I'm all set to grow. Are you?
Yesterday I rummaged around in my basement and found two plastic window boxes that are no longer in use, and a large round plastic planter, as well. All of these used to be for growing flowers, but you know that story: The food-growing has greatly curtailed the flower-growing activity, although if you saw my front yard you might think I was whacked for saying so.
I took a quick trip to Gardener's Supply and bought some Intervale potting soil and compost. I also picked up some seeds (as if I needed any).
A summer lettuce collection, "European Reds & Greens"; a mesclun mix, "Paris Market Mix"; and "Pan-Pacific Greens/Renee's Stirfry Mix," all from Renee's Garden. I also got some Crimson Giant radishes. In this photo I've also placed Red Romaine seeds that I already had, but I ended up planting neither the Romaine nor the radishes last night.
In addition, I bought two pepper plants to replace two that have kicked the bucket. One was on its way out anyway, I'm not sure why, and the other was knocked over in the storm we had the night before last.
Please don't ask about the other little green thing that's in the 12:00 position in the top photo. Oh, all right. I'll tell you.
In a moment of "what was I thinking?!" I bought a pair of butternut squash plants. I have NO PLACE for these. What WAS I thinking? But I'll find a place; you know I will.
All right. Now, about you. I know you don't want to believe me, but you've already done the hardest part -- choosing your location. The rest is easy-peasy. I mean it, especially if you are container gardening. My biggest problems over the years have only to do with the soil. A few problems with bugs, too. We'll talk about that in a later post. And I know a lot of you have critter issues. Thank goodness I don't, except for the spouse (see below). Strange, that. You'd think we'd be overrun with wildlife, but we are still wild enough here that they know where to stay. Their habitats have mostly not been ruined by overbuilding (YET, but we're getting there. Ugh.) and the harsh winters keep the numbers of deer down to a manageable crowd.
Last night, reader Elise W. from Kentucky wrote with this helpful info for warm-climate garden-alongers:
I love the idea of the garden-along (I planted my first vegetable garden this year) and I found a nice resource for a fall planting schedule for those of us who live in warmer climes (I'm in KY). The chart is based on first frost dates, and can be found here.
Wonderful info, Elise! This will help answer the questions I've received from Zone 8 and 9 would-be garden-alongers.
1. Make sure your pot [we're assuming a container-growing model for this project, to get people who are a bit nervous and hesitant to garden, and yet are interested and want to try, a manageable first shot at it] has a drainage hole or two or three.
2. If you want (though I hardly ever do) you can place some stones in the bottom of your pot to help with the drainage and prevent the potting soil from washing out the drainage holes. Most plants don't like to have wet, soggy feet. Their roots will rot if they do. They like even, consistent moisture, most of them, though peppers and tomatoes and squashes like to dry out slightly between waterings. Now, "dry out slightly" does not mean desert conditions. It means, "not soggy, just to the point of not being moist, then water again." For pots, things tend to dry out faster, so they can take more water. For the same reason, because all that water is being washed in there, the soil in a pot needs to be a bit richer and can stand a bit more fertilizer, hopefully organic fertilizer.
3. Dump your potting soil into your pot and firm the soil a bit with your hands.
4. Sow your seeds as directed on the package.
5. Cover with soil as directed on the package. Some seeds need a bit of light to germinate, so they need a lighter topping of soil. Some need to be in the dark, so they need to have a thicker topping. But don't obsess over this! The universe will not tilt if you put a little too much or too little. You don't need to go get a ruler or anything. Just use your eyes and gauge it within the realm of reasonable.
6. Firm the top of the soil down.
7. Water with a fine mist, gently at first, so as not to wash out your new seeds.
8. In the beginning, you should water gently twice a day, to keep the soil top evenly moist. During germination, the seeds can't dry out. Eventually, once they start growing, you can water a bit less.
9. Check them 64,000 times a day to see if they've sprouted. It's the coolest thing EVER to see your first little sprouts. It'll be love at first sight, and you'll want to nurture them along just like a newborn baby.
10. Stay tuned for further instructions. Ask questions if you have them. And check out the comments of the former post for some people's wonderful suggestions for container gardening books and tips.
Here's my stuff for the project:
I am loving this project. It has made me more creative with the space. It allows me to play with the stones and make little sculptures on which to sit my pots. It allows me to maximize the space and minimize problems with The Spouse. He doesn't seem to get that that green thing he is stepping on is probably something I'm growing purposely, even when I tell him 74,309 times (at last count). Having things in the grow beds and the pots helps with this. It's a mnemonic device, if you will. Pot = DON'T STEP HERE. Men! Don't get me started.
Remember the arugula I showed you June 5th? Look at it now:
And lookie! We have adorable buttons! A huge thank you to Cheryl who pulled these out of her hat at 10:30 last night. Wonderful!
I've been asked if we can do this every year, and of course we can! So I asked Cheryl to put the year on the button. Should we start a Ravelry group, or just keep it here? What do you say?