Way back when there was snow on the ground, and before Covid-19 was rampant in the United States, James and I decided that we were ready to be gardeners.
We were optimistic, excited, and ready for the warmth of summer and veggies, fresh off the vine. We stopped by my favorite greenhouse, Faddegon’s, to learn how we could start planting our own seeds. What did we need to know? What supplies did we need to have? When was the right time of year to start?
Well, none of those answers really seemed to matter. At one glance of the packets of seeds available, our newest hobby had begun! To restrain our excitement, we made one rule…
Only purchase what we (including our kittens) will actually eat!
Broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, spaghetti squash, summer squash, watermelon, carrots, sugar snap peas, catnip, catgrass, and beans.
We also grabbed several bags of wildflower seeds and sunflower seeds – because, why not! We have a nice long garden bed that could use a little color (after some intensive weeding – more to come on that adventure).
We read the instructions on each packet of seeds carefully, (I swear), but on on February 23rd, we jumped right in and decided to plant the broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, and cherry tomato seeds. Of the seeds we collected, these were the ones that were recommend to seed inside.
We collected the seed trays, the pods of dirt to plant the seeds in, a heating pad to encourage germination, and a sunlamp to start feeding the little leaves as they popped up. And boy, did they pop up! It was amazing how fast this first growth was… in fact, in regards to the broccoli the growth was maybe a little too fast…
We have learned a lot.
Broccoli and tomatoes seeds were planted 6 weeks too early.
Pepper seeds were planted 2 weeks too early.
Ultimately, we had to repot all of our babies and many of the broccoli had to be re-seeded (we lost a few). In response to this, I have now organized a calendar of dates for when we are supposed to plant seeds, plant the new babies outside, and plant the rest of the seeds outside (thank goodness for google calendar and google sheets). Hopefully, this will help us out a little better next year!
But it turns out our eagerness wasn’t going to be the most insane hurtle. When James and I began this whole project, the plan was that my family would come by to support us newbies (love them). That within a few months of planting the seeds and spring’s arrival, my parents would assess what we were working with and help to get this garden back into shape – teaching us along the way how to create a beautiful and fruitful garden. I was almost begging them to stop by our apartment every day! Their guidance, that was the plan…
Well, ‘make a plan and the universe will laugh.’
It became clear that with Covid -19 changing the face of the world, James and I would be on our own in figuring out this garden stuff. Calling my dad from Home Depot, and trying to articulate what we were working with, what we needed to do, and what all our options were.
Not ideal, but pretty helpful and entertaining phone calls!
Anyway, back to the seedlings…
Before the broccoli could be planted, we needed to do a bit of work on the raised bed. It wasn’t in awful shape, which was exciting to see! Mostly, weeds. We fixed up the chicken wire and resecured it around the perimeter. The soil wasn’t in bad shape, so we added two huge bags of fertilized soil and James mixed it all up with a hand tiller. To help with the weeds (we pulled out a lot – a lot, a lot) we laid garden fabric over the surface, hopefully to stop them from returning, cutting a space just big enough for the broccoli babies to be planted.
All advice from my dad, of course.
At this point, when it comes to our first three seedlings, everything’s coming together! The baby broccoli plants are in the ground, and seem to be handling the cold weather just fine (why is it snowing in April?). I can’t wait for the broccoli to really take off!
As for the tomato and pepper babies, we are hardening them a few hours outside on the warmer days. We set them up in the sunshine, and have learned to avoid the super chilly and windy days. We have already lost half of our tomato stock. One tomato plant was dropped (heartbreaking), and another didn’t survive a windy day outside (though that one is a bit of a mystery). The peppers on the other hand seem very hardy and almost seem ready to be planted outside.
The goal is to plant the peppers and tomatoes outside by mid-May. And, we have already prepared their new homes! The peppers will join the broccoli in the raised bed, and we have set up nice, big, giant planters for the tomatoes.
More to come on this!
And the rest of our vegatables and flower seeds.