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Posts Tagged ‘vegetable garden’

Seed Display

I love seeds.  Seeds are the first indication that the gardening season is indeed returning, even if it’s currently 15 degrees and there is still snow on the ground.  Seeds say, “Yes, you will be eating fresh tomatoes off the vine in just a few short months!”  Seeds conjure memories of reading books in the Sky Chairs on the back porch.  Seeds are the promise of a delicious summer.

Hubby will tell you that, yes, I do in fact have a seed addiction.  They call to me, drawing me into their seemingly innocent display stands, and I am absolutely compelled to bring the poor little babies home with me.  It’s worse than passing by the cheese counter at Tony’s or the clearance rack at DSW.  Really.

I usually end up planting WAY more seeds that we can actually use—or that we have room for in our itty bitty house.  The kitchen becomes a mini-greenhouse, with trays of seeds on every surface near a window.  (It really is a problem.)  Luckily, I have lots of friends who don’t grow plants from seed, but are more than happy to take extra seedlings off my hands.  I can only hope they give my babies good homes.

Of course, you can just as easily (ok, MORE easily) grow a garden from plants that you buy at the nursery or the big box store (or mooch from me).  If you want to go that route, log off right now, and save yourself from reading about effort involved!  This is going to be a super-long post (most likely the longest one I will EVER write), and I will definitely not be offended if you aren’t committed to the seed idea.  Go pour yourself a glass of wine and put your butt on the couch.  But if you aren’t scared…

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This is the planning stage.  I usually start this part around January 24, right about the time we are getting that fourth snow storm since the holidays, I just finally put away that last Christmas decoration I kept not seeing, and I am completely over wearing boots and sweaters (and I love my boots and sweaters).

I might be jumping the gun just a bit, but you do want to have a plan before you get out there and start digging.

The two most important things to do before planning what to plant:

  • First, ask yourself:  What do I love to eat?  If you really don’t like the texture of eggplant, don’t plant it.  Do you eat a salad every night with dinner?  Then lettuce is a must!  Make a list, and prioritize.
  • Second, if you haven’t already, go measure that garden area.  Plants need room to grow–some more than others.  You can get over 500 carrots in the same space that one tomato plant needs.  If you have a very small space to work with, think about planting several vegetables that grow on small plants, rather than just a few larger plants.

No Rows!Traditional vegetable gardening has always been done in rows, where you dig a trench in your soil, throw a bunch of seeds in the trench, and cover it up.  Then in two weeks, when the seedlings start coming up, you have a billion little plants that are all smashed together.  Since veggie plants can’t grow that close together, you have to get down there on your hands and knees and pull all those extra little plants out.  Doesn’t that sound wasteful (not to mention kinda painful)?

Instead of the using row system, plant individual plants.  Here’s why:

  • It doesn’t take any longer—in fact, it will save you time, since you don’t have to go back through later and pull out the extra seedlings.
  • You will use less seeds (and can save the rest for next year—more on that when I cover starting plants from seed).
  • You can get more plants in less space.  Don’t we all want as many fresh veggies as possible from our garden?
  • I think veggie beds look more natural and prettier this way.  I like pretty. (more…)

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This post is dedicated to Ghost, the Garden Cat.  He was always my helper in the garden, but he particularly liked to get in the way during this stage of the game.

You’ll want to wait and do this after the ground has thawed.

Vegetables need good, rich soil to grow well.  Most Colorado soil is very dense and full of clay—it will need to be amended with some good stuff to make your plants are happy.  Check out the soil in your planned garden area—dig down a foot or so.  CAN you dig down a foot or so?  If not, you definitely need soil amendment—I’d double the numbers listed below.  Any earth worms in there?  If so, congrats!  Earth worms are our friends!  Your soil is probably in pretty good shape.  You can buy a soil testing kit if you want to know exactly how good your soil is, what’s in it, what the Ph level is, etc., but that’s all a bit too scientific for me.  I’d rather just get in there and start digging.

Soil Amendment Ingredients

Ingredients needed for soil amendment: Soil Pep, Vermiculite (optional), Fertilizer, and Compost (not shown)

Shopping List:

  • Compost:  Any kind of compost is fine, but I suggest mixing a few kinds together.  You can also add a bag or two of manure into this mix.  Whatever kind you use, mix them together in a wheel barrow before spreading it.  I suggest using about one bag per 25 square feet.
  • Soil Pep:  I am a huge believer in Soil Pep—it’s kind of a mix of bark and other decomposable natural stuff, but it’s not compost.  It does a great job in breaking up tough soil and keeping it light and loose.  You can find it at pretty much any garden center or nursery, but I haven’t seen it at a big box store.  One bag is usually good for about 50 square feet.  Added garden nerd bonus:  the Soil Pep you use in your garden this year will break down before next year and further amend the soil!  Woohoo!  And look what I just got in my email box this morning–a SP coupon!
  • Fertilizer:  There are lots of fertilizers out there, but I use one called Colorado’s Own Vegetable Food—it’s good for all kinds of veggies.  It’s in a orange bag, and the numbers on the bottom are 5-10-5 (sorry I don’t have a photo yet).  Go to Echter’s for this.  (If you haven’t been to Mecca—I mean Echter’s—yet, go.  Just go.  I apologize now for the damage it will do to your check book.  (I am sure that will be the subject of a future post.))  One bag of fertilizer should be enough, unless you have a huge plot you are planting.  It should say on the bag how big of an area it will cover.  Extra is not bad here—you will use more later in the season. (more…)

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