Sunday, April 27, 2008

How Does My Garden Grow Week 5

In a week or two, I'll begin posting pictures of my garden-in-progress.  For now though, you'll have to take my word that the vegetable seedlings and other plants are starting to overrun us.  

This weekend my husband and I drove out to my older sister and brother-in-law's farm in upstate New York, to spend some time with them and my four nephews.  We came home laden down with just-picked asparagus and rhubarb from their local growers, a dozen eggs from their chickens, and plants, plants, plants.  We now have, in addition to the pansies we've put in our front window boxes, added purple Allium, yellow Begonias, various Impatiens, a ton of other flowers for planters and window boxes around the house, some basil, and additional pepper plants (yes, we've already got many, in our defense, we didn't have this kind of pepper.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it).

Add to that the fact that two apple trees, one cold-hardy cherry tree, strawberry plants and sweet potato starts are set to arrive this week, along with a kitchen and basement starting to overflow with vegetables and herbs....and you've got me praying that we're past the last frost date so I can start getting some of this stuff in the ground.

I started my seed potatoes (fingerlings) and some garlic chives and cilantro today.  I've still got more thinning of the tomato plants to do, and some melons that need transplanting.  Oh, and I still haven't planted all the lettuce.

We're overloaded with nature's bounty already, and we don't even have any vegetables yet.  It never ceases to amaze me that a tiny little seed can do what it does.   

So next weekend we'll prep the garden space, add mulch and compost to the asparagus bed, and start some planting.    

In order to plant the seedlings, I have to 'harden off' the plants.  They can't go straight from the grow lights to the ground.  Every day, they will go outside for a bit of time, increasing slowly until they are out there full time.  But some cold-hardy items, like beans can go in the ground now.

In the summer months, my sister and her family rarely go to the grocery store.  Between the items they buy in bulk, their garden produce, chickens they raise, and eggs, there is little they need.  I started to mull over what it might take to get us to that point in a year or two - three months of the year, no BJs, Market Basket, Stop and Shop, and so on.  I like the idea, so I'm thinking about how we might make it work.

It's a nice goal to consider.  And I wouldn't miss the Sunday grocery store crowds one bit.


Anonymous said...

I love hearing garden updates; I'm anxiously awaiting pictures next week!


Carrie said...

I love gardening, and I'm very curious about gardening from a money standpoint. For the typical home gardener who is just starting out, starting from seeds may seem a daunting task. For those of us who can't seem to fathom the idea of setting up a plant lab in our basement, do you think it's still cost effective to grow plants started from smaller plants and not seeds or seedlings?

Ms.Moneypenny said...


The bulk of what we do grow is from seeds. I spent, about 3 years ago, $25 on a single heating grow lamp and bulb, plus my husband rigged up a second light from a broken stick lamp - the base broke, so he rigged it to a wooden joist, and it's over our plants.

The plants we bought or got free from my sister this weekend were things that typically I don't grow from seed, like begonias and impatiens, or rosemary, which only has a 17% germination rate from seed - it's much easier to just buy a plant. I will overwinter it by bringing it indoors.

Startup costs for gardening can be high. But there are ways to save - aside from electricity, our basement setup costs us nothing - it's an old folding table with the two lights I mentioned. And seeds, with the exception of the allium family (onions, scallions, etc) often increase germination each year, so our$75 investment in them will amortize over 2-4 years.

As for the rest, this year is fairly expensive - we're planning to purchase a freezer so that we can preserve frozen whatever we don't can (I already have a pressure canner and jars I've collected over the years) and we're spending a lot on setup - it's our first year.

But I suspect that by our 3rd year, we'll actually be saving more than we spend. It's a long term investment. And with rising prices, I think it's worth it - for us.

Anna said...

My chives are my favourite part of my garden right now.

They're also the only thing growing outside. :) They happily came back after I planted them last year. Tonight, they shall spice up my nachos.

Anna said...

Oh, and for the first timer, starting tomato plants is easy. Get some jiffy peat pellets. Inflate in water. Plant 1 or 2 seeds per pellet. Put in an ice cream pail. Put pail in east or west window (or near enough to get some sun, but not bake). Come back in a month, and you've got tomato plants. Neither me or my mom has ever used a grow-lite.