Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lettuce Begin the Growing

Since moving into our new home, PB and I have been eagerly planning our vegetable patch. We haven't been able to make any physical progress until now due to the ground being frozen and, let's face it, me not wanting to be outside in the cold winter air.

We have earmarked a location and are planning to have 2 raised beds approx 8ft x 4 ft as well as growing tomatoes and peppers on the deck in pots. We have to use raised beds for 2 reasons: the soil is very clay-y and also we don't want to interfere with the septic field underneath the lawn. I also think raised beds are neater and easier to maintain. PB cleared the area of debris (lots of rocks, some in the region of 100lb or more-he tired himself out by deciding to do it on his own while I was at work) and then I marked out the bed location as below:

We are aiming to be planting by mid May so now need to decide what type of wood to use for the raised beds and work on the planting/growing schedule and bed layout plans. We also need to deer-proof the beds as we regularly have deer moseying through the yard looking for tasty treats. The first couple of times we saw them we squealed in excitement and grabbed the camera. Now we just glance over and carry on with what we were doing.

I haven't done any serious gardening over the years but have dabbled a bit here and there with limited space, knowledge and time but still successfully managed some vegetable yields from throwing/sowing various seeds into a patch of earth with no care and attention except watering. If that can produce results, then taking some time this year to research vegetable gardening should be very exciting and productive as well as $$ saving. We eat lots of fruit and veg and some of it is not so cheap, especially peppers, salad greens and even onions are getting up there. The growing season on the East Coast here is a little shorter than in Vancouver, although I'm hoping it won't be as wet early on which ultimately ruined my tomatoes when I tried to grow them in 2010, and apparently everyone else in the Pacific North West, from what I gathered.
I've chosen a range of vegetables based on what we typically eat on a regular basis:
  • Tomatoes -4 varieties including romas, cherry and some yellow ones)
  • Bell Peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Leeks
  • Scallions/Spring onions
  • Snap Peas
  • Carrots
  • Swiss Chard
  • Broccoli
  • Parsnips
  • Yellow onions
  • Kale
All of these can be grown directly from seed into the soil once the frost has passed but as the growing season is shorter and I'm keen to produce a yield early, I'm starting some of them from seed inside in an inexpensive store bought propagator with individual peat pellets for each seed. On March 29th I set about planting the peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, leeks and a couple of bedding plants (lobelia and Alyssum). For germination, you need a soil temperature of about 70F. I put the propagators by the back deck sliding doors for good light and then set the oil heater close by.

After germination, I won't need as much heat but will need the light source. This is my first try at growing seedlings for transplant. I'm not using a soil thermometer or a heating pad or an artificial light. I'm just doing my best to create the ideal conditions with what I've got and sending them lots of love and encouragement ("Grow my pretties, grow!").

I plan to put out the tomatoes in pots or a large wooden planter in mid -May, and put the remaining seeds in the ground too and then the leek and broccoli seedlings will go in to the raised beds a couple of weeks later.

In the mean time, I needed a quick growing fix so I bought some cress seeds (mustard seeds) and put them on the kitchen shelf. In 2 weeks I had full pot of spicy sprouts to add to my salads or just randomly pick and eat.

I'm also planning a herb garden, some potted and some planted out. I want some inside too, on the windowsill for quick and easy harvesting mid meal preparation. Basil, cilantro, rosemary, oregano and thyme will do nicely.


  1. This is a fabulous development! Will you also be composting to enrich your soil?

  2. oh yes, we have to get soil bought in as the soil is all clay here. We will make our own compost too, gotta build a bin but have plenty of garden and kitchen waste to make a nice batch!