Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our Family Gardens (Part 3)

You saw when we built our garden bed, and filled it with dirt.

And you saw when we started filling it up with the first of it's veggies.

Since then, our main garden has been fully planted, and our herb garden has been born!

A final trip to our farmers market provided us with the rest of our needed plants, as well as more advice from the helpful farmers. Seriously - if you're a first-timer, or even if you're not - check to see if your area has a good farmer's market. We've saved money, learned things we wouldn't have otherwise, and even got a head start on our gardens thanks to good recommendations. Taking advantage of our farmers market has proven to be a huge asset to our first garden attempts!

Let's start with the veggies. This is what we purchased on our final visit:

Mountain Fresh Tomatoes (6 plants)
Grape Tomatoes (2 plants)
Green Bell Peppers (6 plants)
Red Bell Peppers (6 plants)
Jalapeno Peppers (6 plants)
Yellow Beans (6 plants)
Peas (6 plants)
Cucumbers (6 plants)
Red Onions (many sprouts)

We paid $21 for that list, and it comes out to over 50 plants (that's estimating on the short side for the Red Onions). What that translates to is $.42 a plant! Whoo hoo!

Believe it or not, I planted everything my-very-pregnant-self! My husband had a TON of other yard work to do that day (including building our herb garden, but we'll get there momentarily), and because I was antsy to have our veggies in the ground, I decided to attempt it on my own. It was no easy task! I had a hard time kneeling and squatting, and my feet kept falling asleep. My belly was constantly getting in the way, and I found it nearly impossible to be comfortable while doing this. But in the end, I got the job done, and I was was proud of myself for planting our gardens preggo-style!

The larger plants on the left are from our previous crops, and the space between those and the new plants was left for the cucumbers. We were told that they had just left the greenhouse that morning and needed a bit of tempering before being planted, so we worked them into the outdoors for a few days before adding them in.

What we have, from the space moving to the right, are: yellow beans, peas, jalapenos, red peppers, green peppers, and tomatoes.

Here's the whole thing, all filled up (sans cukes, that is)!

And here's a peek at how are previous crops are coming along!

You might notice that we lost two of our lettuce plants. They were slightly wimpier than the rest and didn't survive. They just kept wilting away while the others thrived. I filled in the gap with some red onion bulbs.

One thing I'd really like to do, still, is add some graphic plant markers. Not for my use - I know what everything is and where it is. It's more for my crafty side, as well as an educational tool for Luke. Ideally, they'd have a picture of the vegetable each plant will eventually produce to help him associate the plants with their foods. I'll have to do some searching around and see what I can come up with!

I keep dreaming up a detailed gardening journal, too - complete with planting and harvest dates, crop details, yield results, lessons learned, our uses for each plant, etc.

Can you tell I'm getting as nerdy about gardening as I am about blogging?

So, the herb garden!

First of all, we purchased our herbs at our wonderful farmers market. Herbs cost a little more in general, so it wasn't as much of a wow-factor good deal, but still great nonetheless! We ended up with:

Parsley(4 plants)
Basil(4 plants)
Chives (4 plants)
Oregano (1 plant)
Cilantro (1 plant)
Mint(1 plant)

That comes out to 15 plants, or $.90 a plant. Still a great deal considering they will come back year after year!

So, for the garden itself, we knew the approximate area we wanted it to be in, but didn't have anything else figured out - including the size, shape, structure or execution of it. In the end, we just kind of had at it! Smart, right?

We both wanted it close to the house (for easy snipping/picking right outside the kitchen doors while we're cooking), and liked the idea of landscaping around our patio. We plopped all the plants together to guess how much room we'd need (remember, spacing isn't one of our strong points) and settled on a quarter-circle shape in the corner of our patio. Hubs lined the shape by sprinkling flour on the ground, then dug up the grass in sheets (like sod) to use in another area of the yard where we have weedy/shoddy grass growth.

When the shape was carved and lined with stone, he filled it up with organic topsoil we had left over from filling the garden bed. And then 'ol preggers here took over the reigns and planted our herbs!

Ta Da!

We decided to include our grape tomatoes in this garden for easy picking - as I assume we'll be "harvesting" those way more often than the regular sized variety. Also, the basil isn't in the ground yet because it, too needed a bit of tempering.

So far, my gardening experience has been a great one. I attribute this to obsessive googling, my fabulous farmer's market, and sheer luck. We water twice a day (in the morning and evening, before and after the sun becomes harsh), with the exception of rainy days - and I have NO IDEA if this is the right way to do it. My mom keeps telling me I'm going to produce blah-tasting tomatoes if I water them that often - but who knows! We're winging it, in every sense!

Next up? We finally add the mesh to our main garden, start growing monstrous plants, and learn a few valuable lessons! Stay tuned! :)

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