The Guerrilla Gardening Guidebook – Long-Term Maintenance

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“The Garden Table” – Rebecca Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – This is my last project… Not so much a guerrilla garden as we have a ten-year lease on the property… But urban none the less… No budget… All recycled and salvaged materials…

Long Term Maintenance

This post is part of a larger body of work titled ”The Guerrilla Gardening Guidebook”. For the introduction and table of contents please click here

Long-term maintenance is the killer of most guerrilla gardens. ALL GARDENS REQUIRE REGULAR MAINTENANCE! Whether organic or chemical, food or ornamental, water or soil, privately owned or guerrilla, no garden is completely sustainable without maintenance. Way too many people plug “no work” gardening into Google and find themselves reading my blog, there is no such thing as a completely work free garden… Actually… I take that back… If you are searching the internet for no work gardening… Then you need to pay someone to install and maintain your garden, because essentially, that is what you are asking for… And that is what myself, as well as many others like me do for a living…

With that said, a garden should not be all work. I find all too often that the general public sees gardening as nothing but work. There are some steps you can take to cut down on the amount of maintenance that will be required over the life of your garden. The solution can be as simple as digging a small canal from the downspout of a nearby vacant building, to as complex as soil nutrient alterations in an attempt to discourage a certain type of weed. I find all too often most problems can be solved with minimal work using nothing more than your brain… If you only learn one thing here I would want it to be “work smarter, not harder”…

Litter is a constant problem in my neighborhood, people throw their shit everywhere. When the wind blows that litter around, it will usually stick to anything in its path… Often it will be your garden… You can look at this one of two ways… Either you can get pissed off about all the litter, and subsequently give up gardening in disgust… Or you can be happy over the fact that your garden makes litter removal a little bit easier… I am saying this because I truly believe that if you are going to guerrilla garden on someone else’s land, you should maintain that plot of land as if it were your own… And that typically means cleaning up trash and litter that you had nothing to do with…

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“Daylily before Blight” – Rebecca Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – Daylily make great guerrilla garden plants… Extremely hardy and tolerant of the harshest conditions… They require division every once in a while… You can see this as work or as a cheap source of plants…

Organic debris like leaves and grass clippings are very valuable in the guerrilla garden, they can provide a good percentage of the nutrient needs of a garden. Grass clippings are one of the most versatile materials available in urban environments, landscapers are often happy to part with them.

Many of the herbaceous perennials grown in formal gardens are cut back in the fall, most of these plants can be left through the winter. Winter weather breaks organic material down quickly, what is left of these plants in the spring quickly gets covered by new growth. A growing plant mines nutrients from the soil, nutrients that are stored in the leaves, these nutrients will have to be replaced if the organic material is removed so it is often best practice to leave the plants as they are.

Garden debris that is created can often be simply buried in the garden. Trench composting is a style of composting that involves digging a hole and filling it with whatever scrap organic material is available. In the case of a small guerrilla garden, any organic material you come in contact with can technically be buried. I do suggest sticking to smaller pieces in miniature gardens, digging through a layer of woven sticks and grass can prove to be impossible. Remember the bigger the material, the longer it will take to break down.

Guerrilla gardening is an opportunistic activity, sometimes soil, mulch or plants will suddenly become available… Successful guerrilla gardeners are always ready to take these items… Sometimes you will have to take some crap in order to get some good, beggars can’t be choosers… Vacant lots and guerrilla gardens provide unlimited opportunities, any free resource available to you should be considered. Oftentimes, the same things commonly thought of as only being found in high-end formal gardens can be available to the beggar who is willing to wait… Or willing to learn how to propagate plants… Which is the route I took… Now I can propagate just about anything…

An established guerrilla garden requires minimal maintenance. Occasional weeding and yearly mulch can keep a perennial guerrilla garden going for years. Guerrilla gardeners tend to be transient people, very few seem to stay in one location for very long and because of this vacant guerrilla gardens are becoming a normal occurrence. I find it funny that an activity that is commonly used as a protest against blight, could some day be considered a form of blight.

