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Gardening is how I relax. It's another form of creating and playing with colors.
-- Oscar de la Renta
When winter renders it too cold to tie dye, one of my favorite refuges is my seed catalog collection. I've dabbled in gardening for years, but never to the point of growing most of my own veggies through an entire season. This year, I decided to try doing just that. Then I had the idea to live blog my garden. It's not going to be big or fancy, and it may or may not be a delicious success. But since the whole point of a blog is for people to read it, here it is.
First baby greens of 2014
On March 2, the same day I sowed the first round of tomatoes, Megan Mayhew Berman wrote this on Salon.com:
For me, tending a garden is a liberating act.  I’m freer from the nutritionally void produce at the grocery store; studies show radical declines in the nutritional value of vegetables thanks to industrial, soil-depleting methods.  I feel less responsible for the millions of tons of endocrine-disrupting, life-killing pesticides dumped on soil.  Combining my garden yields with community supported agriculture, I know, really know, where a large percentage of my food comes from.  A home garden is a form of peaceful protest, a way of participating less in a corporate food culture I think is harmful to our health and the environment.
Couldn't have said it better myself.

Note that my USDA Plant Hardiness Zone here in Charlotte is 7b. The link has both a map and a handy function where you can enter your zip code to find out your plant hardiness zone. If you're not sure, find out and refer to your seed packets on the best time to plant. I'm in a relatively warm part of the US, so there's still plenty of time to start seeds for those in cooler climes.

After taking inventory of last year's leftover seeds, there wasn't a whole lot left on my shopping list. I had 19 varieties of heirloom tomato seeds, plus kale, chard and spinach I never got around to sowing last fall, two varieties of carrots, snap peas, five peppers, three basils, two nasturtiums, parsley, dill and cilantro. So far, I've only bought only a few seed packets: salad and spicy mesclun, beets, snap peas and cucumbers.

Then the planting began.

Seeds snug in their beds, 3/7/2014
So far, we have 132 tomato, 36 pepper and 9 basil starts from 3/1 - 3/9. None of the peppers have germinated yet, but I think they were too cold the first week, even in a sunny window.

The tomatoes are going crazy, especially since I warmed up the environment. My firstborn:

First tomato seedling, Indigo Rose, 3/11/2014
I'm doing all the spring greens, carrots and beets in containers on the deck, which needs major pressure washing but we have to start somewhere!
First outdoor sowing of spring veggies, 3/10/2014
As of today, I've got about 90% germination on the tomatoes planted on or before 3/7. They're currently basking under a T5 light.
Getting happy, 3/14/2014
We've got a ways to go until this, but the season is young.
Fresh sliced Indigo Rose tomatoes, 9/2013
Today I'll be sowing the snap peas in a 30 gallon container, starting another tray of basil, and making fruit fly traps for the seedlings. I'll cross-post some of the entries as the season continues. Stop by and visit for the latest and many more pictures!
For some reason, rodents and birds rarely mess with my plants.
Are you planning to grow some of your own food this season? I'd love to hear about your garden, large and small. Maybe we can share advice and inspire each other. Here is the link again to the Salon.com article, well worth a read.
Small-scale, heirloom gardening promotes plant diversity and sustainable practices like crop rotation and composting, and reduces demand for industrially grown food.  It seems like a drop in the bucket when faced with million-acre monocultures, but America has revolutionized the food system with home gardens before, and can do it again.  During World War II, home gardens accounted for nearly 50 percent of the nation’s food supply.  One of the challenges, however, is that many heirloom varieties are hard to come by, and corporations such as Monsanto are taking over the seed market.
There is no more peaceful protest than planting a seed.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    Visit my new blog, Little Lotte Studio, to see what I'm growing and making this spring!

    by SteelerGrrl on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 01:30:09 PM PDT

  •  I'll probably get some seeds started (6+ / 0-)

    Under the lights this weekend. I still have a good 6-8 inches of snow on the ground and it's expected to be in the 20's yet again for the next 2 days (sigh).
     I've never yet met all my veggie needs from our garden, but we haven't bought garlic in more years than I can remember, and two years ago I put 15 lbs. of green beans in the freezer.
    I usually have enough pumpkins and other winter squash to carry us into January or February.
    My big excitement this season will be mushrooms.
    I inoculated a couple of maple logs last spring and let them grow all season. The logs should be completely colonized by now so once it warms up I'll initiate fruiting and see what happens. Hopefully I'll have more shitakes than I know what to do with. I'm also starting a batch of pearl oyster mushrooms this spring.

