First year garden…For real this time.

My parents have had a garden for as long as I can remember.  It started small (20′ x 20′) and over the years it slowly grew to three plots.  There is the main garden that mainly has the bush crops (Beans, peas, onions, carrots, tomatoes, etc).  The second has the pumpkins, watermelons, cantaloupe, cucumbers and a second crop of beans and peas.  The third is much smaller, but is strictly asparagus.  These combined have produced more food that we could eat, and so canning and freezing were necessary to keep them from rotting.  I never really participated in any of these, didn’t learn anything bout them and even hated it when Mom and Dad would force us to pick weeds.

After moving into the condo I now live in, I realized how big a part the garden played in putting healthy food on the table and cutting costs as well.  So, the first thing I set out to do was grow some simple things:  peas and radishes.  Both are easy to grow in any soil.  The only thing I did not count on was the fact that the patio is nearly shaded completely by the nearby maple tree.  The plants would grow as fast as they could to reach the light, fall over from lack of a strong stem, and die.  Dang it!  No vegetables can be grown with only 1-2 hrs of sunlight (if I am wrong let me know in the comments).

While we did find some things that grow well out in the patio (herbs), I was soundly defeated in my first garden.

Not this year.

I was able to secure a 10′ x 20′ plot at the local community garden that is only a couple blocks away.  I walk past it nearly every day while walking the dog which will give me no excuse to not check in on it.  The only thing is, with that much space, what do I plant?  When do I plant to produce the highest yield?  If I succeed, where are all of my crops going to be stored?  The only answer I had for any of these was, “That’s a good question.”  Lots of research will be needed.

I have gotten a good start thanks to the UW-Extension and the master gardener that is part of the community garden.  She gave us guide to planting specifically for southeast Wisconsin.  Master Gardeners are a wealth of knowledge and hopefully I will post more about what she teaches me and the growing season goes on.

Another excellent place to get advice for the new gardener is Mother Earth News.  There are a slew of articles about gardening and plenty for the newbie.  They also have a garden planner that functions like a CAD program to help layout your garden.  It will also link up with seed producers local to your area to get the exact seeds you need and are conditioned for your area.  It is free for 30 days and $25 per year afterwards.  A perfect tool for those not sure of how many seeds to get or how to layout a garden properly.

Within the next couple days I should have my seeds ordered so that they will arrive by the time the garden is tilled (May 14th at the latest) and then my gardening adventure will begin.  I will post as I go along about what does and what does not work.  Hopefully there will not be too much that does not work.

-J, the freedomtrekker

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