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500 dollar Challenge

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by Rebecca150 on April 27, 2006 02:45 AM
Hi everybody:-) Got a brand new yard to fill up!

So far my plans call for vegetable gardens, butterfly garden, shade trees, maybe some fruiting bushes, plenty of perennials and grasses and bulbs! I am starting with a blank slate except for the few landscaping shrubs out front that came with the house and a butterfly corner that my kids and I planted the other day. I also want a greenhouse and a water garden. Although that will have to wait until my babe is older! Oh and a garden nook with a bench and an arbor over our patio.

Grand plans, I know, my house may never be cleaned again and the crockpot will be pulling over time but I really want to create an outdoor oasis in my yard.

Realistically I expect for this project to take MINIMUM 5 years. But here is the question, can I do it for under five hundred dollars? Of course I have VERY clayey and rocky soil so I expect I will have to do a lot of raised beds. For my veggie garden alone I will be spending 80 bucks just for the soil to get it started. Don't worry though, the rest of the yard I plan to amend with the help of our creep crawly friend, red wigglers and earthworms. Oh and the five hundred doesn't include needing to buy a lawnmower.

So there is the challenge. Blank slate to garden of eden in 5 years for under 500 dollars. Can I do it? I hope so! I will be starting an online photo journal in photo bucket of the transformation and I will keep you posted on the progress of my venture here. You'll also be seeing me around plenty as I ask questions, request advice and look for ideas. See ya soon.
by SpringFever on April 27, 2006 03:31 AM
Could you post a picture of the areas you want to do up? It would really help us help you..
Also if any friends family would perhaps give you some starter plants .. House warming garden party? Can never be too frugal in the garden flower dept.

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Tonight I am having friends for dinner... Hanibal Lector My Album
by Rebecca150 on April 27, 2006 04:08 AM
Springfeaver I will definetly post some pictures through photobucket as soon as I can. It is very overcast outside this morning and I would rather wait until it is sunny.

We had a housewarming party last week and I did get a couple plants. I plan to beg cuttings, seed heads and divisions from anybody and everybody:-) I'm going to see if the local garden nursery will save back any cuttings that may propagate in exchange for my purchasing my vermiculite and peat moss needs from them. There are always great clearance deals at the end of the season and any plants under a dollar I plan to snatch up.

For non plant needs (lumber, stone, decorations etc) I plan to hit the garage sales, flea markets, craigs list and freecycle.

The Arbor foundation will ship ten free trees with a paid ten dollar membership. Wow. My yard is too small to use all ten but I can trade what I cannot use.

Phew! What a month full! Can you tell I am excited!
by tkhooper on April 27, 2006 04:19 AM
If you are willing to take 5 years to do your garden don't worry about buying amendments but plan on doing a lot of composting. Somewhere around here is a garden supply list I started to get my garden where I wanted it. I started out needing an outlay of 400 plus dollars. By the time everyone shared their ideas I didn't need to spend any money at all. One of my major planned purchases was good soil but using compost changed all of that.

Now if you are willing to plant seeds rather than mature or starter plants you can decrease costs down to almost nothing. Go to the seed exchange with the list of seeds that you want and be willing to send self addressed stamped bubble envelopes for them. And that will take care of your plants pretty much completely. There may be a few that need to be grown from cuttings or divisions that you may not be able to get but that's probably about all. The members here are fantastic.

You also may want to look into hydratufa for your raised beds. Weezie has a bunch more information on that stuff.

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by SpringFever on April 27, 2006 04:26 AM
Sounds like you have a great plan already started!!
You can also go to lumber yards and ask for scrap!

