Grow Seeds Grow

This year I wanted to try to grow vegetables from seed. Last year I bought all of my plants from the nursery, except spinach. I was such a novice gardener I planted my spinach seeds the first weekend of June. They never grew past a few leaves because we had such a hot summer.

This year I was anxious to start the garden and to plant some veggies from seeds, so I did my homework and learned spinach prefers cooler temperatures. So do peas and carrots. Into the ground they went the first weekend of April and wallah! Look at the progress thus far:

Spinach at 2 1/2 weeks

Spinach at 2 1/2 weeks

Spinach at 4 weeks

Spinach at 4 weeks

Peas starting to spout at 2 weeks

Peas starting to spout at 2 weeks

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Peas at 4 weeks.

I’m hoping this means I am off to a good start and that soon we can eat spinach salad!

The Unexpected Benefits of Talking to Your Neighbors

One of my new hostas

Some of my new hostas

There is a woman who lives across the street from me. Her front yard always has decorations for almost every holiday. When the weather warms up, she puts her efforts towards decorating with plants and flowers. Her flower baskets are gorgeous  – full of color, big blooms, long-lasting. I guess you can say I’ve watched her for the past three years, gathering ideas (for my flower gardens, not holiday decorations.) We have spoken occasionally.

It occurred to me that she has a bit of experience with all things green and since other gardeners were unable to answer my question about something growing in my backyard, I decided to ask her. It turns out I have wild onions growing in my backyard. This question turned into a twenty-minute conversation on plants and landscaping. Then, she mentioned she has tried to thin out her hostas, but couldn’t find anyone to take them. I all but jumped at the offer. The very next day they were waiting in a bucket for me. I planted them right away and already they are making themselves at home in their new backyard. I have a feeling I’ll be talking to her a lot more this summer.

Adventures of a First Time Gardener

My newly planted garden: cucumbers, beans, tomatoes and zucchini.

We decided to plant a garden this year. In another post, I mentioned that part of our yard was once an expanse of gravel. The previous owners did not have a garage. Instead they had a parking pad. We  decided to forgo a garage as well. After all, everyone else on our block parks on the street. One of the reasons was we wanted to keep some yard space and add a  garden.

In order to plant the garden, my husband had to dig up the compacted gravel first.  What a chore. It was a painstakingly slow process for many reasons. First, the gravel was several layers deep. Second, did I mention it was compacted? Third, once he dug down, he uncovered all sorts of uh, interesting yardifacts (artifacts from our yard). Among other things, he found:a bottle from 1965 from a now defunct local brewing company, a radiator belt, rusty nails and screws, glass, pieces of metal siding, pieces of cut up trees, bricks, concrete chunks. I was thinking there might be a body or some bones in the near future.

Needless to say, after unearthing all of that junk in only a small section of the former parking pad, I did not want to grow anything edible in that ground. My talented and handy husband built a raised garden bed instead. I made two trips to the store for peat moss, soil and manure and he filled up the bed. I selected a variety of vegetables at the garden center and with the help of my mom planted them in the ground on June 2nd.

One thing I have discovered with young plants from the nursery is that it is difficult to know exactly how old the plant is you are buying. I assumed that I had a certain amount of days for each plant before being able to enjoy fresh, homegrown vegetables. Already it looks wonderful and all I have done is add water and pick a few weeds.

The Garden a few weeks later

Zucchini plant 19 days after planting

Bush Beans

Tomatoes

Stay tuned for more pictures and highlights about what is happening in my garden.

More Berries

Strawberries grown in a pot on our deck

In my last post I mentioned we bought berry bushes last year. It was a surprise to have a small, but nice crop this year. It takes a while for blueberries to get established before they are ready to produce fruit.

Not so with strawberries. When I bought annuals and herbs to plant this year, I noticed a few strawberry plants at the local garden center my neighbor recommended. I decided to pick up two plants to see what would happen. As a child, I recall my mom had converted our old sandbox into a strawberry patch. Her only complaint: neighborhood cats used it as a litter box. I was not a big fan of those crazy looking terracotta pots with openings on the sides to grow berries. I inquired at the garden center and the owner’s son mentioned customers from last year had huge success growing them in wide pots or in hanging baskets so they can tumble over the side and not sit in wet dirt. I knew just the pot to place them in.

These three berries are ready to be picked. I planted them 25 days ago. All I did was water them regularly and pull off a few runners (because my mom said I should). Not bad. I may have to return to the garden center and buy a few more.