j3707
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j3707's 2016 Garden

I've got a new 20'x20' patch of ground for gardening this year. It's a nice little spot, full day southern exposure and easy access from my paved parking area. It's fairly level east to west and slopes down a bit from north to south.

The soil is heavy clay and the top six inches or more is a clay/gravel mix. I'll have 8 or 10 yards of an "engineered" garden soil brought in for raised beds.

The string in the back is the north side, the two trees in the foreground are basically at the south line. I'll drop those and use the logs for raised beds or terracing, as needed.

Here are a couple pictures of the area. You can see one of my Leghorns - she got caught in a sunbeam and couldn't move 8)
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I want to have vertical growing space and a covered tunnel for winter growing, so I plan to put an arch of cattle panels over the northernmost bed, which will be 6 feet wide and have a 20" wide path running down the inside of the tunnel. There will be two other 4' wide raised beds, with 20" paths between them, and there will be 24" wide paths around the outside of the beds on the west, south and east.

I'll need fencing around the space to keep the deer and chickens out --- not sure what direction I'm going with that yet. I'd like to get some vertical growing space out of the fencing, but anything grown would probably just be deer chow. I am a bit concerned that the logs I use will be a haven for slugs. Maybe a little duck run around the garden would be useful for slug control and let me use the innermost fence for vertical growing.. Plus, it'd be cool to have a couple Indian Runners waddling around 8). I also plan to create a couple small ponds to the east for gray water reclamation during the summer, so maybe ducks could fit into that scheme...

First step is to drop those two trees and do some terracing on the south side.
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Asica
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Looks very nice. I love planning in a new space. All the possibilities. I just thought to throw one idea. How about using this beautiful wood that you have and experimenting with Hugelkultur.

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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Look up hugelkultur. It's a cool idea, but it depends on whether those are old logs or newly felled. What you really need for hugelkulture to work are well rotted logs that have been sitting around weathering for at least a few years. But it looks like you have enough woods that maybe you have that available.

With or without hugelkultur, it looks like a beautiful garden space!
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j3707
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Thanks for the hugelkultur suggestion. I have read up on it in the past, but hadn't thought about using it for this space. I've got enough rotting sticks and logs to make a decent pile and the soil being delivered to that spot makes it that much easier. Very interesting! I can see the benefit in reduced summer watering. Anyone have experience growing winter crops on a hugel bed?
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j3707
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Aside from getting a new gardening space built, my goal is to learn how to intensively manage my growing area for maximum yield and to get a 4 season harvest. I've put a few thoughts down on paper, but this year will be for working it out in practice.

My first step is to begin growing seedlings indoors. I got flats w/cells and planted kale, broccoli and chard on January 16th in a mix of coco fiber and perlite. At first I had 1 t5 fixture w/4 6500k bulbs. The seedlings at the end of the flats were reaching too much, so I set up a second light. Here are the seedlings as of today:
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I'm putting a fair amount of money in up front this season, but expect all costs to be eventually covered by grocery savings. We make smoothies out of fruits and vegetables and can easily spend $10-15/week on greens.

Germination rate was high for the broccoli and kale and took about 3 days. The chard was a bit longer and more sparse. I had to lift the lights up a bit as the seedlings were drying out too quickly and starting to burn. I have been watering every other day and just started to add fertilizer. I'd like to get them in the ground in 2 weeks. Maybe in 1 week I'll put them out in a sheltered spot during the day.

Not much more to say at this point ~ I dropped those two trees, that's about as far as the new garden space has come.

Daffodils are coming up, looking forward to Spring!
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j3707
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Last weekend I put my kale and broccoli in a raised bed. I'm experimenting with plastic mulch this season. Last fall I spread composted chicken litter in this bed and covered it with black plastic for the winter. Last weekend I cut 6 inch diameter holes at 1 foot centers and planted a seedling into each.
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I changed the new garden from 20'x20' to 15'x27', this reduces the slope to the south. I widened the paths around the perimeter to 3'. So I'll have 2 beds approx. 4' wide and 21' long.

I'm going with the hugelkultur suggestion (thanks for that!) We're digging the bed down a bit below grade so we'll have more space for wood. We're using that dirt to level out the rest of the garden space. I used one of the downed alders as a retaining wall to hold the fill on the south and west sides.
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Today I spent an hour after work collecting rotten wood for the hugel bed. A few years ago I had a huge old big leaf maple cut down because the middle was rotting and it was blocking a lot of sunshine in that area. It was probably 4' in diameter. I left the biggest rounds where they lay and now they're perfect for a hugel bed. I'm chopping them up with a maul. It's a bit hard to make out the details in the pictures, but you get the idea...
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...and here are the chickens investigating the pile 8)
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j3707
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Last week I made a box out of 2x12's, put in the hugel wood and had 8 yards of soil delivered. The driver was able to dump most of the soil into the box, which helped out quite a bit.

