Things are really coming along in our gardening endeavors. Many of the seedlings pictured in my last post have since been moved out of their little pod planters and into larger plastic cups. The tomato and squash plants were too big to stay in their original containers and it was still too early to get them in the ground in our area, so this was a necessary transition. The eggplant and peppers are outgrowing their space too but I think I am just going to leave them until we can plant them in the ground this weekend.
After transplanting the tomatoes and squash, I started some herbs in our mini greenhouse. I started lavender, lots of basil, dill, oregano, rosemary, mint and thyme. I don’t usually start my herbs early but I also don’t usually have the best of luck growing herbs, so I am hoping planting them early will help in that area. The other vegetables we are planting are all things that can be planted directly into the soil. (With the exception of potatoes, more on that below)
I talked a little bit about making some investments in gardening tools or equipment this year in my last post. I showed the simple raised bed we built. The other major change this year was buying a greenhouse. It isn’t anything fancy and we bought it on sale at Big Lots for around $50, but it has made such a difference. The shelves are built right into the frame and the plastic exterior just slides over the top. It is big enough to stand up fully. I was a little worried about it’s sturdiness but it just survived a storm that took down trees and closed several streets in our town, so I think it’s pretty sturdy. The plants have grown so much since we moved them in there. Beyond it doing its normal green house thing to help the plants grow, it is also great protection from the weather, so we don’t have to worry about our plants being drowned like last year. Many of our plants will be transitioned to garden beds and other areas soon but we plan to keep the greenhouse up and see how growing tomatoes and other containers vegetables in there goes. The weather can be so unpredictable and I feel that the greenhouse might really be the secret to better yields. We are also hoping it can help us extend our growing season a little when the weather starts to cool. I will certainly keep everyone updated but I really think it is worth it based just on what I have seen so far.
The other major development in our gardening adventure was the planting of potatoes. Strangely, I had never planted potatoes before, despite hearing how easy they are to grow. We decided to give a try this year. My Grandma generously brought us a bunch of seed potatoes to get started. I cut them into chunks, being sure each chunk had an “eye” on it because that is where the new potatoes grow from. I also read that it is important to keep the chunks big enough because the old potato feeds the new potatoes so they can grow. From what I have read, potatoes can be grown most anywhere and are great options for container gardening as long as you do it properly. Our original plan was to build potato towers but we decided to just use some of our 5 gallon buckets and get started. The buckets had holes drilled in the bottom from previous garden endeavors.
We put about 3-4 inches of dirt in the bottom of each bucket. We have 4 different kinds of potatoes, so we did a bucket for each and 2 for the red potatoes since we had the most of those (and they are our favorite). We placed the potato chunks in eye side up and covered them with another inch or so of dirt.
Once all the pieces were covered, we watered them and put the buckets in the greenhouse. As the potatoes grow out of the dirt, you just keep adding more dirt a little at a time and the potatoes will keep growing. If/when our potatoes outgrow the bucket, we are just going to cut the bottom off from another bucket and stack it on top.
This coming weekend is Memorial Day and we plan to get things in the actual ground. Can’t wait until everything starts growing!