We love plants.
We love all types, we love using them in our food, we love using them as food, we love just staring at them for long periods of times like people who actually may need some people to share with.
I mean, we love plants
So, we wanted to make a list of what we have grown, successfully or unsuccessfully, as well as what we would like to grow.
When TJ and I met, we each had some plants that we had either received as a gift or nearly dead on clearance at some store.
Luckily we were both at least familiar with gardening, we had a bit of experience and a love for researching.
The first six months of our relationship consisted of us nerding out about sustainable-living every day with each other. I mean, this still describes us, but that’s beside the point.
So we started taking a lot of time writing down information in a notebook. We wrote information on what kind of plants we were interested in growing, what we really think we would eat, and a few new simple crops that we could attempt.
So, we had:
A scribbled list of plant names
The number of each plant we wanted
The number of seeds per pack
The cost per pack of seeds
The amount of sunlight needed
The amount of water needed
How many days to harvest
Along with hours upon hours of research from the internet and some beautiful books that we were lucky enough to find at the bookstore down the road.
We are so grateful for that bookstore.
With this list in hand, we began researching the best places to get our seeds. TJ had used Territorial Seed Company before, and after we scanned through a mass of websites, we decided that would be best.
We would recommend them, they have amazing deals on organic and heritage crops.
After ordering the seeds, we shattered one of our most precious characteristics.
We went out and bought some new stuff.
We purchased a small seed starter from Walmart, mostly for efficiency and so we could start a large number of plants in a minimal amount of space. We used this one, but while I was linking this I did not see this product set to the price that it was when we purchased it. At this point, I cannot remember what we had purchased it for but it was less that $10.
Then we bought lots of pots. We bought the least expensive ones we could find, but we did purchase a type which has a small reservoir at the bottom. This is great because it allows excess water to run in the bottom to help make sure your plants will not go without. These are the type we used, and yet again from what I see now, it was marked up. We spend $1.98 per pot and purchased 30 pots, so it was around $60 plus tax in pots.
Then we bought some Organic Soil because the soil around here is difficult to get crops to grow in at the moment. It is possible, but the ratio is skewed by far too much clay.
But we’re working on it
Then we got some sphagnum moss and soil amendments to add as needed.
We went home and immediately got to work with nothing but raw enthusiasm. We began sowing our seeds, contemplating where we would move which plants to collect the right amount of sunlight and grow most efficiently.
What we planted first:
So this is what we started initially. Most of it at least sprouted, with the only type that we have not started is lavender. The sage was a little weak, but we have one strong plant now out of about three attempted to sprout.
The sunflowers are really a sad story of misfortune…
They were doing beautifully, sprouting and growing rapidly and constantly reaching towards the sun.
Then the dogs happened
Then a mouse happened
Then somehow one was on the floor
But we are perfectly fine with that, I’m grateful that those plants were more for looks anyways, we love sunflowers and planted some more. The new ones are sprouting up and we can actually plant in the ground soon instead of having to hold off in too small pots for months.
Results from our starts:
Our results from our small starter tray were extraordinary, we had one vast array of green showcased directly in front of our kitchen window. The entire kitchen table that we had built became solely used for plants.
Which we prefer, honestly.
We allowed the sprouts to grow in the individual pods for roughly 2-4 weeks, depending on the rate at which the individul plant grew.
We then transplanted them all into pots.
Every one of our plants took the transition well, barring the cucumbers. They had a solid start and we did sow quite a few of them. But we are now aware that CUCUMBERS DO NOT LIKE TO BE TRANSPLANTED!! Some survived but we will make a new strategy next season.The amazing thing is the cucumbers that did survive the transplant, wilted and the leaves turned brown for a week. We kept watering them, fed them some plant food and a few weeks later boom. They have healed their own leaves, its been magical for the kids to watch.
Other than those specific ones our transplants all did beautifully, most of them growing at accelerated rates after the transfer to the garden. Our beets became at least 5x the size within a week or so, and little sprouts have begun emerging from all around the parent plant.
Other significant changes have occured as much so in many of our plants. Moving them around and into other garden beds or areas has also provided us with more space to grow indoors, so we have started some more seeds of our favorite ones so we can have constant harvests. It is such a beautiful and peaceful process, and as they grow so do we.
We have also seen significant changes in the quality of our microbial life in our gardens. We can sit idly by and watch an entire civilization of different species of bugs endlessy and tirelessly toil away to ensure that their colony thrives. Worms are abundant throughout our compost pile which turned into a pumpkin patch on accident. Some of the old pumpkin guts that we threw in their decided to sprout this summer.
Microbial life is important to us, because we want our garden to be in as natural a state as possible, and just as you find anywhere else in nature, that includes a healthy insect community. Our worms in our bin reproduce at exponential rates, so we are able to pick some out for any new garden bed or pots that we start. It’s a beautiful process, and brings our family that much closer to nature. Teaching kids early to respect all life is important to us. Solomon says “It’s a creature!” at everything from an ant to a bird. He picks up whatever he finds and takes it somewhere safe. He is almost 5. I hope he never loses that joy in simple things.
As a side note, I would also like to mention that growing plants has also created another great value to our lives. We are able to offer our loved ones a variety of different vegetables. For instance, sweet basil is something almost anyone can grow and could frequently use. Now tht we have them in our garden, we can carefully pull some of the babies and pot them, and offer them as gifts. This is great for us, as a cheapskate this gives me an out to buying some stupid expensive materialistic gift, and it allows some of our organic food and positivity to manifest elsewhere. Our hope is that these little starts we give away start a seed of change for others. We remain committed to spreading our gratitude for the healing this has done for us in living this way.
In the end, I really don’t think that there is really a way to summarize this all in one blog post. In fact, that is one of our favorite things about this, the reality that we are able to constantly add to this as the events which we discuss unfold everyday. Regardless of the end result, as I write it assists my mind. In many ways, but as I type and write more, I continue to want to do more. It fascinates me because I’ve never really been one to speak much in person, however I have finally found the topics and platforms I am comfortable with using to express myself.
And we are able to learn a bit in the process.
~Branden & Tj