Planting the seed.

School’s out for the summer! Finally. I think I might have been more excited than the kids.

It’s been a challenging year and I am really looking forward to the slower summer days to play catch up, make plans for next year, and focus on other things that I want to accomplish.

Such as the garden!

Here’s a quick update of where we are:

In early April, I picked up seed starter kits at a home improvement store. I bought a multitude of different seeds based on things Adam and I had talked about growing. We chose these vegetables and herbs because they grow well in the unpredictable Indiana summer weather (A testament to this? It’s currently 60 degrees on Memorial Day…) and because they are things we like to eat. We read which seeds are best to start inside and got them planted in the starter kits. These seeds stayed in the basement under a heating lamp for about six weeks.

Seedlings growning under a heating lamp in the basement.

Seedlings growning under a heating lamp in the basement.

In early May, we transplanted the seeds to larger containers and moved the plants upstairs to the garage. On nice days we would pull the plants out of the garage to get some sun exposure and to build up a little strength against the wind and little rain storms. It still would get pretty chilly at night so we would move the plants back into the garage every evening where the temperature would always be above freezing.

Growing seedlings in larger trays before transplanted into the ground.

Growing seedlings in larger trays before transplanted into the ground.

May 15th is the day when the threat of overnight frost ends for our region and we were able to get many of the growing plants into the ground. We also started some new seeds straight into the ground as well.

But, before we could do any planting we had to till up the soil where we were going to create our garden. We just moved into our new home in February, so grass was not an issue as the whole yard is just dirt. However, the dirt sucks. It’s rocky and full of clay. Adam has a rototiller at work (… among every other tool ever needed on the planet. Seriously. The kid is handy to have around.) so, he was able to break down the beds and work in some compost and Pete moss we purchased at a nursery nearby. This really helped the consistency of the soil and packed it full of nutrients the plants would need.

Adam tilling up the soil to create our garden beds.

Adam tilling up the soil to create our garden beds.

We decided to dig up eight garden beds. They are at the west end of our yard giving them a lot of great sun exposure throughout the day. I really wanted to do raised beds because they look so neat and organized. Not to mention, they are really pretty. We went to get the wood one afternoon and learned to make eight raised beds would be really expensive. Story of my life. We had to put the kibosh on that one.

The eight garden beds after we tilled the soil.  We had a friend tell us this looked like we killed and buried eight people in our backyard... I promise that is not the case.

The eight garden beds after we tilled the soil. We had a friend tell us this looked like we killed and buried eight people in our backyard… I promise that is not the case.

Maybe someday, but for now we have eight garden beds full of growing veggies and they look pretty good, even without the raised bed curb appeal.

One thing that we are yet to put into the garden is herbs. They were started in the basement weeks ago and have been growing so well. We will probably keep them in planters on the patio because it will be easy to get to from the kitchen when cooking and they grow like crazy. Keeping them in their own planters prevents them from invading and taking over other plants.

I did recently read that when basil and tomatoes are planted next to each other they help keep insects away. We didn’t plant enough basil to put in between all of our (20!) tomato plants, so we may buy some that have already started and transplant them into the ground. I really don’t think there is such thing as too much basil… 

Basil prior to transplanting into the garden.

Basil prior to transplanting into the garden.

Plants are not the only thing growing around here.

On Mother’s Day weekend, Adam and I purchased 12 baby chicks! We purchased six Rhode Island Red birds and six Barred Rock birds. Both breeds are known for being great brown egg layers. In addition to, being social and well-mannered birds. (A plus in my book…)

We spent the entire weekend watching these yellow and black little peepers run around a large box in our garage. Adam joked that we could cancel the cable because the birds were so entertaining. Maybe this is how people with children feel?

Adam being entertained by the chicks.

Adam being entertained by the chicks.

We bought the chicks “straight-run” which means we don’t know the gender of any of the birds. You could purchase all female birds, or pullets, if you wanted only egg laying chickens or hens. Male chickens, or roosters, can be aggressive so not many people like to have them. I have also learned from anti-rooster people that they crow (i.e. “cock-a-doodle-doo!”), not just in the morning, but all day long. Straight Run is the cheaper of the options.

In the last two weeks our chicks have gone from babies to adolescents. They have at least doubled in size and started losing their cute chick fuzz to find feathers in its place. We still don’t know any of their genders, but we are obviously crossing our fingers for a few females. If we end up having male chickens? We will hang on to them for a little while and then they will be nuggets.

It’s an exciting time!

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