Lots of cold rain and wind today....perfect day for planting the new garden bed!

I put in peas, broccoli, kale, carrots, onions, beets, kohlrabi, turnips and spinach.

Now I need to clean the area up and fence it in.
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j3707
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

My two raised beds are doing well. In the new hugel bed I planted broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, turnips, spinach, carrots, beets, onions and peas. After I planted the peas, my son mentioned there was a "Robin" in the garden. I told him Robins don't eat peas, so no worries. Well, somehow, not a single pea came up. With the weather warming up quickly, I decided to go ahead and plant pole beans. Immediately after they were planted, one of these guys flew down to the bed to investigate:
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By Walter Siegmund (talk) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.p ... d=24914037

So that mystery was solved...I guess I didn't plant the peas deep enough or didn't cover them over very well. Lesson learned. So far the beans are OK.

I've been occupied with my orchard for the last couple of weeks. Spring is here, it's great to see so many flowers around the yard:

Daffodils (my son and I planted these last fall):
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Salmonberry:
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Jostaberry:
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Apple (William's Pride)
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Looking good! (though bummer about the peas. I haven't seen a towhee in my garden in a long time -- not sure if they would be same species, but I remember how they used to hop back and forth in the leaves to scratch up whatever it is they eat. I remember thinking what strange behavior for a robin, fetching my binoculars, and realizing my mistake.

I'm loving those William's Pride flower buds! It's been on my list of possible next apple variety to get.
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j3707
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Thanks applestar - William's Pride is one of my favorite apple trees. That may be partly because it's the only one that's given me apples so far! I'm not an apple guru, but I've never seen prettier apple buds and the flowers seem to last a long time. I also like how the branches angle out so strongly from the trunk. You have to time the harvest pretty well though. The first year the apples were crisp and flavorful, last year I waited too long and they were a bit mealy. No matter how they taste they look perfect hanging on the tree.
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Looking good. I love the pictures. You have different birds than I do and your trees are really different. I can force daffodils and tulips but they would not naturalize here. I do have amaryllis, agapanthus and gladiolus that are perennial in my yard.
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Nice, i never heard of the salmonberries before, apperantly they grow in south sweden, is something i got interested in trying. How is the taste compared to raspberries.
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Beautiful! Do keep us apprised of how the hugelkultur bed does. I have read about them, but never done one. I am planning one to be a berm in my front yard, but I'm not sure if it will be this year or next year before I get around to that.

It looks like you are doing a bit of a homesteading thing with the chickens, berries, apple trees, etc. How many acres do you have?

We moved last fall and I am now working on "homesteading" our almost-half acre! :) My goal is to have hens for eggs and some food fish as well as the garden (apple trees, peach trees, berries, nuts, perennial veggies, regular garden veggies, etc).
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j3707
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Thanks everyone -

Imafan - It would be cool to see pictures of your local birds. Looks like agapanthus should be hardy in my area, maybe I'll give it a try. I'm looking for tall flowering perennials to compete against grasses and buttercups in certain areas.

Mr. green - Salmonberries are bland compared to cultivated raspberries, but I like them. They are tart and subtly sweet.

raingbowgardener - Will do re the hugel bed. I've got about 3 acres, about half wooded and some of that essentially unusable due to steep terrain, but still useful as wildlife habitat. Good luck with your new property, sounds like fun! I do recommend chickens, they bring a lot of benefit. Eggs, manure and mulch, not to mention some amusement. I like the idea of aquaculture, do you have a plan for how you will raise fish?
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j3707
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Here are a few more of the flower pictures from this weekend:

Red Elderberry (with peach in the background)
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Big Leaf Maple
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Comfrey ( Symphytum officinale)
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Hi j -- Sorry I hadn't seen your reply. I don't know that I have a plan, so much as a fantasy. I'm picturing a 200-300 gallon tank set up next to our garden shed and partly shaded by it, with tilapia. But I know you need to have brood tanks, pumps, filters, etc and I'm not very knowledgeable about all that yet. I know you can do aquaculture, where your fish tank water circulates through a hydroponic grow bed, but it all seems complicated. When we had a small artificial pond before, one thing we had to do to help keep it clean was just remove some buckets of water and add fresh. So the low tech way of that would just be to water your garden with the removed buckets of fish tank water. Also the fish poo gets filtered out of the tank, so that would be a good garden additive. This might be when we got rain barrels to have rain water to add to the fish tank. With the small pond, I just had buckets of water sitting over night to evaporate the chlorine out. But that was only a 50 gallon pond. On this scale I would need more; a couple rain barrels should do it.

