There is something about a garden that makes me smile and brings peace to my heart. When I thought I was destined to have a black thumb forever, I was a little defeated. Having a black thumb means you’re a terrible gardener and kill everything just looking at it. However, if I am anything, I am persistent and chose to keep at it. With the help of my husband, family, friends and the internet, I have learned quite a lot and I had a very lucrative Vegetable garden this year. I am by no means a great gardener, I am still a newbie and still learning but I will share what wisdom I do have.
Part 1-Starting with seeds
I had attempted to start a garden from seeds many times but this year that is exactly how I started all 25 of my tomato plants and most of my other vegetables too. So here is my process & tips that worked for me.
- Choose your seeds house -You can use an old paper Egg carton to start your seeds or buy a greenhouse set like this one here for less than $10. I have used both methods and both work just fine. I personally prefer the greenhouse because they seem to grow faster,and its easy to use. Follow instructions on the back of the product.
If your using an egg carton cut carton lid off, fill the pods with a good soil mix , water it down, then put seeds in, cover with more dirt if needed.
- Put the seed pointy side down. This one was new to me, a farming mama friend shared this tip with me and it works. You’ll notice most seeds are tear drop shaped, you want to place the seed in the pod with the pointy side down. It apparently takes less energy from the plant to grow if its already facing the correct way.
- Do not over water! Seeds are fragile and its easy to drown them, you want the soil to dry up a bit before watering again. Obviously not too dry either, every few days is what worked for me.
- Keep them somewhere visible. The key for me was having them somewhere I walked by everyday and could easily see if they needed water or not. For me that was our sunroom where I let the dogs out multiple times a day. They do need sunlight but not direct sunlight so by a window is ideal.
- Introduce sunlight gradually. You don’t want to take your plants from being inside by a window to outside planted, they wont know what hit them. I would take the pods outside in the morning while I did some work outside then bring them back in before lunch, I would slowly leave them out longer and longer until they were fine being out all day.
- Don’t plant outside too early. Your seeds have sprouted, yay I’ve done it! It very exciting but slow down, don’t go planting them in the garden too quickly. They will be in shock when you first plant them so you want them to be nice and strong to bounce back. Also, make sure your climate wont have any more freezes, for us in Colorado, Mother’s day is usually the rule of thumb.
Part 2- Planting
1. Get your soil prepped. We rented a till from local hardware store for about $30 and tilled every bed before we did anything else outside. Add a few bags of a vegetable soil mix in with the tilled dirt. Now the plants have soil to thrive in and it honestly didn’t take very long to do.
2. Put a weed barrier down. Just roll out a weed barrier fabric and cut it to the size of your bed and pin down. You may need to buy more pins than what’s provided with the fabric.
3. Plan out your placement. The seed packaging will have a plants recommend spacing, usually about 2′-4′. Just get a measuring tape out and plan where each plant will go. Using a pocket knife or scissors cut space out for plants.
4. Plant Tomatoes deep. Plant about 3-4″ of the stem down into the ground. If your planting a bigger established plant it is more like 6″-8″. More than you thought? Me too! A local gardener told us that bit of info and it worked! You probably will need to trim the bottom few leaves off to do this and that’s ok. *this only applies tomato’s
5. Lay down mulch. This serves as another weed barrier and it makes bed pretty!
6. Give the plants support. Put your cages ,trellis, or roping system around your plants. You may need to guide them a bit as they continue to grow. We waited too long to do this and it was a mess, so learn from our mistakes and do it from get go.
6. Water! If your able to set up a soaker house system on a timer that is ideal. If you have a sprinkler system that hits the bed that works, but ideally you don’t want to water tomatoes leaves.
7. Wait and harvest. Wait patiently and your garden will come to life and you’ll have a garden full of colorful beautiful fruits and veggies.