Wednesday, May 29, 2013

.:green(ish) thumb:.

i finally got my garden put together last night! i felt like it has been a long time coming, but i have been waiting to make sure the weather was going to cooperate.

even though we joined a veggie CSA, i have (slowly) fallen in love with gardening. last year, i had a small, easy garden filled with zucchini, tomatoes and peppers. it was pretty awesome to be able to cook with the zucchini that i actually grew or fill my salad with tomatoes i had just picked. remembering that feeling, i had been half-heartedly trying to plan what to harvest this year. here's the deal, i want it to be easy, but i also want it be worthwhile and fill it with things that we eat on a regular basis.

alas, here is the set up that i created last night:.

as i mentioned before, my planning was half-hearted - with the weather we have been having in MN, i feel like everything related to being outside is half-hearted.....
anyway, i drug drew to Menards to help me create on a plan on a whim. the only thing i knew was that i wanted to plant mostly starter plants since it was late in the season. i ended up doing 12 pepper plants, 6 brussel sprouts, 2 strawberries and planted some seeds for spinach and cucumbers. yes, i do realize they are planted close together, but i was trying to maxmize the space that i had. i also think this image appears smaller in this picture than in real life. fingers crossed they don't suffocate each other.
i wanted to do a quick how-to plant a garden - dummy edition. me, being the dummy gardener and learning things as i go, researching them worked last year and i sure hope it will work this year.
1. preparing the soil - you can get really scientific with this, but i don't have time for that and my brain is still burnt out from college physics. so, with a hand rake (yes, hand, i did not want to spend money on a full sized one), i 'tilled' the soil. it was pretty packed down from the LOOONG winter and has a lot of weeds and remnants from last year's garden, so i turned over the soil and tried to get as many stick and leaves out of the way as possible. there were SEVERAL worms and centipedes which are good for the soil, bad for my anxiety - i tried to avoid them. also, i have been battling with this wildfire-like ivy that likes to wrap around my vegetables and suffocates them, so i tried my hardest to dig up the roots which were deep and stronger than i thought a plant could be - i would have skipped my pull-ups at the gym had i known the battle i was in for. anyway, once the soil was turned over and loosened up, i added a layer of "seed starting" soil - i used this last year just to give the natural soil an extra boost and it seemed to work well (i also had 1/2 bag left over from last year, another reason why it was perfect). i also tried to level out the soil as much as possible - it would be a nightmare to plant an entire side of your garden and realize 3/4 of your soil is piled up on the other half.
2. planning - again, who really plans? i looked to see how much space and sun each plant needed (these are printed on the little plastic sticks that label the plant). lucky for me, all of them needed full sun - sarcasm, my front spot is about the only 'full' sun place. oh well, it should do. i laid out the starter plants before i dug holes to make sure i gave them as much space as my little city-garden allowed.
3. planting - make holes big enough to COVER the roots of the starter plants and fill in around it. it is a good idea to 'firm' up the soil around the plant, by pressing the soil down. seeds are slightly different - on the package it will say how deep they need to be, typically around 1/2 - 1 inch. i just dig a little trench that depth, spread out the seeds and cover them.
4. WATER!!! one thing that i noticed last year was that my plants were almost always thirsty especially if it is really sunny or hot. try to water every other day or every day...although with the predicted forecast around here i probably won't need to water until August...
5. weeding - weeding is also important to make sure your plants get enough room and nutrients. i try to pick weeds a couple times a week. be careful of weeds that wrap around your plants, they will suffocate them! take the time to unravel the weed from your precious plant. also, try to pull out the weed's entire root, it will prevent the weed from coming back right away.
and you have a garden! easy peasy - i am probably making avid gardeners cringe, but i will be honest, i don't have the time or desire to spend weeks planning and researching gardening. sorry, not sorry.
last night, i also took my gardening indoors. i have always wanted a plant inside for decoration and oxygen benefits, but we have 2 furry toddlers to worry about, so i bought a big turquoise antique clay pot that (hopefully) they can't tip over and a plant that seemed durable enough to handle a few nibbles. again, i bought it based off its looks and researched it later. this here, friends, is a coleus plant widely known for its colorful leaves and a low maintenance plant which can thrive in the most basic environment.
here is my indoor creation (note: the furry toddler hanging out on the couch already eyeing it):.
i am excited for this to grow in height and volume with hopes that it will fill a particular corner of our house....
this post may be boring to many of you if you are not into gardening, but if you want to give it a shot, it's a cheap hobby to take on. last night i bought the big turquoise pot, 2 - 6 packs of peppers, 1 - 6 pack of brussel sprouts, bag of cucumber seeds, bag of spinach seeds, 2 strawberry plants, another pot for garlic (more on that later), a bag of potting mix and a new pair of gardening gloves for $38.  i didn't even have a coupon - that's less than what i spend per week on vegetables! and seriously, it is pretty darn cool to see these things grow over time.
i am hoping that i will have a lush garden to show you in a few weeks....
always striving for more,
dee b. 

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