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My First Garden: From Seeds to Spring Harvest

One of the things I was MOST excited about when we bought our first home last year was the chance to have my own garden! Ever since I was a kid I’ve had this dream of living on a self-sustaining property and growing all of my own food. If that dream is ever going to become a reality I have to start somewhere! :) While we do have quite a large yard, it needs a ton of work before it can be landscaped or used for gardening, so I thought this year I would start with potted plants and a raised garden bed. When I told Jason about my raised garden bed dreams and sent him a link, he surprised me with this a couple weeks later!

garden-update-1st-5Isn’t it beautiful?? It’s exactly what I needed and its nice and high off the ground so that me and my preggo belly don’t have to bend over AND our mischievous little dog can’t even attempt to mess with the plants inside. The bed is 4 square feet so using the square foot gardening method I knew I had 4 spots for different plants. (Edit: I’m terrible at math. I meant that the bed is 4’x4′, so it’s a 16 square foot bed. Haha sorry about that!) I decided to use half of the box for cherry tomatoes (I can fit 1 mature plant in each square foot so that means I’ll have 2 plants in the bed), 1 square foot for sugar snap peas, and the last square foot for basil plants. So something like this:

garden bed planStrawberries:

For my strawberries I decided to make a pot tower instead of using the garden bed. I read great things about growing strawberries this way so I thought it would be worth a shot! I bought a package of bare root strawberries plants (which are basically plants with roots attached that are dormant and dried out) and planted them in plastic cups to make sure they were still alive. Once I saw little leaves start to grow, I moved them to my pot tower outside!

garden-update-1st-6These photos were taken around April 10th (right before we left for our baby moon). Here are the strawberry plants today (about 40 days later):

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They are doing SO well! Tons of giant leaves and some lovely flowers and berries!

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I’m hoping in another month I will have red, delicious berries to eat! So exciting!!!

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Tomatoes and basil:

Alright, time for the not-so-sucessful part of this story. I decided that for the remainder of my plants (tomatoes, basil, and sugar snap peas), I wanted to grow them all from seed. I just felt like that would be the most rewarding experience, and plants that you grow yourself from seed are supposed to be stronger plants in the long run (at least that’s what I read!). It was early March when I got my seeds so it was still too cold out to start all the seeds outside. Peas are fine in cold weather, but tomatoes and basil can’t handle frost well. So I got myself a seed starting tray to start the tomatoes and basil indoors.

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I planted all my seeds in Mid March, and by early April all the indoor seeds had sprouted! I was so excited for every little leaf–it was like watching a miracle! Basil seedlings:

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Tomato seedlings:

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Both types of seedlings did continue to grow, but I’ve recently come to accept that they just failed to thrive. Over time they started turning yellow and sad looking, and the tomato plants especially got very weak and leggy. This is the basil 40 days later:

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There’s growth for sure, but not NEARLY as much as there’s supposed to be. Not to mention that when I transplanted them into these plastic cups to give them more room to grow, I discovered that they essentially had no roots at all. Same thing with the tomatoes, barely any roots at all. Just generally very sad and droopy looking:

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While I would have loved for them to have thrived, I’m not that sad about it. Watching them sprout up was SO much fun and I feel like I learned a ton from this failed experiment (lesson: plants need more light than a tiny stream through some window blinds…duh). I think next year I will try again with indoor seed starting but I will 1) start much earlier in the season and 2) maybe invest in a grow light. Also it’s super easy to just go out and buy started plants, which is what I intend to do very shortly so that I can still grow my tomatoes and basil. :)

Sugar snap peas:

Not all of my seeds were a failure! One of my best friends recommended that I try sugar snap peas because her parents had a lot of success growing them here in Georgia. So I planted seeds in mid March, and by early April I had some lovely little pea plants growing!

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The variety I bought is supposed to be self supporting, but as the peas grew taller and heavier I noticed they weren’t doing a very good job supporting themselves! They were falling over like crazy and going in all sorts of weird directions. But despite that they seemed to be growing well and in the first week of May I discovered my FIRST pea pod!

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And about a week later I collected my first official “harvest”!

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They are SO tasty! And its so much fun to eat something that you watched grow from a teeny, tiny seed. To help with the support issue, last week Jason helped me put in some stakes and a support net that I got from Home Depot. We tied each plant up and they’ve already started to grow onto the supports. So much growth so fast!

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In the picture above you can see that the base of each plant is all brown and sad looking, and that is the handiwork of some very RUDE pea aphids! I didn’t even know that pea aphids existed until about a month ago, but once I saw my plants all covered in these tiny green bugs, I googled and quickly learned about them. Thankfully a ladybug came along and ate them all (yay nature!) and we haven’t had a problem since. Every couple of days I have beautiful new peas ready to eat!

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That wraps up this garden update! I’ll update again in about a month (which is right before baby is due) and hopefully by then I’ll have even more progress to show you!

Thanks for reading!

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