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Post  Luvslions on 5/21/2019, 1:36 am

Hello all. I’m in Edmonton and am trying my hand for the first time at outdoor gardening (and posting on a forum too!).
We purchased our house two years ago and I think I have a great space to work with for an edible garden. At some point, prior owners of the home had a garden and so we have a row of completely overgrown raspberry bushes as well as raspberry plants randomly popping up throughout the garden. We also have a huge rhubarb plant that has come back each year. And next to our lawn, we have a huge, and very happy, weed/grass garden for the last two years.

After some research, I decided to try a no-till, back to Eden combination method for controlling weeds and grass, but with a square foot garden approach to planting. So, as soon as the snow cleared this year, I laid out cardboard over the entire garden area (30x15’). I want to start much smaller for my first attempt gardening so plan two 4x6’ gardening beds within this larger area. I had all the trees around the yard trimmed back including a very overgrown crabapple tree. Then it snowed some more, of course, which was perfect for soaking the cardboard. When it melted again, I began preparing the two 4x6 foot garden beds marking off the corners and walkways around them. I hoed the top two inches or so of soil and put down a layer of newspaper in these beds and then filled them with a 6” layer of sea soil compost. I then put a 6” layer of hemp mulch down over the cardboard and walkways planning to allow it to suffocate weeds underneath as it breaks down over the next couple of years just reading mulch each year.  It has the benefit of keeping it from being muddy as well which I like. If I can figure out how to post them, maybe some pictures...

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I cut back all the dead wood around the raspberries and all the raspberries growing into the walkway as well. (Ouch! Thorns!)

While preparing the garden beds, I was simultaneously starting seeds indoors and planning the garden layout with a gardening program. I was also watching a lot of how-to videos online for germination of different seeds and transplanting.

I read that potatoes are very easy to grow and can help break up and condition soil so figured I wouldn’t have much to lose by planting into the cardboard part of the garden and ignoring them. The last week in April, I planted 8 pre-chitted potatoes. I cut 8 soup-can sized holes into the cardboard, dug holes deep enough for the starters, and covered with 2” sea soil compost and 4” hemp mulch.  (1/sq ft). I watered them well after planting.

The first week of May, with the weather expected to stay above freezing even at night for a couple weeks, we planted our first seeds into the prepped beds. 3 types of peas, 3 types of carrots, and romaine lettuce. I also transplanted two types of strawberry plants into the outdoor garden.

And here is where things are starting to go wrong so any input would be greatly appreciated...

First, on Thursday, May 16th, I found green seedlings poking out of the hemp mulch all around where I had planted the potatoes. Pulling back some of the mulch, I found the cardboard underneath in tact and hundreds more sprouted seedlings near the wet cardboard. I pulled out 20 or so of them, grabbed a handful of the mulch with the seedlings mixed in and took it to the garden center where I had purchased the hemp mulch. It appears I may have managed to grow hemp really successfully.... sigh. Returning home, I checked several other parts of the garden and am finding sprouts anywhere it’s wet (probably why they came through by the potatoes first since I watered there). The garden centre asked for a week to grow up the seedlings and confirm if it’s hemp or something else, but in the mean time, I have started finding these same seedlings in my prepared beds and am thinking I’m going to have to remove all the hemp mulch and replace it. I have already stripped the mulch away from the potatoes leaving them more exposed than I would like to weather. So many are growing and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to manage all the “weeding” now required by me putting in mulch to control the weeds.

Second, I was not seeing germination of anything I planted in the garden. None of the three types of carrots. I have kept the soil moist, had a thin layer of the hemp mulch on top of where the seeds were planted to protect the seedlings from cold at night as well. (Probably will grow hemp there too!). I did find the peas have sprouted this weekend and some of the lettuce seeds have sprouted now, but still no sign of carrots.

Third, something is digging up around the potatoes and strawberry plants. Thursday, one of the strawberry transplants was gone. Friday, another gone. Our dog keeps running through the garden area but when I see her it’s always on the hemp paths. I purchased a mesh tunnel to protect the strawberries and my husband and I built a crude chicken wire fence to surround the entire garden area keeping the dog and hopefully anything else out now.

And lastly, i put out my very pretty healthy indoor-grown plants for three hours to start hardening them off. Three hours in shade and a slight breeze and when I went to bring them inside, they were quite sad looking. The pole bean leaves were shriveled, the marigolds leaves were curling, etc etc. Was it too cold still? I put them out from 10:30 to 1:30. Temperatures that day were low of 42F and high of 60F. They were in the sun for about a half hour of that time at the end. In any case, somehow they have mostly managed to recover, but I have not taken them back outside since and am not sure how to harden them off safely.