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

This site… And all the photographs and information presented within are provided free of charge by the author… I am not affiliated with any product or business… Only myself… Writing this blog takes a ton of time… If you find any of this information helpful, please consider purchasing a print from my online store… It is obviously not a requirement… But it helps…

I sell prints of my photography here – http://www.society6.com/chriscondello Or you can contact me directly at c.condello@hotmail.com for commissions or locally/personally produced prints… Thank you for reading…

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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Passionflowers as Houseplants

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“Red Pass” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – This post does not fit with my practical permaculture series… In fact… I’m not yet sure how I will classify this… All I know is I will be highlighting 100 plants this winter… Or 90 plants in 90 days… Or one for every actual day of winter…

Testing… Testing… One… Two… Three… This winter I’m going to highlight 100 different plants… Each one complete with original photography and information gained through constant research and practical hands on experience… This post is simply a test… I’m working on a format for the posts so I may post one from time to time before I actually begin… Anyway… Constructive criticism is welcome…

My girlfriend really likes passionflower… Therefore… I’m really good at growing them… And even more important… I can keep them alive over winter without a greenhouse, using a few simple tricks I plan to reveal in the following post…

passionflower tend to become very large plants, it is not uncommon for it to grow 50′ in a single summer… Though 30′ is more common… Living in the North has its restrictions as only a select few varieties are cold hardy, this is why I prefer to grow them in large pots.

passionflower, when available in my area, are almost always found in the greenhouse hanging out with the other tropical plants. I don’t recommend buying them anytime other than summer, this is due to the shock that would be experienced, if you were to move one from a humid greenhouse, into your climate controlled house without first hardening off the plant… A luxury that is often impossible in winter… Buy passionflower during the months when it can be brought home and placed immediately in the sun, this is simply to avoid stressing the plant out to the point of death.

Always re-pot your houseplants when you bring them home, this will stimulate a flurry of growth as the plant gets cozy in the fresh potting soil. This flush of new growth will require a large support system like a fence or trellis, it is important to have this place chosen and ready before you bring your plant home… This will be the plants permanent home until you bring it inside in winter, choose it wisely as you will not want to disturb it. I like to grow them up stair railings… My apartment has a second floor back porch… I grow the vines up the railings… A fence will also work… But be prepared to have 20′ of new growth per season… I would consider that the average…

When frost is near, and the evenings begin to get cool, I start pruning the plant back a little each day. The plant will often have 30′ of vine cut off it, you don’t want to do this all at one time. I find the plant reacts best when I take a little off the top each day for a week or two… By the time I am finished, I am left with nothing more than a little stub and a few leaves, this makes moving and storing the plants a million times easier.

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“Purple Pass” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – I’m working on a format that will highlight the type of information that is not normally found on the internet… My tips and secrets learned in the trenches of the garden…

One of the most common issues I come across with houseplants in winter is a lack of humidity in the air, this can be a nail in the coffin for any plant other than cacti and succulents. Many houseplants are tropical plants, therefore they require a certain amount of humidity in order to survive. Home climate control, particularly the furnace, dries the air out to the point where even humans have issues keeping their skin moist… Imagine what that does to a plant…

A simple solution is to create a humidity tray, this is nothing more than a tray underneath your potted plant containing small stones and constant water. As the water evaporates from the tray, it adds to the humidity around the plant… The key to this working is keeping the tray filled with fresh water… Don’t let it go stagnant… And don’t let it fester… Replace it regularly… If the water in the trays does begin to get all nasty… You have a humid house and the humidity tray is doing more bad than good… Passionflowers like to dry out a little bit between watering… They should not constantly sit in water…

During the winter months, whatever growth you manage to get will typically be stretched out and starved for light. It is important to water regularly, and feed the plant with a dilute solution of general-purpose fertilizer once a month. Winter is a tough time of year for passionflower, everything that you do to it should be in moderation… Do not stress the plant any more than you have to… Tropical plants, when brought inside, are super sensitive to stress… What would not be that big of a deal outdoors in Summer… Is a big deal indoors…

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“Red Pass Looking Down” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – Red passion-flower in all its glory… I will cut this 20′ vine down to a small nub come fall… It will slowly grow indoors all winter… In spring I will place it right back on the porch to grow up the rails…

Your plant will grow rather slowly indoors… I find it best to keep the plant under control on a small trellis… Anything that grows above the trellis is removed… In spring when the nights are above 60 degrees it is safe to move your plant outdoors… Remember… Though cold might not kill a plant… It will almost always stunt its growth… As is the case with many plants… This can very often be irreversible on tropical plants resulting in a slow death… So watch nighttime temperatures and plan accordingly…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

This site… And all the photographs and information presented within… Are provided free by the author… Me… I sell prints of some of my photography online – www.society6.com/chriscondello… Or you can contact me directly at c.condello@hotmail.com for commissions or locally/personally produced prints… Thank you for reading…

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.