Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Organic Heirloom Gardening Wannabes

After years of resistance, My hubby finally convinced me to start our own organic, heirloom garden this year. I'm thrilled and terrified all at the same time. I've always gleaned from everyone else's gardens. However, after watching the documentary, "Food, Inc", an instant play Netflix, I was never so motivated.  I asked around to find out where I could buy heirloom seeds and it turns out there is a local company who carries heirloom seeds. They ship everywhere. I checked out their website at and decided to load the kids up, go down to their warehouse, and save some bucks on shipping. So glad I went in and talked to the owners. They were super helpful and patient as my kids ran around their warehouse. Luckily, they had lots of redheads in their family, so they gave them a lot of grace ;-) He was a master gardner and answered a ton of my questions. He said he has a lot of advice on his website, too.

I bought 24 packs of seeds. I know, I'm crazy! If you don't know me, when I do something, I do it with gusto. I can't help it! I've gotta live and learn I guess. My goal is to fill my freezer with as much "fresh" produce as possible, so I don't have to buy veggies during the winter for cooking. It seemed expensive, but some of these seed packs I can split out with friends and family, and I shouldn't have to buy seed again if I save some back each year. So I guess it seemed like a good investment. Here is what I bought, all heirloom varieties:
Waltham 22 Broccoli - 25 Seeds
Sweet Onion (Bulb) - 150 Seeds
Gold King Carrot- 250 Seeds
Cucumber - 15 Seeds
All Seasons Cabbage - 25 Seeds
Salad Bowl Green Lettuce - 25 Seeds
Blue Lake 274 Bush Bean- 50 Seeds
Oregon Sugar Pod II Pea- 50 Seeds
Santa Fe Grande Hot Pepper - 15 Seeds
Grande Pepper- 20 Seeds
California Wonderbell (Bell Pepper) - 15 Seeds
Hales Best Jumbo Cantaloupe - 10 Seeds
Crimson Sweet Watermelon- 15 Seeds
Tall Utah Celery- 25 Seeds
Dill-Long Island Mammoth Herb- 2 grams
Sage Herb- 2 grams
Thyme Herb- 2 grams
Oregano Herb- 2 grams
Coriander-Long Standing (Cilantro) Herb- 2 grams
Parsley Herb- 2 grams
Basil-Italian Large Leaf Herb- 2 grams
Subtotal: $51.93

Here is our future garden plot. We have a huge backyard and the corner by where we buried out dog (you can see his cross in the corner) should be a good spot. It is very gently sloped which should provide adequate drainage. We can adjust the space as needed. A sweet friend from MOPS, Laurie, gave us this Earth Machine composter. Clearly it isn't going to be big enough for the garden we want to grow, however I'm still going to use it to feed our tomato plants and flower beds. We'll have to build a larger compost pile somewhere near the garden. Since our compost won't be ready in time this year, we'll have to buy some from a local nursery to get started, then next year, (if we do everything right), we should be ready to start using our own compost material. I love being able to save my kitchen scraps, instead of sending them down the garbage disposal!Any guesses at to what this is? Yep, it's well! Before we had kids, my hubby got a wild idea and decided to drill a well by hand. He set up a pully/weight system and would drop the weight down on the pipe, while I would push the pipe (fitted with a sand-tip) around and around. It worked! We hit the water table at about 15 feet. Took us about a year to do it (working at it in our spare time). However, we didn't cap it (my husband was waiting for a water pump to fall into his lap - he's a big-time scrounger) and as soon as Josiah came along and was able to toddle around the yard, I caught him throwing rocks down the pipe. I duct-taped this can to the top and waited for my husband to return home from his deployment to Iraq. Guess what? Five years later, this is what it still looks like. Now that we are doing a garden, my hubby is going to try to see if we can salvage this well, despite the rocks thrown in. Anybody have any ideas? We'd really like to not use city water for this garden. It would save us a lot of $$$.

The sweet owners of ABCeeds gave each of my kids a green bean seed and pot. When the seed germinates it says "I love you". The kids were so excited, they planted them as soon as they got home. I figured this garden would be a good hands-on homeschooling experience for both kids (and parents).
I would love to hear from you veteran gardeners out there. Please leave a comment with your favorite gardening tip. I'm a sponge! I really want to learn as much as I can. One question, I've heard some plants do better next to each other. Which plants on my list should I plant near each other? I'm planning to do some posts about our gardening adventures from start to finish, both the successes and failures. I hope you'll follow me on this adventure and either give me advice or learn along with me :-)
God Bless,


Haddock said...

Learned a few things here.

Andrea said...

Happy Gardening!!
Blessings, andrea

Jenn @ A Country Girl's Ramblings said...

I would suggest starting things like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and herbs inside about 8 weeks before you plan on planting them. I started my cabbage, peppermint, chives, cilantro and lavender last weekend and will be starting my cauliflower,tomatoes, peppers and broccoli this weekend. Next I will start the rest of my herbs. I have found these plants do better if started indoors first then transplanted outdoors. Now, you probably have a different climate than I do, but gardening is often a learn as you go process!