Well, that’s where I’m at so far. I don’t know how successful I’ll end up being at gardening, but so far I’m enjoying the first signs of growth both indoors and outside. Hopefully, at the end of this trial I’ll end up with edible food and a plethora of new knowledge.

Thanks for any comments and help in advance.
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Post  Luvslions on 5/21/2019, 1:46 am


Pic of the seedlings growing in the hemp:
First garden in Alberta 566fa510
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Post  sanderson on 5/21/2019, 2:13 am

Shocked You are having an exciting time! I think I recommended in the other thread to read the book ALL NEW Square Foot Gardening, 2nd or 3rd Edition. There's a lot of good info in it. Your library may have a copy.

Here's just some ideas I have. Others may also contribute.

1. Harden the seedlings off when the temps are 60*F or warmer.

2. I'm going to send the photo of the seedlings to someone to see if they can verify it's hemp. If so, go ahead and pluck all of them out.

3. Make bed frames (boards 2"x8" are a perfect size lumber) for each bed. Cardboard is fine or use weed fabric at the bottom. Fill with ____. We use Mel's Mix. 1/3 coarse vermiculite, 1/3 fluffed peat moss and 1/3 blended composts.

4. Use bedding straw from an ag supply as mulch. Use wood chips (often free from tree services) for the pathways.

You have already done a LOT of hard work and we want you to have a successful garden (or as most people do, have some successes for this first year). BIG hug

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Post  AtlantaMarie on 5/21/2019, 6:48 am

Luvslions, welcome from Atlanta, GA! You've got a GREAT spot for your garden!!

Sanderson is correct on hardening off temps. And I start with a shorter time that first couple of days. One hour, then 2 the next day.

Carrots are notoriously slow to germinate (same with parsley, btw)... And really picky to start with.

I would make a recommendation for the areas along the fence-line, especially if you decide to put in bed frames as Sanderson suggests - put some sort of plastic barrier underneath the fence & boards to prevent grass & weeds from growing there. If they get a foothold, it's miserable to get rid of them. Ask me how I know, lol!

Raspberries - You might look in the archives for posts by GWN. She lives in the Pacific NW & has something like 200 raspberry bushes & is VERY knowledgeable.

You're off to a great start! I'm looking forward to seeing this progress!!
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Post  countrynaturals on 5/21/2019, 1:46 pm

Luvslions, welcome from Redding, CA. I use the cold composting method, so I always have weed sprouts in all of my beds and containers. I just snip them off and leave them for mulch, but it's easier for me cuz my beds and pots are all waist-high or close to it, so my plants are all accessible.

Carrots are slow and finicky. I failed at those my first year.

Many of us here do some BTE along with our SFG. Personally, I use SFG for small, pretty, fussy, and bush-type veggies and BTE for the perennials and large ramblers and climbers.
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Post  Luvslions on 5/22/2019, 6:17 pm

@sanderson - ty for the feedback. I have gotten a copy of the 3rd edition book from the library. As for building beds, this first year, I wanted to see how I like gardening before I tried to build anything both for cost reasons and labor. So, I used what we had around the yard to make raised slightly beds. The beds have some wood along them and some sticks from the raspberry bushes that were dead wood to mark off squares. I mulched with cardboard and hemp mulch heavily between the beds as a walkway. If I’m enjoying gardening and want to keep at it, next year I’ll see about building true beds.
Ok for hardening off, I probably put them out when it was still too cold. This week it is getting to or above 60F everyday. Today I brought out the plants for about 45 minutes in the shade and they all came in looking fine. So that’s a good sign.
As for the hemp-looking seedlings, so far it’s working to pull them as I see them though it’s taking a lot of time. So at least that’s working!

