Growing Your Own Veggies

The inspiration for this post is from a post by EM Smith aka ChiefIO:

FWIW, last night it was in the 40′s F on my patio. Well below “tomato fruit set” temperature minimums. No tomato for that hamburger just yet… The good news is that the sky is clear and the sun is bright today, so it’s still a great day to be out and about.

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/memorial-day-snow-party/

The La Nina event that is just starting to end has made it a little hard for people on the west coast to get their gardens in, however that same event has made it a pretty good spring for gardening where I live. For whatever reason the severe weather plaguing the country east of the Mississippi river has passed us by. Yes April and early May was a tad on the cool side but the temps have picked up nicely (Mid 80’s this past week) and unlike other eastern states we didn’t have floods from melting snow or the big thunderstorms.

With the weather cooperating and the rising prices of food I reached back to my childhood for what we did then to stretch our budgets: Plant a garden. Unlike back then there is less ground available for planting but also there is less mouths to feed. On top of that unlike my childhood home this house has a nice big deck, with nice long lengths of railing to put planter boxes on. Yes you can grow your own veggies in planter boxes, so for those that live in apartments that have balcony’s you too can grow your own veggies with some restrictions. We also invested in a small 6′ x 8′ greenhouse and hopefully that will extend my growing season for the veggies that can be grown in planters and pots.

So to help EM out since he can’t see his own veggies growing here is some of mine 🙂

Back in mid April I planted 6 potato “seeds” I bought at BJ’s Wholesale club, 4 Onion sets and a couple of feet of Carrot seeds I got from Home Depot in my open ground garden and this is what I got so far:

Open Ground Garden

Here is a close up of the Potato’s:

Potato Plants planted 4/14 2011

I had tried to start a few tomato plants from seed indoors but they didn’t make it. So when it got a tad warmer around May 1st I planted two seeds just down from the potato’s and behind the onions. Yes I know you shouldn’t plant potato’s and tomato’s in the same bed because they are susceptible to the same diseases and can pass them to each other, but I did it anyway so there. Here is a close up of what those seeds have done in one month:

tomato plants planted as seeds 5/1 2011

At the same time I planted the Potato’s I also planted some veggies in planter boxes. In one box I planted the other 4 of the Onion sets I got from Home Depot. In the second box I planted some small Onion bulbs/sets I got from BJ’s and here is how they are doing:

Yellow Onions planted 4/14 2011

In the third box I planted leaf Lettuce that I picked up from Home Depot:

Leaf Lettuce planted 4/14 2011

I harvested a full lettuce crisper from this planter and you would swear that the thing hadn’t been touched yet. To give you a perspective on how big those leaves are:

Leaf Lettuce Leaves compared to 8" Scissors

Another thing about this leaf lettuce the seeds didn’t come in a packet of loose seeds but in a paper strip. This makes it real easy to plant, especially in a box. Just make a trench 1/4″ deep, lay out a strip in that trench and cut to length. The seeds are almost perfectly spaced and the paper just bio-degrades into your soil. Yes it costs more to buy them in the strip but it saves a whole lot of time when they grow and it doesn’t require that much thinning out.

In the fourth box I had planted Radishes I got from Home Depot, however there is no picture of them since I picked them all already and they tasted great.

Back on May 14th I planted my Green Beans, which have started from seed in the ground:

Green Beans Planted 5/14 2011

Green Beans Planted 5/14 2011

Also at the same time I bought a “Beefsteak” tomato plant from Home Depot and it has just started to flower:

Beefsteak tomato Plant, planted 5/14 2011

In these pictures you should have noticed that my garden is covered in mulch (shredded Hardwood). What yo might not have picked up if you didn’t look carefully is that under the mulch is weedblock. Trust me for the expense and time involved putting the weedblock and mulch down it is well worth it. Weeding becomes a snap since any weed seeds caught in the dirt when you prepped the ground doesn’t have an easy time finding daylight. It also only makes it easy to weed between rows since the weeds only root in the loose mulch. It also has the benefit of keeping the ground at a more even temperature and not letting moisture escape.

As I said earlier we invested in a small greenhouse that we put together back on the 25th and set up some planter boxes and trying some things out:

Greenhouse seen from N.W. side

Greenhouse as seen from WSW

Greenhouse as seen from the West

As you can see I got a few corn plants started:

Silver Queen Corn planted 5/26 2011

Also I just planted more radishes three days ago (26th) and already they have sprouted:

Radishes planted 5/26 2011

Those pictures of the greenhouse were taken at about 8pm EST and even with the vent open and door’s wide open the greenhouse had a temp of 80°F:

temperature at 8pm EST in greenhouse

Besides the corn and radishes shown in the Planters boxes, I got 2 boxes of Lettuce, 2 boxes of carrots (1 loose seed, 1 in the paper strip seeds), 1 Green Beans, 1 California Wonder Pepper’s and 1 in Yellow Onions. I also planted14  more potato “seeds” in a separate bed near the original open ground garden back on May 22nd. Six of them are from BJ’s and are of the same type as shown above and the other 8 are Burbank Russets which I got from Lowes. Both of them I got on sale for a total less than $4 and so far I have seen 11 shoots appear since yesterday. If I get a decent harvest off them that will be one hell of a deal.

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