Sustainability Sam’s Foray into Gardening

Hello Tangletowners!  We didn’t receive a new sustainability question this month, so we thought we would share with you Keri’s (one of the voices behind Sustainability Sam) very first adventure in vegetable gardening as a follow up to last month’s post.

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I’m a city girl raised outside of NYC and I didn’t have any exposure or interest in growing food until recently. I was inspired to give vegetable gardening a try by two girlfriends, one of whom is a Hennepin County Master Gardener and one who shares the annual bounty from her massive vegetable garden in South Dakota. 

For the first time ever, this year I started a few plants from seed.  I watched a few YouTube videos, ordered a grow light off of Amazon, and bought some peat discs, starter soil, and seeds at the hardware store.  A perfect quarantine hobby!  I planted romaine lettuce, flat-leaf parsley, thyme, rosemary, and lavender seeds.  A week went by and . . . Nothing.  It turns out my quarantine hobby was a little boring and definitely anticlimactic.  But after about 10 days I started to get some sprouts in my thyme and my lettuce.  Still nothing from my rosemary, parsley, and lavender. After another 2 weeks,  I was sure that for some mysterious reason, those seeds weren’t going to grow so I reused the dirt and planted more lettuce and tried again with more parsley and lavender. This time I got a few more sprouts but I can’t tell what the plant is- is it from the first seeds or the second seeds I planted over them?  Only time will tell.

Now that I had seedlings, I needed warmer weather to transplant them outside.  Again, more waiting. 

While I waited for warmer weather, I decided I really wanted to try something a little bigger,  Like real vegetables.  Whoa.  So my husband and kids treated me to a raised gardening bed and plenty of soil for Mother’s Day and I got to work planting my new vegetable garden.  I had seen an ad in the Southwest Journal for a plant sale taking place at the local coops.  They were selling vegetable and herb starters for $3 a plant.  This seemed like a real bargain compared to the prices I’d seen at garden centers.  For about $40 I got a tomato plant, zucchini, butternut squash, spinach, broccoli, onions and scallions, and a few herbs like basil, and oregano.  Again, I watched a few YouTube videos, got a few pointers from my girlfriends, and got to planting.   I have dozens of questions and no answers yet so I will just have to wait and see what happens!

So far my new gardening hobby has been amusing, albeit not very exciting.  I definitely have a new appreciation for gardening and the amount of knowledge it takes to do it successfully.  I’m not sure my “stick it in the ground and see what happens” approach is the most methodical or well-researched option I could have pursued but I am learning as I am going.  And each year I will add new knowledge to my toolbox.  

Here are my tips as of now: 

1.  Label your seedlings so you know what they are.  You think you will remember but you won’t!  

2.  Invest in the best soil you can- your veggies will only be as good as the soil you grow them in!  

3. Organic compost and manure are your friends.  Love them. Use them. 

4.  Minnesota weather is incredibly frustrating! It was almost June and I was still worrying about whether it was warm enough outside for my plants! 

5. Wait and be patient.  Patience, patience, patience.  

6.  If at first you don’t suc”seed”,  try, try again.

Perhaps you can relate to Keri’s experience or maybe it will inspire you to take the leap and grow some food of your own. Keri has promised to check back in with us late summer to let us know if any of her efforts bear fruit (or vegetables, as it were!).

Sincerely,

Sustainability Sam

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