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     GETTING STARTED...

 

Vegetable gardening is a FUN, and then you get to eat the 'fruit' of your labors!  It is truly amazing the way that God put the information needed into a seed that can grow if the conditions are right.

 

The first thing to do is consider what your climate will allow to grow, and what garden space you have to use.  It is important to consider what the sun exposure will be from sun up to sun down for each area you might use for plant growth, and what the soil quality is.  Many crops/plants require special considerations for sun... full sun to shade, and soil... sandy loose to rich composted.  Look at what commercial crops are grown where you live.  Consider seed sources... it is important to use organic seeds, and if available heirloom or non-genetically modified.  This type of seed can produce fruit and if you wish, can create your own seeds that can be used for future plantings.  Doing this sounds easier than it is.  Seeds must be properly harvested and dried and stored to produce well in future plantings.  My favorite source of seed is www.highmowingseeds.com  in Vermont.  The quality is guaranteed and has produced quite well for me.  Other local seed dealers are available from hardware stores to organic markets in your local area. 

 

If you have access to a green house, the growing season can be extended.  Remember that a green house helps plants GROW when it is colder outside than their usual growing temperatures... but when it is WARM outside... the green house will COOK your plants quite quickly unless it is well ventilated!  Also remember that plants requiring pollination NEED INSECTS to reach the flowers or else there will be no production of your desired produce.  I like to start my seeds in seed 'cells', transplant them into peat cups, and then either into growing pots or directly into the ground.  These growing tools are really quite inexpensive and are available for the home gardener from suppliers like http://www.burpee.com.  For me starting plants intended to be moved into the ground is practical about 6 weeks earlier than you would expect to plant the same seed directly into the ground.  In a cold climate like where I live, I find that a low voltage heating mat under the seed cells and a growing light over them is helpful.  You can buy these items individually or in combination sets like http://www.burpee.com/gift-set .  However, you can also just use a paper cup on a sunny window sill in a room on the east side of your home. :o)

 

My preference for soil to transplant the seedlings into is a mixture of almost equal parts of organic potting soil (like Fox Farm Ocean Forest Natural & Organic Potting Soil ), Canadian Peat Moss (like Black Gold Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Plus!), organic compost (like Gardner & Bloome Soil Building Compost), and perlite white water retention particles.  These are available from your local nursery or hardware supply (like Orchard Supply Hardware).  I use two 5 gallon buckets to make the mixture.  I fill one bucket about 80% full of almost equal amounts of the four ingredients (usually I don't add a full portion of perlite) and then just pour it back and forth until it is mixed.  This will work well if you are going to grow your plants in a pot.  When you are finished with any potting endeavor, dump the soil into a compost area to later be mixed into your outdoor garden.  When you intend to transplant young plants into the ground, there are other things to consider.  Using good quality soil building ingredients is VERY important.  If you skimp on the soil, you will be sorry later with poor produce and contaminants like mushrooms, slugs, etc.  So don't do it.  Use a GOOD source for your supplies.  You will also need a fertilizer source to add to your potted plants and to work into the soil in your outside garden.  It is probably worth the small investment for a soil analyzing kit to have an idea of what your garden needs BEFORE you plant.  I like liquid fish emulsion for the potted plants and in the outside garden when the young plants are transplanted.  For larger outside garden areas a quality manure source is important.  Poultry, steer, Llama manure... there are lots of options.  A roto-tiller is handy, but a shovel can do the job too.

 

Well, that's enough to 'chew on' for now... I will add more later...

 

Good Planting!  ;D

 

Timothy

 

 

 

 

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