Spring Fever: Planning the Home Veggie Garden

Our kitchen garden at Hometown Harvest Farm

The beginnings of our first kitchen garden last spring at Hometown Harvest Farm.

Nothing is as local as your own backyard. In planning a backyard vegetable garden, you can get as complicated as you want, though if this is your first attempt, focus on just a few types of plants. Get to know how much sun the plants need, if they are cool weather plants or grown in the summer, etc. By keeping your garden simple, it keeps things fun, and hopefully will allow you to stick it out until harvest. Best of all, you can get your hands dirty and reconnect to the soil.

This will be the third year that Hometown Harvest will deliver locally grown garden plants right to your door. Along with the plants, we can deliver bags of organic top soil and compost from Maryland-based Veteran Compost. Available for pre-order now in our Garden Goodies Shop page, the plants will arrive the week before Mothers Day, also the week before I will begin planting on the farm. The plants arrive healthy and ready to plant, in much better condition than what you might find shipped to a home improvement center or grocery store. I always hate seeing plants that are unhealthy or have early signs of disease at the big box stores. Having the plants and top soil delivered to you will help to keep the dirt out of your car, and help to make things just a little easier getting your garden started this year.

IMG_0603With produce, it is better to start most plants in a greenhouse. When you purchase a packet of seeds, most of the time about 75%-85% of the seeds germinate. So by starting the seeds in a greenhouse you give the seeds a better chance of germination plus help the plants to establish a stronger root system before you move them out into the fields or garden.

The seeds we intend to plant this year at Hometown Harvest Farm have already been sent to our greenhouse partner to be planted. The more I learned and talked with farmers the more I realized that it is important to work with a greenhouse that has a lot of experience in starting produce plants. For example did you know that it is very important to plant a watermelon seed facing the correct direction? If planted facing down, the seed will not develop correctly, and you will not get a plant. Watermelon seeds also need to be planted in a very warm and high-humidity environment, which is sometimes different than what the rest of your plants need.

IMG_0607In our garden this year, we are planting lots of herbs. Abby has been very into essential oils over the past year. Often the oils are made from herbs, or can be mixed with herbs to boost their effectiveness. So we are planning lots of mint, lavender, thyme, basil, sage, and dill. In our kitchen garden, we also have several blackberry plants, as well as red raspberry plants. These are perennials, so they come back every year.   We actually thinned the raspberry plants last year – moving a large group of them out to a fence. This was our first attempt at transplanting raspberries – so fingers crossed that transplants survive and even thrive in their new locations.

IMG_0608My dad used to tease me that I could walk through a corn field and somehow come out the other side covered head to toe in dirt and mud. Honestly, I do not seek out the dirt and mud…but If it is between me and getting the job done, then dirty I shall get!

There is something natural and therapeutic about getting up early in the morning, with a little dew on the grass and a warm cup of tea in your hand, and heading out to the kitchen garden to get your hands a little dirty. After about an hour or so of pulling weeds, working the soil, planting, and harvesting you really feel that you have accomplished something. It is a sense of pride that really can only be found in planting and growing your own food. Even if you do not have a backyard, no worries–planting tomatoes, carrots, herbs, lettuces, and other greens in pots on a deck or patio work well also (for some added fun, throw a couple of rocks in the pot that you plant carrots in. The carrots grow around the rocks, giving you crooked and different shaped carrots). What is planted in a garden will vary a lot depending on the space available, the location, sun exposure, and most of all what you like to eat.

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