The Aggressive Gardener (Starting Vegetable Garden 2013 with an oxymoron)

21 Feb

Be Aggressive…B.E. Aggressive…B.E. A.G.G.R.E.S.S.I.V.E.! Be Aggressive! Yeah!

That old football cheerleader chant is my new mantra when it comes to…of all things…gardening.

Last year, after years of container herb gardening and volunteering at the C.S.A. farms we have been members of, my dad and his buddy built some raised beds in our backyard and we all got to work growing our own.

We learned perhaps more than we ate, so there are many helpful links for starting gardens in this post — including newspaper seed starting cups — click for more!!

Leandro experiments with watering techniques

Leandro experiments with watering techniques

It was a mixed bag of successes and failures. We got loads of lettuces and arugula; Leandro’s sugar snap peas were off the hook; we had terrific eggplant and broccoli well into fall; and the French Breakfast radishes were prolific and amazingly sweet (pictures and recipes here). The peppers, however, were pretty disappointing except for Pedro’s sizzling habaneros. We didn’t thin the beets right, so that was a wash, except for a couple of handfuls of greens (beet growing tips here). The tomatoes got late blight just as they were beginning to ripen (sad story and recovery here). The basil…well there was some, but we had to use the farm’s basil and some from a neighbor to make our pesto supply for the winter.

The peppers are in here, warming up

The peppers are in here, warming up

Anyhow, I figure that a lot of our failures were due to starting several vegetables a bit too late. This year, I am not going to let that happen. I worked out my ideal planting days on a seed starter planner from Organic Gardening. With a combination of purchased seeds and some that I saved from last year, the planting has begun.

Soaking spinach seeds for 24 hours before planting

Soaking spinach seeds for 24 hours before planting

Leandro and I planted a whole tray of pepper varieties this week (including ají dulce – the small sweet pepper critical to Puerto Rican sofrito), and I have put in some spinach in experimental newspaper cups that we made by rolling sheets of newspaper around a small can and tucking in the bottom.

We rolled them around an 8 oz. tomato sauce can, tucked in the bottom, then slid off.

We rolled them around an 8 oz. tomato sauce can, tucked in the bottom, then slid off.

As the paper is not acid free, I may take it off when transplanting (I would welcome input on that from more experienced organic farmers!) Right now I am using a table that my parents are not using, but soon it will all come upstairs and my southern exposure kitchen window will become a nursery again.

The newspaper cups look good!

The newspaper cups look good!

Wish us luck and send suggestions!

You may also like:

Raised Beds (with link on how-to)

And the Garden Grows (early spring success)

It’s Earth Day; What are you planting?

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12 Responses to “The Aggressive Gardener (Starting Vegetable Garden 2013 with an oxymoron)”

  1. Fernanda February 22, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    It all sounds so amazing! I wish I had a green thumb, though!!

  2. Conor Bofin February 21, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    You are a remarkable woman Natalia. Great stuff and a super longer term project.
    Best,
    Conor

  3. Mad Dog February 21, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    Excellent work – Leandro looks like he’s having a good time 😉

  4. imarunner2012 February 21, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    Good stuff. i’ve been gardening for years and I’m always learning. Never had luck with egg plant and never get enough peas to make it worth planting except for the nitrogen they put into the soil. Actually grew corn in my back yard the past two years.

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy February 21, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

      Corn!?! Doesn’t that take an awful lot of space? Where are you located? (And thanks for the visit!)

      • imarunner2012 February 21, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

        I grow about 30 stalks and we get an ear or two each. It’s not Nebraska but it’s fun.
        I need to work on the soil and plant more seeds. I’m in the Boston area.

      • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy February 22, 2013 at 8:06 am #

        That is very interesting! We have such delicious corn here on Long Island that we’ve decided not to use the space for that, but I love to hear about other’s gardens! Will be posting a reader input thingy today about where folks source their seeds…

      • imarunner2012 February 22, 2013 at 8:18 am #

        I have been harvesting seeds from my own plants when I can.
        I’m on some new mailing list this year. I think I got 10 seed catalogs and they all looked great. I buy mostly from Burpee. I think they are pretty good.

      • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy February 22, 2013 at 8:26 am #

        Okay! Input request is POSTED, so would love to have you comment there….

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