First Time Gardener-A Follow Up

DSC_0637You might have noticed that my series on being a first time gardener just trailed off. That is because the garden just trailed off…

As you can see from the photo, all I got was a few tiny squash, 3 mini zucchinis, and a handful of not ready for prime time tomatoes.The squash are sitting near a grapefruit for comparison.

But–I am not easy to discourage. This year I have not finished planting, but already have a DSC_0641row of very healthy string beans, three thriving tomato plants, and a large strawberry patch. I will be adding basil, cucumbers, and chilis. Also several types of squash, and I expect the squash to act like squash this year, so I can scare my neighbors and friends.

We figured out that the soil was not rich enough, and the area was too crowded. Both problems have been fixed. So stay tuned for First Time Gardener–the Sequel!

Get More Flavor for Less Money—Grow These Five Herbs Indoors

Fresh herbs add great flavor to home cooking, but buying them at the market is prohibitive. The herbs come in bunches much larger than usually called for, and only stay good for a few days. But if you have a sunny windowsill you can grow your own herbs for the cost of a pack of seeds. Then you can trim just a few leaves off as needed without hurting the plant. This is clearly the frugal solution.

You will need a bag of rich potting soil, a bag of something called perlite which is added to the soil, and some powdered limestone. You will also need some nice small ceramic pots with saucers, and a few seeds for each herb that you are planning to grow. If you know a seed saver you may be able to get them to give you a few, otherwise you may have to buy a whole pack of seeds for each variety.

Take the potting soil and mix it two to one with the perlite. Add a teaspoon of the limestone to each 5 inch pot and mix well. The pots should be filled to one inch below the rim.Then poke a two hole with your fingers and plant one seed in each hole. Water the pot gently and put in the windowsill. Keep just moist and in a few days you should see your little seedlings popping up through the soil. To get started I recommend you grow these five easy to grow herbs: Oregano, Basil, Thyme, Chives, and Mint. They all like full sun, and to be kept moist but not overwatered.

Try growing these five and see how much money you save and how good they make your food taste. Then perhaps you will branch out and create a whole indoor garden.

A First-timer’s Garden—Post 2: Everything Growing but I am Not Done Planting Yet

The First Squash Blossom of Summer

This seems so simple. It makes me wonder why I didn’t do it much sooner. It also makes me worry if I am doing something wrong. Are the plants too close together? Will the tall beans block the sun for the shorter melons and cucumbers?

I thought I got at least one zucchini from the plant sale but both of the squash from there are just marked “summer squash”. Then I tried to get someone else to get me a zucchini when they were at the nursery and they came back with YELLOW zucchini. Of course we planted it, but I still want a GREEN one. We are going to be in trouble this August, I can tell. I have known folks who have grown more than one zucchini. They haunt their friends with giant “gifts”, in the end resorting to dropping them on doorsteps after dark and then running…

We started with three barrels and a box, plus a yard and a half of dirt. We are up to ten barrels and counting, plus about four yards of dirt. And I am not done yet. I still need some kitchen herbs, and maybe some other stuff. Does gardening qualify as a process addiction like gambling or computer solitaire? We shall see.

A First-timer’s Garden—Post 1: Getting the Plants in the Ground

The Frugal Goddess Learns to Dig in the Dirt

Some of my reader’s who have been following the Frugal Goddess for awhile may remember—I am a cook, not a gardener. My mother was a champion gardener. Her gardens were chaotic and messy, but always lush and productive. I was clumsy in my attempts to help, and soon gave up, retreating to the familiar safety of my kitchen. But now, a dozen years later, I realize that if I want that wonderful homegrown flavor at a cost that is bearable, I must learn how to grow it myself.

My garden plot sits on the back field of an acre and a half just northeast of Sebastopol, CA. I have to plant in containers because the gophers rule here. It took awhile to get the barrels and build my one box to start with. Some might say I was already late, but at least now I’m ready.

The containers sat for some time while I figured out what to fill them with. Dirt

A Garden in Containers

some may say, but that is too simple. It has to be good clean earth with the right types of organic matter added in. Like everything else, there are perhaps too many choices. Luckily Sonoma County is still a farming community, and there is a dirt store not far away. It is really a fascinating place, with piles of various types of dirt for different applications, and big trucks with big shovels, piling it in to a line of waiting pickup trucks. I got a yard and a half of the Organic Garden Mix. This was then shoveled into the waiting containers. This is when I discovered what an easy job cooking is, compared to farming. But it felt good to shovel and to dig my hands in the rich dark earth as I planted my babies.

My first grand plan was to grow from seed, but that was way too complicated for a pilgrim like me. Maybe next year. I put in a row of beans, a row of cucumber, several melons, tomatoes, acorn squash, and summer squash, including the ubiquitous zucchini, all from starts. I still have a barrel or two to fill. I will be posting from time to time on the progress from garden to table. For now, let me just say—I haven’t killed anything yet.

Here are some links for further information:

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2011/03/24/frugal-gardening-seed-saving-saves-money-and-is-good-for-the-planet/

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2011/01/13/the-gardener-in-winter/

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2012/03/01/get-more-flavor-for-less-money-grow-these-five-herbs-indoors/

 

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