Tag Archives: Vegetable gardening

Before my garden is fully planted I take a soil test. I try to do this every couple of years. It gives me an idea as to what nutrients my garden is lacking and also will tell me how to correct any deficiencies.  Since I live in Vermont I can have a soil test done through the University of Vermont.

They will provide sample test kits, which include a mailer, sample bag, and information form. These are available from UVM, from UVM Extension offices and from some local garden centers. You can also download a form and mail the sample in your own clean plastic bag.

soil tests, vegetable gardening, home front

UVM Soil Testing Form

They only need about one cup of soil for a garden test.

The directions are very simple. First they need some information such as your name, address, the size of your garden and whether or not it is a home garden or a commercial production. They also want to know what crops you are growing, whether it is mixed vegetables or a specific crop. The basic test costs $14.00.

The reliability of a soil test is only as good as the sample you submit. The ½ cup of soil you are sending in must be a good representative of your garden. You want to take your sample before any lime, fertilizer or manure is added. Use only clean equipment to collect your sample.

The best way to do this is to take a number of samples from your garden and thoroughly mix them in a clean pail. Take about ten samples as a minimum for a garden up to 10,000 square feet in size.

Collect your sample by pushing the blade of a garden shovel into the soil to the desired depth. Cut out a triangular wedge of soil and set it aside. Now slide your blade into the soil again taking a thin slice from the side of the hole. Save this “core” as your sample.

soil testing, vegetable garden

Taking soil samples

Make sure all the cores are thoroughly mixed together.

soil testing, gardening

Mix the soil samples together.

Fill a plastic bag with about 1 cup of your mixed sample and place in a mailing envelope.

soil sample, testing

Place sample in a plastic bag.

soil, testing, gardening

Cup of soil to be tested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once they receive your sample they will mail back a detailed report.

soil testing, UVM

Soil sample ready to mail.

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We’re having a cold, dreary day here in Vermont. It’s been raining on and off and I’ve even noticed a few snow flurries. Not the day to be working outside. Instead I have an inside project. I’m sure you’ve seen the seed tape they sell in catalogs. Designed to help you plant those very small seeds like carrots so you don’t have to do as much thinning. Did you know you can also make these easily at home?

Here’s what you’ll need:

Flour paste – ¼ cup flour and enough water to make a paste.

Strips of paper to make the tape, you can use black and white newspaper, single-ply toilet paper or a thin paper bag.

seed tape, vegetable seeds, planting

Strips of paper

Something to dab the glue on such as a small paintbrush or a toothpick.

Start by making the paste, start with the flour and add enough water until you have the consistency of a paste.

Check your seed packet for the recommendations as to how far apart the seeds should be planted.

seed packet, carrots, prudent living

Packet of Carrot Seeds

Dab the paste onto your strips of paper as far apart as you would plant the seeds. Just drop the seeds into the paste. Drop the same number of seeds that you would plant in your garden.

seeds, prudent planting

Allow seeds to dry in the paste.

Allow the paste to dry completely and roll up your tape. You are all ready to head out to the garden!

seeds, vegetable gardening, carrots

My homemade seed tape.

For most seeds you will just need to lay the tape down in your garden and lightly cover it with soil. Water and watch the seeds grow! The paper will eventually decompose and you’ll never see it again.

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Vermont, barns, spring

Springtime in Vermont

Spring comes slowly to Vermont. We often have snow in April but this year we’ve had much warmer weather. I’m anxious to get out in the garden but we’re still having temperatures well below freezing at night. I have planted some lettuce, spinach and parsley and as soon as we get the composted manure all spread and tilled in I will be planting my peas. Hopefully this weekend! I thought I would share some pictures of what my garden looks like here in Vermont in mid-April.

