Mari's Dirty Fingers

A Newbie's Garden Experiment

Prepping for March

Tomatoes at 4 weeks

Tomatoes at 4 weeks

So March is around the corner.  Gardeners in my zone (plant hardiness zone 10) are all a flutter with the prospect of their spring planting.  I’m going to start some veggies indoors.  One reason to start seeds indoor is that some plants just do better sowing inside and then transplanting outside.  Another reason is that you have more mature plants going into your garden in March than if you started them outside.  It gives you a head start on your growing season.   I already started several weeks ago with tomatoes.

I will be starting peppers and eggplants inside this week.  I’m going to be preparing my garden beds while my seeds are germinating indoors.  I’ll reuse some single serving milk carton containers that the school kids save and rinse out for me.

Here are the seeds I’m going to start indoors (4 for $1 at the Dollar Tree).

seeds 2seeds 1

The pots are made by  cutting the tops of the milk cartons with scissors and making drainage slits at the bottom with a box cutter. Then they are filled with a mixture of Bumper crop, compost and perlite, but you can use whatever soil mix you want. Follow the package instructions for sowing depth of each seed type.  I label the plants with large popsicle sticks, cover with saran wrap, and place near a window.

Preping for March

I’m planting way more than the school garden and my own garden will need.  We are planning to sell the extras at a garden fundraiser later this year.  As you can imagine, there is no garden budget from the school or the district.  The teachers and parents purchase almost everything needed in the garden.  Our compost, mulch, and some seeds are donated through special contacts or grants.  Hopefully the plant sale will raise enough money to purchase child sized shovels, new watering hoses, and other needed equipment.

If you have any interesting ways of reusing objects in your garden, please share in the comment section below.  I’m always looking for new things to try.

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Children of the Corn

In the Mayan origin story, God tried making people out of mud and wood but these peoples sucked and he destroyed them.  Then he made people out of corn and we were pretty cool and here we are.

corn people

As you can tell, corn was pretty important to the Mayans.  Fast forward a few generations to me trying to figure out how to grow corn at my son’s school.  I have a few problems:

  1.  I’ve never planted any before
  2.  Corn is planted in March in my zone but take 90 days to harvest, which means end of May/beginning of June
  3.  Josh’s school year ends the first week of June

I’m not supposed plant before March because it’s too cold, but if I wait until March then we will be harvesting the last day of school which realistically would be pure insanity. Not to mention that I want to clear the corn and plant pumpkins and watermelon that last week so they will be ready to harvest the next school year.

Solution: start them 2 weeks earlier indoors and transplant them in the garden in March. This will give me a 2 week window to harvest and replant new crops.

This is the corn I’ll be starting indoors.

photo 1

I made newspaper pots using a toilet paper roll mold. Corn is not supposed to do well when transplanted from plastic pots. They have a long tap root from which many smaller roots grow from. If the tap root is damaged during transplanting then the whole plant may die or be weak sauce. The idea here is to give the tap root room to grow and then plant the whole paper pot into the ground. The roots should grow through the paper.

photo 2

I filled the paper pot with Bumper Crop soil builder.  I’ve never tried a seed starter soil. It’s more expensive. Bumper Crop is pretty chunky stuff but I’ve had small tomato seeds germinate without a problem. It has tons of good stuff in it like Dolomite. I don’t know what Dolomite is but it sounds pretty bad ass.

photo 3

I put in a corn seed in each pot and covered them with an inch of soil. This is what 45 of them looks like.

photo 4

I covered them with saran wrap and placed them in a sunny spot. I’ll update the progress.

photo 5