It’s good to have goals, right? Goals provide direction and a way to measure your progress. So here it is, the end of May, and I thought it would be a good time to check in on the goals that I set for myself this past January.
1. I will start all of my own seeds.
Check. This worked out way better than I thought it would. As with most successful endeavors, I had a lot of help. Thanks to Alex Norelli for the grow lights and heat mats. Thanks to Doug Hall for the flats and pots. Thanks to Mark Highland at Organic Mechanics for the seed-starting mix, and thanks especially to High Mowing Organic Seeds for graciously supplying most of the seeds.
2. I will only grow seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds.
Yep, pretty much. I contacted HM a while back and told them my plan. They donated an excellent order of seeds. But then I kept seeing the High Mowing seed display at Kimberton Whole Foods and certain things would catch my eye, things that I didn’t know I wanted when I placed my original order.
3. I will not overplant tomatoes.
Somehow, I’ve managed not to overplant the tomatoes by planting more tomatoes than I’ve ever planted. Figure that one out. Fifteen plants! But this year they have plenty of space and I’m supporting them with the cat’s cradle technique instead of those stupid wire cages.
4. I will grow more flowers in my garden.
So far, so good. Marigold, zinnia, cosmos, bachelor buttons, nasturtium, nicotiana, calendula, poppies, and lots of sunflowers. Hey pollinators, come on in!
5. I will plant a sunflower house for my kids.
Sort of. It’s not quite a house, but the edges around the play area (sliding board, bean teepee, balance beam) are thickly planted with sunflowers. It may end up feeling like a room by the end of the summer.
6. I will grow strawberries.
Check. Six ‘Mara des Bois’ day neutral strawberry plants given to me by OG deputy editor Doug Hall. Thanks again, Doug!
7. My garden will be productive earlier in the season.
We’ve been eating kale from the garden since February.
8. I’m going to buy (or make) a rain gauge.
Fail. I have not gotten a rain gauge yet. And all the “make your own rain gauge” websites and videos are flawed beyond words. They essentially tell you to tape a ruler to a jar and—presto—you have a rain gauge. I wasn’t the greatest student of mathematics or science, and I never took a meteorology class, but my instincts tell me that there is more to making a rain gauge than this. If you have any insight, please let me know.
9. I’m going to keep a detailed garden journal.
Almost. I started a garden journal. My first entry was on March 4 when I planted my onion seeds. Unfortunately, my most recent entry was on April 25 when I repotted my peppers, eggplant, tomatillo, and parsley, and planted nasturtium.
I suppose I could go back and fill in the blanks, but so much has happened since then. I will thank myself in the future if I can get back into journaling.
10. Keep my hopes high and my expectations low.
Stay tuned for my next set of gardening goals…
So far my turnip seed saving adventure is rolling along smoothly. As you may remember, I gathered and bundled a bunch of turnip seedpods and let them hang out to dry for a couple of weeks in the sun. This past weekend, I took the bundle up to the deck and crumbled the dried bunch in my hand and to my amazement, a shower of tiny turnip seeds rained upon the table.
I’m not sure why I found it so amazing. It was similar to the excitement I experienced earlier this spring when the seeds I started in my basement began to sprout. I guess I’m excited to be playing a bigger role in the cycle. It’s easy to buy a pack of seeds at the store and stick them in the ground, but it’s a whole-nuther feeling to know you have been with these seeds through several seasons. On some level, it’s a lot like parenthood.
I wished I had crumbled the seedpods onto a smoother surface. The table on my deck is textured which made gathering the seeds a little challenging, but I made creative use of the dust pan and brush and was able to get all the seeds into a little manila envelope.
Of course my experiment in seed saving is not over. The true test, of course, will be to get the seeds to germinate and grow into more turnips. Stay tuned. I’ll be plating them late summer for fall harvest.
OK, I admit that this is the first year I’ve ever tried starting my own seeds. I even made my own little newspaper pots. Iris and I had a good time filling them with the seed starting mix. Anytime you get to play with a bucket of dirt at the kitchen table is a good time, whether you’re a toddler or a dad.
We planted seeds and set them up under a low hanging fluorescent light in the basement. We planted basil, parsley, zinnia, squash, and marigolds. And now to keep them moist and wait.
I’m worried that maybe I should have filled the pots to the brim with potting mix, but as with most things in my life as a gardener, it’s a learning process.
Iris and I planted our pre-sprouted peas yesterday. She was more interested in filling up her bucket with water and letting some of her worms go for a swim, but we managed to plant 3 different varieties. I planted spinach and radicchio during her nap time.
My wife and I are expecting a baby in May. We’ve been telling our 2½ year old daughter that the baby will be here in spring. So when I got her out of bed on March 20 and told her it was the first day of spring, she said, “Where’s my baby?”
With a baby on the way, you can imagine that we’re pretty busy getting things ready. Somehow I’ve managed to find a little time for gardening too. My little helper and I go out to the garden as much as we can. We haven’t planted anything yet, but the bamboo pea trellis is almost complete.
I’m trying to pre-sprout them now. I soaked them in water over night and this morning wrapped them in a damp paper towel, tucked them into a plastic bag, and suspended them over the baseboard heater to keep them warm. Hopefully by Saturday or Sunday we’ll have some sprouts.
We’ve also started working on the bean tee-pee. The idea is for Iris to have a cool fort to play in. What you see here is just the prototype.
It’s just about the dead middle of winter. I’ve been paging through seed catalogs, dreaming about planting peas, wondering how I’ll do my potatoes this year.
But here’s the thing: We’re looking to buy a house, my wife and I. We have a daughter who’s 2 and half, and we’re expecting a baby in May. Our house, however nicely situated in the world with its privacy and open space, is about to get too small, and it’s already too expensive to heat.
So my where does this leave my garden? Do I start seeds, do I prepare myself mentally for the spring, knowing full well that we might move and leave it all behind?
Yes. Of course I do. I’ll order my seeds. I’ll start them in the basement. I’ll plant my peas on St. Patty’s Day, I’ll plant my taters on Good Friday (actually, I just looked at the calendar and Good Friday is really late this year, so I’ll get the taters in sooner), and I’ll get things ready the way I always do. It’s part of who I am. I garden.