Let’s Start Gardening- Bonus #2

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” – Andrey Hapburn

When I started this blog about weight I didn’t think I would veer off to gardening. Truth is there are so many things I can talk about and want to talk about but I don’t want to go crazy. I don’t want to take away from the direction or the focus. I struggled with including gardening or creating another blog and then something occurred to me. The concept of this blog is one step at a time. One action at a time. That’s gardening in a nutshell. Gardening is about one seed at a time.

In my garden I grow a lot of things, most of those things I don’t eat. I like the act of growing vegetables , not the act of eating vegetables. I give away 75% of everything I grow. My first year gardening I went crazy and tried to grow everything under the sun in the middle of the summer. That was a major fail. Last year I grew a forest worth of veggies and ended up with garden burnout around August. It didn’t matter if I was growing cucumbers or tomatoes one thing was clear. Everything I grew started with one seed and that one seed needed to be nourished and cared for in its own way. The general concept is put some seeds in dirt, add water and sun then BAM. What I learned was it was not that easy. Certain veggies needed special nutrients. There needed to be fertilizers or bees to pollinate. What I thought would be easy turned into a massive project, but I loved every minute of it. Gardening was my therapy

This blog is about slowing down to lose weight. Same theory in gardening. Slow down to learn about your plants. You should have decided what you want to grow. I’m hoping you ran out and got your seeds and all your growing supplies. It’s time to actually get dirty. Let’s again go over what you need. Seeds, potting soil and a seed starting kit. I’m serious that’s all you need. I want you to start small if this is your first time. You can add more items as we go through this journey. DO NOT use dirt from your yard. Seedlings need a special kind of soil that is not heavy. Potting soil or seed starting mix I formulated to grow seedlings.

Let me first apologize because I’m going to give you advice to follow ME as I garden. I live in Ohio in zone 6A. If you don’t know what zone you live in please use our friend Google. The zone you live in will tell you when to start planting. This is all dependent on your last frost date. In Ohio our last frost isn’t until May. I know that sounds crazy but believe me no matter how hot it gets outside, don’t slip up and think you can plant early. I made that mistake last year and lost my plants twice. They called it a freak storms. I called it Ohio.

I am going to advice you to start seeds indoors for some of the plants you plan to grow in your garden. This will give you a leg up on the season. This might also let you grow continuously through the growing season. For me it gave me the ability to play in dirt without rushing outside like I did last year. I got my brief moments of therapy.

Here are a list of items I’ve planted living in Ohio thus far: collards, onions, leeks, dill, basil, cabbage, and cauliflower. You can also start thyme, parsley, broccoli, Mung beans, alfalfa, oregano, chives, cilantro, celery, kale, and kohlrabi. I don’t eat the latter so I didn’t grow them. I decided this year to try a few varieties of each veggie I selected and see which ones I preferred. Here is my tip- only plant a few cells of each. If you can’t eat or give away fifty heads of cabbage don’t plant fifty heads of cabbage. I know you are looking at the tiny seedling thinking “aww how cute”. Realize that seedling will grow into a full head of cabbage in less than 100 days. I don’t care how much you love cabbage, you are not eating fifty head. Please be realistic. You will probably eat 2-3 and give away another 2-3. I am being generous. That is six heads of cabbage. Plant six seedlings of cabbage.

You also need to plant in accordance to how large the plant will be, not the seedling size. Cabbage can get huge. I’m not sure how much space you have set aside for your garden but do you only want to grow cabbage. I’m thinking the answer is no. You really need to think about spacing before you start putting stuff in the ground or containers willy nilly.

My garden is 16ft x 8ft which is actually pretty large. I have an enclosed area that contains raised beds and containers. My garden is called Unicorn Crossing. For me its a magical place which is how it got its name. My soil has a lot of clay so growing using this method worked out for me. I also have a back injury so raised beds were perfect. Now that I mention this I realize I’ve left out a lot of information that you probably need. Next week I will discuss your outside space. You don’t need to have that nailed down right this minute, but it does help to figure out your spacing. Let’s get back to your seedlings.

This is where you get to make some life decisions. Some gardeners will tell you to plant 2-3 seeds per hole in your seedling pots. You will then thin the seedlings (cut the weak ones) leaving room for the strongest seedling to survive. I start planting early enough that I just plant one seed per hole. If the seed doesn’t grow I just replant in that hole. Yes they give you a lot of seeds, but why waste them. Any seeds I don’t use I leave in the packet and place in an airtight container until next year. I also share seeds with my friends. You can get up to two years out of any seed pack.

As I mentioned before I follow the Square Foot Gardening Method created by Mel Bartholomew. I grew to love this method because it focuses on gardening in small spaces. I think its perfect for a beginner but if you want to garden the traditional way please do. The goal is to do what works for you and what you will enjoy.

Machon Tip- I fill my seed trays to the top with potting soil or seed starting mix. I then push the dirt down in the cell getting out any air. I then top off the cell with more dirt and push it down again. I water the cells making sure every inch of the soil is saturated. I then poke a hole in the center of each cell and drop my seed in. Next I gently cover the hole with dirt from that cell. Whip out your garden journal and write down what you planted and the date you planted it. If you didn’t think I would mention a journal you have not been paying attention. Remember I journal everything.

After your cells are all full make sure you label the cells. The worst thing is to grow stuff and not know what it is. After everything is planted and labeled I throw on my humidity dome and place my seedlings in a sunny window. Again you will hear about heat trays, grow light, and a host of other things you can buy. I would urge you to not do any of this your first year. Since you don’t know what you don’t know, don’t buy stuff you may not need or may not use. Gardening is said to be cheap, but I can assure you it is not. If you start tacking on all these extra’s that price tag continues to rise. I actually had to put myself on a budget this year. You might want to also do that.

Now that you have some seedlings started make sure the cells never get dry. I can’t tell you how much water to use because that would depend on your climate in your home. Just make sure you cells are not in standing water and make sure they don’t get dry. With that tip you should be fine. Check on them daily and as soon as you see some sprouts take off your humidity dome if you have one. Nature will basically do the rest.

Next week I will tell you about sprouting seeds, what you can plant next, and we will touch on your garden space. This week begin thinking about where you want to place your garden. The only rule is to make sure the area gets a lot of sun and that its close to your home. You might think you are walking across the yard to garden but when the heat of August kicks in I assure you your mind will change. If the garden must be further from the home I will give you some tips.

In the meantime read your seed packets to learn about what you just planted. Also swarm the internet to learn about your particular varieties. If you ordered seed catalogs start reviewing them to see what they say about your seeds. These catalogues hold a wealth of information. Sipping coffee in the morning I usually grab a few and get giddy about the seeds I have. If you are as excited about gardening as I am send me a message. If you have some questions please send them my way. It doesn’t matter how small your space is you can still garden. Together we can do this. I promise you if you follow my directions you will at least grow something. I cried when I picked my first cucumber. Yea I know, it should not have been that serious. You can judge me, because I will be judging you.

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