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Tonight I am having friends for dinner... Hanibal Lector My Album
by joclyn on April 27, 2006 06:57 AM
yup, the national arbor foundation thing is a great deal!! i might get in on that now that the tree in the backyard is starting to die and the one in the front yard needs to come down (i just found out i'm allergic to it and it's right in front of my bedroom window). i'll only have room for 2 or 3 trees, but i can donate the others to my town - and plant them right in the park directly across from my house (so i'll still get to see them!)

the composting is the best idea!! you'll have plenty of starter material with the grass cuttings! if you get started now, you should be able to have some usable material by fall.

my soil has clay also...i did some mulching with licorice root. it breaks down nicely and leaves the soil nice and rich (a bit acidy). you could mulch one area really good this year - don't plant anything - and use the dirt from that section to amend soil next year. and you'll have a good supply of the compost material to add in too...

the seed exchange here should be helpful and i REALLY like the idea of a 'garden party housewarming'!! you could make it that everyone who comes has to bring a cutting or seeds or a starter plant from THEIR garden. wow, that's a really good idea, spring!! heya! that would be a great way to meet and get to know all your neighbors!! plus, you'd know that whatever they bring would do well in your yard!

check with your muncipality for free mulch material (most offer it - you just need to come and get it). when it comes to things like rock and stone, etc. look for houses being demolished - the contractors would probably allow you to cart away whatever you wanted (saves them on the fees at the dump if they have less to dump). that's a great way to get bricks to use for edging your beds.
by hjolicoeur on April 27, 2006 08:36 AM
Wow, some of you guys reall are CHEAP! Of course I mean that in a good way... LOL

I have been lurking around this forum and you all have some really great ideas!

Also a note on Arbor Day trees, if they don't survive the first year just email them and they will replace them for you. Same goes with Home Depot, they will replace any within a year.

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~Heidi
by Saved by Grace on April 27, 2006 10:48 AM
WOW, I didnt know about the Arbor day trees! Their prices are good too! Weve been searching the web for trees to plant and after a few months of searching we decided to wait until funds are up but with deals like this we can plant trees right away. Thanks for the tip!

Rebecca, cant wait to see the finall product in 5 years. You might also check with the seed exchange section to see if anyone has anything available, just a suggestion. Sounds like youve got your whole garden planned out, lol. Hope everything goes well for you!

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A vessel of mercy.
by Saved by Grace on April 27, 2006 11:42 AM
I just ordered my 10 trees for $10, I got the 10 mixed trees!!!! Im so excited...I am not an impulse buyer but how can you pass up such a deal??? Now....wonder what my husband will say.....how about I dont say anything until they get here....lol.

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A vessel of mercy.
by Rebecca150 on April 27, 2006 03:26 PM
Aren't those trees great! I can't order any right now though, I'm broke for a few day :-) Well, actually I'm just choosing to spend my money on worms right now :-)

Thanks everybody for all the awesome tips. I'll be heading over to the seed swap to see what people could help me out with.
by joclyn on April 29, 2006 05:10 AM
hmm...just went to nat'l arbor day site. that $10 fee for the trees gets you a membership and they sell other trees and shrubs for really good prices!!!!

wow, a nikko blue hydrangea is only $4.50!!! and it goes down to $2.79 if you're a member!

wow!! some great deals there!!
by afgreyparrot on April 29, 2006 07:20 AM
This is just a friendly reminder to those of you who are ordering these "trees" from the Nat'l Arbor Day Site.

Please keep in mind that these "trees" you are ordering are 6-8 inch seedlings.

Please read the fine print!

Cindy

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by Rebecca150 on April 29, 2006 07:24 AM
I'm smiling real big as I read this!

I did notice they are ittle bitty and I think it will be such fun to nurture and watch a tree grow. Plus I can enjoy sunny flowers long before I have to worry about shade loving plants:-)

One thing I wasn't aware of though...Fair warning....For my area it is past the shipping date for spring so I will more than likely have to wait till fall.

But isn't gardening all about patience anyway/ Right? Somebody tell me?

No TELL ME NOW!

LOL!

Thanks so much for sharing that warning.
by Saved by Grace on April 29, 2006 12:35 PM
quote:
I did notice they are ittle bitty and I think it will be such fun to nurture and watch a tree grow. Plus I can enjoy sunny flowers long before I have to worry about shade loving plants

My thoughts exactly!

quote:
One thing I wasn't aware of though...Fair warning....For my area it is past the shipping date for spring so I will more than likely have to wait till fall.

Sorry to hear that, I barely made the deadline...I had 3 days until my zones deadline!

