My 2014 garden is under way! This is Matt and I's third year growing food, and it's definitely going to be the best effort we've made so far. In 2012, we picked up a few herbs at Lowe's on a whim. In 2013, I took it a step further and got a community garden plot. It took 15 minutes to drive to it, which made it very difficult to give the plants the daily love they need. This year, we are planting a garden right outside our front door! What started out as a way to grow some fresh herbs and produce for my cooking has grown to mean something much more to me. Perhaps realizing this, Matt has volunteered an area of our yard that hadn't seemed like an option before. In the coming weeks, he will be killing off the grass, tilling, and building a bed there.
First things first, we're in Zone 5b, so starting seeds indoors is pretty much a necessity, as it helps extend the growing season. I thought I was getting behind, but Matt reassured me that the season is actually behind, so I'm still on track. Here's what I'm starting indoors:
Same as last year, I'm focusing on growing things that we already use frequently. My goal is to replace the produce we are buying from the store with organic, delicious, fresh produce that I grow with my own hands (and love!). It's the beginning of what I hope is a more thorough homesteading journey.
The cherry tomato, red pepper, and green pepper are seeds left over from last year (purchased at Menards). They were successful, so I figured I would try them again. The rest are new packets I picked up (Farm n Fleet). I'm probably most excited for the Brandywine Pink tomatoes, since my 'regular size' tomatoes didn't work out last year, and for the rainbow bell peppers. Really crossing my fingers for some purple and orange ones! I try to buy organic seeds, but if something I want isn't available in organic, I've decided it isn't the end of the world. I'm still going to grow it organically, which is what really counts.
Last year, a friend of ours let me start seeds with her, so in making it a bigger priority this year, we still needed seed starting equipment of our own. We went to Farm n Fleet and picked up this Jump Start T5 Grow Light Stand, Seedling Heat Mat, and Seed Tray, which only takes up 2' of space. We probably spent $100 (including what we need to kill off the grass), which I justify based on not renting or driving to the community garden plot.
Here is what the whole stand and light looks like. It required minimal assembly, but a couple parts wouldn't fit together quite right, so I had to pound away with a hammer. (I put a towel between the frame and the hammer, of course). The water bottle I already had, and for plant markers, I just broke some small wooden dowels in half and wrote on them in fine point Sharpie. The tray also came with a humidity dome. I only plan on leaving this on until the seedlings pop up, and then I will take it off to let air circulate.
For the soil, I used Metro Mix that we had on hand and filled the cells with soil, seeds, and water according to the directions on the seed tray. The light is positioned about 4" from the cells and we are giving it 15 hours of light a day. Matt turns it on when he gets up around 7am, and turns it off around midnight before bed, which puts it right in the suggested 14-16 hour range.
Now, I wait patiently. I will be posting my updates, which you can view all together on this page or by subscribing.
PS. If you're documenting your gardening somewhere online, feel free to link it in a comment below! I'm also open to any friendly advice you may have for me :)
Hello, there! My name is Nikki Jones and this is a place for me to write about my travels, my urban homesteading adventures, and whatever else my little heart desires at a given moment. Like many personal-blog bloggers, there are times I write daily and long streteches I'm not inspired to write at all. And that's ok! At any rate, I'm glad you're here.