Well, this avenue began for us by tossing some lettuce seeds into the dirt and watching them grow. No, seriously. That was it. We’ve made mistakes, learned from them, and did a whole lot of weeding to expand from a minuscule lettuce patch to three large gardens. Now we can provide our extended family with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
After our experimental lettuce year, Matthew researched and read up on how to properly start a garden. The house we moved into had a fenced enclosure where he built raised beds. Raised beds are preferred to provide walkways for gardeners and adequate drainage for plants. Ever the professionals, we constructed our beds out of pavers leftover from the previous homeowners. Not the best method, but they kind of did what they needed to.
We still lacked an efficient way to start plants from seeds. Due to the climate we live in, our seeds needed to be indoors and kept warm before moving into the dirt outside. We typically start around March or April, depending on the weather and our schedules. Being economically and environmentally friendly, we made paper planting pots. Strips of newspaper are rolled around a small juice glass then the bottom is taped shut. Though a simple process, it took a fair amount of time to make all of the pots we needed.
A downfall of paper pots is that they started tearing apart after a few weeks of watering. By the time the seedlings were ready to be put into the soil, they needed to be cupped and coddled like precious baby bird eggs to keep the roots together. Besides being time-consuming and not really holding together, the paper pots had to sit under lights for weeks before making their way outdoors. Our basement/den/main hangout area certainly was not an ideal spot and became difficult to navigate around. Time to get a greenhouse up.
It’s not massive but fits our needs. Matthew was excited to give his plants a warm spot and a better chance to get started. I was thrilled that there weren’t tables of seedlings to do “secret spy laser maze” maneuvers around. After a few weeks when the weather was cleared of frost warnings and seedlings were strong enough, we took the paper pots from the greenhouse and transplanted them into our raised garden beds. Our new garden beds are constructed of scrap wood planks we’ve nabbed from friends and family. These work a lot better than those paver-walled beds. With jobs and a child to raise, honestly, we’re kind of lazy gardeners. There are no set watering and weeding schedules; just whenever we can get out there to tend to our plants.
For a few years now we’ve also been composting food scraps to make our own dirt. Regular ol’ homesteaders over here. We figure why throw things in the trash that will end up in landfills when they can serve another purpose? Through time, banana peels, egg shells, grass clippings, stale bread, and shredded paper are broken down. They form a base for next year’s plants and are a fine garden bed soil amendment. Perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss are added to our compost each year to make the perfect seed starting soil.
Like every previous year, this season brings something new. Our little sprouts grew better in the greenhouse than the basement, but those paper pots weren’t really working out. Instead of spending time assembling paper ones, we are trying out 3″ pre-made decomposable pots. Over 250 pepper, tomato, flower, and watermelon seeds are planted, enjoying the greenhouse warmth, and hopefully working on their way through to soil!
How did you start your home garden? What are you growing (or wish you could grow) in your garden this year? Let me know in the comments below!