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Landscape Plan for Wet Areas, What to grow!

Landscape Plan for Wet Areas

What to Grow in These Challenging Areas

Picture of sample landscape plan for wet areas.

 

Picture of sample landscape plan for wet areas. David Beaulieu

 If you have a soggy spot in the yard where nothing you plant does well, you may be tempted to give up and leave it unplanted. “I don’t want to go through the trouble of installing drainage or re-grading the site,” perhaps you’re saying to yourself. The good news is, you may not need to go to such lengths. But what you will need to do is develop a landscape plan specifically for wet areas.

I have presented a sample of such a landscape plan above. But if you observe wetlands in your own region, you can acquire enough ideas to develop your own landscape plan.

Some of these specimens you won’t find at just any nursery. But if you conduct an Internet search for “wildflower society” followed by the name of the region in which you live, you may find someone who specializes in the sale of native plants in your area.

In the sample landscape plan for wet areas presented above, the pond serves as a backdrop for three rows of plants. The planting is “layered”: i.e., the tallest plants reside in the back, the shortest in the front, and the mid-sized in between.

The wetland plants shown in the landscape plan are listed below, row by row:

Sample landscape plan was drawn with the landscaping software named, “Realtime Landscaping Pro.”

Vegetables That Require Wet Ground

Finding plants to grow in wet garden soil can be challenging since many common vegetables do not thrive in these conditions. If you are stuck with a wet garden and are committed to growing vegetables in it, try a not-so-common variety to regain control of that problematic spot.

Leafy Vegetables

For greens high in nutrients that also thrive in wet soil, try Tanier spinach (Xanthosoma brasiliense), Butterbur (Petasites japonicas) or Kang Kong (Lpomoea Aquatica). Tanier is a shade-tolerant herbaceous perennial that can be eaten raw, although it is usually boiled to remove the needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals. Butterbur thrives in moist to wet soil in shade or semi-shady conditions, and its leaf stalks are eaten as a vegetable. Kang Kong, also known as water spinach, has even more versatility. It thrives in sunny or shady locations with lots of moisture.

Sweet Roots

For a vegetable more along the lines of a carrot, try skirret (Sium sisarum). Although a minor crop in the United States, the plant is used widely in China and Japan. Skirret thrives in moist to wet soil in semi-shady areas. Once the sweet-tasting root is harvested, it is boiled, stewed or roasted. For best results, plant this hardy, cool season crop in the fall. Roots are usually harvested six to eight months later. Spring shoots are also edible.

Waterlogged Areas

For areas where water stands, consider taro (Colocasia esculenta). Taro, one of Hawaii’s main crops, thrives not only in wet soils but can even tolerate being waterlogged for weeks. Both the plant’s leaves and tubers can be eaten. Just like Tanier spinach, taro leaves should be boiled to remove the needle calcium oxalate crystals, and the roots can also be boiled like potatoes. Outer leaves of the plant are cut into strips, dried and used in soups.

Productive Vine

For a plant that is both visually interesting and an abundant food source, try groundnut (Apios Americana). The plant has been around for centuries and was part of the American Indian diet and even helped the Plymouth Pilgrims survive after they depleted their supply of corn. The climbing vine produces red, pink or purple blooms July through September. The tuber is as versatile as a potato — it can be fried, boiled or sautéed. The plant requires plenty of moisture and grows best in semi-shady area.

Garden Based Learning Activities

Boy wearing gardening gloves working with starter plants

Schools and community gardens are living classrooms with great potential for learning. In How to Grow a School Garden, Arden Buck-Sporer and Rachel Kathleen Pringle cite the following:

Numerous studies point to school gardens as a means of improving academic achievement, promoting healthy lifestyles, demonstrating the principles of stewardship, encouraging community and social development, and instilling a sense of place.

In addition, gardens are places where students can connect with global issues through the natural resources of earth, advance community development efforts through neighborhood beautification, and leave their green-print in our ecosystem. Gardens, and the people in the community near your garden, are an incredible asset to schools and out-of-school-time programs. Your garden doesn’t have to fit one model. In fact, there are many models that your school or organization can follow.

Below are practical, feasible ideas for you to begin growing these benefits in your community.