@AtlantaMarie thanks for the welcome. I grew up in Atlanta. I love the southern US and do miss a lot about it. Like, not having snow 6 months of the year!
So as to the fence line, that’s where the overgrown raspberry bushes are located. Last fall, I had the gardeners we hire to do snow shovelling and grass maintenance cut back all raspberry bushes growing more than two feet from the fence. And this spring, I cut back all the old shoots/wood that were dead and trimmed the remaining down to no higher than 6 ft tall. They are now growing like crazy and look very happy and healthy. Hopefully this year, my daughters and I will be able to reach and eat all the good raspberries. Last year, the overgrown, too thick bushes just had too many thorns to get many of the raspberries. We did get a LOT from just picking them from the outside edges though.
I replanted all my carrots yesterday. Maybe they will take this round. I watered the carrot squares heavily before sowing this time and I topped with mulch. This round, I’m going to watch the moisture much more closely. I think they may have dried out last round. Of course, the temperatures have also been too low for germination possibly until this last week. It’s a good bit warmer now than when I sowed the first batches.

@countrynaturals thanks for the feedback and welcome.
I don’t think I’d like cold composting if it meant I was adding weeds to my beds all the time, though if you just have to snip off their heads and that’s it, that doesn’t sound so bad. I guess when I think of weeding, I think of grass with dandelions that need to be removed. And my experience with that is that the weeds always come back no matter what I do to them even if I kill everything else near them. I’m really hopeful that the layer of cardboard below the mulch in the larger section of garden that I’m not planting this year will significantly weaken those deep horrible weeds.

So today, I harvested so much rhubarb that I couldn’t carry it all in my hands alone. I gave it all to the very appreciative next door neighbor as none of my family will eat it.
Before harvest and a couple stalks:
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Here are the raspberries:
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And my 3 varieties of peas are growing:
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Over the weekend, my husband and I built a crude chain link fence because the dog was pulling out my strawberry bushes and potatoes. I also transplanted romaine lettuce, broccoli, and squash.
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Today I sowed marigolds and nasturtium around the garden area.

So far, keeping me busy and enjoying the challenges.
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Post  countrynaturals on 5/22/2019, 9:05 pm

You're off to a great start, Luvslions. Lookin' forward to watching your progress. Cool 


@LuvsLions wrote:So today, I harvested so much rhubarb that I couldn’t carry it all in my hands alone. I gave it all to the very appreciative next door neighbor as none of my family will eat it.

I think plants are like dogs and kids -- they know who doesn't like them and that's where they want to be. In LV, we had rosemary coming out our ears (it was a hedge along our sidewalk.) We didn't use it, but our neighbor loved it and couldn't grow it. It took a long time to convince her we didn't mind if she helped herself, and every time we trimmed that hedge, we knocked on her door with piles of cuttings.
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Post  Scorpio Rising on 5/22/2019, 9:20 pm

glad you\'re here Hi!  Sorry I have missed you, Luvslions!  So glad you are here, and your garden looks amazing!  

Thanks for the pics, that helps a lot, plus looks like you got it goin’ on.

I am jealous of your rhubarb.  I had a nice big clump of it at my previous house, which I brought a chink, but it didn’t survive.  3 other efforts have failed.  I have a starkrimson now that has made it through the winter, so fingers crossed!  You might try this pie, one of our fam faves, and super easy!

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/216992/favorite-strawberry-rhubarb-pie/

Welcome again!
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Post  sanderson on 5/25/2019, 3:38 am

Thank you for posting the photos. thanks We do like photos. It looks like you are off to a good start.

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Post  Kelejan on 5/26/2019, 4:51 pm

:welcome:luvslions   happy hi

from Kelejan in British Columbia.

You mention that your beds are 4 x 6 feet.  I am a small person myself and I find the 4 foot wide beds means that when I try to weed in the middles, I am inclined to fall in and disturb the soil so instead all my beds are no wider than 3 foot then I can work from both sides and can easily reach the middle. :-)

You really have been busy and I wish you a bountiful harvest and can assure that there is always something that is successful. hungry and it is fun trying something new each year.
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First garden in Alberta Empty Garden center plants are all so much bigger...

Post  Luvslions on 5/27/2019, 4:40 pm

So I went to Canadian Tire today to take advantage of a sale they were having on pruning shears and a trellis, and while I was there I looked at their plants. All their plants are so much further along than mine. Their pepper plants have buds on them, their broccoli is full and big and mine is a couple inches, etc

I’m starting to wonder if starting from seed was a bad idea. The package of broccoli seeds was $3 or so and they were selling well established 4” potted plants for $1.99. Herbs for $0.99....
Do any of you ever wonder the same? With such a short growing season up here in Canada, should I not be messing with starting from seeds? I suppose that I do get to choose my variety when starting from seed and I did get a lot of joy nurturing the plants up to now. Are there some plants you always buy from a store already growing?
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Post  Luvslions on 5/27/2019, 5:25 pm

@Kelejan yes, I’m regretting making my beds 4’ wide because I too have trouble reaching into them. If all goes well this year and I decide to garden regularly, I think I will re-layout the garden area. I want a slightly wider walkway in between the beds as well. Right now the walkway is a little over a foot wide. I think it needs to be 2’ to be most practical. Also, I think the crabapple tree will cast shade on one of the beds once it grows back from the heavy trimming we had a tree service do early this spring. So, I’ll build raised beds for next year and probably redo the layout based on what I’m learning this year.

