The Ins & Outs of Vegetable Sprouts

It’s been one week since we planted our seeds and we have enjoyed watching them pop out of the dirt in their seed cells and stretch towards the grow light.  It’s amazing actually, watching a little seed turn into an actual plant and know that one day you’ll be picking vegetables from it.  We planted our seeds last Saturday, and in just two days, we saw our first little sprout, the cucumber.  Man, that was a quick germination time!  On day three, our cabbage and zucchini popped out of the dirt, followed by the tomatoes and beans on day four.  This morning, we saw our first red pepper sprout emerge from the soil…finally!  We have been watching these seed cells closely to see if we saw “any green” in the cells, nothing… until this morning.  So far, everything that we have planted is coming up except for the oregano and cilantro, as they may have a longer germination time. 

We have also planted some strawberry seeds in our seed cells, but we have not seen anything “green” yet in these cells.  We have heard that it is difficult to start strawberries from seed (but we are trying anyways), so we decided to purchase 25 strawberry plants directly from Burpee.  The strawberry plants arrived on Friday and we planted all 25 plants in their own peat pot to get them started.  We are sure that these plants will grow up nicely under the grow lamp and will be ready to be planted outside in May.  Now the waiting begins and wonder if we’ll get any actual strawberries this year or not.  If we do, I can’t wait to pull out my Smoothie Maker and make some strawberry smoothies (with a little Rum, of course)!

We’ll be getting our soil delivered next weekend, so we’ll be able to fill the raised garden bed and start preparing the soil for planting at the end of May.  Our tomato cages have been purchased so they can hold up all of our tomato plants, and the only other thing that we need to build is our screen for our beans and cucs to grow up on, and we’ll attach that to the side of the raised garden bed. 

So that’s our first week in our seedling sprout update!  We can’t wait to see how much bigger everything gets next week.  Once they get bigger, they will be moving into a new home…their very own peat pot! 

Use Your Noodle – When Planning Your Vegetable Garden

The journey begins…with just a thought.  One day we’re complaining about the price of red peppers from the grocery store, the next minute, we’re sitting down and figuring out how to build our own raised vegetable garden.  The journey we are embarking on will be a long one, but it will be well worth the effort, not to mention the pure satisfaction of picking your own vegetables. 

We sat down over the weekend and planned out our vegetable garden on paper.  Since we are newbies, we decided to figure out how many feet we have in our garden and exactly how many plants we can actually fit into the garden.  This part of our journey turned out to be very interesting, as we taped some cardstock together, and drew out the size of the garden, then we added squares to our paper to resemble one foot squares so we can figure out exactly how many plants we can actually fit into the garden.  This part was fun!  We used different colored sticky notes and wrote on each sticky note what the plant was and how many we were going to plant in that one square foot.  Since some plants need more room to grow, some “squares” we only put one plant, others, we could put 2 or 3 in each one foot.  The end results were amazing, not to mention very color-coded, as we now know exactly how many seeds we can plant. 

Our journey into gardening started with a thought, ended up on paper, and now we will be starting our next phase of planting our seeds indoors to give them a good head start.  We purchased an awesome grow light from Home Depot to give our plants light so they can grow up big and strong before we plant them outdoors.  We also took some skewers and string and did a quick mock-up of the size of our garden in the backyard.  At first, we were going to make an 8′ x 6′ raised garden, but when we actually saw how small it was, we decided we needed a bigger size, so we changed it to 16′ x 6′ – now that is a good sized garden!  When we break down the garden into one foot squares, we came up with 96 square feet of garden.  WOW!  Not bad for the first time gardener, eh? 

Anyhow, since this is all new to us, we will be documenting our journey to see what works and what does not, just in case we need to change something for next years garden.  We’ll learn as we go, but we feel that we are on the right track to having the best vegetable garden ever.  We also found a really great website that assists you in calculating the volume of soil needed in a raised garden bed.  Glad we found this site, as we now know exactly the amount we need.  Here is the link:  http://www.gardeners.com/Soil-Calculator/7558,default,pg.html   All we need now is the soil, the wood for the raised bed and the anchors to hold it all together.  One note though, we have learned that it is not good to use treated wood for your raised beds as the chemicals in the wood may seep into the garden & your vegetables.  The best wood to use is cedar, but it is more expensive so don’t be surprised at the price when you head to Home Depot or Lowes.  You can even get the store to cut your wood for you, but they do charge per cut, but we have heard that most of the time, they just wave the extra cuts costs.  I guess it just depends on who is doing the cutting for you that day. 

So far, we will be planting 14 different plants this year.  The list includes:  Red peppers, green beans, cucumbers, beef steak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, vidalia onions, spanish onions, cabbage (hopefully Grandma will make us some stuffed cabbage!), zucchini (can’t wait for zucchini bread), head lettuce, black seeded simpson lettuce, giant strawberries, oregano, and jack be little pumpkins, along with the pumpkin seeds that we dried from our pumpkins last year. 

If anyone has any tips or tricks that has worked for your raised vegetable garden, please share them with us! 

Thanks & happy gardening!