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Mobile Home Living - Vegetable Gardens
Old 12-17-2010, 05:54 PM   #1
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Mobile Home Living - Vegetable Gardens

I recently retired and returned to the States after nearly 10 years overseas. My wife and I are attracted to the "perpetual traveler" lifestyle advocated by the Kaderlis. I believe the Kaderlis recommend keeping your Stateside overhead at a bear minimum and have accomplished this themselves by living in a mobile home park located somewhere in the Southwest. We wouldn't mind using a mobile home as a home base, but we have a passion for vegetable gardening and fear that there are no mobile home parks that will accommodate our interests. I've scoured the internet, but haven't found any myself. Has anyone run across a mobile home park that accommodates gardeners? But for the lack of gardening space, we really like the idea of a mobile home park because mobile homes are inexpensive and we could probably leave our home unattended for long periods of time without worrying about returning and finding it ransacked or converted into a meth lab. Any other ideas about how, or where, to maintain a home (with room for gardening) and satisfy the itch to travel for extended periods of time would be appreciated.
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Old 12-17-2010, 08:24 PM   #2
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Using a community garden patch?
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Old 12-17-2010, 08:30 PM   #3
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We have friends who live in a nice mobile home park whose residents are often snowbirds. It is absolutely a nice clean park with good security and friendly neighbors. Because of the age of the residents, I did not see much planting there. The little space around their home would allow for some container planting, but I don't know if you would want more room. I would think it is difficult to get a place where one can have a plot of a few hundred square feet.
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Old 12-17-2010, 08:46 PM   #4
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Why not just buy a small home in a safe area ? Most snowbird areas have services that will check on your house . We live close to some mobile home communities and while I can see their positive points they are so susceptible to damage in storms . We had a tropical storm a few years ago and I could not believe the damage to the mobile homes .
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Old 12-17-2010, 08:49 PM   #5
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The OP was thinking about the SouthWest, where one is a bit safer from hurricanes and tornadoes. But, but, but, the dry heat! OMG!

PS. May I suggest Texas, a nice state? Talk to Alan. He knows.
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Old 12-17-2010, 09:10 PM   #6
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Why not just buy a small home in a safe area?
We've thought of that, but there aren't very many "safe" areas where we would feel comfortable leaving our house unoccupied for 3-6 months at a time. We were attracted to mobile home parks because the initial cost is very reasonable, there tends to be retired neighbors around night and day, and mobile homes are not as attractive targets to most burglars.

We aren't totally sold on the idea of mobile home living as it appears to have one significant drawback -- little opportunity for gardening. But, we really like the low cost/low overhead and security that a mobile home park offers. I realize security/patrol services are available, but there's no substitute for having neighbors to actively watch your property while you are away. If we were not so concerned about security, we'd simply buy an acre in a rural area and bring in a mobile home . . . but, then we would sweat bullets when we were away. Having "stuff" is such a pain sometimes!
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Old 12-17-2010, 09:21 PM   #7
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My FIL lived in a mobile home park in Florida and he kept a small vegetable garden and several fruit trees.
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Old 12-18-2010, 01:17 AM   #8
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Some of my relatives live in a mobile home park in California and people have gardens on their property there, no problem. People there also have fruit trees. There are more upscale parks with more space than their park, which I would call below average.

My mom put a second storage structure on her property, or she would have more room. But she still has fruit trees in her back yard and on the side.

If she did not have fruit trees out back, I would say she could easily accommodate a garden of about 1.5 meters by 7 meters (~110 sq. feet). Without the second storage space she had built, it could be 50% larger (170 sq. feet). Most places in the park have this kind of space unless they got a huge manufactured home on their lot. There is also space on the side that is landscaped that could be used for gardening.

I think this is a typical situation. I would advise looking at some parks and just seeing what the gardening practices are there.
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Old 12-18-2010, 08:34 AM   #9
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We've been there, done that with mobiles. Are currently living in the Lake Chapala area of Mexico (as are the Kaderlis), but would certainly look at the mobile home option if and when we return to the U.S.

If you want truly low-cost, lock-it-and-leave living there are some trade-offs to be considered. You could buy a late-model mobile on its own land in a smaller town in New Mexico (our favorite part of the SW). Advantages: no space rent fees, very low taxes, mild four-season climate. And, no pesky regulations about gardening or much of anything else. But, you'd have to have a trusted friend or neighbor check in on the place, since you wouldn't be in a mobile park with a manager or folks coming and going.

Buying a used park model or other manufactured home in one of the huge complexes in the Phoenix suburbs or other parts of the SW has a different set of plusses and minuses. These places have tons of amenities (pools, workout rooms, computers, tennis courts, etc.), are in an urban area so you could potentially go car-free, have security as well as easy-to-befriend neighbors and are close to major airports. Plenty of rules and regulations though, and given the summers not exactly a gardener's paradise unless the only thing you dote on are cacti. Space rents are not insignificant, either: ~$400-500 a month or more seems typical. OTOH if you schedule your big trips in the winter and can put up with triple digit summer temps you could rent out your place at such a premium price to snowbirds that it might well pay your lot rent for the year.

