This post is part of a sponsored home garden program from Monsanto called “Hey Let’s Grow.” All experiences and opinions are mine. Follow fellow gardeners (of all experience levels) and the program with hashtag #HeyLetsGrow
Oh, hello, novice gardener. It’s nice to meet you. I see we have a lot in common, like…
You’ve never actually had a garden.
Okay, maybe your husband attempted a garden years ago but it really became a lesson in cultivating weeds and learning that deer will literally eat anything (and yes, that includes the hottest peppers on the planet, despite what you’ve read).
Why I’m starting a garden this year
Things have changed. You’re eating more vegetables than ever before and actually enjoying them. You find yourself saying, “Oh darn, I wish I had more zucchini for this recipe” or “I bet I can use butternut squash for that.”
These are things I wouldn’t normally say until recently. But I’m now on a first name basis with my produce manager. (Actually, I don’t know his name but I’m no longer afraid to go up and ask for something that I can’t easily find).
I spend most of my grocery bag space on fruits and vegetables every week and buy organic when I can or when it makes the most sense. And I’ve come to one conclusion:
It’s expensive to eat healthy (except for bananas – they are still so ridiculously cheap that I don’t know how banana farmers make any money).
Money isn’t the only reason to start a garden. In fact, I fully intend to spend money on this garden project because I want it to be something I can sustain for years to come.
I’m also doing it because I want to feel more connected to what I eat. I mentioned before that I struggle with making that connection to the meat I eat but I can easily do that with some of the produce I can consume.
Planning to plan my garden (or overcoming analysis paralysis)
Monsanto invited me to participate in their “Hey Let’s Grow” home gardening program which gave me access to the starter kit you see below as well as live chats with their gardening experts. But I quickly found out what I novice I am.
I thought it was as easy as planting the seeds, putting them in the ground, and INSTANT ZUCCHINI! And then I realized I had a lot of things to do like…
- Figure out where to put the garden (eventually)
- Figure out how to build the garden (more on that to come)
- Decide which seeds to plant
- Decide when to plant the seeds
That’s when I got overwhelmed. I had to figure out my zone (it’s zone 6, by the way). I had to figure out different germination periods and days to harvest (different for each seed). And THEN I had to factor in first frost and last frost and match that up with cool weather crops and warm weather crops.
All this and I hadn’t even planted a single seed.
So I called upon a few resources.
- The Hey Let’s Grow Facebook group which allows gardeners of all skill levels in the program to ask questions and support each other.
- Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening book. I needed Gardening 101 and after reading a million reviews on Amazon I settled on this book and it’s absolutely perfect for me. (affiliate link)
- The Old Farmer’s Almanac website. It’s a tried and true resource for a reason.
Finally planting my seeds!
After all the research and planning and thinking and hesitating, I decided it was best to just start.
The first step was to go through each seed packet and decided what we wanted to plant vs. what we didn’t, what seeds could be started indoors vs. seeds that are best sown directly in the ground, and what to plant now vs. what to plant later.
It turns out, I’m already too late for quite a few plants. Pepper plants take a long time to produce and technically, I should have started them in January or February. But this is my learning year so I’m totally okay with making a few mistakes.
I enlisted Evan’s help because I think he’s going to be thrilled to follow the progress of something we’re actually doing ourselves.
As we started planting, I realized pretty quickly that I was going to totally forget everything we planted so I started my own little key to remind me what we chose to plant and wear.
In case you’re wondering…
SS = Sunsugar Tomatoes
BB = Better Boy Tomatoes
AL = Amanda Lettuce
ZS = Zucchini Squash
SBW = Suger Baby Watermelon
SW = Sweet Sunset Peppers
JC = Jumbo Cucumbers (I actually hate cucumbers so I’m only doing this for my husband!)
What’s next in my gardening adventure?
I’ll wait for the seeds to germinate and then provide them plenty of light. After they reach a certain level of maturity, we’ll harden them off and transplant them into our garden.
Except our garden is currently non-existent. Stay tuned for how I plan to turn my rocky, hilly backyard into lovely terraced gardens. And be sure to follow my plant progress on Instagram.