The forsythia is in full bloom. I really wanted to get a picture of the bright yellow Goldfinches in the forsythia but they are just too skittish.

spring flower, garden

Forsythia in full bloom

Remember all those bulbs I planted in the fall? Well they all seem to be coming up and many of them are in bloom. I love daffodils.

bulbs, spring flowers, home frontbulbs, spring flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The blueberry bushes are mulched with some pine mulch we got delivered for free from Henderson’s. They were cutting some pines just down the street and were happy to deliver it.

mulch, bushes, blueberries

Mulched Blueberry bushes

The strawberries that I mulched in the fall survived the winter and are coming along well.

berries, strawberries

Sparkle Strawberries

Lupines are coming up everywhere. They are another favorite of mine.

spring flowers, prudent living

Lupines

Soon I’ll be cooking with rhubarb. Five plants all bursting out of the ground.

vegetable gardening

Rhubarb

My oregano is up as are my chives.

herbs, homegrown

Chives

herbs, homegrown

Oregano

The garlic that I planted in the fall is also doing well.

bulbs, vegetable garden

Garlic

General view of the garden to the chicken palace.Vermont garden, spring, Vermont

Inside things are doing well. My geranium, which I overwintered indoors, is in full bloom and ready to be moved outside for the summer.

overwintering, house plants

Geraniums

The vegetable seedlings are also doing well, the tomatoes seem to grow more robust every day!

seed starting, seedlings

Vegetable seedlings

Hope you’ve enjoyed my pictures of my garden progress here in Vermont.
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The seeds that I recently planted are doing well and some were are in need of transplanting already! I like to transplant the seedlings after they’ve grown two or more true leaves (the cotyledons don’t count). This can be anywhere from two to six weeks after germination.

tomato, vegetable, transplanting

Tomato seedlings ready to transplant.

Before I start I make sure I have everything ready, my new pots and some potting soil. I like to put a piece of paper towel or newspaper in the bottom of my pots to keep the dirt from coming out the bottom. By the time I transplant again (either into bigger pots or into the garden) this paper will have dissolved.

vegetable seedlings, gardening

Pots filled with moistened soil.

transplanting vegetable seedlings, prudent living

Pots with paper in the bottom.

Freeing a seedling from its neighbors in a pot can be daunting if you haven’t done it before. One precaution is to always grasp a plant by a leaf not the stem. The plant can survive loss or injury to a leaf but if you break the stem it is fatal! I use a spoon and start at the edge of the pot and carefully lift the seedling. I try to choose the strongest seedlings rather than transplant every single one. At the time I am tempted because they all look strong and healthy, but then I end up with way too many plants for my garden. Choose the sturdiest, most uniform plants and regretfully discard the others.

seedling, transplanting

Gently transplant the seedling.

Set the seedling deeper than it was in the germination pot, placing the cotyledons just above the soil surface. Some plants, like tomatoes, will form roots along the section of the stem that is buried when you transplant deeper. Once every seedling has been transplanted make sure they are all labeled and given a drink of water.

labels, plants, prudent living.

Labels for seedlings.

Then place them back under the grow lights.

seedlings, inside gardening, spring

Transplanted seedlings.

This is the time of year that my kitchen really gets crowded as I usually run out of room under my grown lights. We have wonderful south facing windows so I will alternate my seedlings so they all spend a little time in front of the widows. It’s still too soon to be working outside in the garden but at least I can get my hands in the dirt transplanting seedlings!

Yesterday I picked up my seed order from the local co-op and today I am going to start a few seeds indoors. I tend to get carried away when reading the seed catalogs and if I had the room I would start twice as many as I do. However I only have one simple growing table with two grow lights so my space is limited.

seed starting, gardening

My grow lights and simple table.

grow lights, seed starting

Seed starting set-up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a chart where I have written down what seeds I will start and when to start them.

vegetable seeds, gardening, seed starting

My seeds and my list!

seeds, gardening

Seed starting charts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are several resources available on line. I have made two downloads to help me stay organized this year. Little House in the Suburb has a little booklet you can put together. By determining your last day of frost you work backwards to determine what you should plant and when. I also downloaded a seed-starting chart from Martha Stewart. It is basically the same information just on one sheet. The booklet I’ve used before, I want to see which works better.