My rhubarb is bolting... from videos and researching growing rhubarb it sounds like I should remove the flowering stalks to get a better harvest or let the go to seed if I don’t care about a bigger harvest. It shouldn’t affect the flavour of the rhubarb I do harvest though, correct? (Per the suggestion above, I bought ingredients to make that pie this week!)
First garden in Alberta Fc6a1810

And the biggest, fattest worm I’ve ever seen was out this morning in the grass a couple feet from my garden... I helped him by moving him much closer to my veggies.

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Carrots sprouted! I can’t believe how long it took (3.5 weeks) and that they actually are growing now. I re-seeded the square because I thought the first round failed so now I’m going to have two times as many carrots in those squares if the second round also sprout. Crossing my fingers that it will mean some tasty baby carrots when it comes time to thin them.
I picked up the ANSFG book from the library and the librarian asked me if I had SFG before. We started chatting and she has been SFG for 8 years here and so might be a great resource for me as well. In addition, she said her carrots did exactly the same thing this year so I think it was the weather conditions.

Speaking of weather, still too cold at night to plant my cucumbers, beans, and peppers outside (hovering in the low 40s at night), but will be 29C/85F Wednesday. Will be interesting to see how that affects my plants already in the garden.

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Post  OhioGardener on 5/27/2019, 6:27 pm

@Luvslions wrote:My rhubarb is bolting... from videos and researching growing rhubarb it sounds like I should remove the flowering stalks to get a better harvest or let the go to seed if I don’t care about a bigger harvest. It shouldn’t affect the flavour of the rhubarb I do harvest though, correct? (Per the suggestion above, I bought ingredients to make that pie this week!)

It is best to remove the seed head as soon as they appear - cut them off as close to the crown as possible, without damaging the crown. If the seeds are allowed to form, the plant will use its energy for that instead of feeding the roots.  If you keep the seed heads cut out, the roots will be stronger for next year. The seeds that form are pretty useless anyway - plants grown from the seeds will not come true to the parent plant, and you never know what you will get.
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Post  Luvslions on 5/27/2019, 10:43 pm

Ok! Cut out the seeds stalks and harvested some for the pie as well.
First garden in Alberta A4aff910

Thanks for the feedback!
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Post  OhioGardener on 5/28/2019, 8:27 am

I see a delicious pie in the making...   First garden in Alberta 3170584802
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Post  bluelacedredhead on 5/28/2019, 4:21 pm

Luvslions, Welcome from Southern Ontario.  I've been away from the forum for a bit so just noticed you posting of late. Looks like you are off to a great start with your garden!!  Lots of knowledgeable people here to help. Good Luck!
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Post  Luvslions on 5/28/2019, 9:14 pm

Well, second pie I’ve ever made and first time using rhubarb. Pie turned out well, but the flavour is still not for me. The sweet at first balanced by the tangy/bitter was fine but it creates a strange aftertaste.
Younger daughter says “mmm that’s good” then I said “do you want a piece?” She says “no, I don’t think I should ever eat that mommy. It probably isn’t good for me”... translation:
Thanks for making it mom but please don’t feel badly that I don’t like it.


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Was worth a try since it grows so nicely in the yard without me doing anything at all for it.
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Post  OhioGardener on 5/28/2019, 9:22 pm

@Luvslions wrote:Well, second pie I’ve ever made and first time using rhubarb. Pie turned out well, but the flavour is still not for me. The sweet at first balanced by the tangy/bitter was fine but it creates a strange aftertaste.

You need to add a couple tablespoonful of lemon juice to the rhubarb when you are preparing it for the pie - makes a great taste, and eliminates the "aftertaste".
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Post  Scorpio Rising on 5/28/2019, 9:39 pm

Yeah...IMO, rhubarb needs sugar.  Otherwise it is a bit off...

