Part 1: Planning & planting the seeds
My husband Dave has been growing and nurturing our backyard organic garden in Massachusetts since we moved into our home 22 years ago. He has a very tried and true process that has yielded many years of beautiful and fresh vegetables that our family has enjoyed cooking and eating. There are also a number of lessons and tips he’s learned along the way as he’s been gardening regularly since he was a young teenager.
The very first part of the process begins with the planning stage which usually starts at the end of one season in the late Fall timeframe. Dave keeps track of what varieties grow well and what is not going well and what veggies we like and don’t like as he regularly logs his observations in a word document with detailed notes. This feeds into the planning process for the following year.
Starting in January, we make decisions on what vegetables we want to grow in our garden. We determine whether we buy store bought plants (a few herbs and celery) vs. planting from seed. Dave creates a spreadsheet and lists everything out and then orders seeds from Gurneys, Burpee and Johnny’s in mid-February as we usually grow between 20-25 varieties of vegetables.
By mid-March, Dave starts planting seeds in small seed pots and trays covered with a Miracle Grow potting mix. A good soil really determines the success of your seedlings so don’t skimp. Depending upon the climate and where you live will determine when to start planting seeds so that the seedlings are ready to go in the ground at the appropriate time (ideally after any hint of a frost).
After the initial watering of the seed pots, Dave seals them in a large plastic bag to create a greenhouse environment allowing for humidity and moisture to naturally develop by placing them in a sunny window. Once the seeds begin to germinate, he then removes the plastic or else mold and rot can develop and kill the plants. He keeps the seedlings under grow lights in the basement for 18 hours per day.
There are 10-12 varieties of veggies that we usually start growing indoors (tomatoes, peppers, basil, marigolds, lettuce, broccoli). Marigolds are grown to keep away pests and bugs and are just pretty to look at in the garden. Carrots, beans, squash, cucumbers, kale, spinach and sweet peas are sown directly into the ground. These plants don’t transplant well so that is why the seeds are sown directly into the ground.
Different plants like different soil temperatures so that determines planting time. For example, tomatoes are not planted until Memorial Day timeframe as they like the heat and warmer soil. Squash is usually not planted until June. Dave uses a spreadsheet that lists when the various seeds need to be planted indoors and outdoors as a reminder so he doesn’t miss the most ideal window. Here is a helpful website that lists when to start seeds: garden planting calendars for every zone.