A couple of years ago my younger son decided he wanted to start a vegetable garden to help me save some money. It was a nice thought, and I encouraged him with his idea. He started out with one raised garden bed, and had some bell peppers and cucumber plants. Every day when he got home from school he would go and check on his garden bed, and was very excited when we began to get bell peppers and cucumbers. While he didn't get as much as he had wanted, he and I were both determined to try again next spring.
The second year, which was last year, was a huge learning experience for both myself and my son. We had two garden beds, a melon patch, a small lettuce patch on the back porch, and a few pots that had tomatoes, peppers, and pumpkins. I did a lot of searching on Google looking into caring for all these different plants. We learned the hard way why you rotate crops, because the first year our cucumber plants did well, but the second year they were ravaged by pests. We had no luck with pumpkins, I really detest squash borers. I have also come to hate, hate, hate squash bugs!! Needless to say, while we did get some watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and a lot of hot peppers, we also lost a lot as well. I also had no luck with my squash or eggplant.
So, this year I decided to learn from my mistakes, rotate crops, do away with plants that I had no luck with, such as pumpkins, grow vegetables and fruit that would most definitely get eaten, and DIY the heck out of this years garden.
So, this year I sprouted everything from seed to save money on buying plants. At seedsnow.com I can get sampler seed packs for $0.99, with a good amount of seeds in most packs. Then if you catch them on one of their sales, you can stock up on a lot of varieties of heirloom plants and spend a lot less than you would on live plants. This year I sprouted different varieties of peppers such as White Cloud, Chocolate Bells, Orange Horizon, Banana Peppers, Yellow Bell peppers, and a few others. That way, if I had at least a couple successful sprouts from each variety I would have a good variety of different bell peppers that I know everyone in my family would eat. I also sprouted different varieties of tomatoes such as Egg, Black Krim, Calypso, Abe Lincoln, yes there is a variety named after Abe Lincoln, and a few others. I wanted to try different versions of tomatoes this year as well. I'm also doing different varieties of cucumbers, Lemon, Boston Pickling, Spacemaster, and then a neat little variation called a Cucamelon, which derives from Mexico, is the size of a grape, and has a sweet taste. As well as my melon patch and squash, and some variations of eggplant.
I also started earlier this year with my sprouts. I began sprouting as early as February, since we didn't have much of a winter here in Texas, and there is a window in my room that gets a lot of sun around that time. For a while my room was overtaken by sprouts, and the cats were not happy they were temporarily kicked out of my room. But cats are a young sprouts worst enemy. My cats just love to eat them. So keeping my door shut at all times was a must, but not an easy task, especially when my daughter has a really hard time shutting doors. We lost a few sprouts to those furry pests lol.
Now, for those of you who decide to sprout from seed, you don't have to go out and purchase a bunch of seed pods. You can use things you already have on hand, such as egg shells, or even lemon peels or orange peels. But for the citrus peels, make sure after the seedlings sprout that you then transplant those peels to a larger pot, because after about 3 weeks they begin to attract naats. But until then they are quite handy, and just compost into the soil. Plus the egg shells provide a good source of calcium for tomatoes especially.
So here are a few pics of my little sprouts.
Basically, you can just get creative with what you use, although as you can see in the last picture my lemon peels were getting close to needing to be put into soil. But citrus peels are still handy if you really need to use them, although I prefer the egg shells, but you have to eat a lot of eggs lol.
I don't want to make this post too long, it's just an introduction to my gardening flops and know how. In my next post I'll post a few pictures of my transplants, and some DIY ideas on making your own pots or garden beds. Just a hint, one way is to use old laundry baskets. Intrigued aren't you?!