My best combo is strawberry rhubarb.  Must do the tapioca recipe.  I posted it earlier! Try it, you will be a convert...and if you want to go all out; a scoop of Breyer’s Vanilla!  Or similar....
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Post  Luvslions on 5/30/2019, 6:34 pm

So the garden center has confirmed the hemp mulch sold to me is contaminated with seeds and I’m growing thousands of hemp plants in my garden now. 😥 The owner of the store offered to give me more free hemp mulch from a new batch to match what we bought or to give us a strong acetic acid based spray to kill them all. Honestly, neither of those make it right for me as there is cost, my time, growing time, and worst part, labor. Plus, what happens if it grows back multiple years? Or if it spreads to the lawn or the other garden areas? We don’t want to grow hemp and I really don’t want to spray an herbicide that will kill all living plants and possibly hurt living creatures too.

And, to match my crappy disheartening hemp news, the wildfires north of here have the skies a dark orange, almost night-time, with a horrible smoke smell. At least I didn’t need to go out to the garden to see the sea of green hemp seedlings.
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Post  Kelejan on 5/30/2019, 7:00 pm

I feel for you, Luvslions.  It is no laughing matter when you have put in so much time and energy.  Perhaps smother it with newspaper or plastic or black cloth and that is more expense and labour which IMO should be borne by the people who sold the mulch to your supplier. Sad

Any other ideas,  fellow gardeners?
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Post  countrynaturals on 5/30/2019, 8:06 pm

@Kelejan wrote:I feel for you, Luvslions.  It is no laughing matter when you have put in so much time and energy.  Perhaps smother it with newspaper or plastic or black cloth and that is more expense and labour which IMO should be borne by the people who sold the mulch to your supplier. Sad

Any other ideas,  fellow gardeners?
Weed-whack any open areas. Snip off the plants wherever the weed-whacker can't be used. Get everything you can out of the people who sold you the stuff to begin with. Evil or Very Mad 

Hang in there, Luvslions. Every year we all go through something challenging. Last year we had the fires, orange sky, and foul air, so I can definitely relate to that, too. Sad
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First garden in Alberta Empty Re: First garden in Alberta

Post  sanderson on 6/4/2019, 2:40 pm

Luvs,  I haven't read anything about a fire in your area, but I do know they are nasty to deal with.  All the smoke and even fine ash that settles over everything.

About the hemp seedlings, can you just keep pulling them while they are seedlings?  It seems that if the terminal ends/growing tips are removed, they won't grow any further and just die.  The acetic acid the nursery offered is just a vinegar-based spray that you can make yourself.  But, it's best used on individual seedlings, not broadly used.  If you used the hemp straw in the walkways, you can wet it and smoother with clean 3-4 mil plastic sheeting.  The sun shine can get through and force seedlings to grow and then burn them.  It will be slippery walking on the plastic so be careful.

 http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74145.html

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First garden in Alberta Empty Re: First garden in Alberta

Post  Turan on 6/4/2019, 6:05 pm

Hello Luvs from due south of you in Montana. 

The hemp seedlings are easy enough, they have no major root system. Anything that upsets them will finish them.  You want them all to sprout at this time, and that will not let them then grow to big plants.  Just lifting and turning mulch with a rake should disrupt the sprouts enough.  Any you pull lay on the mulch, they will die and give you more mulch.  The hemp will not spread if you keep dealing with the sprouts.
This is a problem common with straw mulch as well, they do not get all the seed out when combining the fields.

I would put mulch back around your potatoes, but shake out any seeds and pull any hemp that gets started there. 

Hardening off your starts, put a light cloth like cheese cloth over them to dilute the sun at first. 

THe nurseries have heated greenhouses to grow starts in.  They make a great fall back and fill in when our plans get altered. It is a big step to grow all your own starts your first year of gardening, Kudos to you!  Many of us have a mixed approach, buy some common varieties and start our special favorites. 

Have a great gardening year!

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First garden in Alberta Empty Re: First garden in Alberta

Post  sanderson on 6/4/2019, 6:55 pm

@Turan wrote:THe nurseries have heated greenhouses to grow starts in.  They make a great fall back and fill in when our plans get altered. It is a big step to grow all your own starts your first year of gardening, Kudos to you!  Many of us have a mixed approach, buy some common varieties and start our special favorites. 

Have a great gardening year!
+1 This year, I had to fall back on buying some common nursery starts. I just checked each start to make sure I wasn't bringing home some unwanted hitch hiker. Shocked

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