This weather sucks in Ohio. There is no other way to put it. We started one week at 70 degrees and by the end of the week it was snowing.
I told you all a few weeks ago to put seeds in the ground and I know you are now sitting here thinking “I’m glad I didn’t listen to that crazy lady”.
Well you should have listened lol. While the temperature is dipping the garden is starting to come alive.
The peas and spinach have sprouted through no help from me. I dropped the seeds in, watered, then walked away. I haven’t watered them since which is why the soil looks dry in the pictures. Mother Nature on the other hand had dumped rain and snow since these pictures were taken yet these veggies continue to grow.
Tip- throw some seeds in the soil and see what happens. If it doesn’t grow, plant them again. Don’t stress. Let’s just Grow Some Stuff.
I realize today as I was going through my notes that the first year I decided to garden I spent over $500. I then spent over $500 the second year and would have spent more if I had not start writing down what I’d spent.
This can be a bit much.
This got me to thinking about people who are just starting out. How can you garden for under $100 without doing any of those tricks that you see on YouTube. I have no intention of seed starting in yogurt cups or egg cartons. I also have no intention on taking old items and turning those into planters. Don’t get me wrong, you can do all those things and save money. I’m just going to be honest and tell you I’m not doing any of that.
So how can people like me start a garden on a budget. Basically people who want function mixed with a little bit of fashion. Here is my must do list to get started. By the way I will be rounding up since I don’t know the tax in your area.
Containers – I recommend 5 gallon buckets. I have seen the price increase but I’m going to tell you the best value for me was Walmart. Not only did they have a lot of buckets but they had a variety of colors. In my garden I have Black, White, Green, and Blue. Cost for one bucket is $3. I would recommend at least 5 buckets to get started so your total investment cost is $15. (You can also buy planters. Make sure they are at least five gallon planters). Some stores may have some on clearance as they make room for this years styles.
Soil – You need a good quality potting mix. You might get a cheap bucket, but do not get cheap soil. I recommend Miracle Grow Potting Mix. This cost around $15 a bag. You will need three bags for a cost of $45. These three bags will not fill all your buckets, but will fill the tops of your buckets where most of the roots will be. You can fill the bottom half of your bucket with the bag your soil came in, leaves, dirt from your yard, branches, or a smaller pot. You might ask why I told you to get five gallon buckets if they are so hard to fill. I actually use them to store my soil from year to year. These buckets become very versatile and dirt ain’t cheap.
Watering Can – You can get a good watering can for $5. If you find one cheaper use the extra money to buy more seeds. This is not a necessity but after you have lugged water back and forth you will thank me. If you have a water hose that you would rather use take that $5 and buy a water wand attachment for your hose. You need water to sprinkling on your plants, not blast them.
Seeds – You should now have $30 left to buy seeds. Seeds vary in price but you dont need to break the bank. You can get seed packs at the dollar store, home improvement stores, or even Walmart and Target. The price of seeds depends on what you want to plant. On average seeds are running $3 a pack this year. Realize you can plant multiple plants in a one bucket. Lettuce can be planted with onions. A tomato plant can be planted with basil. Research companion planting.
Journal – Take $1 and go to the dollar stores and buy a journal or notebook. You need to keep notes. Believe me this will help you next year. If you are tech savvy put it on your phone, but I like paper so I write everything down.
The total is around $96. This is 100% all you need to grow stuff. You don’t need to start out with amendments or fertilizers. There is no need to break the bank if you just want to dabble in gardening to see if this is something you will enjoy. I’m sure you can do this cheaper but I believe these are the basics.
I also suggest a lot of books in my blogs. You don’t need these. Google is free. The internet is packed with information but I will tell you for me it got overwhelming. After you decide what you are going to plant go from there and everything else is easy.
I will make this last point. You are going to hear “plant what you like to eat”. I don’t even like many vegetables but I love gardening. Don’t plant what you like to eat. Plant something that someone will eat. I garden for therapy not to eat stuff. If you are laughing because my garden is large, realize I need a lot of therapy.
If you recall I told everyone that I garden in containers. I told you in the last post why I love containers, but I feel like I also have to be honest. I have to tell you why you may not want to use containers. It’s up to you to make the best choice for your garden. So here are a few reasons you may not want to use containers.
1. Upfront cost- gardening can get pretty expensive and container gardening is no different. There are upfront cost such as the containers, container soil, and amendments. Gardening in containers takes a little bit more prep work than traditional gardening and honestly the cost turns some people away.
2. Choosing a container- when you container garden you have to make sure your pot can hold your full size plant. That cute one gallon pot is nice until you grow cabbage the size of your head.
3. More watering- you have to water containers more often depending on what you use. I like fabric pots and that great feature to air wick roots is the same feature that makes you need to water more often.
