Monday, March 19, 2012

Organic veggies the cheap way

Every summer when I was growing up, my dad always put in a huge garden. I loved helping plan, plant, harvest, and eat the tons of fresh vegetables that grew every summer. When my husband and I bought our first house, I was so excited to put in our own small garden in the back yard. My Miami-born and raised hubby thought this labeled him as a "farmer". Whatever you think, dear.

That was 6 years ago and between moving, kids, job, and the business of life, I haven't done a big garden since. Last year, I hated to pay so much at the farmer's market for fresh vegetables that I could have grown for a few cents! So this year, I decided to really do it and plant a garden.

Now, there are several hesitations I have about trying the gardening project this year:
1} We live out in a wooded/farmland area so the deer may eat up everything
2} Our yard has a lot of clay in the dirt and there are lots of trees
3} Baby #3 is due June 16
All of these factors, especially the 3rd one, might cause a bit of a hiccup in my vegetable producing plan but I'm going to give it a go anyway.

I am no expert on gardening and there is much about growing things that I don't know about. Thankfully, it doesn't take a lot of skill to grow a tomato plant...or 5. Even if you only grew one type of vegetable, that's one less vegetable you have to buy AND you would know it is healthy and organic because you grew it yourself! So even if you know nothing about gardening, don't be afraid to give it a try this summer. Like I said, I barely know what I am doing but here is my method this year - I'll keep you posted on how well this works...

In the past, I have bought my plants as seedlings at places like Lowes or Home Depot. I decided this time, however, to start my own plants out as seeds because it is cheaper, the plants are hardier, and this really ensures my vegetables will be organically grown. But starting your vegetables from seedlings is certainly still a great option. I made a list of what I wanted to grow and used this site to tell me when to start seeds indoors and when to plant them outside.

A few weeks ago, I started my tomato plants. They are looking good so far!

They needed to be started a few weeks before the other indoor starter plants. A couple days ago, I got everything else together and planted the rest of my indoor seeds: cucumber, pumpkin, marigolds, and squash.

A side note about the seeds. I only bought 5 or 6 seed packets. The rest of the seeds I got from several friends when we did a "seed exchange" (like doing a cookie exchange at Christmas, only with seeds). Even though seed packets are cheap, this still helped to save money. I will plant directly outside in the ground, my corn, spinach, carrots, and maybe some onion sets (these I will go ahead and get pre-started from the store) in a few weeks. I also want zucchini so one of my friends is growing those and I am growing squash. On Sundays, we are going to trade squash and zucchini with each other. These are 2 types of vegetables that grow like crazy so its a great veggie to share or trade with someone else.

Gardening is fun, and educational of course, to do with kids. I opted to do this project with my 4 year old while Miss I'm-almost-two-and-can-do-everything-all-by-myself was napping. No sense in inflicting unnecessary disaster on myself. 

I re-used clean, empty food containers as my seedling pots. The back of each seed packet (or Google) has directions on how deep to plant each type of seed. 

Cover with the amount of soil specified on the seed packet, water, and put in a sunny spot. That's it for now! I had such a cute gardening helper. ;-)

Be sure to clearly label and date each container:

Here is our little inside garden spot:

It didn't take me long to realize some of the plants would have to be moved (remember the 2 year old?). But so far, no plants have been lost! For now, we are just keeping the soil moist (I covered them with a little plastic wrap to keep the moisture a little greenhouse) and watching for little plants to emerge. 

Stay tuned!

Anyone else gardening this year?


  1. That is super cool, Kristen. It made me want to start a garden in my dorm room! haha I can't wait to enjoy the vegetables this summer ;)

  2. Todd is the gardener at our house. He starts from seedlings too but I bought him an aerogarden a couple of years ago so he uses that to start the seedlings in. Then in the winter we can grow some stuff too.