Free plants for the garden

At the end of last week, I called someone who was offering gardening supplies for free on CL.  After a short conversation, we both agreed that none of what she had was what I needed.  Then she mentioned she had a lot of perennials that I was welcome to since she’s moving away, and told me to call her back in the beginning of this week when things quieted down.  So I did!

Today I went over with a couple of the kids, and we got a bunch of nice plants -free -to add to the garden.  The woman herself was so nice – you could tell she loves gardening and said she was glad to give her plants to people who would enjoy them. We got a lot of strawberry plants – we got home when it was dark so we haven’t transplanted them yet.  Anyway, I’ll count how many we have when we transplant them, but it’s a lot.  I also got lemon balm (smells amazing! and also good for tea), mint (I think it’s spearmint, but not sure – my mint in a pot is alive but hasn’t thrived this year – also good for tea and upset stomachs), St. John’s wort (chosen because I prefer plants that are dual purpose, and this is medicinal), and bee balm (I don’t know if it has a medicinal value or not, but it attracts bees and butterflies, which are beneficial to the garden).  There were many other plants I could have taken but I’m not interested in flowers that only look pretty.

In addition to that, I got a nice sized agave cactus/aloe plant, a few pots of columbine, and a huge amount of scarlet cockscomb.  I got these just because they were so pretty and thought they’d look nice in the yard, and put them in front of the front porch.  We had three blueberry bushes there, but I had ds10 move them to a different part of the yard a  week and a half ago (the area I’ve named ‘the orchard’ because of my plans for it – a little presumptuous for a small side yard, but the kids like the sound of it! :)).  I was planning to make a small raised garden bed in front and fill it with ornamental edible greens, but the space is now taken by ornamental non edible cockscomb instead.  I planted most of the cockscomb after I got home, thinking that it was easier to plant them in the coolness of the evening than do it in the heat tomorrow.  It was a lot of work, and they’re such beautiful plants -I hope they’ll transplant successfully. 

But I still have everything else to plant tomorrow morning!  When we took apart the platform deck to replace it with a brick patio, I saved the wood.  When we built that deck, I got all of the supporting boards free from someone who had taken his deck apart, and we used a high quality plywood for the top.  With the boards, we’ve so far built three new raised beds (each 9′ x 3′ 2″), and hopefully will make a fourth in the next day or two (I need to buy just one more board – I have one the right length, but it’s a little narrower than the others and I’d like them all to be identical and uniform).  I have more plans for repurposing the plywood – any guesses?? :)  But we have to finish this patio/garden work before starting another project.  Those four beds are going in my backyard, right where the mountain of dirt from digging the patio is, near where my first raised beds were built last summer. It’s fun to keep finding more and more way to fit more in – my ds16 was commenting that it seems strange, but even though our yard has so much more in it, it feels bigger now. 

It’s been a lot of work to fill the new raised beds with that dirt, since the mountain was in the way of being able to put the empty boxes in.  But three raised beds are full now.  I was planning to get composted manure to add to the soil in the new beds to boost the soil strength, but the person I got some from a few months ago said the new batch isn’t yet composted and to call him back in a month.  Of course I could go buy compost but that’s not going to happen. :)  We compost all of our kitchen scraps, sometimes putting them in the compost tumbler, but in the summer, we’ve been keeping it very simple.  We either bury it deep in an empty part of a raised bed or pile it on top of the area surrounding the garden plants.  In the latter case, what I did was cover the soil with a flattened cardboard box to act as a mulch, put the scraps on top, and take a couple of shovels of dirt from the mountain to cover it.  That’s pretty much my daily way to do it now that the weather is so warm.  I’m hoping that once we fill all the new raised beds, we can add the rest of the dirt to the soil of the lasagna beds in back.  Right now it’s a little challenging since the plants are in the way, though.  Once we can do that, they’ll be higher, more like raised beds, and we won’t have to make yet another trip to the dump to get rid of all the dirt!


10 thoughts on “Free plants for the garden

  1. Where do the kids play if your yard is slowly being taken over by plants and raised beds? You have more kids than I do and they love to romp. My backyard isn’t mine and is it very shady from the trees in it, so I have nothing growing (except the grapes, the black walnutttree (with no walnuts again this year) and the non-pear having pear tree).

  2. Kerith – nope, nope, nope! I’ll let you keep guessing until we get to that part of things – I woke up the last few days thinking about the technical plan for them. Something else to find room in the yard for.:)

    Yael – this was a real consideration, one that kept me from gardening sooner. I don’t have a huge yard by any means, and initially I felt it wasn’t fair to the kids to co-opt their play area. That’s why I started with raised beds around the perimeter of one part. Then I watched how they actually used different parts of the yard, and how much they used it. In the back behind where the patio now is, we had a full sized basketball hoop. That’s all they did there, was shoot baskets. So I made a deal with them – I’d get a family membership to the local JCC (a few minutes away by foot) where they could use the gym and other features in air conditioned comfort, and I’d convert the basketball area to a garden. They were fine with that. That’s what I’ve turned into the main garden, with the lasagna beds.

    The kids also like to play catch in the side yard, so I won’t put garden boxes there. Instead, I’ve lined each side with blueberry bushes so they can still play in the center. There’s a raised bed with strawberries there but it’s against the fence that divides the front and the back yard so it doesn’t make a difference. I’m going to put fruit trees down the center between the berry bushes, eventually, but once the trees get high enough they’ll still be able to have a catch there.

    The new garden boxes are in the side part of the back yard where I originally put the other raised beds. That’s also where my clothesline is, and I saw that the kids didn’t really play there much. So the new beds are under where the clothesline area (I’ll see how that works out over time). The new patio in the back is much larger than the deck was and since it’s flush with the ground, it actually feels like they have more play area there than before since it’s a flat uninterrupted area. They still have the front yard, which is where the littles prefer to play anyway – it’s by the sidewalk where they ride their little cars and where they see a neighbor they like to play with.

    It’s probably hard to picture, but as I said, though I’m now able to have so much growing space, it doesn’t feel like the yard has shrunk since we’re using the areas that we saw the kids weren’t really using.

  3. i’m guessing succah expansion with the boards? 2nd guess would be a kids’ clubhouse/playhouse of some kind… maybe we need a hint…

  4. I don’t like to talk about things until I do them, which is why I’m not mentioning details. Here’s as close as a hint as I’m going to give, and it’s only going to possibly help you, Julie…the hint is, you’re the only one likely to guess. Or maybe mamamoomoo. Helpful,right? :)

    Yael – right now we’re drying clothes at the end of the line that doesn’t hang over the dirt mountain. I think it will be manageable since there will be paths between the garden beds to walk on. Or maybe I should say I hope it will be manageable. :))

  5. Hrmmm I’d possibly be able to guess? Hrmm does that mean its something i myself made out of wood?
    A dehydrator? 😛 Na, you have your own bought one, not a made from scratch one. A chicken coop? 😛 Those are my only two guesses…

  6. Mine isnt made out of wood. Its made out of some old metal bed frames, a metal bed rail, and chicken wire. 😛 I figured you werent talking about rabbit cages because that’s not your type, from what i’ve seen, but chickens seem to be.

  7. Monarda is incredibly medicinal- bee-balm, that is! Monarda fistulosa is the bee balm version of the monarda family, and is used in so many wonderful remedies, such as colds and flus, infections, inflammations- and as a cooking spice! I’d highly recommend looking at for more information- Rosalee is fantastic at summing up all the wonder that you can get from this awesome plant!

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