This is the year I will commit to planting a starter garden and seeing it through to the end. The last time I did this was when I was pregnant with my first child, so waaaaay back in 1994. I got excited, planted a bunch of seeds on the side of our house and then as summer came and Sacramento got really, really hot (100′s)…and I grew larger and larger (she was born in Sept. so it was a loooong hot summer for me)…I forgot about the garden. No really, I completely forgot about it. Our sprinklers continued to come on and the sun continued to shine down on it, but I did not tend to it AT ALL. Out of those efforts, I got exactly 2 tomatoes and 1 gigantic pumpkin by the time October rolled around. My hope is that with a little intention, things will turn out better this time around!
I saw a special on this little planter box made out of cedar.
It’s 48′ x 48″ and when I purchased it, it was on sale for $29.99. It had mixed reviews, some people felt that it was cheaply made and that the quality wasn’t that good. Others felt that with a coat of stain it looked much better. For my purposes (containing my vegetables) it is just fine. It was super easy to assemble, in fact it took me about 15 minutes to put it all together. It holds 8-10 cubic feet of soil. So out the door I paid about $90.00 for the planter box, soil and the veggie plants.
Next up was deciding where I wanted my garden to be. Our backyard gets a lot of sun which is perfect. Ideal these babies will need 6-7 hours of sun per day. I scouted out the perfect corner-it received the right amount of sun, and was otherwise pretty dull looking. The only problem is that my little chihuahua/rat terrier (Mojo) likes to lay in this spot since it is warm and also allows him to watch both the back sliding glass door and the side garage door at the same time. I’ll have to work out a deal with the little guy later. So here it is:
I decided to keep it simple when selecting my vegetable plants. Since it was early April, I went with plants that were already started. I selected 4 types of Tomatoes, a Japanese Cucumber, 4 Strawberry plants, a Jalapeno plant, a Zucchini Squash and a Cilantro plant. I set my plants in the general area for about a week, watering them and allowing them to soak up the sun. Then the building began!
Honestly it took me about 15 minutes to put together. My kind of building! Once I had it assembled I left for the day to run a few errands, returned home and guess what I saw when I looked out my window?!
MOJO!! Thinking I had built him a tanning bed :-/ I foresee trouble with this already…
After kicking Mojo out of the dirt, I proceeded to put the plants into the ground. Here’s a nifty tip when planting tomatoes. Did you know that 2/3 of the tomato plant is supposed to be underground?! It will cause the stem to be stronger and will better support all of your tomatoes. Take a look at your plant, and leaving about 1/3 of your plant alone, remove the leaves from the lower 2/3′s. Dig your hole so that most of this is in the ground. Roots will grow from this buried part of the stem. I relied heavily on the little sticks that come stuck in the soil with your plants. It will tell you how much sun, how often to water, how deep and how much space needs to be in between your plants. Here’s what my final bed looked like once it was planted.
It’s been 4 weeks since planting and here’s a few close ups of how my plants are doing.
I am sad to say that my strawberries are disappearing faster then they are growing. I believe Mojo is getting even with me for taking his sunning spot. I’ve found evidence that suggests he likes the red berries. I’m working on a solution for that and will update you on the progress. My tip from all of this-keep it simple! The first time around the simpler it is, the less damage as you learn from the inevitable mistakes that come with planting a first garden. How about you? Have you planted a garden this year? What tips can you offer to the rest of us newbies? Please leave your feedback in the comments below. ~Shaun