Academic Enrichment

A study from Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Learning Through the Garden, shows that gardens can function as living laboratories. Students who participate in gardening have a considerable increase in grade point average, utilize new learning styles, and develop their perspectives and ways of learning to incorporate critical 21st-century skills such as “curiosity, flexibility, open-mindedness, informed skepticism, creativity, and critical thinking.”
Growing plants

Here are some activity examples that could be used in a gardening unit:

  • Create a Garden in a Glove for science observation and discovery, or create a seed book. Have students insert their seed book in an art journal while they observe the growth or decay activity in their plot, or chart what foods are grown in global regions.
  • Build rain gauges to incorporate into math lessons about measurements and volume, or a bulb growth chart to look for growth patterns.
  • Have students read through garden cookbooks, and even create their own recipe books from their garden cooking experiments to enhance literacy skills.
  • For more academic ideas in the garden, visit Kids Gardening, The Educators’ Spin On It, and National Agriculture in the Classroom.

    Food and Nutrition/Food Security

    Access to food and nutrition unfortunately does not come readily to everyone, and millions of children and adults stare into the face of food insecurity every year. According to Feeding America, giving children proper nutrition and access to food can impact “physical and mental health, academic achievement, and future economic prosperity.” Gardens can be an integral part of providing nutrition to children.

    Consider these activities:

    Ecological Sustainability

    Composting and waste reduction teach students sustainable practices. Not only does composting add nutrients to the soil, decomposition is also a large part of science curriculums.

    Here are a few sample activities:

    If such a small act of planting trees on the corner can make a dent in the sustainability of a neighborhood, think about the impact that trees and gardens across the world can make on our global food system! Visit the Green Education Foundation for garden plans and topics such as water conservation and recycling.

    Program Management

    There is no shortage of great resources available for your garden. Here are just a few starting places:

    Collaborating with math, science, and art teachers can bring additional ideas for using gardens as hands-on reinforcement of what they are teaching in those classrooms. Field trips to community gardens and farmers’ markets can inspire young minds. If you are in a cold climate, consider learning about greenhouses and hydroponics. These tools allow farmers to simulate a warmer climate and grow various fruits and vegetables all year long. Gardens — inside or outside, big or small — support academic and 21st-century skills development.

    Post shared from Edutopia
    Written by Kristin Stayer

The Best Gardener’s Tips *Hint, they’re your own!

The Best Gardening tips always come from yourself!

Save yourself some money every year by buying fewer seeds and learning what works.

Garden Journals and Seed Binders:
Seed Binders and garden journals make gardening more efficientseed notebook
By storing seeds this way, you are creating an environment which will promote seed viability.  The pockets lock out moisture, being in a binder protects them from light and then store in a cool environment.

Asking forgiveness, not permission: Repurpose your spouse’s baseball card binders.  Hide somewhere in the garage.  Start wondering how mad he’ll get…
Image result for baseball card binder

Or Breathe Easy Using A Notebook!garden journal

Your observations can be as thorough as you’d like them depending on your need to feel organized.  Limited on time?  This helps you save some.

Using a notebook
Tape the seed packets planted, directions and planting zones are listed for reference.
Include a drawing of your garden.  Label your rows as you plant them.
Take note of what you observe, in the garden and around you.  You might include notes about weather, birds migrating, frogs singing.

After the growing season take note of what worked and what didn’t.  Keeping a Garden Journal | Real Food RN
Optional Journal Entry Suggestions:
From the garden journal of Jeanette Yee Sclar, Mistress of Longears

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summer harvest 2018
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Plants of the Winter Solstice| Celebrating Symbols of the Solstice

The winter solstice falls on December 21, marking the official start of winter. It is the shortest day and longest night of the year.

After the solstice, the days will start to get longer, and as the old adage says, ”When the days lengthen, the cold strengthens.”

Even so, I appreciate seeing a brighter western horizon when I get out of work in the evening. The sun begins its climb toward summer and each day brings us one day closer to spring.
Image result for sunrise in Lake Stevens

 

Nearly every ancient culture had myths surrounding the return of light after the winter solstice. As the sun coursed lower in the sky, it seemed to ancient peoples that the sun might be disappearing forever.

To encourage the sun to return, bonfires were built, gifts for the gods were hung from the branches of pine trees, and evergreen plants were brought indoors to symbolize everlasting life. If it sounds a bit like Christmas, many pagan ceremonies were overlaid with Christian holidays.

