Thursday, December 31, 2009

My First Year Garden: Lessons Learned

Technically, this wasn't my first year gardening. I'd grown veggies in pots last year. However, this year was my first concerted effort at actually producing instead of experimenting with which spots got the best light & such in the yard. And, geez, I've learned a lot this year. From an indoor aphid infestation to first strawberries to fall vegetables left for dead, there was good, bad & ugly!

Here are my lessons learned:

  1. Start peppers indoors earlier than the other vegetables. They take longer to germinate.
  2. Get another grow light or start fewer things from seeds. My seedlings were far too crowded which resulted, I think, in leggy purple basil.
  3. When I plant outside, lay out a soaker hose. This will make irrigation easier in the summer when the rains stop. (Wrangling a hose through and around tomato plants heavy with baby tomatoes is not fun. Some precious darlings get knocked off!). Or, figure out some drip irrigation scheme.
  4. Plant tomatoes at the end of the bed or in the back so they don't shade the peppers.
  5. Plant selection: Sungolds are keepers, Wonder Lights are blah.
  6. In January or February, mark the planting dates for the entire year on my Outlook calendar. And set reminders!
  7. Net my ground cherries. I only got 5 last year from my garden & the rest went to the blasted robins.
And, 2010 will be the year of me tracking garden expenses and weighing garden yields. My garden is certainly my hobby and not a money-saving venture, but I am interested in its impact on our budget.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Holiday Haul for a Better Garden to Come

By the miracle of Santa, I got some lovely presents to help my 2010 garden be better than ever. I got:

-Another grow light so that my babies won't be quite to squished next year
-Set of garden tools with sturdy tote to keep them all organized and easy to find.
-A book on seed starting (which is mega detailed)
-Subscriptions to Organic Gardening and Fine Gardening
and, for garden-related entertainment,
-The Brother Gardeners

I hope you all's holidays were warm, bright and cheerful as well.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


The DC area is notoriously skittish when it comes to snow. I would argue that it's with good reason, though:

a) DC area is full folks from warmer climes, like myself. I never had to drive in snow until I was 23 (when I moved here)

b) It doesn't snow that often here. This means that people like myself don't get the opportunity to properly practice the winter driving *and* that there is little incentive for local governments to invest heavily in snow plows, etc.

c) Traffic is bad on a good day. It's a thousand times worse on a snow day.


d) When it snows here, it usually happens in the morning and just a few inches. This melts by midday and then freezes into black ice juuuuuuuuust as rush hour starts. That is terrifying stuff.

But, this recent snowfall rivals the Storm of 2003. That was my first winter in this area and in February, we got a doozy. I remember opening up the door to my balcony and sticking a yardstick in the ground...18in! My grad school was cancelled for that entire week.

This snow storm is probably worse that that. In my yard, I'm measuring about 20 inches in the non-drift areas. Remember my raised beds that looked like this in the summer:

Well, you can't really tell I have raised beds. Or, really any garden at all now:

Unfortunately, this snow is too fluffy for snowballs or snowmen. Therefore, it does me no good.

Friday, December 11, 2009

More Winter Information Resources

This morning, it feels like 14*F outside which is very chilly for DC. Very, very, very chilly. The kind of chilly where your nose runs and your cheeks burn if you're outside too long in the wind.

We've already discussed how I am not terribly cold-hardy. Thus, I'd rather spend most of my winters indoors with some hot cocoa, dreaming of spring. Last time, I posted about books. This time, I'm going to post about TV.

Gardening by the Yard
was an awesome show. It was kind of like the Good Eats version of know a wacky host (Paul James in this case) provides both entertainment and information in one half hour show. Sadly, the show has been cancelled. You can, however, find episodes online and reruns still show up on my DVR (I believe on Friday afternoons and Sunday mornings).

I mourned the loss of Gardening by the Yard for awhile, but then I found that Paul James had his own website with web videos. Hurray!

These are truly fantastic resources to hone your gardening skills, and add to your gardening knowledge, all while staying warm this winter.