If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know that it’s been part of our garden renovation plan to install a few raised beds to grow veggies and such. Despite the fact that our pool demo is not 100% complete, and is the site for our future veggie garden, hubby and I decided to move forward with two “temporary” veggie beds in a different location on our property. The “health benefits and food budget savings” of growing our own fresh veggies would be a ginormous “+” in our lives right now. So, here’s the plan…
We already know the perfect spot for our two raised beds… our future chicken coop area. The area requires a small amount of work to get it ready for a couple of raised beds (as opposed to other areas on our property). There are two newly planted fruit trees about seven feet from this area, so the raised beds may get a little bit of light shade in the late afternoon, which is not such a bad idea here in the desert. I’ll just need to remember this point as I’m planning what veggies will go where in my raised beds.
Regarding the dimensions and layout of our raised beds…. I’m still having breathing issues when I bend too far forward for any length of time, so we decided on the following dimensions for our veggie beds: 4′ W x 16′ L x 18″ H. Having them taller should help.
In addition to growing some veggies, hubby and I want to include watermelons on our list of things to grow. The perfect spot for the sprawling habit of this melon is the north end of the two raised beds. We are still undecided if we should install two small beds (3’x3’x6″H) and let the watermelon spill out over the sides and sprawl where it will -or- set up a “mound/hill” of compost on the ground and let the watermelon grow from there. Hmmmmm. I’m leaning toward the small beds. What do you think?
To kick off our veggie growing adventure, I decided to take a two-hour seed starting class just to refresh my memory – it’s been some time since I grew veggies. The class was taught by a popular retired Master Gardener here in town and was held on her property. Before I arrived, I knew the class would be for newbie gardeners so I was prepared to just have fun with it, enjoy time with like minded folks and view it as a way to be inspired to get going.
The summer veggie starting class provided basic beginner training as well as a small seed starter kit that we used during class to plant seeds. The kit consisted of a plastic food container, seed soil, 25-30 seeds of your choosing and four six-pack plant containers.
After selecting my seeds and moistening and placing my seed soil into my plastic container, I carefully carved out five tiny rows and planted my seeds accordingly. Row 1 – Tomatillo. Row 2 – Green Grape Tomato. Row 3 – Juliet Tomato. Row 4 – Rosa Bianca Eggplant. Row 5 – Jalapeno Pepper. Proud of my tiny little garden container, I picked up a spray bottle and was about to gently mist the soil with water when a class assistant came up beside me with a sippy cup full of water and proceeded to splash water about haphazardly into my container. Ahhhhhh. Rather than freak out, I politely stopped her, thanked her for the unannounced assistance and stared helplessly at my now jumbled up seeds and soil. I had a choice. At the end of class, carefully seal up my container, politely say my goodbyes than trash everything when I got home and chock it up to “what do you expect from a $20 class” – or – test my gardening skills by accepting the mystery garden that now laid before me. I decided on the second choice and chocked it up to experience.
So now with a little encouragement under my belt and the initial step forward complete, it was time to decide… transplants vs. seeds. It was an easy and quick decision seeing that both hubby and I have always been partial to starting from seed. Growing from seed allows us to have better control over what and how things are grown, have a much wider selection of veggies to choose from, and have the ability to side step the headache of introducing soil and plant diseases as well as insects that can come along for the ride with store-bought transplants.
Now we faced the harder task of selecting the seed company and the types of veggies we wanted to plant. Hmmmmm. Knowing that we are behind for growing spring veggies with the heat rolling in soon, our veggie selection was narrowed down to summer veggies.
We decided to go with Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds this year. Our decision was based on the following: they signed the Safe Seed Pledge confirming that they will not knowingly sell genetically modified (GM) seeds to farmers and home gardeners, they are dedicated to preserving heirloom seeds, and because they have awesome shipping costs. 🙂
Hubby and I pulled out all of our seed starting tools from way back when and supplemented our gardening arsenal with a couple of new items (like building an inexpensive seed starting shelf unit from wood and a plan we found on the internet). Next step is to build our raised beds and get our seeds growing!
The seedlings from the seed starter class are growing like gang-busters and will be ready to begin the hardening off process in the next week or so. The pictures below show the seedlings just a week or so old thru to current day. Big difference! FYI – out of the 30 plants, I’ve been able to identify all but five. They are either eggplant or tomatillo – time will tell.
Hope you take my lead and do your heart and health a favor by planting something you can eat in your garden 🙂