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Plants of the Winter Solstice

Certain trees and plants were important to the celebration of the solstice both as symbols and as decorations:

  • Evergreens were a symbol of immortality, since they were the only trees to stay green when all the others lost their leaves.
  • Yews represented the death of the old year and were a connection between this world and the next.
  • Oak trees were revered for being long-lived. Even though they were not evergreen, they were symbols of eternal life and considered a source of protection, strength, and endurance. In Celtic tradition, the entire trunk of an oak tree was kept burning for 12 hours on the eve of the solstice. If the fire did not go out, it meant the household would be protected and have an abundant harvest and good health in the coming year. A piece of that log was saved and used to start next year’s fire because, as the old log was consumed by the flames, any problems from the old year were thought to go with it.
  • Rosemary, an evergreen shrub in warm climates, was called the herb of the sun.
  • Birch trees symbolized new beginnings.

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  • Ivy symbolized marriage, faithfulness, and healing and was made into wreaths and garlands to decorate during the winter.

Celebrating the Solstice

December’s full Moon, which will be visible on the night of the winter solstice, is aptly called the Full Cold Moon. If there are no clouds to obscure it from view, it should shine with all the intensity of the Sun and be bright enough for trees to cast shadows.

In Celtic tradition, one sacred place to be visited during the solstice time is an open area or hill that affords a view of the horizon in all directions. What better way to celebrate than to bundle up and climb to the top of the tallest hill? This is not a time to be hibernating; get outside and connect with the natural world in all its glorious seasons!

18 Genius Homestead Uses For 55 Gallon Plastic Barrels

55-gallon-plastic-barrels

There are many practical, fun, and unique homestead uses for 55 gallon plastic barrels.

Because of the recent popularity of these barrels, you frequently can find them for sale at a local store that collects from larger retailers.

Often too, you can find them for a decent price online at Craigslist. Still, if you want the best bargain, don’t be afraid to inquire directly with local retailers.

Just make sure that you collect plastic barrels that food grade (made from HDPE), and have contained only food type items.

If you love these barrel ideas, check out all the awesome things you can make for your homestead using 55 gallon metal barrels.

1. Make a raised garden bed to use outdoors or in a greenhouse.

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2. Make a trailer ride by using 55 gallon plastic barrels.

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3. A plastic barrel can easily be converted into a compost bin.

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4. Make a raised bee hive for your backyard.

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5. A 55 gallon plastic barrel can make a terrific tree swing.

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6. Make a simple DIY outdoor planter.

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7. Make your own DIY barrel boat.

8. Build a chair and other outdoor furniture.

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9. Make a new dog house.

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10. Make a simple rain barrel.

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11. Use a 55 gallon plastic barrel as a strawberry planter.

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12. Make an outdoor barrel root cellar.

13. Build a floating dock to use in a pond or lake.

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14. Make an outdoor washing station for fruits and vegetables.

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15. Make a barrel feeder for your goats.

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16. A 55 gallon barrel can be used to make a DIY pig feeder.

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17. Build a DIY feeder to feed deer on your property.

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18. Build your own kayak.

Slippery Facts About Slugs & How to Deal

Slippery Facts About Slugs

Only a few slug species are pests. Most are critical members of land and water ecosystems all around the world.
 
Brown/Black/Red Slugs are creepies that no one enjoys dealing with.  Even when you think they’re not on your property or in your garden — rest assured they are.
 
They’re part of the system set up to break down decaying matter. And I for one wish they would stick to that rather than getting on my lettuce and other crops they consider gourmet fare. I’ve never met a gardener who had a kind word to say about them, but slugs are important as scavengers and recyclers.
 
You’ll be glad to know that out all the slugs existing on your property you’ll see no more than 10% of the population because the other 90% are busy underground doing their job. (At least that’s what scientist who study slugs say.)
 