I haven't gotten into a lot of companion planting yet, but I do put my tomatoes and peppers with each other, because they require similar nutrients. I also plant all my cold crops in the same vicinity (cold crops are lettuces, radishes, turnips, etc) anything that doesn't handle heat well.

Oh, I'm sure there is more I could write, but this is getting long enough! If you have more questions email me! I've been gardening ALL my life! :)

christy rose said...

Wow! You are going gungho! I hope it goes well for you! We have gardened in the past but nothing as much as this. Actually, my husband did it all. I just got to enjoy it. :) We recently moved a couple of years ago and have not taken the time to start up another garden yet. I do not think it will be this year either.

Amy said...

My hubby makes me plant cucumbers 100 feet from watermelon as they can disturb each others taste.

Same with canalope.

You can plant tomatoes and basil together.

If you put epsom salt in the hole before you plant your peppers, they will do better. You can also put a banana peel in with the pepper.

I am learning to get use to a new zone here in southeast Texas. It is much different than in Ohio.

Leslie said...

I would highly recommend the book "Carrots Love Tomatoes". It has a wealth of information about which plants thrive together, which ones should never be planted around each other, how to rotate your crops, and much more.

I love love gardening, and I'm sure that once you experience the ease of it you'll enjoy it as well.

Brenda said...

Jackie, I am so excited for you! Your garden is going to be wonderful. If you would like some free horse-manure compost, check out Zubrick's (sp?) Horse Farm just outside of Island City...I can get you more info if you would like. I got some last year for my sister's garden and it was great - well composted and full of red worms! :)

Like Leslie, I was also going to recommend "Carrots Love Tomatoes". It was very helpful for me last year as I worked on the Hospice Garden.

Naomi said...

Ahh Jackie you are living my dream. I always wanted to have a garden and grow my own produce. You will have to keep us updated as time moves on. I look forward to seeing lots of pictures.

Patty said...

I'm afraid I'm not one who can give garden advice. I am still trying to figure out how to be successful with this myself. Thanks for the link to the seed company. I hope your garden produces an abundance for you this year.

Mich said...

So jealous...I have a "black" thumb. It is bad when my kids say "Mom, you are suppose to grow things, not kill them." wish I could have a garden, but...

motherofmany said...

I'll tell you my mistake from last year so you know not to do it. We filled the raised beds with fresh manure and then planted tomatoes. The plants grew big and beautiful, but when any fruit started to develope, it would be tiny and rot.

We found out that the nitrogen content of new manure vs. rotted manure is so much hugher, it will burn fruiting plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. They need more alkali, especially calcium (found in agricultural lime).

We had to buy several bags of lime to mix in and sweeten the soil before we got any food from those plants. If you have blossom end rot, withering fruit, or any other problems with flowering plants fruiting, try adding lime.

Lisa said...

How exciting! I'll be following along and may just get the courage to start one of my own! Very cool green bean plants, too!

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Wow! I never knew about you guys digging a well. How did I miss that?

Can't wait to start my garden this year, too. It will be nice to know that we are doing it right with heirloom seeds.

Mary Moss said...

Yes, now that we have a hope of spring arriving here in Virginia, I'm trying to decide how big a vegetable garden we should put in this year.

I don't know how to salvage that well, but I do know my husband made a rain barrel to use for capturing water to water the garden so we don't have a sky-high water bill. I really love it!

Can't wait to follow your progress as the garden is planted:-)

He & Me + 3 said...

I can't wait to see how your garden grows. How exciting. I love going to visit my parents little garden to pick their ripe veggies. YUM!

Catherine said...

Okay, Little Gardening Pup, c'mon over for a tour, instructions, lists of books, recipes for success and more. My first garden was in 1971. You and Stacie need to take a drive over here for an inspection and instructions...really!

stephanie said...

I just discovered your blog. If you get this comment quick enough, you might be interested in the Mary Frances Gardening Book at Homeschool Freebies...I am looking forward to reading it and putting it into practice with my kids.

RaD said...

You know I'll follow along with ya, cuz' that's just how I am. But I've been interested in doing a garden before, but I don't have the know-how at all. Maybe your success and failures will motivate me for next year (maybe not though).

Sarah said...

Hooray for you Jackie! We LOVE gardening here! Nothing beats feeding your children organic homegrown produce! It really does taste so much better! Well done you :)

In regards to companion planting; carrots and onions ALWAYS go next to each other in our garden...apparently the onions (or you could use leeks) keep away the carrot fly...though I'm not sure whether you have that garden pest in the U.S? Also planting nasturtium flowers around your garden will help deter vast varieties of garden pests and you can eat or save the flower seeds!

Wishing you all the best with your new gardening venture!

Happy Planting! :)

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Thanks for all your tips and well wishes, everyone. Keep them coming!

I may just have to take you up on that offer :)

A said...

Good to know about Oregon. Please post some pictures too. I heard it is very pretty out there but only went up to Northen part of California.

I like blogs with personal touch.

Great readings.

Tina said...

Please continue to share your progress. We've wanted to plant a garden for years but have always been scared away by my brown thumb! :) I can use all the help I can get and will appreciate reading what you do and what you glean along the way.
Love your blog!


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