Lots of trade-offs. Might have to postpone the gardening until your PT days are done, but maybe some planters and buying into a CSA or other farmer's market program in season could do for awhile.
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Old 12-18-2010, 10:02 AM   #10
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My brother has a mobile home in Florida.....west coast.....It is a "co-op", so you own the land your trailer is on, also. He can plant on his property. And why worry when you are away......Don't keep valuables in it!
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Old 12-18-2010, 10:17 AM   #11
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What about growing vegetables in containers? I live in the woods and the soil is full of rocks and roots so I can't have a vegetable garden. But I still grow vegetables in "earth boxes" on my small back patio. Over the past couple of years, I have successfully grown tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, green salads, swiss chards, herbs, strawberries, greens beans, okras, etc...

I bought my boxes here: The Garden Patch (no affiliation whatsoever, just happy with the product). Check out their photo gallery here: 2009 Star Customers :: The Garden Patch
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Old 12-18-2010, 10:49 AM   #12
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I second growing in containers. You do get less produce than growing in the ground because of the smaller root structure, but you can successfully grow many vegetables. Think about growing up with trellising and support structures.
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Old 12-19-2010, 08:05 PM   #13
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My first thought was container gardening, also. We have 5 acres and still use containers. Everything from 4x8 beds to 10 gallon pots. Beats digging up the hard clay and spending years amending the soil. Easier to weed and pick when they are off the ground. You can even grow dwarf fruit trees and such too.
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Old 12-19-2010, 08:27 PM   #14
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What about growing vegetables in containers? I live in the woods and the soil is full of rocks and roots so I can't have a vegetable garden. But I still grow vegetables in "earth boxes" on my small back patio. Over the past couple of years, I have successfully grown tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, green salads, swiss chards, herbs, strawberries, greens beans, okras, etc...

I bought my boxes here: The Garden Patch (no affiliation whatsoever, just happy with the product). Check out their photo gallery here: 2009 Star Customers :: The Garden Patch
I just put that item on my Wish List at Amazon. I'll wait for a sale.

I am migrating toward container gardening these days. My Roma tomatoes and Portugal peppers (smaller pot in photo) did beautifully right on my back screened in porch. The removal plexiglas panels that cover the screened openings created a really large cold frame domain for them.

I'm also experimenting with a simple 10 gal fish tank and a small grow light setup. I have mild cherry peppers growing in it right now. No buds yet but not much longer. When I travel, I simply water them, stretch some plastic wrap over the top with slight openings alohg the length for air exchange.

My large outdoor fenced-in garden has become too much w*rk for my hands and neck and back to tolerate. I may just till it one more time, plant it in wildflowers except where my mini vineyard, asparagus, and blackberry bushes grow, and treat myself to fresh cut flowers in season.
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Old 12-20-2010, 01:13 AM   #15
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Many of the mobile home parks we have investigated actually prohibit vegetable gardens because "they can become messy and unsightly." Other parks have limited their size (e.g., no vegetable garden shall exceed 5' x 5'). We'd really like to have a space equivalent to 20' x 20', but would probably settle for half that. There's probably a park out there somewhere that accommodates some serious gardening . . . we just haven't found it yet!

I'm curious what kind of yield you folks obtain from your containers. I haven't really experimented with them. Any notable drawbacks (as compared with a conventional vegetable garden)? I suppose some plants could be difficult, such as melons.
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Old 12-20-2010, 10:34 AM   #16
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Here is an example of some of the plant support products out there on the market.
Gardener's Supply Company - Search Results

I use standard circular wire tomato cages in the smaller sizes for everything that needs support.
http://www.nextag.com/Plant-33-Suppo...95/prices-html
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Old 12-20-2010, 12:01 PM   #17
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I'm curious what kind of yield you folks obtain from your containers. I haven't really experimented with them. Any notable drawbacks (as compared with a conventional vegetable garden)? I suppose some plants could be difficult, such as melons.
The yields are surprisingly good actually. Of course I have less than ideal growing conditions here since I grow most of my vegetables in partial shade (2 hours of full sunlight a day), so I am sure you could do even better.

Fruiting veggies seem to do best, followed by greens. I have seen people grow eggplants, zucchinis, and melons quite successfully in containers. Root veggies didn't do so well in my case, but perhaps the poor lighting conditions were responsible. I have still been able to grow radishes and carrots from seeds, but things like beets and turnips failed.

My MIL has an in-ground garden and my yields are actually higher than hers for tomatoes and cucumbers for example. But she gets better yields with peppers (her garden gets more sunlight).
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Old 12-20-2010, 06:36 PM   #18
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I love the ice chest idea. They are so handy for so many things. I built a humidor out of one for my cigars.
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Old 12-20-2010, 09:51 PM   #19
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My Mom lives in a retirement community in FL. While where she lives are not mobile homes, the lots are farily small and I haven't seen many gardens near people's homes. Might be prohibited, but I'm not sure. However, there is a wonderful community garden where those who love gardening can have a plot of their own (much bigger than 20 x 20). Do the areas that you have looked into have anything like that?
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Old 12-20-2010, 11:50 PM   #20
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However, there is a wonderful community garden where those who love gardening can have a plot of their own (much bigger than 20 x 20). Do the areas that you have looked into have anything like that?
Finding a home with space for gardening isn't precisely our problem. It's trying to find just the right combination of three qualities: 1) a low-cost, easy to maintain home base, 2) security (for our home and our possessions) while we are away for extended periods of time, and 3) space for gardening when we return home. A mobile home park satisfies the first two requirements, but we have yet to find a park that fully satisfies the third. There's a solution out there somewhere . . . we just have to find it. We certainly appreciate all the suggestions. Container gardening definitely could play a role in our future plans.
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