1. Know your enemy
There are many different kinds of slugs and some are more harmful than others. The large black slug doesn’t do much damage at all as they prefer rotting matter, dung and carrion over living plants. The garden slug is the opposite, attacking anything that even slightly resembles an herbaceous plant.
Live Better: Natural slug control
 
2. Introduce and encourage predators
Ground beetles and centipedes eat slugs.  Carob beetles (Violet Ground beetle on the left and the Common Ground beetle on the right) are very effective slug predators – the larvae and beetles eat the eggs and the tiny slugs. If suitable homes are provided they can appear in huge numbers! 
Ducks: Experts recommend Khaki Campbells or Indian Runners who are the best carnivores – other breeds might eat more of your vegetables. A good permaculture solution would be to have your garden in between the duck hut and the pen, thereby allowing the ducks a good munch in the morning and evening while on the way to and from home.
 
3. Control by death or relocation
I kill them without mercy, but as humanely as possible. The most effective way of finding them is to go out with a torch just after dusk or on a miserable grey wet day. Make sure to look on the underside of the vegetable leaves and let the plant damage and slime trails guide you.

Hand-picking. Hand-picking can be very effective if done thoroughly on a regular basis. At first you should look for snails and slugs daily, paying careful attention to potential hiding places. After the population has noticeably declined, weekly hand-picking can be sufficient.

 
Jars: Drown slugs by putting them in a jar filled completely with water and keeping the lid screwed on tightly. A bucket with water is not good enough, the slugs will just crawl out again.

 
Sharp knife: My preferred method at the moment is a sharp knife. I use it flick the slugs of the plant onto the soil surface and behead the poor things. I think it is the quickest death, and the most convenient.Image result for that's not a knife
 
Beer traps: After trying several designs this is the winner. The slugs are attracted by the fermentation gasses of beer. Any cheap lager or homebrew is good, though ales and Guinness are best. Place the traps at the edge of the beds. If you place them in the middle, slugs might get distracted by your juicy vegetables on the way to the pub.
Other traps: Grapefruit halves, flower pots, cardboard, or anything dark and moist will be favored by the slugs as a hiding place during the day. Inspect and capture at your leisure.Image result for beer trap for slugs
 
4. Border control
Copper: Slugs don’t like to crawl over copper. A dozen or so pennies stuck into the soil around a seedling can form a border – a stripped electrical cable is even better. Cut the top and the bottom of a plastic bottle. Wrap the stripped cable a few times around it with one or two loops in it, fasten it to the bottle with duct tape through the loops and flatten the copper loops to the plastic. Dig the plastic into the soil so that slugs don’t crawl underneath. If you use sticks to support the plant, wrap copper around the sticks too. Make sure none of the leaves touch the ground or any weeds touch the plant. Slugs can’t fly but they know how to find shortcuts.Image result for copper for slugs
 

Seaweed
If you have access to seaweed, it’s well worth the effort to gather some.  Seaweed is not only a good soil amendment for the garden, it’s a natural repellent for slugs.  Mulch with seaweed around the base of plants or perimeter of the garden bed.  Pile it on 3″ to 4″ thick — when it dries it will shrink to just an inch or so deep.  Seaweed is salty and slugs avoid salt.  Push the seaweed away from plant stems so it’s not in direct contact.  During hot weather, seaweed will dry and become very rough which also deters the slugs.

Bran
Wheat or corn bran is a desiccant that will cause slugs to swell up and die when consumed.  Sprinkle it around plants in your vegetable and flower beds and monitor to see if slugs are snacking.  If your brand seems too coarse for slugs to eat, blend it in your food processor until a finer grain.  Like many other soil treatments, bran needs to be reapplied after a heavy rain, but the beauty of this treatment?  It’s inexpensive and non-toxic to humans.  You can also purchase bran in bulk at local feed stores.

Hair and Wool

A promising mulching agent is untreated sheep’s wool.
Wool showed that it successfully deters slugs and snails, at least until the rain comes.  So, the wool could be put to good use in a greenhouse or a cold frame.
 
Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is made from tiny fossilized water plants and is all natural.  When slugs crawl through DE it adheres.  The tiny particles with their microscopic razor sharp edges are absorbed and eventually can kill the slug. DE doesn’t kill instantly.  It is most effective when used in dry conditions.  It has little effect when it absorbs moisture, so you’ll have to reapply after rain.Image result for diatomaceous earth
 
Egg shells: The sharp edges of eggshells help as a deterrent, but only when they are clean and dry. When peeling an egg, try to remove the inner membrane and rinse if needed. Be aware that rain quickly makes the eggshells lose their effectiveness.
 
