So I know I worked on a farm last summer, but that by no means translates into me being an expert on the matter of gardening.
Some people have turned to me for advice on, and I do feel like I have some knowledge to pass on, but truly, I feel like I am learning as I go. Really, I’m learning with you!
And so I have decided to share with you what I have done so far this year.
After the farm last summer, I had one main goal for this year. And that was to have my own garden this summer. I wanted to go bigger than just a few plants here and there. I wanted to produce enough food for at least two families for most of the year. And if it was possible to produce more than that, then so be it. #Foodisfree!
I am happy to say that this is still my goal and that I have begun working on it.
First I bought three 72-cell trays from Canadian Tire (which come with a plastic dome), along with 2 bags of seedling mix.
(I had hoped to buy a soil-blocker, and the proper soil blocking mix to go with it, which would eliminate the need for plastic trays, but it’s a bit of an investment, and also difficult to find the proper soil mix, and it was getting to the point where I just needed to start my seeds and get it done! so to Canadian Tire I went) (I plan to get the soil blocker next year for sure!)
I also bought my first batch of seeds from Greta’s Organics. A local, smaller scale, seed supplier, and also the mother of a friend.
She’s got a great site, and from her I got my onions, leeks, tomatoes, cucumbers (English and pickling), carrots, parsnips, and beets…
I also picked up a single tube growing lite (35$ at Qué-pousse) and have hung it from the ceiling in my kitchen over my 3 trays.
I filled my trays up with seedling mix, and planted my seeds according to the package directions. (They tell you at what depth to plant the seeds, normally anywhere from 5mm-2.5cm). Then I watered them with a mister that I had also purchased from Canadian Tire. Every day, I leave my grow-lite on for 12-14 hrs, and I mist them at least twice a day. Once in the morning, once at night, and in the afternoon as well if I am home.
Always touch test the soil when watering. Too much or too little water is not a good thing. But then again, don’t stress. Seedlings and plants are very hardy. They want to grow! So as long as you treat them with care and give them attention they will do just fine.
And so, a few days after planting, I had my first sprouts! First it was the cucumbers, then onions, then tomatoes. I was worried about my peppers (red and habanero) but a friend told me not to give up on them, they tend to take longer. And wouldn’t you know it, eventually they began to sprout as well!
Once my onions hit a certain height (about 2 inches) they began to fall/slump over. At this point, or preferably before they start to fall, you need to trim them (meaning snip off the ends with scissors so that they don’t fall over). And you will continue to do this until it is no longer necessary or until you transplant them, whichever comes first.
About a week later, I visited La Coop Maison Verte to buy more seeds which I hadn’t gotten or couldn’t find from Greta’s. This included zucchinis, patty pans, butternut squash, kale, arugula, spinach, and lots and lots of herbs.
I planted a full tray of kale, some squash/zukes, herbs, and more onions. I also bought some higher ceiling domes this time around (at La Coop Maison Verte), as my tomatoes and cucumbers were hitting the top of the ones I had gotten from Canadian Tire.
My kale just started sprouting this morning! Lovely lovely!
And I only planted one seed per tray. Most of the time people plant 2-3 seeds per tray to ensure that at least one of them sprouts, but if more than one sprouts then you usually have to pluck one out. Which means in a sense you are wasting seed (even though they are super cheap) and you have to “kill” a plant. So I decided to have faith in my seeds and their ability to sprout, and it seems to be paying off pretty well.
The only ones I planted 2-3 seeds for were my onions, which you can plant in groups and transplant as is. They grow together in bundles. You can harvest some of them earlier on as green onions and then the other 1 or 2 will grow to normal size.
So that’s where I am at right now. Giving my plants lots of love, light, and sometimes I leave classical music on when I go to work (I figure it can’t hurt!).
I will be renting a rototiller either this weekend or the next to prep the ground for planting. I’m sure sore arms will follow.
Spring is here! and summer is on the way. My weeks are only going to get busier! But in a very good way. Looking forward to it. I’ll keep you updated!