Last year, my husband built me three fabulous raised beds for our backyard. With almost negative gardening experience, I blindly threw things together, begged the people at the nursery for suggestions and actually grew a few things.
This year, I am not much more prepared. However, I do have a little bit more of a plan. One of the best things I did for myself last year was keep a journal of planting types, seed dates, fertilizer used and when and overall how things did (or didn’t do). This has really helped me set my course for this year and I’m excited to at least have a starting point.
After one year involved in our local Community Supported Agriculture program, I now have a better idea of what I can get in large quantities from them so I won’t be growing those things. I also referenced the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 produce list to help me decide what to plant. For example, spinach, kale, strawberries and bell peppers are in the top 15 highest pesticide rating list so I’ll be growing those. Onions are #1 on the least pesticide rating list, so I’ll most likely pick those up from the grocery store.
We planted garlic and one single strawberry plant last fall and they are both thriving. I literally took a clove of garlic from the grocery store and shoved it in the ground. Same with the strawberry plant. I know you are supposed to mulch and probably pay a little more attention to your plants throughout the freezing winter, but I never did. Lo and behold, those little buggers pushed on and upward.
We do live in a warmer climate, so I’ve been able to get some of our cooler weather seeds in the ground.
In Bed #1, I planted snap peas along the back trellis behind the garlic shoots. To the right, my boys and I planted chard, kale and spinach. Notice the alphabetical order of the seeds? I haven’t gotten around to plant markers yet, so this seemed the easiest way. In the small green container, I planted cilantro and organic basil seeds from the Lorax mustache. Did anyone else get those in the mail? My kids thought it was a hoot.
In Bed #3, along with our lone strawberry plant, we planted beets, carrots and radishes. I’ve read that radishes are quick growers and good for eager little pickers. This was the bed that we planted tomatoes and peppers last year and I read that you shouldn’t duplicate your tomatoes from year to year. I don’t even know why, but didn’t seem worth it to risk it since I’m good at killing things anyway.
If you’re wondering what happened to Bed #2, this is it. I have seeds and plans for it, but until we can get our hands on a sandbox, I’m not going to take away our boys last digging spot. Otherwise, we may end up with radishes growing in the middle of the lawn. My plan is to grow cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers.
I have done my best the last 2 years to let my kids help me plant and harvest our vegetables. I think it’s fantastic that our 3-year old knows about kale, chard and beets. I do have to let go of some of my “need for perfection” as they are chucking seeds like baseballs and creating the ultimate hybrid vegetables. I’m so excited for them to start seeing the fruits of our labor, not to mention going to the various farmer’s markets in our area to talk about even more vegetables.
Apparently, when you help Mom plant seeds and are asked to smile for the camera, you should pose.
Stay tuned for periodic updates on how things are going, what we are planting and possibly what we are doing with it. I started a “Next Spring’s Veggie Bounty” Pinterest board last year, as I am always looking for ideas on using our various vegetables.
What do you have going on in your backyard, patio or windowsill?
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