For the last three or four years, I have been trying to grow some of my own fruits and veggies. Last year, the urge to have something green growing in my garden was so strong that I started veggies indoors in February, which honestly was the earliest I could start. I am considering a winter seed starter that can be started even earlier for next year. I was absolutely compelled and obsessed. I mean, if there were a diagnosis for wanting to plant something this badly, it would be mild OCD. This year, I am already growing a little human and am incredibly limited in movement. I however will not let a little thing like bed rest stop me :).
You may not know, but I am immensely frugal. My dollar has to go a long way so expensive things have to retain their value over the long haul. Last year, I bought the fancy schmancy self-watering grow kit (approx. $20), only to realize that one size does not fit all plants and flimsy is as flimsy does. Those containers are not meant to survive year to year and are a waste of my hard earned dollar. Hey….think of all the things you can do with $20. This year, the kids and I went DIY (do it yourself) to start our seedlings. I bought (had someone go buy for me) one of the large mixing tubs from the concrete section of Lowes (about $5 then), I splurged and bought an organic seed starting mixture for about $8 on sale and collected some free non-glossy newspaper.
The kids and I (mostly them following my directions) made organic seed starting pots from the free newspaper and filled each with seed starting mixture. Yeah… it is seed planting time! Prior to this foray, I had already planned out the garden leaving some empty spaces for the kids to figure out later. I use the Square Gardening method for most of my plantings as this gives you way more bang for your buck. Annually, I only need to add some good compost to re-energize the gardens. All three of my veggie gardening spaces are 4’ x4’. So I read up and plotted what would grow where then actually drew the diagrams. I must also note that I only get full sun on one side of my house. The back yard has three very large shady trees and the other side of the house only gets evening sun. I have realized over the years that cool weather crops will produce longer if they are planted on the evening sun side and nothing at all wants to grow in the back yard other than mosquitos and grass.
This year’s crops will include:
|Sweet Potatoes (grown in a plastic storage bin)||Spinach Mustard||Mustard Greens|
|Red Stem Malabar Spinach (also grown in a separate area due to height)||Dwarf White Sugar Snow Peas||Red Russian Kale|
|Lacinato Kale||Three types of Sweet Bell Peppers||Mini- Bell Peppers|
|Two types of sweet yellow onions||Marigolds||Broccoli|
|Two types of Carrots||Sugar Baby Watermelon||Minn. Midget Melon|
|Garlic||Mesclun Mix||Yellow Cucumbers|
|Green Burpless Cucumbers||Possibly some Corn in a separate area||Possibly strawberries in a pot|
Anyhoo, using the Square Gardening system, I don’t tend to use more seeds than I actually need. So we planted the seeds after each homemade pot was in the large mixing tray, water each lightly, and covered the entire tray with cling wrap. Yep, cling wrap. Can you say insta-greenhouse!!! As you can see, in less than a week, we have lots of sprouts!! Using cling wrap allows us to only cover the plants that need it and to increase the height if necessary since one size really doesn’t fit all. The large mixing tray currently has 15 pots and could easily fit another 20 pots of the same size which is about the size of a soup can.
I am still awaiting a few seed packets for new, specialty items but mostly, seeds came from the dollar store, Lowes/ Home Depot, or organic seed supply companies. The slips for the sweet potatoes are grown from a store bought tater. Oh, I also collect seeds throughout the year from veggies I like.
When it is time to transplant, I will start with hardening off the seedlings. I neglected to do this last year and found that 50% of the seedlings died. I am so excited to get these plants outside. Soon, we will prune and fertilized the two Rosemary bushes and lavender plant, and determine where the spearmint and basil will live. Growing my own veggies is so awesome. When I want salad, I go outside with the kitchen shears and cut it. Peppers and onions are there along with cukes… just waiting for us to enjoy them. Fresh strawberries all warm from the sun or melons hanging on the vine. The grocery store becomes a backup plan and can you imagine how much money we will save again this year!!!! KACHING!
Let me know if you want to learn how I handle sweet potatoes, making newspaper pots that actually stay together or square gardening? Did I mention that I personally built two of the 4’ x4’ above ground gardening boxes from scratch? The only tool I needed was a drill! The cost for each box was less than $20. Divide that by 4 years and that’s 5 bucks a year. So very frugal.