I have time, it may be 2018 before I am seriously working on it. In 2017, I want to get the chicken coop and hens. Seems more manageable place to start.
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Just since you got me thinking about it, I think here is my fish tank!

Image

kiddie swimming pool 6' in diameter, 20" tall would be about 350 gallons of water, for $60. All of the regular 300 gallon water tanks I looked at were very spendy. This comes with its own filter pump.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/45932242?wmls ... =sem#about
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

RG, it is interesting to think about the options. I like your low tech approach.

High tech has its place for sure...likeTilapia with lasers! 8)
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j3707
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Here's a quick update: we've had very nice weather and the garden is happy. Over the last week we have harvested some nice spinach and kale. Here's a picture of the new bed.
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That darn Towhee ...now it's been pulling out my pole beans when they just break the surface. I am starting some in cells now and will transplant to the garden when they are a few inches tall. In the meantime I scattered some buckwheat seed.
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Nice garden! Looks like you can be eating steady meals from it for a while now! Or atleast part of the meals. Sorry to hear about the beans.
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j3707
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Thanks Mr. G, I am looking forward to those meals...and especially interested to try kholrabi and turnips for the first time.

That Towhee is a pest, but the situation is also amusing.
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Everything looks like they are growing well. :D

...I'm curious -- Those boards are for walking on? Some areas still look hard to access. I tend to make (mounded) shorter row beds spaced with paths so the bed is accessible from both sides. Rows with fence on one side are narrower since they only have one-sided access. For a single very long wide row bed, I made it into a spiral for fun ("Spiral Garden").

I've "painted" myself into a corner before, especially with new beds that I haven't used before and had not considered all the ramifications after the plants grew up to mature size..... :> :wink:
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

applestar, I think a spiral is a great idea, maybe that will be my next garden project (but I've got a pond project before that...)

The boards are the path down the middle. That kale crowding the walkway just gets picked and eaten.

It's intended to be an intensive growing space, so that was my primary thought when laying it out. Putting the path on top of the soil gives extra soil volume for plants on either side of the walkway to stretch out their roots. The boards are temporary, I will replace them with stepping stones and use the path for insectary plants that will tolerate minor foot traffic. If needed, more path area can be put in.

As it is, I can access everything pretty well. With the path down the middle and access from the outside walkways (btw, that chicken wire is also temporary), nothing is more than a 2 foot reach.
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j3707
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

This year I want to incorporate more container culture (at first I typed pot culture, but I think that's a different sort of culture nutz: )

I bought some 65 gallon fabric pots to put on my asphalt driveway near the hugel bed. These are for heat loving plants like tomatoes, melons and peppers. Watermelons can be difficult to grow here, I hope being on asphalt will help them ripen up.

I've raised my own tomatoes and melons for transplanting, yesterday I put them in the 3 fabric pots.

Tomatoes are: bobcat, fantastic, sungold cherry and oregon spring.

Melons are: Blacktail Mountain watermelon and Minnesota Midget.

I also want to plant Sugar Baby watermelon and a pepper or two.
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Here's an update on my other raised bed...the one "mulched" with black plastic.

Last fall I put several wheelbarrows full of chicken compost and litter into this bed and covered it with black plastic over the winter. In spring I cut the circles and planted a mix of kale and broccoli. On the back edge I have some cucumbers that just came up.

My reasons for trying plastic mulch this year: In winter, to keep weeds from getting established in the bed. In spring, to warm the bed up quickly. In summer to retain moisture (this bed tended to dry out quickly last year). Finally, to block weeds, especially bindweed and horsetail which are a nuisance in this part of the yard.

So far, so good. The slugs have not been as big of an issue as I thought they might be. We had some hot days and that may have driven them from under the plastic, if they were there at all.

We have been harvesting kale and some broccoli leaves from this bed for several weeks now.
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Last night we went out to thin the carrots and plant some bush beans in the new raised bed. As we were getting to work, my daughter said she saw a rat! That got my attention quick...in the past we had some rats start a nest under the chicken coop and get way too fat and sassy on chicken feed. I got rid of that nest, built a new coop and haven't had a problem since. So I grabbed a stick to flush it out and hopefully get a good look at it.