4. Pot Prep – you always have to make sure your pots have drainage holes. You also want to make sure the holes are large enough to create enough drainage. Water logged roots mean the death of your plant.
5. Containers are heavy – I know I told you that you can move containers, but sometimes their heavy. I use ten gallon grow bags for potatoes and once they’re set, they’re set. Those bags are heavy enough to throw my back out.
6. Too much water and too many amendments- just like I said you have to water and add amendments. You can also add too much. Without excess dirt to absorb your mistake you might slowly kill your plant. This is a very delicate mix.
7. No natural bugs – although I don’t like worms they are great for your garden. Their poop or “casting” are great natural nutrients. Guess what? Worms can’t climb in pots so you lose that.
8. Fear – people are scared to garden in containers. Gardening is hard enough and now we are adding all these rules. You would rather start simple with that plot of dirt in your yard.
Like I said container gardening or traditional gardening is up to you. Always do what works best. For me I’ve grown into this method and I really enjoy it. I do have challenges from time to time, but it’s just seeds and I can always grow more. Take time to explore. There is no wrong way to garden. You will be surprised at what you are able to grow.
“An hour of planning can save hours of doing” – Unknown
If you are like me you are itching to get your hands in some dirt. Earlier this month all my seeds arrived and I decided it was time to sit down and create a plan of what I really wanted to grow this year.
After a small survey of all the seeds I realized I have 13 varieties of cucumbers and 26 varieties of tomatoes. Now if I planned to only grow cucumbers and tomatoes that would be fine, but I also have 20 other vegetables to get in this garden. In total I have over 120 varieties of vegetables.
Basically what I’m admitting is I can’t grow everything I want this year unless I plan on expanding my garden. Please note my husband will kill me if I make this thing any bigger.
If you are like me deciding what makes the cut is rough. I have my favorites from last year and all the new varieties I just purchased. What to do? What to do? Answer, make a plan.
The first thing I did was select two favorites from last year. I fell in love with the Tropical Sunset tomato from M.I.Gardener and the Amish Paste. You might be able to get these varieties from other places but these tomatoes grew so well I had to try it again. The Tropical Sunset is a cherry tomato that was so sweet I had a neighbor eating them right off the vines. The Amish Paste tomato made the perfect pasta sauce last year which meant it was definitely making the cut. So there, the two tomatoes from last year selected.
Deciding on the new varieties was harder because I had 10 new varieties. I’m deciding against all common sense to grow one of each variety. I know this is ambitious and I’m going to regret it later but I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t growing everything. So there you have it, 12 varieties of tomatoes will make the cut this year leaving 48 available spaces. I use a mix of container and square foot gardening which I will talk more about later but just know 48 squares is not as much space as you think.
With tomatoes taking over 12 spaces I’ve decided some other stuff has got to go. I’m scratching squash, turnips, and mustard greens this year along with a few other varieties of items. It’s crazy because as I get better at gardening I run out of space in the garden. Squash lovers don’t be mad at me. I need that space for all the potatoes I plan to grow. Y’all didn’t think I would do a gardening blog and not mention potatoes :). Of course I’m growing potatoes.
Ok moving right along…
So gardeners if you haven’t already done so sit down and create a plan. First decide what you want to grow and then decide how many of each variety you will grow. Look at all the seed selections and make sure you select what’s right for you and your zone. Trying to grow pineapples in Ohio is something that’s not going to work.
Realize that everything you plant will not grow and also don’t be shocked if it does. Have a backup plan to get rid of some plants if your green thumb turns out to be better than you thought. Also leave some space for surprises. Every year someone drops off a new variety of vegetable for me to try. I’m not even talking seeds I’m talking one foot tomato or pepper plants. My theory is they just couldn’t let the seedlings go and finally realized they did not have the space. I’ve been there. Anywho.
Yes it’s cold and yes you think I’m crazy but if you want to get a head start, start now. I already have all my collards started and once transplanted I’m moving on to cabbage. Can you feel my excitement!!
I know I usually give you a great quote about gardening as the intro, but there was nothing to say other than start planning. I think the biggest mistake people make outside of planting too much, is not having a plan. Just like with everything else you need to begin with some leg work before you head out to your garden.
If you are a first time gardener I’m going to give you some tips, but this is really applying to people who have gardened for at least one year. I say that because in your first year you need to do stuff like find a spot, pick some seeds, amend your soil, or buy some pots. This post is not going to help you with those things but previous post will. This post is for all of us who think we have it all under control and then in August we ask ourselves what have we done.
The first thing I’m going to recommend is one of my favorite gardening planners.
This book right here has it all. If last year you were all over this place buy this book. It takes you week by week on what you should be doing to get your garden going. The only thing you have to do is determine your frost dates and count backwards. It tells you when to start seeds, when to transplant, and when to begin looking for bugs. While this book can’t give you information about your specific growing zone it can get you started in the right direction.
