Let’s talk about it! Have you tried companion planting?
Before the farm, companion planting in my container garden was purely by accident! That year’s pests would make it's move buuuut, they would be attacking certain plants and not others. After my coffee kicked in I realized I was losing one or two plants for the sake of the others. White flies had completely destroyed a Rosemary but other plants were spared.
In my first year of farming I had no clue what to expect and got way more than I bargained for. This year I’m being intentional about companion planting to both deter the bad bugs and attract the ones that eat them. I’m relying heavily on plants like basil and dill to attract ladybugs to eat some of the pests I was able to actually see last year. But these aren’t the only plants that can help you protect your garden. Here’s a list of plants that are being grown this year to better protect other crops:
Stay tuned for a second list for the other crops I’ll be growing!
I'm always so excited for spring to come around each year. Month after month I patiently wait for winter to move along and I never look back. Over the seasons I've gotten pretty good at keeping busy indoors and I spend plenty of time making plans, sketches and rewriting my lists of seeds that I want. If you're interested in my list of tips and things to do indoors to prep for the upcoming gardening season take a second to read my post Garden Tips & Tricks for Keeping Busy Indoors. I've got all types of seedlings working away in their pods and some have already pushed through and have their first set of leaves. All of my first seedlings of the season will start indoors and my second set of seedlings will include a few direct sowing. Eventually I will take them outdoors when the weather is appropriate for the type of plant.
Here is all that I have going on…
Direct sow vs transplanting. I LOVE sugar snap peas. While some have mastered the delicate touch of transplanting them I prefer to play it safe. I have two medium sized pots that have sugar snap seedlings in them that I start indoors, in their final containers. In this process I have directly sowed my seeds and by choosing a container it still allows me to take care of them like the remainder of the indoor seedlings.
There are several other indoor-direct sowing spring garden items that I have going as well. Directly into their containers I have broccoli and brussels sprouts. Both of these plants take a good amount of space and one head of broccoli per container is all you can really get. So instead of additional pots of flower, I'll have beautiful broccoli heads all around!
Depending on the size of the container you can fit more than one stalk of brussels sprouts but they will need their space.
From here, the rest of my babies are seedlings that will absolutely need the protection of my new greenhouse that I love. I would totally recommend every garden have a greenhouse. Not all of us live in year-round sunny temps but plants can use protection not only from the cold but harsh winds and storms that come our way each year. There are plenty of greenhouse options out there for every budget and garden size. Here’s the greenhouse that I recommend. It needs a little extra support for severe winds but it is very budget friendly.
Now get to growing!
This garden project is one of my favorites! It came across my path very easily, the cost was low and the impact was high. Here’s my supply list:
Spray paint is, well spray paint. The slightest shift in the wind and you’ll end up painting something else entirely. It would be best to pick a day with very low winds. A hot day will dry the project much faster. The process was pretty simple. I laid the plastic down with several feet of space around it. This wasn’t just for the winds but because you won’t always be spray painting in the same direction, downwards. You’ll need to turn to get all of the different angles.
The most challenging part of this project if I were to replicate it was the security gate itself. At the time there was a house being built next door and the team was in the process of tearing it down. They came across the gate and tossed it outside for the trash. Of course I dashed over there faster than the CW’s The Flash and the rest is as they say history. Items such as the gate that I found can be found anywhere from yard sales to Goodwills which now are a bit of a challenge. Thanks, Corona. Keep your eyes peeled for a pop up bargain in the neighborhood!
Once I completed spray painting one side of the gate I did have to wait about 30 to 45 minutes for it to dry. It was rather large, standing over 6ft tall. So, depending on the size of the gate you find you’ll need to pick a spot that allows for some wiggling around. Once I got that sucker turned it was back to more paint. I should also note that it took about two coats of the spray paint to get that glossy professional finish. Another 30 to 45 minutes of drying and my new trellis was in the garden and with its cucumbers by lunch time. Of course you can skip this entire process and buy a new one. Check this trellis out!
The cold has lasted much longer than expected this year and the energy that I would be spending on gardening outdoors and direct sowing has me pacing in the house! Below is a list of garden to-dos that I’m currently doing and do every year toward the end of winter when it feels like spring just won’t come.
To-Do #1: Seed Selection
Are you sure you have all that you need? I know I can always use another pack of seeds. I usually take a look at my inventory and see what new areas of the garden I need to challenge myself in. Those are the seeds that I start shopping for. I also like to shop for gifts off-season and if I know there is another gardener looking to develop their collection I keep them in mind as well.
To-Do #2: Space Planning
What type of space are you working with? If you gardened in ground last year you’ll need to be mindful of how long one crop has been growing in a certain spot. Garden crops get their nutrients from the soil and too many years in a row can deplete soil and lead to underdeveloped crops. A system of intentionally rotating crops to balance out what they deplete is called “crop rotation” and that is another post for another day. Also, each year I try to make a note of what crops did not do well in a certain area and I make a point to test a few of those plants in a different spot. This little testing trick is not limited to in ground or raised bed gardens. Even your plants in containers gardens can be moved around to a new location to see how they perform.
To-Do #3: Seed Sorting
I was at a plant swap when another gardener showed us her seed book. Yup! A whole binder with her seeds in it. After seeing that inspo I got right into designing my own. Previously my seeds were kept in two different, very adorable boxes. One was a tin box from Target meant to hold seed packets. The other was a mini sized floral print photo box that held seeds packets perfectly. Now I use both boxes for other garden items that are on the smaller side. Back to seed sorting. Now that I have my seeds in a notebook I like to keep them in a certain order. Veggies are up first and then fruits. Herbs have their own section as well as flowers. In their own sections, all four seed categories are in alpha order. This might seem like a bit much but you wait for the next extra cold and long winter to come around.
To-Do #4: Seed Starting
Ah, yes. By far the most exciting prep work for a gardener. Actually getting the process started! If you live in an area that has winter, you’ll need to know your gardening zone for this one. It is so fun to get a head start on the gardening season by starting plants indoors. You need to know the estimated last frost date. What you don’t want is what I have done in the past. You don’t want seedlings that are ready too soon. They’re ready for the sun and warmth during the day and night. But if it’s still cold, you won’t have that. If you start your seedlings indoors too soon and those babies start to sprout past an inch or so they need warmth and sun. If it’s still cold out they’ll die from the frosty temps outside and not enough sun indoors causes them to get too tall and thin to support themselves, something we call “leggy”. Ugh, I know. Quick fix, know your zone, pay attention to the weather on the news. Most seeds will have the appropriate start date on the back of their packet and you’ll need to look up the usual last frost date for your area. Let me know if you have any questions. This a great seedling starter kit to get you going!
Trust the process!
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