I want to share about my gardening experiences and what we have going on here… but, I am by no means an expert on gardening. As mentioned in my first post, we are learning, failing, and pushing forward with the lessons we are learning. I have a lot of "ideas" but they are pretty scatterbrained (driving John crazy) but I thought if I forewarned you that this is a bunch of thoughts than maybe its ok, lol.
- Gardening is work.
I am not sure what those cute ladies in the fancy clothes, nice hat, beautiful watering can, and garden clogs are representing but that is not what I look like gardening! I look like I have been thru a mud run with dirt falling off me, my feet brown as the dirt (because I wear flip flops and crocs everywhere =)) reverting to watering with a bucket or sprinkler because my watering can has held mud pie recipes that now have clogged all but three holes of the sprinkling can, and weeds growing up as fast as I move to the next plant.
BUT IT IS WORTH IT!!!!
It is worth knowing what is (and is not) going into my family's bodies. It is worth all the work and hours put into it to have fresh food and home preserved food thru the entire year. It is worth my kids seeing cause and effect. It is worth my kids learning that food can grow from a little seed and that taking a seed at the end of the season can lead to another plant next year that will then produce more food. It is worth it!
- Starting from seeds.
dog crate I then planted my seedlings in natural dirt (from Walmart) and set them next to a window with lots of light. I quickly found out that was not enough light. My plants started getting spindly and weak, growing tall and falling over, so I purchased two grow lights (Winjoy grow light, OxyLED Strip). The strip ones I wove thru the top of the crate and the clip-on I clipped on the top. I now had a very large growing area for my seedlings that were getting a lot of good light for them to get strong. It took about 8 weeks to get them garden ready, so plan ahead.
- Preparing my garden STINKS!
This year I decided my 30x30 garden and my 20x30 garden were not enough… I wanted more!!!
Ground takes time to get profitable, but you can naturally boost that time by adding manure. Make sure you are careful what kind and how much you use. Chicken poop is not good in large quantities and not too close to growing time. I would recommend putting it on in the fall. For spring spreading, we use rabbit, goat, cow, and horse. Make sure you till it in very well. John tills my garden about two to three times so that it is mixed in well. Be careful not to till your garden too much as it will begin breaking down the soil composition. It may look beautiful, but you are breaking down the natural soil structure. There is a balance, but stinky gardens = healthy gardens.
- Know your weather.
There is nothing more discouraging than planting everything and having seedlings come up to find you are in for a frost or freeze that will kill all those baby plants. This year I planted 48 tomato plants on Memorial Weekend. I lost 21 of them in a frost/freeze the following week. Very discouraging! Some things I did to try to help was cover them with milk jugs (cut the bottom off, they will act like little greenhouses). Cole and I put them on at night and took them off the next morning (don’t leave them on, your plants will cook in them if the sun is out). Another thing is to spray the frost off of them before the sun hits them the next morning. This will not work in a freeze situation, but for frost coverings.
- How do I plant?
I direct sow my herbs, beans, viney plants, corn, carrots, beets, radishes, lettuce, spinach. I plant my plants of tomatoes, cole crops (broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage), and peppers. I have planted onions from seeds and transplanted and I have planted last years potato seeds. I have also purchased potato and onion sets.
- Water, water, water.
I can't stress enough that water is necessary. Baby plants need lots of water, seeds need water to germinate, and big plants need water to survive and produce. So make sure you water. If your plants need an extra boost, a natural way is to spread earth worm castings on them or make a tea with earth worm castings or compost tea to water with. Taper off once things are up (1ft for corn) or out (1-2ft for vines).
- Help! Bugs!!!
Diatomaceous Earth is an all natural way to kill bugs of all kinds with no chemicals and if ingested by kids or pets, no worries!!! I have sprinkled it on plants and it has killed the bugs before the bug kills my plants! You may need to reapply after watering pending your pest situation.
Yes, Thank you Adam and Eve. This is the WORST part of gardening, but a must do or else your precious food God is providing for you will be choked out by the weeds. I kinda feel like that is a constant lesson, lol. Don’t let Sin choke out the good in your life…
- Harvesting - work or fun?
Definitely both! The first of everything is fun to get, but then the work starts. It is a good thing when God blesses your labor, but don’t fail Him by letting your produce go to waste. We pray as we plant and work in the garden that God will provide a good harvest, and I feel it is my responsibility to use, preserve, or give away all that He provides in that garden.
- Save some for later.
Preserving food will be talked about later, but there are soooo many ways. Canning, freezing, drying, pickeling and the list goes on! Don’t limit yourself by just tomatoes, or just green beans… cutting up and freezing meals so that they are simply thaw and cook are all going to be discussed later. =)
- Keep some seeds.
I have begun purchasing heirloom seeds so that they can be saved for the following year's garden. Some seeds are easy to save, like pumpkin, squash, beans, and tomato. Others are not so easy and require some work such as carrots, onions, and herbs. I am still looking into those and will share what I learn as I take that journey with you. All seeds need to be properly dried and stored for the following year.
I hope this helps! Don’t be afraid to get started! Start small and grow! Enjoy your gardening journey!