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Spring Has Sprung, Sprouts Have Sprouted!

Ding, dong the frost is gone! Yeah that was cheesy. But I think it is safe to say that spring really is here now. Time to start gardening!

I like to plant annuals in the front of my house for some color, but truthfully I am not that great at caring for them. I LOVE looking at (and taking pictures of) beautiful plants at public gardens and arboretums, but I just don’t have the patience for horticulture at home.

That’s for two main reasons:?

1) I’m really just a beginner gardener?I never had much luck keeping plants alive (so sad) until recently?and
2) For the past two summers I have been focusing my efforts on growing some herbs, fruits, and vegetables in my Topsy Turvy which has yielded some major successes, as well as some unfortunate little plants that didn’t make it just because they are not meant to be grown in Topsy Turvy planters.

Anyway even though Topsy Turvy gardening is not really ?real gardening? (at least not according to my friend who is an uber-gardener/horticulturalist), I think it was a good way to get my feet wet and learn a little without investing lots of time and money into gardening books and classes (which I tend to do)?although I did buy one good book this year about gardening in small spaces called Grow Great Grub, by Gayla Trail which has already given me some good tips for this season. So I will be replanting the Topsy Turvy planters this season and will also be using some pots.

I know what you’re thinking?

Why not just dig in and plant an actual garden? Well there are a few reasons?the biggest one is that Chef Joe isn’t quite ready to start digging up the backyard and put up the necessary fencing to keep our many neighborhood critters out. It would also be quite an initial investment because we don’t really have much gardening equipment at this time…and then there is the issue of my back issues. Even though the doctors all told me my back pain would improve after I lost my excess weight, that just didn’t happen?in fact it?s gotten a bit worse. So the idea of digging around and weeding/tending to an in-ground garden on a daily basis makes me a little nervous. With Topsy Turvy/container gardening, I can keep them all at a comfortable height so I don’t have to bend down. It?s worked for the past two years so I am fine expanding on this type of garden until either the kids are old enough to really help out in the garden or Chef Joe comes around and wants to dig in himself (whichever comes first?I’m thinking the kids ;).

I am also thoroughly fascinated with aquaponics?growing food in water infused with all the high quality vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients plants need to grow to achieve optimum health benefits (since most soil these days is nutritionally depleted/deficient and polluted).

Starting from scratch this year?

 

In the past I’ve always purchased organic seedlings and planted them right into the Topsy Turvy in organic soil. Well, organic seedlings are quite pricey, so I decided to start from seeds this year.

My mom gave me a seed tray and some herb seeds and I went out and got some broccoli, spinach, mesclun lettuce, and San Marzano tomato (they make the best sauce!) seeds to try this year. I planted the herbs several weeks ago and the other veggies about a week ago and have had them on my kitchen counters right by the windows.

My mom is a really good gardener (and has beautiful perennial and annual flower gardens up at the 1922 Starkey House Bed & Breakfast) and told me to poke holes in the bottom of the trays for drainage and cover them with plastic wrap (also with holes poked in) at first while they are germinating, then once they have sprouted the plastic wrap can go.

As you can see, I now have several beautiful little sprouts that are almost ready to be moved to larger containers so they have room to grow strong enough to be transplanted to their permanent homes. Aren’t they cute?

The seed tray on the left is the one from my mom, and the one on the right is one I made from a plastic storage container with cut up cardboard used as dividers. I also took the advice of Gayla Trail and saved some empty food containers to also use as seed planters?I just poked some holes in the bottom and the lids make perfect little drainage trays.

The only little novice oops I made is that even though I know which trays have the herbs and which trays have the veggies, I didn’t make little label tabs to stick in and I don’t remember the order in which I planted the seeds. So I won’t know what they are until they get bigger. Oops. Anyway, this is the most variety I have ever attempted and I am really excited to have my fresh herbs, greens, and tomatoes this summer.

By the way?my rosemary, lemon thyme, and Italian parsley from last year actually survived the winter outside without being watered (other than rain). Here are pix of the lemon thyme (one of my favorite herbs to use in my soups) and parsley. Don’t they look great? What are you planting this year?

Italian parsley

 

Lemon thyme

*Tower Garden image from Tower Garden/Juice Plus+

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