Spring has arrived, and with it visions of fresh vegetables are dancing in my head. Here is a photo of our front yard from last year.
I've been dabbling with vegetable gardens for about ten years. First I tried growing some tomatoes and herbs in containers on the back deck, slowly expanding our garden by adding a new vegetable or two each year. When I had more successes than failures I started planting in raised beds.
We have a huge back yard that is bordered by tall firs. The only thing we can grow there is moss, so we decided to plant in our front yard. Paul dug up a bit of the grass, and built two little sod-walled raised beds. At first our neighbors thought we were crazy but every year they looked forward to their share of the bounty!
Last year we took the plunge, and Paul built me ten wooden raised beds! Our front yard was an oasis of gorgeous, green, and delicious vegetables all summer long. What we couldn't use, or give away, we donated to food banks.
I used to buy plants from the garden center but that would be too expensive with this many beds, and so last year I tried growing some of my plants from seed. It was so easy that I decided to start all my plants from seeds. Now, I confess that I am a fair-weather gardener. You won't find me mucking about outside in the wet and the cold! I just clear off my dining table, and start plopping potting soil and seeds into some containers.
Well, okay, maybe it’s not that simple. Make sure you take some time to plan. I follow these steps for a stress free start to my garden:
- Make a list of plants. What do you want to grow?
- Read the back of the seed packet. It has some really important information that you will need to know. Also, save the packet to refer back to. Trust me on this. It will save you from a lot of head-palming later on.
- Set a schedule of when to sow your seeds, and write the information on a calendar.
- Mark your plants. You won't remember what you planted -- believe me! I like to use masking tape and mark the trays, but individual plant markers work well.
Invest in a greenhouse for your seedlings. It will make your life so much easier. I bought a couple of cheap ones from a discount store, and they work great! Keep your seedlings in a warm room with plenty of light. If you use a greenhouse you may find you never need to water your plants. Just make sure the soil stays moist.
Harden your seedlings before planting outdoors. Wait until the danger of frost has passed, which is about the beginning of May in our area. Set your plants outside in a sunny location (not direct sunlight) during the day, and bring them in at night. Do this for a few days. Then leave them outside (day and night) for a couple of days before transplanting into your garden beds. I usually start planting around Mother's Day weekend.
There you have it. Easy, right? There's still time to get started sowing your seeds. What will you grow this year?