Good idea warning everyone Cindy, that would be a big dissapointment to expect little trees and only get little seedlings.

Victoria

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A vessel of mercy.
by slredmond on April 30, 2006 12:35 AM
Another idea for trees is your local conservation agency, if you can find one. Ours does an annual spring sale - order by 3/31, and I picked up last weekend. I bought 10 Red Maple and 10 Flowering Dogwood, those were $2.40 cents each but are about 24 inches tall; and 300 Norway Spruce (messy neighbor I need to screen out!) for $43/100. Again, they are about 24 inches. So - a little more but still reasonable.

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Sandy R.
by Wrennie on April 30, 2006 01:25 AM
Trade, trade, trade....
My friend in S.C. saw a neighbor putting in a shed, they were going to just cover the 'weeds' that were growing there. So she went and asked if she could take the 'weeds'. Thanks to her a bunch of us have patches of full sized bearded irises and mini irises in our yard. FREE.
Do people bag up their leaves in the fall? Go around taking their bags. Make a huge FREE compost pile with their cast off garden waste.
I have Lilac bushes with tons of sprouts around them. Every early spring I pull some up for whoever wants them. My mailmen now Have a couple big clumps in their yards. FREE.
One of the mailmen had rose of sharon bushes in his yard he gave away. FREE. Just cause there were so many of them.
Another gardening friend had a new neighbor moving in and was sad so many plants were going to be torn out for a new landscaping idea. I told her to go ask if she could take away their "garbage". yup more FREE plants.
Does your town have junk day, where people put unwanted stuff at the curb for pick up, or a dump? One mans trash is truly anothers treasure. (oh and its FREE!!)

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 - Summer Camp '07, July 14th weekend, won't you join us?  -
summer camp thread 1, 2, 3,4
by Gupleton on May 07, 2006 12:19 PM
--Compost, compost, compost, as someone above advised.

--Another good place to get stuff is your local craigslist. (craigslist.com). If you've never used it, it is a free, very user-friendly email-based classified ads system. Keep an eye on the "free" postings, post what you are looking for in the "wanted" posting, and also check "general" and "Household." People post that they have plants, containers, soil, they post garden exchanges. I just got a bunch of bamboo from someone looking to clear his property of the stuff for FREE (well, my labor and my husband's tick removal services were required). And the week before I got a LOT of columbines and a baby fern from a nice lady who was being overrun with shade plants. I thought the baby fern was dead, but a day later it was busily growing a frond... SO CUTE!

--Growing things from seed also saves money. start saving little plastic containers!
by Wrennie on May 08, 2006 12:52 AM
How is your $500 challenge going Rebecca?
Remember plants can always be transplanted to another place later if you arent sure where to put it yet.
Craigs list I've heard is great for looking for stuff too. Theres also freecycle in some areas, where people want to get rid of things you may find useful.Youd have to do a google search for your area.

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summer camp thread 1, 2, 3,4
by Rebecca150 on May 08, 2006 04:20 PM
So far it is going good! I have been busy busy busy!

Current total is at 73.50. Thats for plants, ready made soil/compost, some seeds, gloves, garden tools, trees, postage paid for plants that others have shared and my worms.

Today I traded some houseplant divisions for some seeds and calla lillies (wouldn't you know I walked out without the flower seeds so I gotta go back!).

I found a lady that will let me have all the horse poo and leaves that I could ever want. I went and got some today and laid it down in the beds and will probably go get a little each weekend. It will be a while before I can plant in it but its a start.

I have got another person who has some cuttings for me and I will get those in a weekend or two.

I have to take lots more pictures of my yard but here is one looking at my back door. Hope I'm getting the link thing right.....

http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f303/rebecca150/100_2169.jpg

To the left is the start of my butterfly garden. To the right will be my vegetable garden beds. More hanging baskets to come also!

