If you know me, or recently read my 15 Things About Me post, you’ll know that I love to dig in the dirt. I like green things and happily live my life with a small amount of dirt under my fingernails.
I plant a garden every summer, in addition to my permanent landscaping. Normally my garden is started from small starter plants bought at the local nursery, but this year I wanted to start everything from seed. I’ve recently become obsessed with the idea of starting and maintaining a huge garden thanks to this book, Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre and wanted to try my hand at seed. So, I got some seeds at a local Lowe’s and started my tiny garden in early April. A little late for Central California, but still early enough to get most of what I wanted going. **Side note, there are a ton of seed shops online that have heirloom and organic stock of much higher quality than can be found in store, but I didn’t quite plan my garden out early enough for that. Next time!
Normally my garden is in the flower beds I designed a few years ago, but we are working on getting the landscaping developed and matured in our current home, so that we can sell the house within the next few years. So I opted for small planter beds in movable bins. I went with two 20″ x 20″ grow boxes and a small barrel planter that I’ve had on my patio for a few years. The barrel planters can be found at Costco, as well as online and make great planters as well as cool little ponds.
My seed started garden began with three varieties of tomatoes, kale, chard, arugula, spinach, carrots, basil, bell peppers, jalapenos, and radishes. The leafy greens are all planted in my barrel planter, close to the backdoor for easy picking come smoothie time (I make a green smoothie every day). Everything else fits in the 20″ grow boxes.
The tomato plants now tower above the rest at over 2 feet tall, already needing to be caged and are loaded with blooms. The peppers are taking awhile longer to flower, but are making steady progress. The radishes came and went super fast. They were ready to harvest within 21 days. I have since planted spinach and marigold in the empty spots left by the radish crop. The carrots seem to be coming along nicely, but I must admit, I’ve never harvested carrots before and am not sure how to tell when they are ready. I suppose this year will be a test year of sorts.
As far as special fertilizers or treatments, I don’t do much. My big “secret” is that I water my plants with pond water every few days. I have a small pond in a barrel with some goldfish (well actually one right now, his friends died this winter, they committed suicide and jumped out), snails, anacharis and lily pads. Using the pond water to water my plants, helps remove the nitrates from my pond and gives my plants added nutrients. I also take care to trim back my tomato plants and grape vines, so that they don’t get overly stringy and can focus on moving nutrients to the fruit.
In addition to my seed started garden, I have edible perennials as well. I have two large grape vines chock full of grapes waiting to ripen, a small blackberry bush on it’s first season, a lemon tree, lime tree, mandarin and apricot. My yard may be small, but I’ve managed to fit quite a bit in it. I can’t wait to see what I can do with a larger space! Gardening is a worthwhile skill for anyone to master and an easy affordable way to get high quality produce into your diet.
My morning routine now includes a short garden inspection/watering every morning. I love nature and being surrounded by edible greens is quite calming. It makes for a perfect start to my day. I’ll post a harvest update later this season to see just how much I am able to get out of such a small space. Do you like to garden? Let me know in the comments below!