the front and back of the house. Mother and I tended those roses for several years. After she passed at the age of 96 we were facing moving to a location with more space. As an extra precaution, we hired a professional landscaper to prune, dig up, move and plant those roses. We wanted to take no chances with mama’s roses. (Actually, to be truthful, I wanted someone else to blame if the roses didn’t live.) I have to admit it scared us to death as he cut them way back beyond what I would have done and when he planted...

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