  •  Gardening gets me through the summer. (6+ / 0-)

    I don't do heat very well, and if it wasn't for my garden, I would be spending the three months enjoying the comforts of air conditioning.

    I don't grow vegetables, but I have a nice herb garden with Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.

    Wild strawberries and mint.

    Mostly, my garden is an ever changing bloom of annuals and perennials, flowering bushes and bulbs.

    And I can't wait to get out there and play.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 02:12:15 PM PDT

  •  Great diary SteelerGrrl! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SteelerGrrl, Gordon20024, Mary Mike

    132 tomato plants!!!

    ______________
    Love one another

    by davehouck on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 02:19:26 PM PDT

    •  I know ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gordon20024, davehouck, Mary Mike

      I don't have space for much more than 20, but it seemed a shame not to plant as many of those lovely seeds as possible.

      The plan is to sell or donate the other hundred seedlings if they all do well. I've already had offers from friends and co-workers, so I think they will find good homes! I can always bring some to Asheville in May, too.

      Visit my new blog, Little Lotte Studio, to see what I'm growing and making this spring!

      by SteelerGrrl on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 02:41:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My growing season is just about over here (5+ / 0-)

    in South Florida.  I do have a couple of tomatoes plants for the late spring potted.  

    Here is my Kale that is ready to go in the freezer.
    DSCN0839

    Here is my amaryllis that are blooming now.  These are an heirloom from my grandmother who got them in the 1920's.  
    DSCN0833

    I have some pineapple tops to plant.  They seem to like it here.  It takes a couple of years before they produce a pineapple.  They make nice landscape plants.  

  •  SteelerGirl, nice diary-consider planting collards (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, SteelerGrrl

    In my back-yard zone 8 city garden the uncertain weather this year resulted in several days' low of 10F or less. Carefully insulated pipes froze and burst.

    But the collards in my raised bed were not fazed.  When it is hot, the collards grow.  When it is unseasonably cold, the collards grow.

    Receipe:  Cut sufficient collard leaves for the serving you require.  Cut outside leaves so the plant can continue to provide. Chop leaves and stems finely, place in boiling water with a dab of butter.  When leaves have become limp and very green remove and serve immediately. A slight salting is optional.  

    Delicious!

    PS.  Some old-time Southerners prefer to add pork fat rather than butter.

    "Stand your ground" laws promote aggression rather than discretion."

    by Mayfly on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 04:41:41 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for the tip! (0+ / 0-)

      I still have a couple of unclaimed containers, think I'll pick up some collard seeds tomorrow.

      I'm vegetarian so I'll skip the pork fat -- usually I do cooked greens with sauteed garlic and just a touch of freshly grated nutmeg.

      Visit my new blog, Little Lotte Studio, to see what I'm growing and making this spring!

      by SteelerGrrl on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 05:42:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I"m impressed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SteelerGrrl

    but I have a black thumb.  However anyone who uses the name of the greatest NFL team ever gets a tip and a smile!

    sometimes the dragon wins

    by kathy in ga on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 04:57:17 PM PDT

  •  I'm jonesing for growing season to start! (0+ / 0-)

    All this cold weather and snow (I'm in Toronto and we're still having cold weather) and I have such an urge to get going!

    As a new gardener I decided to leave all my plants over the winter not cleaned up to see how it would look.  Basically see what added winter interest.  Well, everything was buried so it didn't matter.  Now I'm eager to get that cleaned up.  I'm also so eager to get some new plants and give them a try!  Last year taught me that I loooooove fragrance and now I want to swap out a lot of my pretty plants for ones that smell better.  Lots of roses going in this year!

    I also decided to try one of those twice-blooming Bloomerang shrubs.  I love lilacs but just the one bloom per year is disappointing, and so a second bloom in late summer/fall will be nice...if it happens!

    Question: has anyone tried using a mirror in their garden to brighten up shaded areas?  Half my garden bed at the front of my house is shaded most of the day because of my neighbor's house.

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