To say that we have been busy the last month would be a drastic understatement. We have moved. We have to shuttle our kids across the county for school every day. Two of the kids are playing ball, currently. AND our softball seasons are about to start up. Yes, I said SEASONS. We are going to play on only TWO teams this year.
But gardening is part of who I am, and though I could go without it, the thought of not passing on the experience to my children isn't acceptable.
In today's society, the first reason anyone think of gardening is for saving money. Though you can certainly save money compared to the asinine prices of fresh produce, if you factor in the cost of all the tools and setup, you aren't really saving money.
No, the real reasons I want a garden is to remind myself and teach my children some valuable lessons. First and foremost are the lessons learned in successfully growing a garden. Their are tricks and tips. There are pitfalls. There is a lot of problem solving. But, the other intangibles include things such as:
- learning to respect for farmers and the hard work they put in, which really is never profitable.
- appreciate the value of manual labor in a society that dodges it at all costs
- learning long term planning, the meaning of an investment and appreciating the pay off in a society that values immediate gratification
- valuing the taste of fresh food that was paid for by your own sweat, and how much better it is than "fresh produce" bought elsewhere.
That's only a small smattering of things I want them to learn.
Ok. So, let's get to it.
By this time in previous years, I would already have a ton of sprouts growing with my indoor gardening system. That is, a tray and a hanging grow light. But, it is still packed away...somewhere....so I had to wait a little later so that I could use real sunlight.
Unlike previous years, I plan to limit the number of tomatoes planted. Truth be told, I have nearly a 100% success rate with the seeds and growing system I use. Not only do I normally plant 3 seeds per cups, but I usually had 12 or so cups per type of tomato. Which means that each year, I have to separate out 2 small plants and either replant them or toss them. Additionally, I end up with more plants than I can take care of.
The past few years, I have used biodegradable cups to plant in. But, the cups I have been using come in a 12 pack that are all attached. When I get ready to plant the individual cups, I have to break them apart. More often than not, it makes a huge mess. Additionally, the roots tend to get wrapped into one another.
This year I am going with larger individual cups. It will prevent the mess and allow more growing room.
Yesterday, the kids and I filled up 3 cups for both roma and cherry. Turns out, I had left the seeds for beefsteak and big boy in Alyse's car. I filled each cup 3/4 full of potting mix, then 2 seeds, then topped it off. We then label the cup with the name of the tomato type. After a slight shake to settle it and a light watering, we again topped off the cup with soil. I then place them all into a Rubbermade tote so that I can easily transport them. A side benefit of the tote is that the cups will remain wet, as the water that leaks through will collect in the tote and will be reabsorbed as the plant dries.
Though I said I will only plant limited amounts of each type, I will plant a few more of the beefsteak and big boys. The cherry and romas are high production rate plants. Additionally, they are nearly impervious to insects and disease, so you need far less of them than the rest. If I had 2 of each, that STILL might be too much. Romas and cherr tomato plants produce in the gallons. I plan on 6 of each of the beefsteak and big boys and will hope for the best.
We also planted a few herbs such as cilantro and parsley. I admit that I don't have much luck growing herbs, but I have had success in buying half grown plants and raising them.
Additionally, we planted some flowers for mommy.
What's next on the docket? Plenty. We have to till the land, rake it up, sew in lime and fertilizer...just to get ready to plant.
What else do we plan on planting? Well, on top of the tomato, I plan on a few pepper plants, plenty of okra, squash, cucumbers, and MAYBE beans.
Afterwards, we got started on our chicken coup! That's right! We are raising chickens! You can read about it here: