Apparently the plant hardiness zone for my location is 5a or sometimes 5b. This zoning information is great though and opens up a plethora of relevant information. Unfortunately, there is only so much a fledgling gardener such as myself can take in in the first year. So I just started with the vegetables I like. I should mention that we started with no knowledge and no in-person guidance either. There is however the internet.
As I already mentioned, I seeded my tomatoes in a starter kit inside on May 7. They actually started tiny shoots within a few days. Incredible! I’m a gardener!
Tucking Them In
We finally beat back winter and on May 21 and turned our attention to the outdoors. I left half of the available space for the tomatoes and made 6 rows for my selected vegetable seeds. I carefully measured the distance between the rows with a ruler and then used a string to mark out a straight line and created a small trench along the string.
Following the instructions for each type of seed, I pushed the seeds to the correct depth into the new soil. I selected (for no discernible reason except that I like them) Beans, Cucumber, Lettuce, Carrots, Watermelon and Corn planted in that order left to right. We felt immensely pleased with ourselves although granted a little dirty, salty and tired.
Five days later, on May 26, I saw the first tiny sprouts in the soil – lettuce for the win with beans a close second!
The tomato plants were growing really tall, but also very thin and wispy. I was still waiting for them to toughen up and look like they could actually survive outside. It seems like EVERY SINGLE SEED propagated though and the seedling nursery tray is a wild jungle.
On May 28, I added six half grown pepper seedlings to the bed. They were quite small, but sturdy looking – nothing like my tomatoes. Starting to worry if this is right.
Summer is here!
By June 3 (14 days after planting) all the vegetables are peeking through. The beans are at about 1.5 inches with 6 or 7 others just peeking through the ground. Corn looks like lots are coming up. The carrots are a long even line of tiny filament-like leaves. The lettuce is wonderful – coming up first and growing fast. One cucumber plant seems to be coming up and I think (but not positive) that a watermelon is showing.
June 14 – All are showing still and the beans have big leaves. Um, I’m embarrassed to say, but just between you and me, there are some sections that I’m not sure which are the plants and which are naughty weeds. I may have been guilty of pulling out the wrong ones in some instances. Not sure. I walk along between the rows every day and try to clear out around each little shoot. Funny how the plants at the back against the house seem to be growing the fastest. The don’t get as much sun as the ones in front so I assumed if anything it would be the opposite.
A Dash of Herbs
I came across a few herb plants at the garden centre and decided to add a few of them. I selected peppermint, parsley, dill, cilantro and chives. I planted them in a row beside the sweet peppers. Also, I think maybe the sweet pepper plants need support at they grow. I added a small frame for them to cling to and also a frame near the cucumbers.
Now I’m really getting concerned about getting the tomatoes outside into the bed. During my walks with my dogs, I pass a house that has their vegetables, including tomatoes, in the front yard. Their plants look (and smell) like real tomatoes and even have little flower buds. Mine are still in the nursery. I guess it is time to push them out of the nest.
I’ve decided that I’m going to plant them this weekend and see what happens. Some animal – maybe a bunny or something – is chewing on my corn and has pulled a few plants out at the front. Not sure what to do about that? A bit late, but I thought I would throw down 4 or 5 pumpkin seeds to see if they grow. Put them across the back fence because I guess the plants can get big.
June 21 – I planted about 40 tiny tomato plants – 30 of the cherry tomato type and 10 of the regular size ones. It is harder than it looks! Since I had to space them a foot apart, they took up a lot of space. They look rather pathetically small but I have set them free now. I had so many shoots though and wasn’t sure what to do with the rest. I put some in larger pots that I had from the flowers and wished them well. I still have more though – what do I do with them all?
Time is marching on – we passed Canada Day 150 and everything is growing. The corn is still being vandalized by some mysterious creature who I can’t catch. I put some solar lights around them and a small model owl with glowing eyes. The pumpkins came up fast and it looks like all the seeds took. Tomatoes are growing but sooo slowly compared to the others I see. Maybe I should’ve planted the seeds earlier?
Weeding & Watching
So for the months of July and August, I have just been weeding and watching things grow. It is truly amazing to see. Even the corn was doing well, although they were still being mysteriously pulled out and I’m down to only one stalk left.
A Mystery Solved!
One night, when I let the dogs go out in the dark, they seemed to be gone for a while and so I walked out to the garden to see how things were in the dark. Well! I came around the corner and startled my precious sweet boston terrier with her paws in the cornie jar so to speak! She was chewing and pulling on the last remaining corn stalk. Although disappointed, I could never be mad with her and never even raised my voice with her. She is such a lovely, sweet-natured creature who has had enough trials in her life (she was rescued during a puppy-mill raid). So, no more corn, but at least I know who the culprit was.
The watermelon leaves are growing very slowly but no buds or flowers. We are harvesting lots of green and yellow beans and the cucumbers are amazing! Tiny buds on the peppers turn into the cutest and tiniest peppers but grow fast. Apparently they don’t really need a frame support but the cucumbers do! They grow out and over all the other plants. They send out these little feelers that grab onto anything and they are spreading across and out of their lane.
Still the cucumbers are wonderful and so fun to find among the thick foliage.
Speaking of thick foliage, the pumpkins plants are so big and thick – almost kinda creepy. Lots of flowers, which are about a foot across. Amazing, but I can’t see any female buds yet. I know this because except for size, they are virtually identical to the cucumber plants. Lol! Who knew?
The tomatoes are growing faster now, but it is a race against the impending fall days and the dreaded frost. I am seeing some tiny buds and they smell wonderful though and I like to go in and take a deep breath of the leaves. They really needs lots of support though – especially the larger plants. We had a huge rainstorm and some got knocked over. They seem to be recuperating, but they are fragile little things.
We are being given a lot of beautiful sunny days this fall. I have finally got some actual tomatoes on the plants but I don’t think they will have time to ripen. Doesn’t look like I will be getting any tomatoes this year. On the bright side though, we got a ton of cucumbers and peppers which I was able to share with friends. They were so good. I got lots of lettuce too. The carrots were a bit small so I will let them grow longer next year. The watermelon plant got a few buds but I never saw anything like a melon. The pumpkin leaves and flowers were huge but no pumpkins. I used the herbs all through the summer.[vertical-spacer]
- Cucumbers, beans, carrots, sweet peppers and lettuce are great starter plants.
- Certain dogs love chewing on corn plants.
- Start the tomatoes seeds about a month earlier and transplant the baby shoots to larger pots at the half-way. Transplant into ground when larger
- Cucumber and pumpkins are practically identical plants and both take up a lot of space. They send out feelers and grab on anything. Give them a wall or frame. Pumpkins leaves and flowers are enormous and almost creepy with their feelers.
- Watermelons need a longer grow season or hot house.
I added an update on the flowers here.