Here is another picture of the butterfly garden that I am working on. We have to find a pretty way to screen the ac unit without affecting airflow. To the left of the ac unit is where I have my red wigglers and am placing horsey poo and so forth. That small empty space is where I have half of the red wigglers I bought (the other half are in a bin system) and I have added alot of material to it since the picture was taken.

http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f303/rebecca150/100_2170.jpg

Close up of the type of soil I have. This Is why I am doing slightly raised beds and adding lots of organic material. This dirt would probably make a great sculptures but doesn't do much to help plants breathe.

http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f303/rebecca150/100_2153.jpg

Close up of my baby butterfly garden.

http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f303/rebecca150/100_2155.jpg

Thats about it for now. I've got all my cuttings and divisions roosting in the dining room on the windowsill. I don't want to put them out just yet until the have a chance to acclimate to the heat here. All those little pots you saw outside have seedlings and I might spring for some real good seed starting mix because I have a lot of seeds now thanks to some very genorous gardeners!

I'll keep you all posted :-)
by rucrazy on May 08, 2006 08:39 PM
Wow, Rebecca! You seem to have quite a few ambitious plans going. Where do yo find the time to do all this? I seem to spend days on end in the garden and progress is very sloooow!
Love all the ideas being shared on how to get plants/trees/seeds ect. from different sources for free. I'm goign to have to check out his section often instead of goign to the store and buying stuff all the time (only to see it die on me later! Arghhhhhhhh!)
by rucrazy on May 08, 2006 08:40 PM
Stupid question here -- what's with the worms???
by Rebecca150 on May 09, 2006 02:35 AM
Oh its really easy to find time to garden. Just don't cook or clean or do dishes or laundry or ANYTHING like that!

Seriously though! The progress in the pics has taken a full two weeks to accomplish. Its hard to get things done with little creatures underfoot but they do have fun "helping" me garden. I try to do it in 15 minute spurts and my hubby helps me with the kids on the weekends.

The worms! Oh my they are a gardeners best friend. Check out the the organically speaking forum and you will find a lot of topics have been started about the crawlies. Basically they help with composting dead vegetation (kitchen scraps included) and when they poop it out it is a rich and natural form of fertilizer. They also help to aerate the soil so plant roots can breathe better.

And they make great pets for a five year old!

Talk soon!
by SpringFever on May 09, 2006 03:16 AM
You really should check into the worms Rucrazy they are great for the garden!!

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Tonight I am having friends for dinner... Hanibal Lector My Album
by Wrennie on May 09, 2006 05:26 AM
Maybe lattice around the A/C unit??

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 - Summer Camp '07, July 14th weekend, won't you join us?  -
summer camp thread 1, 2, 3,4
by Rebecca150 on May 09, 2006 05:50 AM
LATTICE! That's it! I was discussing a fence with my hubby but we were thinking along the lines of regular panel fencing and we knew that wouldn't work, it would disturb the airflow too much but lattice would work!

thank you wrennie! Freecycle here I come!
by rucrazy on May 09, 2006 06:05 AM
I know my dad used to say that if there are worms in the soil it means it's really rich. So, I usually don't disturb them when I encounter them, but I guess I'm going to have to check the organic forum to figure out how to get started on this fun project! [Big Grin] [Big Grin] [Big Grin]
by Gupleton on May 14, 2006 01:59 PM
Lattice! Yes. That is a bit of a challenge to do cheap. I just made one today, as a matter of fact, out of my free bamboo. A small one. Lots of work, though--experimenting with traditional Japanese knots. Very slow going. I think Japanese gardeners must have a LOT of time on their hands, and also that they must have someone to take care of their two-year-olds while they garden. But it *was* free except for the cost of the tools, the lashing cord and wire, and the Motrin for my aching back.
by sue099 on July 05, 2006 07:44 AM
not sure if the mods here allow links to be posted but if you go to directgardening.com at the top of the page they have a link to a section titled '1 c sale'. You still have to pay shipping but there is no minimum order required to get plants in that section and there are some amazing deals to be had on that site.
And all their plants are guaranteed for a year if you hold onto the shipping labels when they arrive.

