Gettin’ Dirty!

It’s that time of the year! The time where we start getting our hands in the dirt, planting seeds, becoming overly excited for the growing season!

One thing I learned last year through Charles Dowding and experiments – you CAN start several plants in the same container, then divide them out when they need more room. This is a huge space and time saver!

I barely made my planting schedule in time for this planting season. This may not sound very fun but it’s probably more fun for me than the garden planning! I get too excited wanting to plant things so I plant them too early; or I forget and plant them too late. Last year I was so methodical in my planting it helped me realize how I need to focus my efforts – and how I can improve.

Improvement #1 – timing. Last year we had temperatures in the teens the night before the plant sale – I spent quite a lot of time fretting I would lose everything! I did push this year’s sale back about a week (to May 15, unless I get too scared and push it back to May 22!). But because I had a timeline from last year I was more prepared to get supplies and start seeds for this year.

Of course, I had so much great luck with Midwest Organics Recycling I went back for more! They’re not exactly in our area, but a good friend is close to them so it gives us an excuse to get together. So many veteran gardeners say to start your seeds in seed starting mix – it’s lighter and easier for the seeds to germinate; it also doesn’t have any nutrients, so you have to start fertilizing or potting into different soil not long after they sprout. However, after watching a lot of Charles Dowding, I took the leap and had very few problems with starting seeds in compost. In fact, later in the year when I ran out of compost for microgreens, I had more problems with commercial soil – green algae/fungus, hydrophobic soil were two of my top ones.

Improvement #2 – preparedness. Last year I was constantly going to the store for popsicle sticks; when I was up-potting a lot I had to go back for cups (tomato and pepper plants, mostly) and ordered a box of pots for other plants. This year – I got a box of a thousand popsicle sticks! I was also gifted a LOT of pots to use for the sale. I did have to do a couple checks in the seed section for some plant requests but it’s worth it to try something new! Fingers crossed – I won’t have to do as much running around.

I will say I have a few projects that need to be completed before the last minute, but we’ll see how the weeks go. For instance, my 6×9′ greenhouse is only so big with so much room. I had to expand to the outside garden with plastic over the plants and bricks to hold down the plastic. This year I’m hoping to get some “mini-greenhouses” built so it’s easier to water and vent. We also have meat chickens coming at the end of this month (eek!!) and I need to get the coop ready for them along with an outside option; hopefully a chicken tractor!

I learned about this contraption through a couple YouTube channels I watch and decided to take the $5 plunge! It’s super handy – sprays instead of “glugs” water on the seeds, reducing displacement risk.

Improvement #3 – experience. I don’t know about the rest of you, but it doesn’t matter how much I read or watch, experience teaches me far more! Last year was my best garden year yet, but it taught me so much about how I can be more efficient (which is super helpful when I’m back to working full time!). If you’re debating about taking the plunge on something, have been reading and watching videos like crazy, I can’t encourage you enough to just “get dirty” and start! What’s the worst that could happen? You learn something??

I learned that while I was scared to advertise too much, I need to advertise more. I have the plants and if I run out I have a few referrals! I learned that my little greenhouse is amazing – and has so much potential – but I need to prepare more space to “store” growing plants. I learned that I need to figure out a more user-friendly ordering form, especially because I need help when people start arriving and have more questions than my helpers can answer. And yes – I need help! I’m terrible at asking for help, but I’m only one person and if people are willing, let them help! It was a great time talking to visitors, seeing how much fun they had on the farm.

I found a new favorite tomato – Black Prince through MIgardener! It was almost like a paste tomato with a great flavor – unfortunately my one plant didn’t produce enough to use it for much, but I am bound and determined to grow more this year! Maybe I should have gotten two packs!

I also learned I want to do a better “garden/farm walk”. I didn’t have a lot in the ground, but I’m a visual person and really like to see growing plants, how someone grows, what might work or I need to change to make it work for me. And for some reason I think others think the same way and want to offer it! We’ve also noticed people love to come to our place just to relax. Something about it is quaint and peaceful. Even though it always seems like we’re working our tails off!

My apologies for not making this a very interesting post! To be honest – I try to post on the 5th of the month and not only am I late I was also out of inspiration! While we thought the winter would be blissful down time it has been anything but; this year is promising to be just as crazy and busy as last year – if not more so!

Be sure to let us know what you’re excited about this year! Do you have a favorite garden item? Are you going to have chickens for the first time? Just excited to get out and about?

Happy growing season!

PS: Be sure to visit our Plant Sale page and Facebook Page for more information about our Plant Sale!

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