Monday, March 22, 2010

Starting the garden

Last spring my friend, Ruth, asked me if I would be interested in having a garden with her. We would use my yard as she doesn't have one. I was very excited about the prospect and she led the way teaching me which plants to start, when to start them and how to even plant them. She also instructed our husbands in the way of the roto-tiller as they got the ground ready to plant and then she put all of our fragile little plants in the ground. I wasn't even in town that weekend, and when I got home she showed me everything and gave me watering and weeding instructions. She ended up doing most of the weeding, stopping by a couple times a week, and I most of the watering since I was here every day already. We enjoyed the fruits of our labor together all summer, but I have to tell you I know I was getting the better end of the deal because I would have had a garden at all if it weren't for Ruth.

This is how our garden looked last July:

Now the sad news - Ruth isn't gardening with me this year. I was a little distraught and debated whether I should even attempt to garden. Then I thought of all my other gardening friends who manage a garden on their own and decided I needed an attitude adjustment. Not everyone is so very blessed as I was to have a Ruth teach me my first year. I will just be happy that I was able to learn hands-on from her, and I am resolved attempt this thing on my own! There are lots of garden bloggers and folks out there who I can learn from and of course, Ruth is just a phone all away.

The first task is to decide what to plant so Ruth found our seeds from last year and I have supplemented them with some additional purchases. I recommend you buy seeds intended for the current year. The package will be clearly labeled with the year the seeds were packaged for. Ruth said I can use the year-old seeds without trouble, too, but otherwise definitely adhere to the date. I like to start from seeds because it costs so much less than buying plants 6 or 8 weeks from now. However if you're brand new to this, please know that it's perfectly OK to buy plants that are already started. I'm just trying to save a few bucks and get to enjoy the added bonus of my kids watching things sprout.

Last year we tried lots of different plants. Here's what worked well: Cherry Tomato, Yellow Tomato, Spinach, Zucchini, Cucumber, Carrots, Lettuce, Pumpkins, Peas, Green Beans. Here's what didn't work so well: Canteloupe, Eggplant, Corn, Broccoli, Bell Pepper. This year I plant to grow all the squash again, more red & yellow tomato, but less cherry tomato. I'll also repeat the green beans, peas, & lettuce which will harvest twice. I may skip the carrots depending on space because they are so inexpensive to buy, but the kids really loved to pick the carrots so we'll see. I also want to try romaine lettuce because a friend of mine grows beautiful romaine and I prefer to spinach & spring mix which is what we had last summer. I will also try bell pepper again because Ruth is sure it will grow, but was in the shadow of the huge cherry tomato plants last year.

This are some of our odd carrots and the only fruit from the eggplant:

Here is a July harvest day - we'd get this at least once a week and sometimes more depending on how much sun was out:

If you plan to use containers or only have a small garden, consider carefully what to plant & where the containers will sit. Each seed packet has instructions on the needs of the plant. I would recommend cherry tomatoes if you want the satisfaction of something growing in abundance. Last year we had too many cherry tomatoes and by the end of the season they were spoiling on the vine. I'm sticking to one or two cherry tomato plants this year with many more of the large tomatoes for canning & freezer. Also, with little kids and time being a valuable resource the big tomatoes are just fast to pick. The sugar snap peas also grew very well and harvested early. Ruth said we could've had another whole season out of them, but I forgot to water when we first put them in - OOPS! This year I will definitely not neglect the watering!

This is what I gathered over the last few weeks for planting:

Instead of peat pots I use egg cartons to start the seeds so I don't have to buy anything. The soil is from several pots DH emptied out for me this week. Ruth gave me the berry baskets for when the plants start to outgrow the egg cartons. The toilet paper rolls are another good planting option my cousin uses, but I haven't tried it yet. That will be later this week. Today Eve and I are planting some seeds in our egg cartons, so I'll keep you posted on how it goes!


No comments:

Post a Comment

So, what do you think?