Today I am going to start my leeks, onions and broccoli. I will start the broccoli in a small box and for the leeks I will use a different type of container. In the smaller containers I usually put a paper towel in the bottom to keep the soil mixture contained. By the time I need to transplant the paper towel will have dissolved.

seed starting, planting containers.

Seeds and planting containers.

seed starting, gardening, prudent living

Paper towel is used to contain the soil mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a previous posting you may recall that I made my own seed starting mixture, I have filled the containers with this mixture and moistened them slightly.

seeds, planting seeds

Container for the leeks.

One rule of thumb is to plant the seeds 2-3 ties as deep as the seed is wide. Leek and onion seeds are rather small and are pretty much sprinkled on the top of the soil.

Once my seeds are planted I make sure the soil is moist. One way to do this is to fill a plastic bin with water and float the pot in it until the surface is damp. I then label each container with the date and the name of the plant. This will help me keep track of how many days it took the seeds to germinate and will also help me when it comes time to plants the vegetable plants in the garden. I may be able to tell leeks from broccoli but it is very important to keep track of the variety of peppers and tomatoes.

Cover the seeds with a plastic or glass cover to create a mini greenhouse.  You need to keep the seeds warm; a heating pad may be necessary. You do not need a grow light until the seeds sprout. Once you see the first seed sprouting remove the cover and place under your grow light. Keep a close eye on the seedlings, as you don’t want them to dry out.

greenhouse, plastic greenhouse, seed starting

Creating a mini-greenhouse.

It’s a wonderful feeling to finally have some seeds planted. I will continue to plant more as the weeks go by. Won’t be too long before I’ll be able to be outside working in the garden!

As I mentioned last week, this is the time of year when seed catalogs start to arrive in your mailbox, full of bright glossy pictures of various vegetables and flowers that you can grow in your garden. Perhaps you’ve never had a garden before or have only purchased plants from a garden center but his year you want to plant your own seeds. How do you decide what to order?

seeds, ordering seeds, vegetable gardening, prudent living

So many choices!

The first thing you have to decide is whether or not you want to start your seeds inside or just plant your seeds directly into your garden. There are certain seeds, which must be started early, there is just not enough growing season to directly sow these seeds into your garden. Such plants as tomatoes, peppers and eggplants must all be started inside.

tomato seeds, vegetables, gardening

Tomato seeds must be started inside.

There are other seeds such as lettuce, which can be either started early inside or directly planted into your garden. Beans and corn can be directly planted outside in your garden once the soil has warmed up and the danger of frost has passed.

bean seeds, vegetable seeds, gardening

Some seeds are sowed directly into the garden.

I have been starting seeds indoors for years. It’s an enjoyable winter project and a relatively inexpensive way to grow a wide variety of plants. The first thing I do is to check the seed packet for the number of days before harvest, I want to make sure my plants will have enough time to produce before our first frost! Several years ago I found a wonderful link online for a booklet that helps you determine when to start seeds. Little House in the Suburbs offers a free download for their Spring Garden Planner. You print it out and put together a little booklet where you can easily see the dates of what needs to be planted when. The only thing you have to figure out is your frost date, when the last frost can be expected in the spring. It’s a great tool for keeping your seed-starting adventure organized!

Another important factor to consider is the size of your garden. If this is your first garden start small! Pick a few vegetables you enjoy and you know your family will like. Plant a few tomato plants, some cucumber, lettuce and beans. You will have an enjoyable time picking the fruits of your labor and knowing that your family is eating fresh, organic vegetables.

Spend some time reading a seed catalog, read the descriptions and have fun planning your garden! Once your have your garden planned and have decided to start some seeds indoors, I will tell you how to make your own seed starting mixture!

flower seeds, vegetable seeds, gardening, prudent living

I have quite a collection of various seeds!

 

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