Where to begin?
So how do you know where to start? What vegetables should get planted where? When should you plant seeds? What varieties should you buy instead of direct-sowing? These are all questions that I’ve stuggled with in the past and I’m sure others have as well.
There seemed to be so many options when it came to starting seeds indoors and it was a bit daunting to me. Instead, I visited the local farmers market weekly to stock up on healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables. I think the thing that really pushed my determination to figure out my own garden was when my husband and I had kids, I knew it would benefit all of us to be able to know what was in (and especially on) our food! I also loved the idea of all of the time spent outdoors tending to a garden and it being something the kids could help out with and enjoy as well.
My experience gardening fruits and vegetables continues to grow each year. When we lived in the city, we tried a small garden and well, grew nothing. I was pretty convinced that I just didn’t know what I was doing and gave up. A few years later we moved to a property with a fairly large garden and a huge raspberry patch. There were chives that came up in spring and a couple of overgrown apple and pear trees in the fence line but other than that I was on my own.
At the beginning of this post is a photo of our garden back in 2012 – not the greatest picture, but you can see what we had to start with. It was a large simple garden, which we tried to amend with sand, compost and manure to try to lessen the clay qualities that our soil had. Now that we had a garden area tilled up, and ammended the best we could I had even more questions.
The first couple of years of trying to grow a garden, we simply planted seeds right in the garden soil. We planted several store bought tomatoes and pepper plants, but also planted a few strawberry plants and asparagus roots. Although we tried several other types of vegetables from seed direct sowing them into the garden soil, we just couldn’t seem to get them to grow nicely. Our clay soil as well as animal visitors to the yard didn’t allow much to grow.
The next year I bought a few seed packets, and was determined to grow plants myself. I quickly learned it was an easy way to save some money as well as have the benefit of growing a wider variety of vegetables. We weren’t limited by what the big box stores sold. Of course we still like to grow some of the staples like beefsteak and cherry tomato varieties as well as some lettuce and green peppers, but we also throw in a few unique - new to us - varieties each year.
Even though many basic organic, non GMO seeds can be found at a variety of big box stores, my favorites come from Baker Creek Seeds and Seed Savers Exchange - the seed catalogs alone are something to drool over! I love receiving both catalogs in the thick of winter and, with the help of the kids, choosing new varieties for the next year’s garden.
It was then that we decided to give this gardening thing another shot, we figured we could start with a few basic tomato and pepper plants and see what we could actually get to grow (or at least survive!).