Tommy L
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Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:00 pm
Location: Chicago (Wicker Park)

New to having a garden.

I havent had a garden since I lived with my mum. Now my wife and I are moving into a small 1st floor condo with a garden, so Ive come looking for advice!
Our new slice of heaven is basically just dirt with a wood fence round it. It has some trees in it and I'd say its around 25/50 feet.

There are two mentionables:
1: Landlord says "No grass!"
2: We are only planning to stay a year.

So, Chicago being Chicago, we prob have around five months of regular garden use (lounging, yoga and BBQ) starting from now.

I am looking for some advice on putting in some 'instant' yet cheap things to make it a pleasant place to relax. Our only plan so far is to build a small, simple deck from cheap lumber. We reckon we can do a not-very-durable job for around $300.
We also like cooking and mojitos alot so would like to grow some herbs and mint.
Any suggestions for planting etc?

Much look forward to your advice,
Regards,
Tom the novice.
I want green fingers, like yesterday.

The Helpful Gardener
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Twenty five bags of pea stone ($100) and a few pieces of wood to make a Zen rake. Won't do the whole space, but half of it. Makes a play area you rake a meditative pattern into when you are done using it. Add three boulders if you want to get really funky with it. Form and function in a single day; no nailing and screwing...easy.

HG
Scott Reil

Tommy L
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Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:00 pm
Location: Chicago (Wicker Park)

Marvelous advice, I shall run it past the boss. Ill post a couple of photos as well.
Thanks!
I want green fingers, like yesterday.

The Helpful Gardener
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And the nice part Tommy? Doesn't need to get done in a day. Couple of bags of stone in the trunk everytime you go by the big box...

Herbs and mint in containers on the deck. Especially mint. NEVER put mint in the ground. Ever. Really.

PM me for directions to make a Zen rake for the gravel...

HG
Scott Reil

lizzy
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Joined: Wed May 13, 2009 11:43 am
Location: Budapest, Hungary

[Hi, could you tell me the reason why mint shouldn't be planted in the garden, I mean in the ground only in a pot?
What is a Zen rake?
Thanks



quote="The Helpful Gardener"]And the nice part Tommy? Doesn't need to get done in a day. Couple of bags of stone in the trunk everytime you go by the big box...

Herbs and mint in containers on the deck. Especially mint. NEVER put mint in the ground. Ever. Really.

PM me for directions to make a Zen rake for the gravel...

HG[/quote]

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Kisal
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Location: Oregon

Mint spreads. Mint wants to take over the entire world. It is in a conspiracy with bamboo! :lol:

Seriously, mint is very invasive. It spreads by underground runners, as well as by seed. If you plant it directly in the ground, you will soon find it all over the rest of your property.

Mint is lovely, as long as you keep it in a container. I have heard of people planting it in old washtubs that they've buried in the ground. The tub will create a barrier for the runners.

The Helpful Gardener
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Lizzy, it is a rake that understands that it is part of a greater universe, and that any real differences between itself and anything else are illusory in nature, and it feels pretty good about the whole thing...

:kidding:

You know that rake they use to make the lines in the gravel? There's really no point in a lot of gravel if you don't have the rake, right? :wink:

What else am I gonna call it? I suspect there is a good Japanese word to describe those rakes; sometimes Cynthia is pretty good and I have an aquaintance who speaks very well; I will try and find out...

Ah, gravel is tamajari or jari, and rake is re-ki or kumade... I'd mangle it up... I better ask... this is not a regular rake by a long shot, these are custom built to the garden usually...

HG
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Mon May 18, 2009 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Scott Reil

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Kisal
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Um, HG? I have a lot of gravel. I'm presently turning an old dog run into a place where I can meditate and be alone. It's a 20 x 30 ft area. Quite secluded. All my plants will be in containers, because there's nothing but sand and gravel for 18" down. Would you share your zen rake plans with me? :D

The Helpful Gardener
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Here's how I made mine...

I took a two by 2" x 8" and cut a two foot length (Here's where the first customization comes in; I have a small garden, so a smaller space between teeth and smaller length for for the tighter spot my gravel is in makes sense. In your big graveled space, my tinier grooves would look out of place, right?) You might want a three foot length, or even four foot to make your job quicker and more even. And teeth on the rake, both depth and spacing, would be more than mine as well... I did mine by drawing a line every two inches on the flat side of the board and cutting in from the 2 inch edge of the board like this

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
l________l

where each tooth and each valley represents a one inch increment in spacing and the depth from peak to trough (to use wave terminology) is two inches (so. In your larger garden perhaps a two inch spacing and depth makes more sense, or even three, but use your own aesthetic to make that judgement...

In a spot two inches down and centerline of the lenth of the rake body, I drilled a hole at an angle I deemed comfortable fro me ; another customization only you should make for yours. Side braces are traditional and recommended on a longer model, but I have no need so far... if you need more weight you can attach it to the top

This is best suited to a mix of fines and larger stuff; the recipe I learned was equal parts , stone dust, turkey grit and pea stone, but I am sure this is to simulate the mix one would see in decomposing granite. so that would work well if you can find it (breaking rocks with a sledgehammer is not very Zen, but has a singleness of focus and stress relieving quality all it's own... :)

HG
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Thu May 21, 2009 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
Scott Reil

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Kisal
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Location: Oregon

Thank you, HG! :)

No, I won't be breaking any rocks with a sledgehammer, I'm afraid, zen or not ... since I broke a rib yesterday, while using a shovel to tidy up the edge of a neglected flower bed. I'll be taking things easy for a couple of weeks, I think. :roll: :x

The Helpful Gardener
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I have operated a shovel many times and know that if you break a rib you are doing something wrong! :shock: . Are you o.k? (Other than you broke a rib...here's my sign... :roll: )

HG
Scott Reil

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Kisal
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Location: Oregon

Yep, what I did wrong was to forget that there were large underground tree roots where I was digging. I imagine that's what I hit with the shovel. Unfortunately, I was using a short-handled trenching shovel. I wouldn't have been injured if I had been using a long-handled shovel, as I should have been. I agree with the :roll: ... :lol:

Other than not being able to take a deep breath, or get into or out of bed, thus having to sleep in the recliner in the living room, I think I'll survive. I see the acupuncturist tomorrow. He was able to keep me totally free of pain when I broke my back a couple of years ago. The neurosurgeon who was supposed to repair my back took off for a month and left me in the lurch. Strong pain pills make me ill, so I was stuck suffering a huge amount of pain, until a friend dragged me off to see this guy. He's a miracle worker, IMO. :lol:

Sorry for the threadjack, btw. :(

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Earl K
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Kisal, I have had acupuncture done on my knee after a skiing accident.Wow how it works. Hope it works again for you.Good luck-Get well.
Florida porchgrown veggies
USDA zone 9

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