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Gardening 101

February 12th, 2014

The 5×5 Challenge is all about educating and encouraging new gardeners.  I’ve received a lot of e-mails already about people excited to join the Challenge this year.  I thought I should extend the floor to the newbies – what do you want to see in the how-to/educational portions of the challenge this year?
cucumber_trellises 1
tying up tomatoes 3
One recommendation is to grow climbing plants in the garden in order to show how to make/use supports for these types of vegetables.

For the newbie gardeners: what questions do you need answered in order to fell comfortable with your garden this summer?

For the experienced gardeners: what do you think are some of the important details newbies should know when it comes to growing edibles?

My 5×5 Garden

July 3rd, 2013

When I came back from Ohio, the 5×5 Challenge Garden was looking fabulous. In two weeks it had grown into a jungle!
5x5 Garden 1
I spy tiny scallions seedlings and flower buds on the zucchini. The lettuce could be harvested as well if I wanted to.
5x5 Garden 2
5x5 Garden 3
5x5 Garden 4
Now that your garden is growing, it’s time to check on it often and pull any weeds you see. If you have trouble distinguishing between plants and weeds, check out the post from a few weeks ago with photos of seedlings. You could also ask an experienced edible gardener you know.

How does your 5×5 Challenge Garden grow? Are you harvesting anything yet? Which plants are growing the best for you?

I Spy Seedlings

June 12th, 2013

This is the eigth installment in the 5×5 Garden Challenge Series. Every Wednesday I’ll be posting about the challenge, covering topics that will help all the new gardeners get started. If you haven’t heard about the challenge head on over to the 5×5 Challenge Website, we’ll also be putting up a page here that pulls in all the 5×5 Challenge posts.
5x5 garden challenge
Last week I planted my 5×5 Challenge Garden and I’ve been watching patiently for the seeds to germinate. After losing a few bean seedlings to those pesky chickens, I finally spied almost every seedling emerging. Today, I’ll be showing you a parade of seedlings so you know what to look for after planting your garden.
new seedlings
In this post I’ll be showing you the first leaves not the second set or the first set of true leaves. When your seedlings first emerge they will have a leaf shape that shows what type of seed they are, so brassicas all have the same shape of first leaves (brassicas include: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard).
Seedlings 3
We’ll start off with a zucchini seedling (pictured above). Zucchini seedlings are HUGE, you’ll definitely be able to spot them. No need to get out the magnifying glass for these guys.
Seedlings 5
The lettuce on other other has fairly small seedlings that look like this. They generally fairly small and can different colored leaves depending on the type of lettuce. Some of my have a reddish tint to them.
Seedlings 1
Basil seedlings are also small, you’ll notice that they have a different leaf shape than the lettuce seedlings.
Seedlings 2
Tomato seedlings are also fairly small, they have beautiful long slender leaves and often they will have a purple color to their stems.
Seedlings 4
Finally you can see the beans. Bean seedlings are big and tall, often you can see the bean itself pushing up through the soil if you catch them at the right time.
As of yesterday, none of my scallions had germinated yet, luckily I had a few in my photo files. Onion seedlings look like tiny onions. The marigolds hadn’t germinated yet either and I have none of them in my archives. As your seedling start to emerge, pay close attention. One of the most magical things about garden is watching the tiny seeds germinate and grow into giant plants. Just like children, they’ll be huge in the blink of an eye, so enjoy the intricacies of this seedling stage.

Which kind of plant has your favorite seedling? Do you like big, bold seedlings like beans and zucchini or do you prefer dainty seedling like lettuce and basil?

It’s Planting Time!

June 5th, 2013

This is the seventh installment in the 5×5 Garden Challenge Series. Every Wednesday I’ll be posting about the challenge, covering topics that will help all the new gardeners get started. If you haven’t heard about the challenge head on over to the 5×5 Challenge Website, we’ll also be putting up a page here that pulls in all the 5×5 Challenge posts.
5x5 garden challenge
This past weekend I seeded my 5×5 Challenge Garden. I started off by measuring off square foot sections of the raised bed. This isn’t a necessary step, you can plant your garden without making neat rows. I find it makes spacing easier when I measure it off in this way.  I started by laying a few yard sticks on the sides, then I simply drug a dowel from one side to the next to make my grid.
5x5 challenge garden 1
5x5 challenge garden 2
Back when I first started gardening in raised beds, I use tacks on the side of the beds and strung twine between the make a semi-permanent grid.
first raised bed in the garden
Since I had made up a plan earlier (see this post for my 5×5 Challenge Garden Plan), it only took me a few minutes to get all the seeds in the ground. One of the reasons I contacted Renee’s Garden about being a part of this challenge, is because she specializes in seeds for the small home gardeners. Many of her seed packets contain multiple varieties, the seeds are even color coded to make planting easy.
planting the 5x5 challenge garden 1
planting the 5x5 challenge garden 2
When you plant your challenge garden, use the spacing guides on the back of the packet. Since you’re growing a small garden, you only need to take note of the spacing guidelines mentioned between seeds. Disregard the row spacing requirements. Back when I was planting a few small raised beds, I had Mr Chiots make me a few planting guides with different spacing that were a square foot. As they grow, noticed whether this works in your soil. If your soil is great, you can get away with planting things closer. If your soil is lean, you might need to go a little farther apart. Using the guidelines on the back is a great starting point.
I noticed earlier this week that some of the seeds were already germinating. Of course the chickens managed to nab a few of the bean sprouts before I noticed, but they only got a few.
BJs 5x5 Garden
Yesterday afternoon, I even headed down to my neighbor’s house to help her plant her 5×5 Garden.

Any seeding questions from our newbies or advice from our seasoned gardeners?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.