Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Vegetable gardening... our way

So here's what I've discovered: there are a gazillion books out there-- volumes upon volumes upon volumes... all about vegetable gardening and how-to-do-it. Lots of details, color photos, tips of every shape and size... step by step by itty bitty step... so that you, too, can plant your own veggie garden and hopefully, help it thrive. Now for those of us who have a gazillion hours on hand to read through them all... fantastic! (All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew is a great place to start... should you fall in to this category). For the rest of us, however... we just need to get straight to the point.

Vegetable gardening, from what I've gathered thus far, is-- without a shadow of a doubt-- a trial and error sort of process. There are lots of conditions to consider (soil, placement, sun, shade, water, fertilizers, and so on), and what works splendidly in my neck of the woods may not fare so well in yours. Since I ended up getting a later start than I originally anticipated (translate: LIFE happened), and since time was of the essence (we *are* well into April now), I decided to skip the books altogether (remember that TIME limitation I mentioned earlier) and instead, ask questions. I visited plant nurseries and talked to the staff while my little people contented themselves on the red radio flyer wagons. I chatted with others who have been there, done that. I read a few online articles (the short and sweet ones), and I scanned a few websites. And then, after that, I jumped in with both feet.

Now earlier this spring I had planned to build a raised bed garden. But due to time constraints (remember: LIFE happened), that specific plan fell by the wayside. Thankfully, plan B came together beautifully in no time at all. You see... my mom, our master gardener extraordinaire, is building a raise bed garden herself so all those giant plastic pots she's used in years past... no longer necessary. Over Easter weekend, therefore, I snagged a few (thanks again, Mom!) for our use at home. Container gardening... here we come.

So the pots, the pots... they're now resting comfortably in the back quadrant of our yard-- a very sunny patch near the shed where only weeds have previously survived. The boys and I cleared a large space and then covered it with several layers of newspaper (useful in killing those nasty weeds underneath... because I don't want an unsightly, weedy garden, after all... even if it is made up of plastic pots :), and then we arranged our containers accordingly. From the woodpile we grabbed several large logs to border our garden (consider them the puppy tinkle barrier), and voila-- a prime patch, ready for planting.

Our current compost pot... filled with all sorts of lovely compostable items...
baking in the sun... doing its thing... ready for use... *sometime* down the road :)

In preparing our pots, we mixed a little slightly-used dirt with the compost we had been saving all winter, and then we added a product new to us, Leafgro Organic Soil Conditioner (the folks at my favorite plant nursery swear by it). It made a lovely addition and will surely help provide a near perfect home for our now-growing summer bounty.

Pot #1... done! Pot #2... get ready!

As a very quick aside, let me put in a tiny plug here for compost. It is quality, and it saves so much money as you seek to fill your pots-- whether for veggies or flowers. AND-- as an added bonus, it provides a super-easy method for getting the littles involved, too. All my boys know that banana peels, egg shells, tea bags, and coffee grounds go straight to the compost bin... along with all sorts of other useful kitchen cast-offs. It works, it makes kitchen clean-up easy, and the whole family can participate. Awfully worthwhile, in my humble opinion :)

So... back to the garden. The following day we hopped on over to Whole Foods Market and bought some organically grown broccoli, cauliflower and potato plants (shown below),

and as soon as we got home, we plopped them in the soil... watered them a bit... and then watered them some more. And now we're just waiting and seeing... anxious for the very first pick of the season. Hopefully, in the weeks to come, we'll have a healthy supply of home-grown goodies! Of course then we'll have to plant our summer veggies... but first things first... I'm still hoping these guys will make it :)

Happy gardening!


gretchen said...

yay for you!!! looks great! I be they'll taste wonderful!

Carrie said...

We tried a regular garden last year ... and failed!

I have a friend who container gardened last year ... it went well for her ... I'll be anxious to see how you do! Maybe I'll gain some confidence to try this next year! ;)

Anonymous said...

The garden area looks great! A lot of science lessons to incorporate into the daily studies! You should be proud of your efforts; I am!! Love to all,Gmom

Trisha said...

This is such a great idea. We've been wanting to do raised beds for some time, but haven't gotten around to it, yet. I think this is a happy medium and very doable.