M&M Chat Episode 5: Breath of Fresh Air
Updated: May 12
This month, Megan and I sit down just in time to chat about garden season! Episode 5 is both interview style and casual conversation. Megan and I bring our unique experiences to the table to discuss garden 101!
I am antsy to begin planting but last year I had to cover all of my baby seedlings with plastic therefore I am going to hold off on planting most things until Mother's Day. Usually the second week of May is in the safe zone. So until then, let's chat about starting a garden! There is research evidence showing the benefits of being outside and surrounding ourselves by nature. It is good for our physical, mental, spiritual and overall well-being. Start small and try something new!
Maybe our conversation with provide you with the encouragement and inspiration to get your hands in the soil! Maybe it will encourage you to get outside and play fetch with your pup or go for a walk, either way... we hope you have fun listening to our chat!
Step 1: Find your Why
The idea of starting a garden can be very intriguing but also intimidating. If you don't have a strong enough why, it can be tempting to throw in the towel. Gardening is one of those things where at first you don't see the fruit of your labor but when it comes time to harvest, it is the most rewarding experience. Gardening has taught me so much patience. In a world where we often expect instant gratification, gardening takes us back to our roots; literally and figuratively. It teaches us hard work and patience. For me, my why is simple. I grow flowers to help me slow down, get my hands dirty, reap what I sow, to raise our kids outside, and for the absolute beauty that comes with it.
Step 2: Start small
I began my garden in 2017. I started by growing snapdragons, zinnias, basil, cilantro, chives, tomatoes and green peppers. I had three small rows. I have expanded the garden by a little bit each year. I started off small, I wish I would have been sharing my journey on Facebook from the beginning because where I started is no where near where I am at today. I began with one small grow light to help me start seeds indoors. I used a watering can and didn't have any control over weeds. Our soil was less than perfect and I harvested just enough vegetables and flowers for Tyler and I, but it was so much fun! Tyler and I used our wedding money to buy a tiller. That's when you know it is real love haha! We had a shared vision for being outside and trying new things!
Step 3: Decide what it is you want to grow
At first, I just wanted to start a garden. I didn't really know where it was leading me. I began by growing both flowers and vegetables but soon realized that the flowers were my calling. I may one day grow vegetables again for our family but for now the flowers have taken over my garden haha. The once small garden has transformed into an oasis of beautiful cut flowers. I have dreams to expand into perennial gardens, greenhouses, etc!
What is it you want to grow? Do you want to grow food for your family, do you want to grow tulips in your garden bed? How much time do you have to spend caring for your new plants? What kind of space do you have to work with? All of these questions will help you narrow down your focus.
Step 4: Plan out your garden space
We practice what is called, high intensity flower farming. You don't have to have a lot of space to grow a decent size garden. Our garden in on the farmstead and part of the 5.5 acres we just bought. We chose to plant the garden right next to the machine shed for a couple of reasons; 1. water access, 2. storage for tools, and 3. we graze cattle around the farm.
If you are looking for something that is less maintenance or more ergonomic for your back, I recommend raised garden beds. This will keep you from having to till each year. This is also a good method if you are looking to add aesthetic appeal. Don't worry if you don't want to go big the first year, start with a container garden. Plant tomatoes in buckets, herbs in pots, and lettuce in a tower. There are so many options!
Our garden is in a low spot and being at the bottom of a hill does create a few challenges. Our garden tends to hold onto water. Be sure to scope out your space and take note of what you see during season one. This will help you know how the plants grew in that area, what kind of sun they received, etc.
Step 5: Start the seeds indoors or direct seed
Seeds are relatively cheap but seedlings can add up. If you are looking to keep costs down, I recommend starting your own seeds. Many garden sites will tell you to buy a actual grow light but really a plain old shop light will work great. We use a garage shelving unit to hold the trays and we hang the lights under each shelf with zip-ties. Super simple! To learn more about seed starting, visit Springtime Joy (farmhouseflowers100.com). You will need cell trays, clear dome (to put on top, keeps the moisture in until seeds germinate), heat mat, potting or seed starting soil, seeds, and vermiculite (keeps algae from growing).
Step 6: Begin with plugs or seedlings
Not sure you want to start your own seeds? No worries, buy plugs or seedlings this first year. Visit a garden center or your local greenhouse to buy all sorts of vegetable seedlings. This will also save you time!
Step 7: Weed, weed, weed
Weeding is probably one of the hardest jobs! My tip is to keep ahead of it while the weeds are small. Once they get large, it is hard to pull the whole weed from the ground. This is one area I strive to commit to early! Still working on it!
Step 8: Harvest
Research when prime harvest is for each vegetable/flower. Harvest your garden frequently, often times the more you harvest, the more you will receive. Harvesting will also extend your season, as soon as your plant begins to seed, it is a signal to the plant that the lifecycle is almost complete.
Step 9: Fertilize or compost
Add fertilizer or compost tea to your garden a few times throughout the season. This will give your plants a little boost. We like to use compost tea or miracle grow. Compost tea also helps control pests.
Step 10: Clean up the garden for winter
We always clean up the garden to the best of our ability. This makes things so much easier come the next spring. We also try to save as much as we can. We reuse weed fabric, netting, drip tape, etc!
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