Gardening 101

First off in no way do I have this gardening thing figured out. I have had some great successes, but I have also had some dismal failures (should we even mention the Home Depot flower towers that their commercials last year made look amazing? yeah mine looked nothing like that…AT ALL). However a number of people have asked me when they’ve seen my garden for tips/tricks/help etc. And so here it goes.

Yes I love to garden. I know my bog name is hiking mommy. I love hiking and I love being a mommy even more. Gardening is right up there though. And since Hiking Gardening Mommy, or Gardening Hiking Mommy, or Hiking Mommy Who Happens To Garden In Her Free Time, didn’t really fit, the Hiking Mommy took the title. And in all honesty this blog hasn’t been all that much about hiking anyway. But the name works, and there will be lots more hiking this summer (first off we’re headed to Yellowstone!!!!, and we’ve committed to hiking more as a family in general).

But I’m way off subject. First off, I promise this won’t be a bragging spot to show you all that I’ve done, because I will most definitely show you my failures as well. But hopefully its a place to start and I’ll show you what I’ve learned and we’ll go from there.

I have to give credit where credit is due, I learned all that I know from my mom, and there are still numerous times that I call up and ask her questions and have her check out what I’ve done or ask her opinion on things. She learned all her gardening from her grandmother who we all called Munner. I have no idea why, but all I know about gardening I learned from Munner through my mom. Everything else is a lot of luck.

So why this post right now? Well, despite having a huge nasty snow storm on Friday and then it being 72 degrees on Sunday (welcome to Colorado and spring), its actually time to start thinking about your garden for this summer. Munner always said, “start your indoor seeds on St Patty’s Day”, and that’s just next week. So I figured we’d better get our supplies ready. Now I can’t answer for those of you that don’t live in Colorado if the “St Patty’s Rule” applies. I know that there are different planting seasons and such for different places, so for now I’d just say go with what works.

You have to decide what you want to plant. We are actually going to scale it back this year. I’ve grown corn, cauliflower, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, and peppers all from seeds in the past (I only started the cauliflower and peppers inside), and all of those are off my list for this year. But do what you want, I have my reasons (ie my corn hasn’t done well the past two years, I love a fresh salad but all the lettuce turns ripe the same time and honestly I’m just too busy to pick and wash it this year, and my peppers from seed never take off, I’m going to cheat this year and buys plants that are already established from the local nursery). And so this year I’m going to start tomatoes, melons, and broccoli inside. I’m going to add beans (who don’t like to be transplanted) and then the peppers from the nursery and some zucchini and pumpkins when I move things outside.

So to start, you need a place inside that gets good sunlight, a tray to catch the water and that you can put a lid on to lock the moisture in and some planters. Just head to your local nursery or Home Depot. They make biodegradable ones, I have a bunch of plastic ones from the flowers I’ve planted. Also pick up some bigger ones, because as they grow you will move them to bigger containers.

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Plan on planting at least twice as many as you think you need. Brace yourself now to have some plant funerals. Many will die. Buy fresh seeds each year, I’ve tried to be frugal (which is silly because most seed packets are less then 5$) and the saved seeds never do well. Either that or I don’t store them properly in the winter (yeah maybe that zip lock baggie thrown in the bottom of the bucket left in the garage all winter wasn’t the “nicest” way to save the seeds).

Take a guess at how many you think you want to grow. It’s an art, if you planted 358 tomato plants this year and that was just a few too many, make notes and scale back next year. I know some people are very particular about what brand, type and variety of seeds they buy. Try a couple different ones out. See what works, see what you like the taste of, there’s no hard and fast rule (although some would argue otherwise). There are far too many things in my life to worry about and be particular about, the brand of seeds is not one of them (luckily for my ER patient’s I’m a little more discerning and picky with my care for them…)

Besides the containers you also need a squirt bottle for water (make sure only water has been in it or that its brand new-I’ve used an old cleaning bottle before, and yeah, remember those failures I mentioned…). And dirt. Dirt is one of those important things. I recommend getting some top soil. Just buy a big bag at the local nursery to use. Which brand? Again, try a few out over the next few years, see what you like.

Gardening isn’t easy. Whether it’s veggies or flowers or both (I love both), its hard work, its messy, frustrating, disappointing at times, exhausting, but in the end it is so worth it, to stand back and see the final product and see the beauty. Kind of like hiking. And being a mom.