Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Adventures in Homeownership: Gardening

Homeownership is at once empowering and scary as hell.  Scary: when your upstairs shower leaves bodies of water on the first floor, you gotta figure it out. And when cute little mice decide to take up residence in your space, you gotta be the bad guy.  Empowering: you can redecorate and remodel to your heart's content (or to your bank account's allowance).  And, if you're lucky in DC, you get some outdoor space to work with.  We are doubly lucky, as we have a small front yard, and we have a carport and an (overgrown) alley in back to work with.
As this is our first spring season in the house, we were eager to do some planting.  So we did a little research, bought all the supplies we needed (depending on what your plans are, this can add up to a sizable investment), and got to work.

Goal: Plant flowers in the front yard and cultivate a raised bed vegetable and flower garden in back. 

Supplies: Vegetable seeds, flower seeds, germinating soil, used egg carton to sprout seeds, wood to build raised bed garden structure, tomato cages, topsoil to fill raised bed gardens.

I seeded the green beans, heirloom tomatoes, yellow gooseberry tomatoes, chocolate bell peppers, lavender, dahlias, and cilantro indoors.  It was mildly successful.  Here's what I did:

Using a plastic egg container, I poked holes in the bottom of each egg compartment with a pin to allow for drainage, and put a tray underneath to catch all the water when it drained through. I filled each egg compartment 2/3rds full with germinating soil that I had moistened (til its sponge-y but not dripping with water).  Depending on the directions on each seed packet, I pressed the seeds into the soil, lightly covered with more moist soil and gently tamped the soil down.  I kept the egg carton of seeds in a place where it would get lots of sun (indoors), watered whenever I saw the soil was drying, and kept the egg carton lid closed to keep the warmth trapped in the egg compartments. 

All my seeds sprouted a week later (except the bell peppers)

Side story: My friend Sean, who's also seeding his vegetables, and I were out at happy hour with friends: "Sean! My bell peppers haven't effing sprouted yet! WTF?"  "I know right!? Mine haven't either!!" 

Mine have since sprouted, so its all good.  

So, I planted these seeds back in March, and they just grew and grew until I decided the roots had grown enough & the weather was warm enough for me to transplant them.  Its April now.

Raised bed garden, beautifully built by the husband 
and filled with some nice vegetable garden soil.  Got the tomato cages 
which will also serve as green bean cages.

Post planting.  In the back row are tomatoes, green beans and then more tomatoes. In the front row is a strawberry plant (bought from a garden store), and I direct seeded some salad greens.

It was at this transplant point when I possibly effed up.  Not sure yet, but after transplanting my green beans - which once stood tall and beautiful - they are now kind of sad looking.

But my salad greens have sprouted!

And behind our carport, I used another raised bed garden (shoddily constructed by me) and I direct seeded some flowers.  I decided to keep the vegetables in the carport, because I didn't want the rats to be sampling my goods.  We'll see if they try to eat my flowers. 

This area was pretty heavily weeded, so it took some serious hoe action to clear it and till the soil.  A bonus of gardening: rainy days no longer get you down.  You'll be all like like, "Yeah, thats right, Rain! You water my plants and make em grow real big! Thats what I'm talkin about!" Or maybe thats just me. Anyways, I'm feelin good, but we'll see...  Do I have a green thumb? To be continued.

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