Well it didn't streak out of there like a rat usually would. I'd flush it and it would move down to the other end of the bed. We still couldn't see anything more than a brown blur because the leaf cover is so thick. Finally we saw it... a little cottontail bunny.
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Believe it or not, I've never had bunnies attack my garden before. Since this bed is right near the woods, I suspected they would show up, but just decided to wait and see.

So after the thinning and planting, I put up netting all around the bed instead of chicken wire.

We planted the bush beans in the space I had originally planted bush peas. I had sown some buckwheat which was about 8 inches high and nearly ready to flower. We knocked most of it over and planted the beans. I think it may have been better to leave the buckwheat standing until the beans were at least a few inches tall.
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I'm happy to see our first good sized broccoli head --- this is my first year growing them, I think it looks ready, but I don't want to pick too early. This is on a medium sized plant. The bigger plants are just starting to develop heads. The bunny ate one of them :x
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A week or two ago, I planted tomatoes at the ends of the bed amongst the turnips, spinach and kholrabi. I pick back the greens that are trying to crowd out the tomatoes. In a couple weeks, the tomatoes should be tall enough to fight their own battle. I like the hopeful flower peeking out in the second picture.
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Asica
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

You have very nice garden.
With broccoli you have to pick it before it blooms. Also leave the plant, the side sprouts will keep on popping, they taste even better.

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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Thanks Asica!

Do you like to eat broccoli leaves?

I see there is a company selling them in bunches like kale or chard...sounds like a good idea to me.

https://thebroccoleaf.com/
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

I do eat the broccoli leaves, while I am waiting for it to produce heads, just don't take too many. But broccoli and cabbage are closely related and we eat cabbage leaves. For eating raw, I just pull out the heavy mid-rib.
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Looking good! The bunny/rat must have been a surprise -- I know I have to guard against them and I do have rabbit fence around my garden beds, but they can get creative and find holes I didn't notice. They are around but I haven't seen them in my garden yet... Possibly because my next door neighbor feeds feral? Local? Cats. But still -- Time to tighten up security!
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Your garden looks great. I love how neat and orderly it looks with its rows. Sadly, I ate the last of my broccoli last night in a stirfry, and as is my typical practice, had a bag of broccoli leaves that I cut up and threw in at the end like cabbage. It was so good I ate it all. Now I wish the side shoots would hurry up! Enjoy your bounty!

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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Thanks 8)

I sauteed some broccoli greens - there was just a hint of bitterness. The next day, my wife sauteed some of the broccoli head for a snack, she said it was really sweet! So next time I'll try both together, like you do kitchengardener.

Do any of you taste bitterness in the broccoli leaf? Any idea if it is variety related or is that how they all are?

applestar - I saw a full grown rabbit near the garden bed yesterday, good thing I got that netting up.
Last edited by j3707 on Sat May 14, 2016 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Avoid predictable disaster caused by unpredictable events, keep yourself open to positive outcomes from improbable events. -Aaron C. Brown

j3707
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

I always like to see volunteers of things I've planted before. A day or two ago, I was picking some broccoli and kale from the plastic mulched bed, I saw this volunteer plant:
DSCN0676 - Copy.JPG
I grew some in this bed a couple years ago...can you guess what it is?
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HoneyBerry
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

I'm guessing kale on the left & collards or cabbage on the right.
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j3707
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Location: Pacific Northwest, Zone 8, 48" annual rainfall, dry summers.

Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

You got that right --- but there's smaller mystery plant in between them. You can see it better if you click on the picture. (I should have been more clear about that).
Avoid predictable disaster caused by unpredictable events, keep yourself open to positive outcomes from improbable events. -Aaron C. Brown

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applestar
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Is it borage?
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HoneyBerry
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

Arugula? Radish?
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j3707
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Location: Pacific Northwest, Zone 8, 48" annual rainfall, dry summers.

Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

applestar wrote:Is it borage?
You got it applestar. I'll let it stay there, the bees sure like it. There is another one at the back of the bed where I have cucumbers planted. It self sows quite well.
Avoid predictable disaster caused by unpredictable events, keep yourself open to positive outcomes from improbable events. -Aaron C. Brown

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applestar
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Re: j3707's 2016 Garden

:-() I like the flowers but couldn't get used to the fuzzy leaves. :roll:
It self sows quite well
^^^^^^^
THERE's an understatement! :lol:
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

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