"Handmade (Not Homemade)" describes the way this Denver blogger approaches her many projects in life: creating, inspiring, loving and exploring. Living life to it's fullest requires more than a rag-tag assortment of homemade theories and thrown-together decisions. But the goal is not perfection, for handmade items and actions have a slightly imperfect organic charm.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Start With the Soil-and the seeds!

For some recent holiday where we exchanged gifts, Will "gave" me a vegetable garden. Really this meant that he would build me a raised bed in our backyard so that I could plant veggies. Well, the bed was (almost) completed as of last weekend (he is still going to add a cap to the top so there will be a place to sit while reaching into the garden), so this week I set out to get it ready for planting.

My mom gave me a gardening book called "Start With the Soil." I think it is actually a book about composting, which I would love to eventually do, but the soil is the very first step in getting a garden ready to go. Wyatt and I headed to Home Depot to get our supplies. Every time we go there he is the star of the store! He has already made friends with several people in the gardening dept that have remembered his name! Those same friends suggested the materials we needed to amend our soil (peat moss and some bagged compost), so yesterday, when the weather was nice, we added it to the bed.

Here is the garden before. (Note my cowgirl gardening hat shadow.)

And after:

Not much different, huh? I turned the peat moss and compost under about a foot into the dirt. While I did this, Wyatt watched on from his pack-n-play. He loves being outside! But after about 30 minutes, he was ready for a nap, so I finished up while he slept.

The next step will be to get some already prepared soil to fill the raised bed to the top. But today, it was time to sow the seeds. I really wanted Wyatt to at least be around while I did this. I want him to understand that we put seeds in the soil, and plants will grow from there.

Unfortunately, he can't really help much. I gave him one of the seed starters to play with, knowing that if I gave him some dirt just to feel in his hands, he would put it directly in his mouth.

So we decided to call some other little friends to help!

Zach and Julia are our friends from down the street, and I thought they would LOVE to help plant seeds. Turned out, I was right. Their nanny, Amy, brought them over to help right away.

Before they came over, I had prepared some of these planting cups from a Jiffy Seed Starter Greenhouse, following the directions. But the directions weren't very good.

But we got to planting anyway. We put little pinches of seeds into holes in the moistened soil, then covered them up! So easy and fun.

And Zach and Julia got to practice their letters by making little flags to remind us what we planted where. Today, we planted rosemary, carrots, mixed greens, green leaf lettuce, romaine, celery, broccoli, arugula, cilantro, and kale.

We planted two greenhouses today. When we got to the second one, I decided to make up my own directions. If you are going to do this, too, here is what worked the best: wet down the planting cups in the sink and place them back in the tray. In a pitcher, mix the planting soil with water until it is very saturated (start with about 2 inches of water in the pitcher and add soil, mixing with a wooden spoon, then add more water, then more soil, etc.). Then use the spoon--or your hands--to put the soil into the cups. Then we made all the planting holes at once. Then we filled the holes with seeds, covering them up as we went. This method was a lot faster.

Here is Julia putting the soil in the cups.

And here is the completed second tray. I actually made the flags for the second greenhouse. We kind of hurried because Zach said he would like to go sit on the couch until it was his turn, which Amy and I realized was code for "I'm tired."

Now the greenhouses will sit in our breakfast nook, where they will get plenty of light, until they are ready to transfer to the big garden in about 6 weeks. I kept the seed packets nearby (in a cute container from Target's Dollar Spot) to refer to. Some of them have leftover seeds that I can start again late in the season. I did a lot of lettuces for this first round because they like cooler weather. So, you can plant lettuces at the beginning and end of the growing season.

Thank you so much, Zach, Julia and Amy for helping plant the seeds! I hope you will come over often this spring and summer to help with the garden.

I hope this encourages you, anyone who is reading this, to start your own garden. I have always wanted to grow veggies, but now that Wyatt is around, I really want to do it for him. Remember that bean you planted in kindergarten? I think of this as the lesson of the bean multiplied a thousand times over. Sometimes it will live and thrive, sometimes it will shrivel and wilt. But you might get many beans out of it. And perhaps a meal as well.

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