Saturday, March 15, 2014

New Adventure: Vegetable Gardening!

I'm going on a big new adventure this year...I'm trying my hand at growing a vegetable garden!

I've always liked to grow flowers, but have never really been interested in vegetables.  My dad has grown a vegetable garden for as long as I can remember, and when I was younger I would help out with it a lot.

One of the flower gardens that I improved last year.  I think it turned out great!

Now that I'm in New York, I'm taking over my in-laws' vegetable garden.  I was originally planning on starting small, just growing a few tomatoes, potatoes, and cucumbers.  Then I made the "mistake" of asking my in-laws what vegetables they would like in the garden, and they added on about 10 new items!

So, I'm jumping in with both feet!  The vegetables I'm growing this year are:

  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • radishes
  • beets
  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • lettuce
  • broccoli
  • summer squash
  • peppers
  • pumpkin
  • onion
They also requested a few herbs:
  • dill
  • cilantro
  • parsley
My in-laws have had a lot of problems with pests and various diseases plaguing their garden in the past, so I'm trying several varieties (4 for most of the vegetables) of each type of vegetable, so I can determine what works best here.

I've also done a lot of research on companion planting and using plants to keep insects and small animals out of the garden.  Thus, I added in several companion plants for the garden:
  • basil
  • chives
  • sage
  • thyme
  • cosmos
  • calendula
  • nasturtium
  • marigold
  • lavender
  • echinacea/cone flower
  • lamb's ear
  • yarrow
Some of these will be grown interspersed with the vegetables, and others will be placed around the edge of the garden as a barrier of sorts.

Luckily, a lot of the prep work for the garden has been done.  My in-laws fenced off the garden area several years ago, and added lots of good top-soil from a flood plain to amend the clay soil.

The space that I'm working with this year for the garden is about 24' x 33'.  There is probably another 10' x 24' that I can add in next year.  It has grown tomatoes for the past 2-3 years (and endured bad blight infections each year), so I'm going to cover it with compost this year and let it go fallow.

My proposed vegetable garden layout.

The main prep work that I will have to do this spring (or rather, my husband will do for me!) includes moving some compost into the garden, and tilling the garden several times.  I will then make wide-row raised beds within the garden and do all the planting.  I'm planning on having 5 rows, each about 3' wide (and 24' long).  There will be 1.5' walkways between the rows.

COMPOST!!  The secret to a good garden!  This pile is about 20x bigger now!

Since my in-laws are all about eating organic, I'm pretty much forced to grow my own plants from seed.  About a month ago, I ordered a bunch of seeds from High Mowing Seeds.  Over the next 2 months, I will start the seeds in Jiffy peat pellets and stick them under grow lights in the house.  I'll harden them off a few weeks before planting, and then plant them in the garden.

I really hope all my work isn't in vain!  There will definitely be a learning curve, but I'm going to document as much as I can and learn from my mistakes.  Check back every Saturday for more blog posts about the garden!

It is kinda hard to think about gardening when there is still snow on the ground!

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