Gardening can be a scary idea for some, I know this because I often hear, "I would garden but.. I can't even keep an indoor plant alive!" or "I don't even know where to start."
Well, Mama's... I'm here to tell you, that you can do it! I was that Mama that killed all house plants and forgot to water the outside plants during dry spells. If I can do it, so can you!
Not only is it going to feed your family, it is going to teach your kids (and you) lessons, it will bring you together as a family, and it will become something you look forward to by the time you are done. Is it hard work? YES! It most definitely IS hard work. But it is worth it. Especially when you cook your family a HOME GROWN, Delicious, and HEALTHY meal from your own yard or patio!
So let's get to the first things that need to be done for a fruitful and satisfying garden experience.
CHARTING, MAPPING, and RESEARCHING your Garden.
This is an IMPORTANT lesson for our children. Charts?! HECK yeah! Math.. Science.. PATIENCE!!!?? Let's DO THIS! It is always important to make sure that your kids could be self sufficient if the need arrives.. or just to save money!
When I speak of charts, I am speaking about when you do things like look up your local planting guides that cover the last frost, first frost and what grows well with each other. Things that help pollinate, things that help you eliminate bad pests, what will encourage the good bugs and so on. I keep charts because... even I forget things and need a good reminder! Print these charts or make your own charts so that you and your kids can go over them. Figure out when to start your seeds, prepare your soil and garden boxes or containers, find out how and when to fertilize your soil. Make a calendar with stickers or color coding for when to water, weed and harvest. (I suggest the sticker route, that way, if it rains you can choose a different day for hand watering.)
I HAVE to map my garden out on paper because I have to visualize it that way. Some people can just do it in their heads. Not me. I mean, I could, but I prefer to draw up my map and stick mostly to it as I am able.
I do change things up sometimes. Part of mapping out your garden.. is choosing what you will grow for the season and leaving room for surprise purchases. For those of you who have NO land to garden on (even small patches can grow a TON), you can plan out container gardening! I do both every year!
The fun thing about container growing, is that you can also teach your children which plants are friends.. and which ones are not so friendly to each other.
Since I also grow Perennial foods, I like to keep track of where I have planted those.
I DO pay a small yearly fee for one of the garden planners online. Not only does it track how many plants need to be planted, but it also teaches and alerts you to what is best to grow in a spot where you planted something else the year before. This is called Crop rotation and there is a science behind it! (Another lesson!) I will go over that more in another post soon! This is a map of what we are building my current garden up to look like. The program that I use allows me to include structures! I will link to this at the bottom of this post.
it is always a good habit, to always try to learn new things. Research things on your own so you don't mindlessly just believe everything you read on the net. (Yep.. even me!) But also know that there is seldom just ONE way to do things, and that is where I encourage your participation in this thread so that we can learn from each other.
Research each of your plants that you will grow. Make it a lesson. Learn about germination times, temperatures for germinating, ways to keep your soil warm, transplanting seedlings, how long it takes for the plant to produce flowers/fruit/vegetables, what a male and female flower looks like if they flower, what fertilizer works best with that plant... so many things. I will be covering some of these things in future blogs! So check back with us soon!
Here are some links that may help you begin!
Go here to find your Last and First frost date for your area.
Frost Charts for the United States
Go here to find the chart for when to start certain seeds indoors and more.
Starting Seeds Indoors
This is where I found the program that I use to map out my garden.