The great thing about this book is it holds three years worth of information. For those of you who don’t do any journalling this is at least a good start. Please note that I have an entirely separate garden journal that I keep notes in from year to year to compliment this.
I picked my journal up late and it’s already telling me I should be planting collards for an early harvest. Let me clearly state it is 11 degrees outside and there is a sheet of ice under six inches of snow. The thought of planting collard seeds is cracking me up. I will also be the same person in March/April talking about how warm it is and that I should have planted some cold tolerant crops. Yes I’m that person.
With that said, order the book. You can thank me later for this little gem.
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” – Audrey Hepburn
This quote is really why I love gardening. It’s hard to be a depressed gardener because you are really looking forward to tomorrow. Even when crops fail, the rain doesn’t come, or in my case your attacked by cicadas, I can still find hope.
When something goes wrong there is always another thing growing behind it. I might lose one cucumber plant but believe me I have five more just waiting for their opportunity to shine. The hardest part for me is really when I can’t garden.
Guess what, I found a solution.
I’ve heard a lot about Aerogarden. The price was crazy so I was not about to pull the trigger on $100 mini indoor garden. I felt like as usual I was being stalked and I found one one sale and with coupons it was a bargain I couldn’t pass up. For $50 I invested in an Aerogarden Harvest and a 9 Pod Grow Anything Kit.
With the help of my husband I was able to get it set up quickly and get some quick growing veggies in the pods. I decided for this first trial I am growing lettuce and spinach. My family consumes both of these things frequently and they normally grow pretty quick while in the garden.
I will keep you all posted on the success of this project. Let’s hope it keeps me busy enough to not buy large amounts of new seeds. Do we ever really need more seeds?
As I sit here and watch my backyard flood in the beginning of January I immediately think how good this rain would be for gardening. In Ohio we haven’t been getting much snow until late January into February. Last year it was so warm in December my garlic began the sprout and when the winter finally came and killed it I couldn’t get it to grow back. This is the main reason I decided I’m just going to plant my garlic in early spring next year. The rain also reminded me that it’s time to grab a warm drink and start ordering seeds.
I’ve learned that with some planning I can garden all year round. I might not be able to be outside in the garden, but I can do something garden related. Today I’m going to go through all the seed catalogs and place some orders.
I’m so happy to report that while almost everything has gone digital seed catalog still come in the mail. This gives me the ability to see all the wonderful things I can grow and then I’m able to recycle the paper in the compost pile. Call me old fashioned but I still love the feel of turning pages.
Below are a few of my favorite seed catalogs. Each year Gurneys gets a good chunk of my seed money. I also got some seeds from Seed Savers and Seeds and Such. I will do another post after I place some orders. I will also give you a glimpse of my favorites and seeds I wasn’t so impressed with. If you are sitting around wondering how to get in the garden spirit order yourself some catalogs.
FYI- in case you are wondering I did start by getting seeds from big box stores and those seeds are great. The reason I switched to catalogs is because of the varieties. They are endless with catalogs. You also can get heirloom seeds as well. I just love options, and the catalogs give you endless options. I mean just look at the picture, there is a whole catalog about tomatoes. Eighty eight pages of tomato varieties. You will not find that at big box.
“Play in dirt because life is too short to always have clean fingernails” – Unknown
My job has been a little stressful. Hell my life has been a little stressful. This year I decided to not do fall crops and begin prepping the garden for the winter. I have too much going on. This weeks tasks was to simply begin to take out all the old plants and start to prep the soil for winter.
After I got on my gardening gloves and grabbed my fancy garden tools I headed to the garden. When I started on my journey outside I had fifty thousand thoughts in my head regarding how my week has been going and what I needed to do. Even though I was listening to music to try to drown out my thoughts it wasn’t working and I will still running though check lists.
When I got in the garden and began tearing out plants and sifting dirt something odd happened. My mind went blank. I got in this rhythm. Take out the plant, sift the dirt, compost or don’t compost, make a trip to the trash can. It was such an easy flow to get into and I realized then how much I missed it. While dealing with all my stuff I didn’t go into the garden. When you make the decision to let the plants die there is no reason to go out there. No watering, no fertilizing or picking. I just watched the plants die from my office window.
What I was now doing was playing in dirt and letting all my issues fade. My husband jokes and asks me each time I come in the house if I’m done playing in dirt. I usually say yes and keep moving. Today something hit me. I am never upset when I’m in the garden. Even when things don’t go the way I want them to I’m never upset. If I need a break from reality I go to the garden. Being stressed and not gardening was a horrible plan.
I also thought about small children. Have you ever seen small children upset while playing in dirt? It’s impossible. Kids literally get to do something we always tell them not to do, get dirty. I think as adults we place too many negative images on playing in dirt. We think about pulling out weeds, cutting the grass, or trimming bushes. Chores instead of fun. I’ve decided I’m going to play in dirt a little more often and simply let it be what it is, fun.
