Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Planning, Day 1 - Day 2

This year I am starting my very first vegetable and herb garden.  Woo-hoo!  I’m already a bit obsessed with it.  I’m blogging my progress for a couple of reasons.  One, I was unable to find another person in my area to steal ideas from.  Haha!  Two, I’m hoping that someone else in my area will be able to use this in assistance to planning their own garden.  As well, I think it will be nice to have the opportunity to go back and reflect on all this when all is said and done.  I’m very dedicated to this project, so I think this should be a lot of fun to follow.  I consider myself a gardening novice, and am learning as I go so bare with me.  I’m also open to suggestions and critique so please feel free to engage with me in this experience.

I live in Wheaton, Illinois, which is about 45 minutes West of Chicago.

A good deal of planning has gone into this for a number of different reasons, one of which being my North-facing backyard.  I have a decent space on the southwest side of my home:

Pretty unsightly water meter, I know!

...and another small area that I could extend to near the aforementioned spot, however, it's in my front yard.  I'm not sure how I feel about that yet, so we'll see:

Pardon the grass, it's still winter here.
Last year, I grew some cherry tomatoes and green peppers (along with other annuals and perennials) in pots on my deck, on my patios, and around my yard. Also, I transplanted a few flats in a large planter in my front yard, and experimented with splitting some Hostas as well as planting some Hosta bulbs (that should be coming up this spring).  As much fun as I had last year, gardening can be a pricey endeavor.  I'm attempting to build from the ground (or just ¼” below it) up and hopefully save myself some money in the process.  Seed city, baby!

First purchase
I had a difficult time harnessing my choices in regards to what and how much of each I want to grow, so I’m going with the "go big or go home" mentality and have chosen 36 different herbs, annuals, perennials and vegetables (so far).  I purchased 3 Jiffy-7® Professional Greenhouse 72 seed starting kits and have them planted as of 2 days ago.  I picked up mine at Meijer’s.  They were roughly $6/tray, and considering they contain the peat pellets and a clear plastic dome cover, I thought that was a bargain.  Not to mention they were very easy to work with.  The directions are simple (water pellets until expanded to 1"-1.5") and I dropped in 2-3 seeds per peat pellet.   

I even bought 2 smaller ones for my 8 year-old and her girlfriend so they could plant some flowers of their own.
I created a spreadsheet before planting anything so I could track what and where I was planting everything, as well as any other information I wanted to track for each.

Garden Spreadsheet
It's hard to tell by this picture what my spreadsheet entails so I'll give a brief explanation in this blog entry and I will add another entry with a more detailed breakdown for those of you who are interested.  This is a work in progress and I will be adding things as I go along.  Anything you would suggest I add is welcomed.  I'm sure there is a way to link this sheet into Google so you can follow along on your own but for now, this should suffice.  

The Sheets are labeled (left to right) Information (on entire garden), Greenhouse 1 (grid of what is planted), Greenhouse 2 (grid of what is planted), Greenhouse 3 (grid of what is planted), Veg., Fruits & Herbs (everything I want to plant am planting, and brand names of seeds), and Garden (grid of actual garden to be updated upon planning transplants). On the sheet shown (Information) the columns are labeled: Name, Type, Organic/Non-organic, Brand, Species, Seed Start Date, Days to Germination, Days to Harvest, Planting Depth, Spacing, Height, Sun/Shade, Blooms and Preservation.  The rows are titled with the fruit, vegetable, herb, annual or perennial.  As of today, my list contains the following:

  1. Banana Peppers
  2. Blueberries, Blueray
  3. Chives, Common
  4. Chives, Garlic
  5. Cilantro
  6. Cucumbers, Sweet Marketmore
  7. Foxglove, Excelsior Hybrid Mix
  8. Garden Bean, Provider
  9. Green Onion, Evergreen Long White Bunching
  10. Hot Peppers, Hot Mix
  11. Kale
  12. Lettuce, Vivian
  13. Lettuce, Little Caesar
  14. Onion, Sweet White Spanish
  15. Pak Choi
  16. Pumpkin on a Stick
  17. Radish, Pink Beauty
  18. Radish, Watermelon
  19. Rhubarb
  20. Rosemary 
  21. Spearmint
  22. Spinach, Bloomsdale Long-standing
  23. Squash, Yellow Summer Crookneck
  24. Squash, Black Beauty (Zucchini)
  25. Strawberries
  26. Sweet Pea,  Summer Love Mix
  27. Sweet Pea, High Scent
  28. Sweet Pepper, Carnival Hybrid Mix
  29. Swiss Chard, Rhubarb Chard
  30. Tomato, Supersweet 100 Hybrid
  31. Tomato, Superstreak Hybrid 
  32. Tomato, Yellow Pear
  33. Tomato, Black Krim
  34. Viola, Helen Mount
  35. Zinnia, Envy
  36. Zinnia, Purple Prince
Not all of theses mentioned are planted as of today, and I plan on purchasing mature fruit plants later in Spring.  I’m playing catch-up mind you, so here are the photos of Day 1 - February 27th, 2012:

I think this pretty much brings us up to date.  Now, there are all kinds of lights and heat pads you can use to assist the germination process, but I'm going o'natural.  Today I have them in my front window but I have to be careful for my cat - she rather enjoys trying to open these up and pull out the pellets.  At night I put them on top of my fridge.

February 29th, 2012

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