April 7, 2011 | bfeldman | Extracurricular, Fun

throw some seeds in the ground and see what you get

The warm weather, sunshine, and blooming dogwoods all mean it’s time for gardening, or what I prefer to think of as “plant experimentation”.  The shear unpredictability of throwing some seeds (or maybe some heirloom plants) into the earth, combined with the cultivating that follows and the eventual edible harvest months later are what make gardening the slowest, non-instantly-gratifying hobby for vegetable-lovers like me.

Now, I must confess one thing:  I am no expert gardener.  In fact, the plants that Aaron (my husband) and I put in the ground this past weekend mark the beginning of only the third season we have every participated in raised-bed gardening.  But what I’ve found from the last two years is that gardening does not really require prior expert knowledge, nor is it even about diligent internet research, as it seems most things are these days.  It’s really a learn-as-you-go kind of thing…buy 8 tomato plants, squeeze them into one raised bed, find out you don’t get many tomatoes that way, and then buy fewer plants the next year (the lesson was over-crowding in this particular case).  Or buy 9 different herbs, squeeze them all into another raised bed, find that this strategy worked beautifully and we saved tons of money on herbs all summer!  Repeat!  Remember that the tomatoes in pots from the previous year did better than the ones in the ground last year, and give that strategy another try.  And then realize that this allows room for plants you’ve never even tried before:  maybe cucumbers can go in those beds, squash, broccoli, pumpkins!  The possibilities are endless!

I will say that sometimes reading material can be useful:  this past Valentine’s Day I found a book Soil Mates that was both holiday-appropriate and vegetable gardening-themed.  The book basically offers strategies for pairing plants that work well with one another; i.e. pairing onions with carrots because the stinky onions keep carrot-loving insects away, and likewise carrots offer some obscure benefit for the onions.  At any rate occasional literature can offer outside-the-box ideas, which can never really hurt, right?

So far we have onions, garlic, carrots, lettuces, and radishes in the ground…did you know that a radish grows from a tiny seed to a full-blown edible plant in 22 days?  Next weekend it’s back to the nursery to see what other plant-experimentation lies ahead!  I’ll do my best to photographically document the progress…can’t wait to see what healthy veggies this summer has in store.

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