Gardening is not as complicated as it seems

As an inexperienced gardener and someone who managed to kill more plants than I care to admit last year, I find it ironic to sit here and write about gardening not being as complicated as it seems! Gardening may come naturally to some and may require others to muster up a lot of courage to even give it a shot. Understandably so as all the work involved – planting, waiting, watering, waiting, weed whacking, waiting and then HOPING to get food, can be a daunting task.  My attempt last year left me with one cucumber and Swiss chard which I have been able to harvest three times now. However, the plants I bought and planted – tomatoes, strawberries, bell peppers, and zucchini did not add a shade of green to my thumb.

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Since my experience last year, I have had a lot of help, done a ton of research, asked many questions and am convinced that I was making it A LOT harder than it really is. Though I have to disclaim that I am the type of person  who prefers to gather as much information as possible prior to taking on anything new, I gained confidence while gathering information and now realize you just have to just do it! I overcame my fear of failure and with the support of a master gardener and a couple of gardening experts I know, I learned the basics and started to plant from seed.
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Second Swiss Chard Harvest

I started the spring planting season with my first batch of seeds – carrots, melons, basil and lettuce. I then learned that lettuce does not do well in summer and gave up on it. Learning by trial and error seems to be common in gardening. The carrots and melons are the stars of my garden right now, growing bigger by the week. The basil is doing OK, I may not have put enough seeds in the soil to get a huge plant but am hoping to get a full plant by next year. They were all started in February. At the same time I transplanted the Swiss chard from last year’s earth box to the garden bed. Seemed like the right thing to do.

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Melons that were planted too close together. One had to go already.

In March I planted tomato, cucumber, watermelon and bell peppers seeds. The tomato plants are beginning to harden in their stems and looking good. The cucumber plants weren’t so lucky. I found that watermelon takes a rather long time to get growing but it’s growing and that’s what matters! The bell peppers seem to be taking even longer to grow but there are a lot of them so I am sure some good crops will come from them. All these were not only started from seed but from seeds my mom saved last year from a local farm. I have no idea what variety they will be but it’s cool that they sprouted into a plant!

Early April I became so confident in my sprouting abilities, I bought a little greenhouse plant seed tray kit (like this one) and sprouted sunflowers, bush beans, soybeans, snow peas, jalapenos, eggplants, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and onion! The greenhouse set up helped them greatly but I noticed they did not have enough room for roots to take so have had to move them around a bit. Most of the plants sprouted within the first week with the jalapenos and eggplants taking closer to 2-3 weeks. Around the same time, I decided I want a full herb garden and planted cilantro, oregano and thyme from seed. I also bought some planted herbs to get things going, just in case. This included parsley, rosemary, cilantro and thyme. I also bought a strawberry plant and a cucumber plant since mine did not take.

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Most recent garden picture with comparison of the plot a year ago.

I’ve spent countless hours weed whacking, laying down mulch, watering and restructuring the layout of my garden. Along the way I learned a little here and there. I’ve also attracted a praying mantis to kill bugs, all on it’s own! I’m sure if you’ve read this far, you can tell I’m pretty excited about this project and maybe are feeling inspired to start your own garden for the summer. And to that, I say again JUST DO IT. It’s really not as complicated as it seems – as long as you understand it requires your attention, patience and time. Oh and a good gardening know-it-all helps along the way!

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Praying mantis that was hanging out on the bush bean sprout yesterday, eating it’s prey.

P.S. Happy Earth Day!
(Posted while it’s still 4/22/13 in the US)

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