The Seedling Reaper

We planted our garden, our tiny little raised garden, the week before Memorial Day weekend. Which is late in comparison to most experienced gardeners because we are not experienced. We are a 'fly by the seat of your pants' type gardeners, or have been in the past. Who knows, we may someday become organized gardeners that actually plan their garden more in advance than the day before you plant? Stranger things have happened.

I've been a garden lover my whole life, even as a child I grew my own gardens or tried to. I had some great successes and was truly proud every time I got to harvest something, although I was basically on my own and had very limited knowledge on the entire ordeal. My dad was also nice enough to build me a raised garden bed to support my endeavor. I love gardening. I love the idea of fresh, healthy food you grew yourself. It's also incredibly fulfilling. God gives us this gift of growing our own food with the benefit of knowing exactly what is put on your plants, in your soil, and having the control of your own harvest. Not to mention the benefit in your grocery budgeting. AND least we forget we home-school so this is an amazing opportunity for my children to learn hands on science!

It's a skill I hope to pass on to my children, once I hone it and I can actually call it a "skill". Because at this point it's just another one of my endeavors.

I said to myself this season, like many before, that I was going to concentrate my efforts and educate myself using YouTube videos ahead of time to try out some gardening tips & tricks and see if they would help our garden be more successful. We decided on tomatoes, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, peas and beans. Later on, in the seed aisle at Walmart, I decided to add zucchini and cucumber and a load of other ones... because I'm weak and the photos on the packages are so enticing. I'm great at the seed process, I'm not great at having a space big enough prepared ahead of time to put the seeds once they sprout. And then I have gardener's guilt watching seedlings die.

So, I bring the term black thumb to a whole new level -- I'm like the seedling reaper.

I digress, our garden has been up and running for about five weeks now and I can honestly say I think we're actually seeing progress! It's my favorite word! Progress. It makes me feel like my ability to learn hasn't been stunted by giving birth to 4 babies and living in a mom brain fog for the last decade. What joy!

I am dividing and conquering when it comes to learning how to grow each individual type of plant, types of garden lay outs, gardening philosophies (just recently, like tonight, started digging in to square foot gardening), tips & tricks, and how to obviously do it on a tight budget and/or free since we are not rolling in the money over here.

This is definitely one area of my life that I can say I have always had a passion for not only learning about, physically doing, but also researching and sharing what I've learned with others. I can only imagine how many other people out there like me who are scratching their heads wondering why their plants look like barbie versions.

Here is where I insert a start out photo: DAY 1, We decided since it was so late in the season that we would just go and purchase tomato, jalapeno, and green pepper plants. The rest we grew from seed.

This is a pretty important step. Also, I hate these raised garden beds from Sam's Club. 
Don't waste your money. This is the second year using them and they're not holding up. 

These plants have survived a hail storm with the help of a Rubbermaid container as a roof.
Some of the hailstones were baseball size, so I'm impressed with both the tomatoes and the Rubbermaid container. 

We have a relatively large roly-poly population for some reason unbeknownst to me
and I think they have definitely crossed over from helpful to pest. I'm going to 
have to resort to peppermint essential oils. 

Week 5: We had to replace a jalapeno plant because something or someone (hateful neighbor, perhaps?) decided to just rip our biggest plant right out of the ground. And our Roma Tomato plant has 14 tomatoes on it, I am giddy my hard work is paying off.

I was so inspired by a particular YouTube channel by Hollis & Nancy that I need to share it with you. He has some of the largest tomato plants I have ever seen in my life. I actually had no idea tomato plants could reach over 6' tall until I watched his videos about his permanent tomato cages and how he plants tomatoes using an old Native American trick which they taught the Pilgrims, that's how old school it is and it obviously works amazingly.

This guy is on par for his gardening wisdom. #GardeningGoals

Another great video I watched was particularly for starting plants from seed and I was also truly amazed at this guys process and results. Although I did think it was on border weird how much his cats shenanigans was in the video. I actually did my seedlings this way this year and I think it worked great for almost all of them. I didn't have any luck with this method for herbs, but maybe they were just too old. 

I will definitely corroborate that the fish emulsion stinks
and I cannot imagine having that stink in my house. 

And here is our version of the seedling germinating process he did. We do not have a fancy indoor set up with lights and thermometers, but I did tuck my seedlings into their little garden house with some kitchen towels I wasn't using, if that counts. It seemed to work pretty well. I will say it was way easier with larger seedlings. When it got down to really small ones I was wishing I had smaller fingers and that they weren't so fragile. Definitely the seedling reaper

Here's my main advice when learning about gardening or any particular subject you're trying to immerse your brain in, it doesn't matter if you think it's the exact same content. Every single author, be it video or book, has a different perspective so I actually find it helpful to watch several different videos on the exact same subject and glean the tips from each different person. This does drive my husband batty, but he'll get over it.

My daughter (7) enjoyed putting the seedlings in their bed. She even sang
them all lullabyes. Sadly none of the flowers, except the Morning Glories
survived. We go on to fight another day...

I will definitely give you an update next week. It seems like at this point in the summer everyday I go out the plants look like they've visibly grown. This is my first year growing bush beans so I'm super excited for an upcoming harvest of those. As well as my zucchini, still stuck in a seedling container, trying to bloom where it was planted -- there's a lesson there somewhere. But I've borrowed my Dad's hand tiller and so I plan to give it a nice bed to put down roots in soon. Look for that post as well.

What's your best gardening tip?

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