Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Getting The Garden

Did you know that 4 out of 10 Americans have gardens. Does that sound high to you? Well, this new economy has a lot of people thinking about not being so reliant on someone else for their food. Did you know that it costs a lot less to put in a garden than you think? On average a home garden can save you as much as six hundred dollars a year on produce bills.

When push comes to shovel, I've been a real slacker on getting into the garden this year. Now, I realize when some of you read this, you will think, "It's February!". Yes, but here, it's nice weather. I've lived in a condo for almost seven years so this new adjustment to having a yard has been good. Health issues aside, I just had not been much into growing on my when I spent the majority of my spare time superintending the organic tomato farm last year, it seemed kind of goofy to me to try to grow things in pots when I had access to such a huge facility. However, I only ended up doing tomatoes. Even then, the garden master Jim was the smarts behind the production. I was there soaking up his brainy gardening information. I don't know if we'll be doing the tomatoes again this year or not. That is entirely up to Jim. If you missed all the blog entries from last year on organic tomato farming, they are awesome to see the crazy cool system used to maximize greenhouse space. Now...back to the shovel.
I received my garden in the mail last week. For those who know my almost insane obsession with emergency preparedness and solar cooking, you will not be surprised to know that I also find it to be an invaluable skill to learn how to grow basic gardens. Hometown Seeds contacted me about using their seeds this year. So, I graciously accepted the full garden's worth of seeds. Thanks folks. It actually really motivated me to follow in the footsteps of dear old dad. Did you know that my father is by trade, a gardener. He's been one my whole life...all 35 years. My parents met at the University where he was studying horticulture. He has become so world know for his gardening for the LDS church in SLC Utah for the past eighteen years running their comprehensive greenhouses for the many church sites there, that he has very well earned the title Master Gardener.
I'm almost embarrassed to show my little plot of land after saying who my dad is. We are still a little limited on space. It's not the tomato farm here at the homestead. I'm still very much in the early stages of my personal growth in this area...but I'm not snooty and proud. I'm humble enought to admit I don't know it all. Lucky (uh hem...blessed) for me to have a dad I can call anytime along the way and get good advice. Nobody email me for expert advice. I'm not one. I do things a little weird, but that's how I like it. One thing I do is keep track of the little seeds by putting them in these little Pete pots. Dad says to be sure to bury them so the tops of the pots are not sticking out, or they will sap all the water out of your plant. See, that's good to know right? Also, don't cover too much dirt over the seeds. Read the recommendations for the planting depth very well. You can bury the whole pot in your rows, but it is how I like to control the environment around the little guys. Fertilize with an organic fertilizing blend. Only ones to really not over fetilize are the tomatoes, or they will be mostly fluff and not a lot of fruit. You want more fruit right? Arizona has heavy clay soil. It takes a lot of work to make it grow stuff.

This is cheating. I know. Shoot me. It's still organic growing mix.
When I opened the survival seeds I was excited to read a few things about them. First, the Survival Seeds offer peace of mind in knowing I have emergency food storage. It’s wise to have some extra food set aside for tough economic times that last for a short time, but what if the problem is prolonged? Now I can feel safe knowing that I have long term food storage. They like to call this “forever food storage”. Because these survival seeds are 100% non-hybrid, 100% non-GMO, I can save seeds from my harvest and have plenty to replant the next year garden in a bag. The non-hybrid is the key here. They have to be "open pollinated" on the label in order to be able to harvest seeds and are usually consistent for continued harvesting of seeds year after year. If you have questions you can contact your local extension agent in the horticulture area where you are living. Arizona is the Uof A in Tucson, or ASU extension office. Utah is USU extension office. I was shocked to see how many seeds there where. I was in fact, a little anxious that I wouldn't have enough room. So, I didn't plant all the seeds. I also didn't use all the different vegetable choices.

Look at this list! It's awesome!
So...we did onion, carrot, spinach, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, and peas. I think that will give us a lot to work with.

After adding a few homey touches...
I was ready for the final test. Does it feel like home in my new garden?

Kick off the retro-hippie shoes.
Pack down the walkways between rows.

Yes, I could almost hear my dad's voice in the garden.
I felt like a child again. That can't be entirely bad, right?
I'll keep everyone posted on the development. Thanks again to Hometown Seeds for the garden. I'm so excited to keep the dirt between my toes!
That's all I have to say about that.


clan of the cave hair said...

oh I do miss my garden, I had such a lovely one in Iowa. But I guess its really just an excuse to say we're renting if I won't do a container garden, eh?

Chef Tess said... great article on container gardening there for really cheap!