If I’m pulling weeds, let’s get dirty and pull them. All yard work going forward as well as gardening just needs to be thought of as fun time with dirt. I always get amazed at what pops in my head when I simply just pause and stop making things more complicated than they are.
“Onions are the bullies of the veggie world. The strong ones make you cry” M.Ross
I’ve done so many post about potatoes I figure you wanted to know some other easy veggies that I grow.
For the past three years I’ve grown onions and this year I attempted leaks. I will tell you that as much as I rave about the ease of potatoes, onions are just as easy. Onions are very forgiving. There are days when I didn’t make it out to the garden because it was just too hot. Some crops need constant care. Onions do not.
I would suggest you grow onions a variety of ways. First you can buy bulbs at any garden store. I usually get 100 bulbs for about $4 a bag. This will yield you quick easy green onions in about 4-6 weeks.
Second way to grow onions is of course from seed. You need to plant these rather early and then transplant them into the garden. Truth is this was my least favorite way. Transplanting onion seedlings is tedious. I watched video after video on YouTube and several people said it was stress relieving. Um, no. No it was not.
The last way is of course to direct sow. If you plant early in the Spring you can get descent size onions in the fall with minimal labor.
Pro tip- label your onions. When they grow they resemble grass. If they are not labeled you will find yourself pulling onions thinking their weeds. Also make sure you leave proper space. If you want large onions leave large onion space. I usually interplant onions with other veggies like green beans or spinach. This provides me with a lot of growing space.
We ended up with so many onions this year I decided to purchase a dehydrator so I could have them all year long. It was a toss up between dehydration and freezing and my lack of freezer space made the decision for me.
Let me know some varieties of onions you love. This year I grew red, white, yellow, Evergreen Long, Crystal White Wax, Bulk Warrior, Guardsmen, Red Burgundy, and Pikant shallots.
I didn’t think I would ever say this, but as an introvert I am not thrilled that the world is opening back up. I’m not a fan of large crowds, noise, or anything fast paced. This made me a perfect gardener. Gardening is slow, calculated, and in my case planned. I figure out what I want to plant in the winter and purchase seeds after New Years. I sit with my catalogs and create little maps of my garden so I know everything will have a home. I start my seedlings indoors when there is still snow on the ground and begin looking at cold frame placement. When it’s time for the seedlings to go outside the decision on pot size and soil amendments is decided. I put a lot of work into going outside to move slow.
There are days when I can sit in my garden for hours. I will prune something or pick something, but normally I’m just watering and sitting. Yes I enjoy the harvest, but in truth I enjoy the process. For some reason I love knowing that most of this garden is out of my control. As a perfectionist you would think I would hate this, but I don’t. I’ve accepted that nature will do what nature does. Last year it was severe thunder storms that knocked the greenhouses over three times. This year the cicadas had me hiding in my house. So why has gardening began to lose some of its luster for me?
I’m tired. Now that the world is open if you are invited somewhere you have to go. People believe that since you’ve been trapped in the house you are dying to see them. Guess what? I’m not. Now that the world has opened up I believe I should be attending things I missed out on due to the pandemic. The truth is I didn’t really miss them. During the pandemic I felt like I had all the time in the world. I would be in the garden, working in the yard, and planning all these vacations that I wanted to take. Now these vacations are here and I’m thinking “who’s going to watch my garden?” Should I not be worrying about this?
I’m also traveling more for work and working on larger projects since the pandemic is over. Again this creates time away from the garden. Let me clearly state that this is 100% a first world problem. I am not changing any lives with my garden outside of mine and the people I give veggies too. The garden does provide a level of sanity that I would like to maintain, but outside of that it’s a luxury that I know I have. The garden is my mini sanctuary that just happens to have corn and green beans. The garden is something that I created, maintain, and benefit from with the help of Mother Nature.
I don’t normally experience garden burnout this early, but coming out of the pandemic something is different. I don’t feel like I should spend as much time there. I feel like I should be doing other things. I should be hanging out with people, working out, cooking, cleaning, or anything other than just sitting in the garden. I can’t really explain the feelings but figured I would share them in case someone else was going through this.
I typically would classify this as just feeling “off.” I just feel “off” regarding my garden this year. I love gardening and everything that goes into it, but recently the love has turned into a like. I want to love my garden again. I want to appreciate all the wonders and the beautiful colors it holds. The marigold and lavender make me smile each time I enter.
I told a co-worker the other day you need to fake it. I need to fake my happiness in my garden until I get that feeling back. Until I get that love back. The garden has not changed, I have. I have to remember why I fell in love in the first place. I have to simply appreciate the garden for what it is.