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Nature is the art of God ~ Thomas Browne,1635
by rucrazy on July 05, 2006 08:49 AM
THanks for the tip, sue. I see some really good deals. Now, whre esle can I plant trees/flowers?!? I'm fresh out of ground, but containers???
by sue099 on July 07, 2006 01:52 PM
If you want to get some hanging baskets, try getting the plain wire ones and buy a bag of spahgnum(sp?) moss to line it with before filling it with soil as usual and planting it up.
This is something I don't see often over here in the US but is common practice in the UK where I'm originally from. You'll see the coconut matting with wire baskets or plastic baskets mostly.

The moss allows you to plant not only in the top of the basket but to poke small gaps through the sides of the basket itself to plant all the way around the sides. The end result is literally a ball of flowers and is just gorgeous in my opinion.

I've had a hard time finding the moss until this summer and most places want to sell you the wire baskets with the coconut matting, rather than just the baskets. But if you can find a place to get the supplies, the results are fantastic :-).

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Nature is the art of God ~ Thomas Browne,1635
by buzylady on July 07, 2006 03:00 PM
I did the moss thing. My plants dried out too fast. The water runs out so fast. A baggy could be torn apart and layed in the basket between the moss and the dirt to possably hold some of the water. I didn't try it ,but it sounds good to me. What do you think?

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by buzylady on July 07, 2006 03:08 PM
oh, and the lattice sound like the ticket.
Reading this post from the beginning, reminded me of me in the spring. So many plans my head swims. The winter dolldrums need chased away. I'm halfway thru my plans I made this spring. A new pond and secret garden.
I hope your plans are working out.

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by rucrazy on July 07, 2006 03:10 PM
Thanks, Sue. I have been having problems finding the moss you're talking about. I find the other wirey one.
So what part of the UK are you from and how long ago did you move here? [flower] [flower] [flower]
by rucrazy on July 07, 2006 04:00 PM
Buzylazy, your pond is gorgeous!
by rucrazy on July 07, 2006 04:00 PM
OOOPS! I meant - Buzylady!!! Sorry..
by buzylady on July 08, 2006 02:34 AM
Thanks. I really enjoy working with the pond. Hope to get another started soon.
The type-o didn't bother me. It was rather funny.

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by swin on August 17, 2006 02:37 PM
Iam living in an area where builders are taring down old homes to make way for condos and if you talk to the builders they will let you dig up the shrubs and haul them off. So you can check out the primets being issued by the building depts in your area and get in touch with the builders and see if you can remove the vergatation for them, before they go in to take the houses down.
swin
by swin on August 17, 2006 02:57 PM
sue if you go to a florist you can get them to order you a box of sheet moss form their suppliers, whole sale it goes for about $35.00 a case, but it has enough moss in it to line a lot of baskets, just keep the box moist until you use it all up . When you are talking to the florist make it clear that you want fresh moss and not the preserved sheet moss.
swin
by sue099 on September 22, 2006 04:39 AM
buzylady: Yeah they probably dry out a bit quicker than a plastic hanging basket.
As far as the water running out too fast, you may need to make your moss layer thicker. They say to soak the moss and squeeze it out before lining the basket, and make sure that the moss is thick enough and densely packed all the way up to the top of the basket to where you can't see any of the wire at all.
The adding a baggy to the inside to line it may help, but probably depends on the plants you want to put in it since the water would then not drain out much and might cause some waterlogging, especially in wet weather. I haven't tried it though.

rucrazy: I grew up in Reading, about 50 miles west of London, and then lived in Cambridge for a few years before I moved here in 1992 with my USAF hubby :-)

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Nature is the art of God ~ Thomas Browne,1635
by sue099 on September 22, 2006 04:42 AM
so rebecca...hows things coming with your garden now? Any new photos?

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Nature is the art of God ~ Thomas Browne,1635
by slredmond on October 11, 2006 12:14 AM
Buzylady - OK - gotta know about those puppies! They are adorable. What breed are they?

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Sandy R.
by buzylady on October 11, 2006 01:49 AM
Oh, my babies are Rottweilers. I now have 2 females adults and 1 male puppy. Our Daddy male 'Hooch' died this summer. The puppy we kept is one of his. They are great.(Though the puppy is driving me crazy)
Diane

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