Tips for gardeners when moving

By Tom Seymour | Oct 22, 2020
Photo by: Tom Seymour Late-season chard lingers in Earth Box.

My house is on the market and I plan on moving soon. Moving ranks as one of the more stressful events in life and I can attest to the veracity of that statement.

As taxing as it is just to re-settle, it’s even more difficult for gardeners. Some of the questions on our minds are, will there be ample sunlight at my new place? Will there be room for a spacious garden or gardens? What about animal and insect pests?

These thoughts and more cloud our minds as we prepare to pull up stakes and head for different surroundings. While there isn’t much we can do about the situation at whatever place we find to move to, there are some things we, as gardeners ought to keep in mind beforehand.

Pest-Proofing

Just as Maine prohibits the importation of firewood from other states in order to restrict the transfer of insect pests, gardeners should adopt that same philosophy when moving.

Here’s a for-instance. Ambershell snails, an entirely new, introduced species of snail, are present at my present location. Wet weather encourages these pests to multiply and they do so by depositing thin patches of fertilized eggs on solid object, including planters and containers.

At first glance it wouldn’t seem that shell-carrying snails could pose much of a problem for gardeners, they in fact do considerable damage. These snails, even the juvenile ones, eat leaves of our garden plants. Also, they tend to hide in crinkled foliage of kale. They infest most green, leafy plants as well as other garden favorites.

Will I find ambershell snails at my new location, wherever it may be? I don’t know. Neither do I wish to introduce them to my new place. The only way to do that is to empty all soil from all containers and then sterilize the containers with a solution of water and Clorox bleach.

Speaking of soil, all manner of insect pests, including some wee-tiny ones, can live in the soil. Many of the pests we do battle with during the growing season overwinter in the soil.

Of course I will need to divide some of my perennial plants to take along with me, and the safest way to do that is to use clean, pest-free soil. Potting soil and composted planting soil, commercially available from garden centers and hardware outlets, should work fine for this purpose. While it is tempting to just use garden soil, the possibility of transferring insect pest exists and I don’t want to take that chance.

So a thorough cleaning of all pots and containers must take place. This included EarthBoxes. Even though I only refilled my EarthBoxes last spring with new potting soil, the chance that some pest has taken up residence is too great to ignore.

Starting Over

As daunting as it seems to go about establishing new gardens, it also comes with some upbeat possibilities. It can even be exciting, this starting over.

Like the leaves on the various tree species, every garden situation differs from another. The challenge is in making the best of whatever situation you are dealt with. With a tight real estate market, houses don’t last long on the market before someone buys one. So if you find a place that meets your needs and sits in your price range, other considerations such as garden space may not be worth breaking a deal over.

That’s because wherever you have sunlight, there you can have some sort of garden. Perhaps a raised bed or two will suffice, or maybe an in-ground site will be possible. We must make due with what we have and work with it.

This is where container gardening comes in very handy. Readers may recall the column I write this past summer about Alice Redmond, the lady who grows so many great vegetables and flowers in containers. In fact, Alice got so many tomatoes that she still has oodles of them to use.

Alice gave me some fresh tomatoes the other day and I reveled in this late-season bounty. My point here is that where there is a will there is a way and the indomitable spirit of the avid gardener will always prevail.

The reason I promote container gardening for those gardeners who are starting over is because even if your in-ground site isn’t ready, container gardening is instant. Fill the container, add seeds or seedlings and bingo! Instant garden.

Even those with spacious in-ground gardens often add to their outdoor décor with containers. In this case, hanging baskets, such as Alice Redmond used to grow all those tomatoes, add another dimension to any garden setting. Instead of the eye focusing primarily on the ground, both ground-level gardens and hanging baskets fill the field of vision, making for a better-rounded view.

One final suggestion. Since it is now mid-fall, take photos of your new grounds before the snow flies. That way, you can view your site from the comfort of your home office and make plans accordingly. Good luck and happy gardening.

Tom Seymour of Waldo is a homeowner, gardener, forager, naturalist, Registered Maine Guide, amateur astronomer, magazine and newspaper columnist and book author.

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