5 Ways To Start: A Vegetable Garden
So, you've lusted over the pictures of fresh carrots picked right from the ground by the gardener dusted with dirt and smiling over their discovery. They've worked hard. Starting seeds, planting them, watering diligently, observing the growth, and finally harvesting the fruits of their labor. When my love and I decided to start our garden this year, we were eager to see what could grow. We bought our house June of 2018, so this was our first full Summer in our home. We started in April. We went and bought seeds for all of the crops that we wanted to plant and watch grow. We bought: pumpkins, onions, bell peppers, romaine, spinach, zucchini, yellow squash, sunflowers, tomatoes, basil, chives, and corn. Eleven different vegetables and one flower.
If you're interested in starting your own garden in your yard, here are five steps to get started:
1. Start your seeds
If you're as eager as I was to get these plants growing as soon as possible, you may need to start your seeds indoors. Many varieties require that you plant them in the ground after the last frost, and when the soil has reached a particular temperature. By starting your seeds indoors, you can have plants ready by the last frost.
I started by planting a few seeds in several containers I had saved for the occasion. Real flower pots, old candle jars, and small bowls. I filled the containers with potting soil and the seeds. I put the containers next to a window in the basement. The furnace was still on because the days grew chilly in the evenings, and it doubled as a way to keep the soil warm.
What I learned from this experience is that corn is incredibly easy to grow. It sprouted first and grew strong indoors. I also learned that these seeds did not flourish in a basement. I got sprouts of the corn, chives, and pumpkins. The pumpkins sprouted last, and it was at that point in early June that we decided it was time to transfer these sprouts to the garden.
2. Planting them
Every Thursday we have date night. This usually consists of going to one of our favorite restaurants, but this Thursday we went out to Home Depot to buy compost to enrich the garden's soil. We spread the compost throughout the section of garden we dedicated to the pumpkins. After mixing the soil and compost together, we planted each pumpkin seed. The three sprouts poked their tiny heads out of the soil, desperate for the next day's sun.
I decided that three sprouts were not enough, so I used several other seeds. I planted these directly into the ground, because we had passed the point of last frost, and I wanted to see the result of started seeds versus seeds directly into the ground.
The seeds directly to the ground have grown tremendously better than the started seeds. We now have a full and thick bed of pumpkin vines, with small buds spreaded throughout. There were 24 sprouts that appeared shortly after I planted the seeds directly into the ground, when they looked like this:
I learned that a single sprout like this can yield 2-5 pumpkins. We have the potential to 48-120 pumpkins. We may have to open up an unofficial family pumpkin farm! We'll see what actually happens.
The corn also grew better from seeds than the sprouts that grew as seed starters. Now the stalks are about hip-height and strong. They've sprouted some sort of flower, and may grow soon, even though the packet said 100 days until harvest.
3. Watering diligently
I made it a habit to water these plants each day. It became part of my routine. Coming home, turning the nozzle to the right and starting the flow of water to nourish the plants. If I was able to water each day, I knew that I could have successful plants.
4. Observing the growth
I am most excited for the pumpkins and corn to grow. I have a fantasy of a fall party where we invite friends over and carve pumpkins and take pictures on hay bales. It would be like any old pumpkin farm, but closer, and free. I periodically took pictures of the growth process.
5. Harvesting the fruits of our labor
This is the stage that I am most excited about. I want that fall party so bad, and I know that if the pumpkins and corn grow I can acquire a bale of hay somehow and make it happen. I will keep you all updated as the crops grow.
The zucchini and yellow squash are also doing well. Although small, there are buds on each sprout and I am optimistic that they will grow. The sunflowers are also grand. Three sprouted.
The watermelon that was gifted to us to grow, the onions, bell peppers, romaine, spinach, chives, and basil never sprouted and survived the seed starter stage and did not sprout after planted from seeds directly into the soil.
This garden is a fantastic way to practice a hobby that needs tending to. I can't wait to see how it all turns out!
Now what I'm debating is whether or not to use a fertilizer, and which fertilizer is best for my needs. What do you all think? Tweet me or comment down below if you have an idea!
Catherine Langmack lives in Seattle, WA with her love. She's passionate about tending to her backyard crops, writing, and researching.