I grew up in rural Connecticut – in a town that we often “joke” has more cows than people. Whether that is really true or not remains TBD. My mom always had an incredible garden, and many of my fond memories of growing up involve helping her in the garden. Pulling weeds was never a punishment, I always enjoyed the chance to be outside and even still do whenever I visit. But, I digress. .
There is just something about eating a tomato straight out of the garden that you can’t replicate with the grocery store varieties that ripen in the back of a truck and taste like cardboard. And the same goes for most other fruits and vegetables too. It is really important to me that my little lady enjoys some of the same experiences growing up that I did, and one of these is the joy of growing your own food. Gardening is more than just growing plants, it’s really a family tradition I’d like to pass on to my kids. And as you’ll see, I’m doing my best in our tiny backyard 100’s of miles from the growing conditions I remember as a kid.
While Miss H is only ~2.5 and probably doesn’t quite grasp the concept of gardening, I’m hoping that introducing her to it early on will help her develop a love of not only growing your own food but also being outdoors, working with your hands, and doing things for yourself. I know, big hopes from teaching a toddler to drop some seeds in dirt.
We’ve been living in suburban Charleston, SC for four years now and I have to say I’m still getting used to gardening down here. First, we have very little land – and most of our property is completely shaded by giant live oak trees. Second, the planting season starts REALLY early. . . .this year, I should have started planting around mid-March (yes, when most of you were digging out from yet another snowstorm). Third, the large amounts of rain and high humidity means we battle fungus all growing season long. Oh, and pests. Lots of them. Last year I lost most of my garden to fungus and some very evil bugs called squash vine borers. Ugh.
After three seasons of trying to plant in the terrible soil (did I mention that part? oh yeah, it’s not soil. . .it’s “loamy sand” according to our geologist friend/neighbor, Uncle Dan), I moved to raised beds. Having nowhere to build traditional raised beds my husband was wonderful enough to build me these elevated beds.
Last year they were located behind our garage on a concrete pad that was there when we bought our house. Unfortunately, after the trees filled in I found out that that area got very little sun. So this year they are. . well. . .in the middle of our “lawn.”
Why “lawn” and not lawn you may ask. Well, look at it. They are really in a spot in backyard that we can’t seem to grow grass, and instead we have a giant dirty spot that our dog digs in. We figured that minimally it would keep him from digging in that spot.
Nope, instead he just dug underneath them. Yep, dog=1; us=0. But I digress yet again.
I generally start my garden with a combination of seeds and plants from Lowe’s and our local garden store Hyam’s. This year, I was excited to receive some samples of seeds from a great Vermont company – High Mowing Organic Seeds – to test out.
- Ping Tung Long Eggplant: an easy-to-grow, heirloom eggplant variety that produces slender fruits with skins that don’t need to be peeled!
- Corno di Torno Sweet Peppers: an heirloom upright pepper plant that yields long, narrow, bright red fruits
- Beninng’s Green Tint Summer Squash: an heirloom patty pan squash variety
- Sweetie Tomato: a cherry/grape tomato variety with high sugar content
- Ruby Red Chard: an heirloom chard variety that can be harvested early (baby chard) or later (full size)
We followed the recommendations on the back of each packet – Ruby Red Chard went directly to soil, while the other four (eggplant, peppers, squash, and tomatoes) were first planted in starter soil I put into divided plastic pots I recycled from annuals I bought at Lowe’s. I put the divided pots in a tupperware container and just left them out in the sun, watering from the bottom whenever the soil started to dry out. It’s been pretty hot here the last two weeks (6o’s-80’s) so I knew they were fine outside. If you live in colder climates, I’d definitely recommend starting your seeds indoors. . . or minimally covering the container to create a little mini greenhouse (even just with plastic wrap).
About ten days after we first put them in soil, we had a bunch of sprouts!
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