My gardening "hobby"

I like to say that gardening is my hobby.  Truth be told though, gardening is work.  But there's something just slightly more gratifying about gardening - your success is measured in your output, and can only be increased by putting in greater effort.

For my colleagues in Student Affairs out there, I think that gardening a lot like PTP - Practice-Theory-Practice.  You start by gardening (practice). You see some success, you see some failure, but you don't understand why any of it is happening.  Then you start reading all of these gardening books and websites (theory), and you learn the theory behind those things that you observed but couldn't explain (what zone you're in, what grows best in each season, etc.)  Then you take that theory and you apply it to your practice (practice.)  If all goes well, you're going to see more positive results and you understand WHY you were more successful this time around. 

Here's a real life gardening example.  The first year that I did a garden, my lettuce didn't grow well at all - it was bitter and went to seed very quickly.  I then started reading gardening forums and sites about lettuce (exciting!).  Before I had NO IDEA that lettuce could only be grown in cool weather.  I had NO IDEA that lettuce seeds might not even germinate if planted in mid-summer.  Basically, I had NO IDEA about how to grow lettuce.

So what's the theory behind successful lettuce growing?

Plant seeds in the spring, even before the last frost (although there is some risk with doing this.)  If possible, plant lettuce in containers that can be pulled into a garage or other protected area if there is a risk for frost.  But, also know that lettuce is very delicate and needs to be transplanted veeeery carefully.  Ideally, plant lettuce seeds directly into the ground.  Also, if you want to have a summer crop, it is advised to start the seeds indoors, where there is air-conditioning.  Lettuce sometimes won't even germinate if it's too hot.

Now, isn't that a lot of theory to know about lettuce?  I think so....

So this year I'm trying to put some of this theory into practice, and I hope that with each year - armed with this new knowledge - I continue to improve my lettuce.

I'm conducting a few experiments.  First, I'm backing off on doing all traditional "leaf" lettuce and have moved towards healthier, greener leaves in the lettuce family - spinach and chard.  Both spinach and chard are extremely cold hardly so I'm working these 2 plants in 3 different ways.

First, I purchased young plants from Home Depot (in spinach only - we're not sure how much we're going to love chard yet, and didn't want to go overboard with it.)  

Second, I planted seeds in a planter.

And third, I started seeds indoors (along with a variety of other plants) in a greenhouse type setting.

But the greenhouse has been letting me down.  The problem I'm experiencing is that the seeds germinate really quickly and then the tiny plants overextend themselves as they try to reach for sunlight.  The stalks are all thin and white and sometimes just watering them can crush them.

On the other hand, the seeds that I planted in the planter (which have been left outdoors since day one) are popping up in nice, dark green little shoots.  I think that these planter plants are going to be the clear winners, as long as I can successfully transplant them once we have the garden up and running (which will hopefully be soon!)

Here is a picture of everything that I planted in the greenhouse:
     - Rosemary
     - Lettuce
     - Black seeded simpson lettuce
     - Chard
     - Spinach
     - Sweet pea flowers
     - Daisies

In the garden, I plan to plant (this list may change over the next few weeks):
     - Green beans
     - Cucumbers
     - Lettuce
     - Broccoli
     - Potatoes
     - Basil
     - Rosemary
     - Mint
     - Oregano (already in the garden from last year - it's perennial)
     - Red Pepper and Orange Peppers
     - Tomatos

This is definitely going to be the most that I've ever had in my garden at any one time, and I'm going to have to be crafty with the ways that I plant everything so that I can get it to all fit, mostly because last year we dedicated a third of the garden to strawberry plants. 

You'll definitely be hearing more about my garden for at least the next 2 months! Get ready!


BeeKayRoot said...

I love your PTP reference to explain gardening! Haha.

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