The purpose behind this garden is that I hope to show my son where his food comes from. So he can grow to love it, respect what hard work has been spent, and hopefully become more optimistic with trying new fruits and vegetables! It’s not until I started that I realized how much I enjoyed maintaining it. Every morning I find myself in my back yard just observing and taking a moment just to breathe. I would love to share with you what steps that I took to start my urban garden. My back yard is not very large at all, and I believe I’m only taking about 20% of my yard space for my garden.
We just moved into our new apartment, so I have absolutely no clue what our soil was going to be like. I decided I was going to plant a little bit of everything to see what will take. I figured that this will be a great learning opportunity to start my own seeds and see what will grow best in my small urban space. The trick is to keep the majority of your seeds and plants in your garden things that your family actually eats. Keep maybe one or two new vegetables so that the whole family can care for them and experiment eating them!
When I decided I was going to start a garden I didn’t have much money, so the only option was to start my own seedlings to transfer into my garden. I’ve never started seeds before so this was going to be my learning curve. Starting my seeds also gave me ample time to prepare the patch of ground for the seedlings while they grew indoors. I bought a 72 cell plastic seed starter for $5 at Walmart and it was such a great deal. I also used some old egg cartons for my over flow of seeds. You have the option to reuse it for the next season as well. I slowly started stocking up on good quality seeds in the weeks leading up to the new year. I ended up with much more seeds than I was able to use, but I loved that I had a variety to choose from.
Materials needed to start your seeds:
- Seed starting container(plastic or egg carton, doesn’t matter)
- Seeds that will be in season and of your choice
- Spray bottle
- Bag of seed starting mix
I started my seeds in very early January indoors so that the infamous birds of my community wouldn’t snack on them. During the day I would leave them on top of my washer and dryer and just leave the light above them on. That was plenty of light for my seeds. I would spray the seeds twice a day just enough to make sure that they were moist, once in the morning and once when I got home in the evening. Other than the watering there really is no other upkeep at this point. Just keep them in a space that gets light.
Soon they should start sprouting! This was so exciting for me! the leafy green plants were the first to pop up and my coriander was the last. Keep the watering pattern the same by spraying just enough to wet the soil twice a day. Once they start getting larger they may require more water each time.
The seeds will take anywhere from 5-8 weeks. Be patient. That is why I started them so early in the season. This gave me plenty of time to prepare my actual gardening plot. My backyard was a blank slate and I took full advantage. this is me starting to use a hand tiller and the garden plot ended up about twice the size in the picture below. I really didn’t want anything bigger than that so I didn’t bite off more than I could chew. Once the area was tilled I got a bag of Organic Fertilizer as well as some worms and spread it throughout the plot using enough fertilizer according to the bag. Make sure to mark on your calendar when you used the fertilizer and reapply as directed. Typically about every two months for solid fertilizers and about every two weeks for liquid fertilizers. Over the next few weeks I set up my two foot tall fence around the plot. I have a very curious German Shepard who happens to love the smell of onions… He never jumps over anything so two foot tall was more than enough.
I ended up with enough room for about 6 rows length-wise. Once the seedlings were large enough and there was no more fear of freezing temperatures I transplanted the seedlings. I watered the seedlings often but not in large quantities. Just enough to wet the soil. Right after transplanting and starting to water the plot for the first time is when I had the hardest time with weeds. You’re not only watering your plants, but also all the littles spies hiding in the soil. I would just use my hoe to nip them in the butt before they got to large. Be careful to pay attention to the bases of your new plants. I found many small grasses and weeds blending into my plants that way. They are still so small at this point that they can be easily killed. After about 2 weeks I started cutting watering to once a day until the plants were about the size of a softball.
Once the plants were about the size of the bottom picture I started cutting back watering to as needed. I would check the soil and if I dug into the soil one inch deep and it were dry it was time to water. If it were still damp I would wait another half day or day to water again. My son absolutely loves my garden and often helps me with maintaining it. He loves to water the plants and we love to pick and smell my herbs. Some of my herbs I already had from the previous year and included them with my seedlings since they never really took off. So far I have not had any problems with pests other than some fire ants. they really haven’t done any damage so I haven’t done anything in retaliation.
Surprisingly many of my plants have taken quite well except for my cilantro. I started out with 5 seedlings and two of them don’t look like they are going to make it. but I’m excited to list what has taken so far with just a general fertilizer and no special knowledge before starting this project.
- Broccoli (8 plants)
- Burpee Lettuce (5 plants)
- Spinach (8 plants )
- Cilantro (5 plants )
- Jalapeno (5 plants )
- Tomatoes (5 plant)
- Strawberries ( 1 plant)
- Parsley ( 1 plant)
- Lavender( 1 plant)
- Lemon thyme( 1 plant)
- Serrano (2 plants)
- Sage ( 1 plant)
- Green Onion( 1 plant)
- Rosemary( 1 plant)
- Radish (can’t count/underground)
- Turnips (can’t count/underground)