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This time of year my phone blows up…why? Lots of friends and colleagues get the spring fever and want to start their own garden. ¬†LOVE IT!

Instead of emailing or telling them on the phone, I thought I would write a post for all.

It’s really quite easy, but it does take a little investment and some sweat equity. Get your garden gloves, it’s going to be dirty ūüėČ

Fastest I have ever put in my veggies, all due to my Mantis!

Here is my garden bed. ¬†It’s a picture from last year..I will put my baby plants in next weekend after fear of frost is gone.

Here are the 7 steps to starting your own vegetable garden this year.

  1. Raised bed – You need to create a raised bed for your plants. ¬†Why? Usually in this area you have 1 of 2 types of soil and they are all bad ūüėČ It’s Clay or Sandy depending on if you are more east or west. ¬†Again, it’s all bad. While we may be an agrarian state, our soil honestly wasn’t blessed with the best conditions. ¬†Raised beds, not only give you some room to add the right nutrient-rich soil, but also it helps keep about your grass and other weeds from encroaching.

You can usually buy a kit, or you can go and get some 2X4s and make your own.  How big? It depends on how          much time you have to take care of it. Height matters, you want at least 1 foot above ground.

  1. Nutrient rich soil – the best investment you can ever make in your garden isn’t the sexy stuff…no, it’s the soil. That’s the foundation and really the secret to being successful. ¬†You can go to your local nursery or big box home improvement store. It’s usually labeled on the package – soil for veggies. ¬†You don’t have to get the name brand, the generic will do.
  2. Compost – If you have your own, awesome! If not, you can buy some. I usually get 1 of the expensive Black Cow and then one of the generic.
  3. Fertilizer – you can go organic or not…up to your philosophy. ¬†Try to get a slow release fertilizer.
  4. Mix Рjust like a good DJ, mixing matters.  I do 2-1 soil to compost.  Then I add the fertilizer in according to the instructions on the bottle or box.
  5. Plants – add¬†plants. Here in the south tomatoes are a must. ¬†Other vegetables I have had luck with in the summer are cucumbers, squash, zucchini, eggplant and herbs like parsley and basil. ¬†There are others, but those are the staples, and I would say the easiest to manage if you are starting out. <There may still be time to grow your lettuce, kail and spinach…they usually like a few cooler nights to do really well. I like to put a few of these in pots near my house, so I can cut and eat easily.>

Plants or seeds?  That depends.  I find if you are just starting out, you will usually have far more success with           baby plants than seeds, but they are more expensive.  If you are going the seed route, make sure you look at           the germination and growth times and plant accordingly.

6. Water – it sounds so simple, just add water. ¬†After you plant your crop, remember you must water them…almost over water them that first time you transferred them from pot to bed. ¬†I think of it like this…those plants just ran a marathon and are super thirsty and need some water to rest and get settled. ¬†After the initial watering, you will need to keep an eye out for them. ¬†The first few weeks are critical. ¬†Make sure the soil doesn’t get too dry, i.e. cracked, etc. ¬†Don’t drown them…they aren’t trying to swim.

Voila – your first garden. ¬†Kids love them, because they get tp see the magic of something growing. It’s a good lesson for us all in patience too.

NOTE – if you are eager to do this now, beware of the danger of frost. ¬†Usually in NC we wait until after tax day. These summer plants aren’t up for any winter shenanigans. ¬†Have no fear, if you have already done it. ¬†Just keep an eye on the news and if the weather folks say it will frost, get some sheets and cover over night. ¬†Enjoy! Go out there and get dirty!

Happy Gardening.

Melissa


Seed starting can be a bit tedious, but super rewarding.  To make those long urban farming chores go by quicker, why not throw a party?

Blog co-writer Chris and I work together so we share in the work and the bounty.

photo 1

Here is our recipe for the Best Plant Potting Party: 3 Key Ingredients

1)Good potting soil

 

Good potting soil

Good potting soil

 

2)Pots – these don’t have to be traditional 4-packs, but they can be party cups, recycled berry containers or yogurt cups.

3)A good glass of wine.

Wine

Wine – key ingredient

 

 Oh and dogs are optional.

Dogs playing.

Dogs playing.

That’s it. ¬†Grab a friend, share a plant and have fun.

How do you party when potting baby plants?

Happy Gardening!

melissa


I think I know what it must feel like to be a millionaire. ¬†Not because I became one from some fat inheritance or selling my latest Start up…no, no….that is NOT the case.

It’s my tomatoes!

T3

 

I got my second harvest and my first BIG one.  I had to re-stake them and ask for a hand because so of them are now close to 8 feet tall.  And all the little green, promising fruit makes my eyes twinkle.

T4

I honestly felt so rich today. Abundance doesn’t have to be defined by cash or the value of your retirement portfolio. ¬†No, no…you can feel wealthy from the most humble of¬†things…like tomatoes.

T2

Now, I know what it feels like to be a millionaire. ¬†To have so much and be so thankful….and share.

Anyone want to come over for a tomato snack?

Just call me loaded ūüôā

Happy Gardening.

m

 

 


So I was catching up on my Stephen Colbert last night and one of his guests was Will Allen, author of “The Good Food Revolution,” which talks about the need and now trend of urban farming. ¬†I never thought of myself as an urban farmer, but I am. ¬†I live in a city and I have a garden.

Summer 2012, My Very Own Urban Garden.

I am one of the fortunate ones to have the land and resources to grow some of my food. ¬†This concept of “food deserts” is not new, but one that truly concerns me. ¬†That many urban centers around our country have no access to fresh fruits, veggies and protein. ¬†The people there live off of sodium-rich, high fat shelf food. ¬†Could you imagine not having a tomato sandwich every summer, instead eating some “insta-meal?” ¬†In addition to not having access to these fresh foods, they also have no connection to it. ¬†No connection to how things are grown, seasonality and culture that comes with it.

I guess I really don’t have a tip or advice to share this week. ¬†But if you are growing a garden, first, be proud. ¬†Then share the love of that garden with others. ¬†Inspire kids, colleagues and family to support community gardens, local CSAs (community supported agriculture) or organizations like the Produce Box. ¬†Ironically, we all came from an agrigrean society and when we make “progress” sometimes we forget our roots. ¬†Fresh fruits and veggies and locally grown meats, eggs and other protein sources not only help us to be healthy, but also creates this sense of community.

So grow more, share more and support your community to help provide fresh food access to all.

Happy Gardening.

melissa


I have lots of people tell me they can’t grow things or they aren’t gardeners…in fact just a few days ago a friend of mine said, “I am not really a gardener because I don’t know how to plant things, but I do know how to take of things.” ¬†Well that statement inspired this post…

3 Questions to determine if you are a gardener

  1. Can you follow directions?
  2. Do you mind getting dirty?
  3. Can you take care of things?

That’s it. ¬†Those 3 questions pretty much sum up gardening.

Directions are key…knowing what to grow where is critical for plant success.

Dirt is a part of gardening, so if you aren’t willing to get a little on you then you won’t enjoy gardening.

Care is how gardens grow and survive. All the great poets reference “nurturing” gardens because it is true. ¬†Once you plant things, you have to be dedicated enough to water, feed, prune or divide.

If after the test you have decided to be a gardener. Here is a post to get you started from my co-writer, Chris.

Happy Gardening

melissa

A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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