Clueless Gardener 2013!
A New Year, New Challenges!
Greetings and salutations!
Last year’s garden yielded enough produce to get me addicted to the home-grown taste, so now I’m even more determined this year to have a successful bounty! Last year was all about raised beds, but I’ve changed strategy and hardiness zones this year so we’re in for another multitude of blunders, I’m sure! I know I’ve all ready committed one—cabin fever led me to start seedlings too early this year, and I had to put them in the ground before the dangers of frost are gone. So, I’ll briefly review the new lessons this year:
Know thy Hardiness Zone and Calendar
If you’re starting a garden in a new area, or are just beginning with no working knowledge of what will and won’t do well in your area, check out a state or regional agriculture resource. Most state agriculture programs have an online presence, and your local town information center can lead you to the nearest office if you can’t find the information on your own. It’s very important to know what zone you’re in to get an idea on when to plant and the agricultural center or a farmer’s almanac can provide you with average annual frost information to further prepare you for the growing season.
Resources to get Started
From Seed in a Kit
Last year, as my first vegetable gardening experience, I took the beginner’s route and purchased all my produce as starter plants. It’s a quick and easy way to get going, but it’s more cost effective to grow from seed. There are a lot of seed starter kits out there, from simple to deluxe mini-greenhouses, so there are a lot of great options to try. I started with a deluxe self-watering seed starter kit and that didn’t pan out so well. My second cheap seed starting kit and seed starter cups worked better for me, but in the process I learned that I’m a bit of an over-waterer, so I wouldn’t say I won’t try a deluxe starter again, but I’ll be more aware of how little water it needs compared to traditional seed pots.
Most seeds sprout between 5 and fourteen days. Unless a plant you’ve started specifically says it takes a long time to germinate (like parsnips) if you haven’t seen anything happen in your seeds after three weeks, chances are you’ll have to start over. I have to do that with my spinach, peas, and rapini I tried starting in that deluxe kit a month ago.
Another important thing to know is when to move your seedlings. A good rule of thumb is not to place them outside until they’re close to the size you’d find when buying starter plants. However, I’ve found that my seedling roots quickly outgrew the starter pods and I’ve all ready had to move them all outside or into larger containers to get them to starter plant size. All of them have transplanted well and will soon be the size I want (all though I know I shouldn’t move them outside for at least two more weeks.)
From Seed in the Garden
Two major notes: follow planting instructions on your seeds and protect them from the elements. The elements not limited to frost, wind, hard rain, bugs, birds, rabbits, pets, etc…. every ground garden should have a fence, something closely knit enough to keep rabbits out, and tall enough to deter a dog. Raised beds can have fencing as well, but they’re a bit safer by design against the other elements. If you’re worried about harsh weather or vermin when you plant your seeds, cover your rows or beds with newspaper or mesh until the sprouts come up, and then use mesh or baskets, or anything that lets light through to keep your sprouts protected until they’re big enough to take on the challenge.
Well guys, hope my experiences are helpful, and I have a new YouTube channel set up to more closely follow my progress this year, check it out if you’d like. Until next time!