Do not try:
Salt: Pouring salt around your veg will keep the slugs away indeed, but unless your plants like maritime conditions they will die too!Related image
 
Seashells: The sharp edges deter slugs from crossing, but they don’t decay like eggshells and can be a serious nuisance when weeding for many years to come.
 
Slug pellets: Most are not organic and will kill the predators too. Even the organic ones are not wise to use: when the slugs die, the predators leave to find food elsewhere – leaving you dependent on the pellets.

13 Creative DIY Solutions for Raised Garden Beds


Raised garden beds organize your planting areas, making them easier to manage and more convenient to maintain. Sidestepping potential issues with soil quality, reducing pest problems and virtually eliminating the need to weed, raised beds are an ideal way to grow herbs, vegetables or ornamental plants. Here are 13 great DIY garden bed ideas and tutorials, many of which reclaim materials like pallets, bed frames and water troughs.

Repurposed Dresser Garden

Turn an old dresser into a tiered vertical garden! This project could be as simple as placing potted plants inside the drawers, or you could staple landscape fabric to the inside and fill them with soil. Be sure to use a dresser made of solid wood rather than particle board, if it will be exposed to the elements.

Classic Cedar Bed by Sunset

Sunset offers plans for a simple cedar raised garden bed that’s about eight feet long and four feet wide, making the middle easy to reach from either side. Made of rot-resistant wood, this garden bed will last many seasons.

Beds with Cap Railings by Popular Mechanics

A slightly more complex design from Popular Mechanics adds a ‘cap railing’ to the top of the bed to make it look more finished and offer a place to set tools when you’re not using them.
Self-Watering Salad Table
Make your own self-watering ‘salad table!’ Three durable bins are placed in a wooden frame. Smaller plastic baskets fitted with PVC pipes are placed upside-down inside the larger bins, and the whole thing is filled with soil. Salad tables lift these vulnerable greens up off the ground to reduce pest problems and make them easier to access.

Vertical Pallet Garden

Line the inside of a reclaimed pallet with landscape fabric, fill it with soil, plant it with the herbs, veggies or flowers of your choice and lean it up against a wall. This vertical garden is quick, simple and inexpensive with beautiful results; get the tutorial at Life on the Balcony.
Pallet Planter

Another pallet garden concept reuses boards from old pallets – without having to pull any nails. Cutting the boards off each side of the support beams produces a nice pile of lumber for creating a totally free planter box. Learn more at Instructables.

Bed Frame Raised Garden

A bed frame offers an ideal support for climbing vines in this brilliant repurposing project by Pondered, Primed and Perfected. The base of the bed was turned upside down and filled with soil to create the main part of the new raised garden. While the raised part isn’t actually from the headboard of the bed, it’s easy to see how virtually any bed frame could work – think about how beautiful brass or wrought iron would be with cucumber vines trailing all over it.

Woven Willow Garden Bed

In this simple project, branches are woven around stakes to create a beautiful and durable border for a raised garden bed. Get basic instructions for this project at eHow
Natural Wood Raised Garden Bed
Another DIY raised garden bed idea using free, natural materials that you can gather in your backyard is this one from Instructables. It costs almost nothing at all, and the result is stunning.
Sack Gardens
Did you know that you can plant directly into sacks of all varieties? Burlap sacks, as pictured, work great, but you can even plant directly into bags of soil from the nursery. Make this concept even more convenient by placing the bags inside raised beds or on a table, like that used for the salad table concept.
Water Trough Raised Bed
Water troughs from farm supply stores make attractive extra-large containers for gardens, and the metal kinds can be painted any color you like. Rather than buying these new, watch the classifieds or put out your own ad looking for used water troughs that have sprung leaks and are no longer usable as intended.
Used Tires
While there have been some debates about whether used tires are safe to use for planting edibles, we’ve tested this type of raised bed for several years. Degrease with a little Dawn Dishsoap and scrub clean to remove any road debris accumulated.  You can always line the inside with layers of landscape fabric just to be sure. 
Compact Rotational Gardening
Here’s a raised garden that’s been arranged in a geometric shape, not just for looks, but for function. The compact rotational garden utilizes a small space efficiently while maintaining easy access to each section. Learn more at Instructables.