Fresh From The Garden...

Welcome to my new blog... My First Vegetable Garden. It is dedicated to new gardeners and I plan to blog about and video the entire 2014 gardening season.

I will cover and teach you about every aspect of home gardening that you can think of! Please follow my blog as it will take you from starting your own seeds to harvesting 2 pound heirloom tomatoes and more! Learn how to grow the vegetables on your right...

Search my TWO blogs by entering key garden words...

Starting Mixes, Seed Cells and Seed Starting Set Up

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Planting Peas into a Raised Bed from Your Peat Pots and Cups: The Next Step!

Planting Peas into a Raised Bed 
from Your Peat Pots and Cups: The Next Step!

Hopefully you started some peas indoors or in your greenhouse, or as I did a combination of both. Peas love the cold weather and can take a frost, but they don't germinate well in cold wet soil. In fact, it often leads to the seeds rotting in the ground. The best way to get a 3 or 4 week jump on the season is to start your peas indoors. They transplant perfectly well to garden beds. Don't believe that garden myth you can't seed start peas. I showed you how to get them started in peat trays and cups in other videos. This is how you get them into the garden.




Peas Like the Cold - My First Vegetable Garden
 
When you start them in peat trays you have very little starting mix. You should start them about 3 weeks before you would get them into the ground. That is so they don't become root bound. You can see in my videos I had to hold them past 3 weeks because of bad weather. It still worked out fine. I also show you how to prepare the garden soil, protect peas from rabbits and trellis them with tree branches.




If your peas are growing in a greenhouse they are used to the sun. If they have been indoors you need to slowly introduce them to the outdoors over a period of several days. This is called plant acclimation.
You can plant 2 seeds to a cup and leave them outside during the day if it is above freezing and bring them in at night. This way you are seed starting them but also protecting them from the cold nights.

There are many ways to do it. In about 3 weeks your cup planted peas will be ready to grow in the ground. You can see in the video how the extra week lead to the roots getting bound. I also show you away of simply laying chicken wire over the peas to protect them from the rabbits. Simple and effective!





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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Planting and Preparing Strawberry Root Starts: Don't Bury the Crown

Planting and Preparing Strawberry Root Starts: Don't Bury the Crown


Strawberry plants are very rewarding to grow. However, they are a bit of challenge to start as seeds and they are fairly expensive to buy as pint sized plants. Strawberry seeds take a very long time to germinate, germinate poorly for most of us and take a long time to get to producing size. A great way to save money over the pint sized strawberries that can cost $2-$4 a plant is using strawberry root starts.

Strawberry root starts are older plants that are removed from the ground and stored it a mostly dry medium. You typically get 10 plants (roots and crown) for $3-$5 a bag. I found mine at Walmart for $2.98.  The benefits are cost and established plants. The root systems are strong and the crowns are established. The root sets will leaf up quickly once planted. They will bear strawberries the first year but the second year will bring a full crop... unless of course you get jump to the season. Here is how I do that.




I show you how to soak the roots and plant the strawberries in containers. Always keep the crown above the ground. Planting them this way will get you bigger and stronger transplants when planted in your beds. You can use any similar sized container. The key is to know where the roots end and the crown begins. You have to keep the crown above the  ground. That is were the leaves will sprout from as you can see in the video still above.

You can get a good 8 week start by planting your roots in containers and starting them in the house, garage (move them in and out of the sun during the day) or in a greenhouse.  Strawberries can tolerate the cold. You just don't want them sitting outside in 30 degree weather, they will basically hibernate. The goal is to get them growing.




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Monday, March 10, 2014

Planting Spring Peas in Peat Trays/Pots and Transplanting Peas to Containers

 Planting Spring Peas in Peat Trays/Pots 
& Transplanting Peas to Containers

The most important thing to know about peas is they like cool weather and they don't like soggy ground. They can take a frost and a freeze but starting them in cold wet soil is a recipe for rotting seeds. The best way to get a jump on your gardening season is to start peas in cups or seed trays. I use to think you could not start peas in seed cells and transplant them. The rumor was they don't like having their roots disturbed. Just be careful with them! I was wrong and have been doing it for years.




There are many many ways to seed start peas. I will certainly be trying out different methods and making videos on all of them. I bought a bunch of peat trays and I hate them for most things but not for peas. Peas can be grown in the peat trays and transplanted directly to your containers or ground beds without removing them from the peat trays. Peas are very easy to seed start. This is one way to avoid disturbing their roots.




They will germinate anywhere between 7 and 14 days depending on where you are starting them. If I start them indoors in a nice 75 degree grow  light closet they come up in about 7 days. In my greenhouse, with fluctuating temperatures and low lows, it takes about 14 days. Once they come up, they grow quickly and you don't want to hold them to long. After germination in about 7-10 days you will see the roots coming through the peat trays or pots. It is about that time you need to get them into the ground. If the ground is still frozen or too wet... try 5 gallon containers like in the video.




Like I said there are so many ways to start peas. The bottom line is... grow some. You have never tasted peas before if you haven't had a fresh picked pea off the plant. The sweetness is amazing and can't be found in any store bought peas.

Good Luck in Your Gardens
Gary

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Setting Up a Spring Garden Greenhouse: Set-up, Securing, and Passive Heat Sources

Setting Up a Spring Garden Greenhouse: 
Set-up, Securing, and Passive Heat Sources

This is my new model greenhouse that is made by Stafford. It is a collapsible greenhouse that retails for about $170. I got mine on sale for $130. It is my second collapsible greenhouse. With the first one, I tried to do some fall and winter gardening in it.  While I got lots of greens, it was destroyed by the wind, the plastic tore, the seams tore and the zipper broke. While it was bigger than this model.... don't by the large size Village Green greenhouse. It is made cheaply.

A collapsible greenhouse, now that I have some experience is best used in the spring for about a 60 day period. Enough time to start seedlings, mature transplants and harden off any indoor vegetables you may have started. I don't recommend them for the fall. They aren't really meant to be outside for more than 2-3 months at a time.  I am in Maryland Zone 7. The late December, January and early February temperatures and weather are too brutal for collapsible greenhouses.




What is the difference between spring and fall... spring is a winning battle. The temperature and day light hours are on the rise. In the fall you are in a losing battle to cold and shorter days.

This model was very easy to put together. It is a better quality plastic. The seams are better stitched, the zipper is stronger and the plastic shell is supported by a tent like fabric. Inside the frame is not built with insert Tube A into Corner Joint B. It actually has a solid single piece frame that rises and collapses.  There are extra internal places to secure the plastic shell to the frame. A huge benefit!

The most important thing you can do for a collapsible greenhouse is to secure it to the ground, or deck in my case. The greenhouse plastic shell will act like a parachute to wind and it can be flipped with winds that get over 25 miles per hour. The second video talks about ways to secure greenhouses and some basic passive heat sources that double as weights.




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Monday, February 17, 2014

2 Ways to Grow Basil and Cilantro on Your Windowsills: They Like Water!

2 Ways to Grow Basil and Cilantro on Your Windowsills: 
They Like Water!


You are primarily growing indoor herbs for their leaves and not worrying if a plant gets to full size as it would in the garden. Indoor windowsill herb containers are best planted a bit over crowded... more leaves. The key to the windowsill plants is getting them established nicely at germination and then moving them to the windowsill. My herbs are grown under grow lights for 14 hours a day until established as in the video.




Once they make it to the windowsill you want to water them as needed or planned with 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer at each watering. You want to keep them fed on the windowsill. In this case I don't recommend organic products, as I think the smell indoors and the man made fertilizers tend to have a higher nitrogen component as well as many micro-nutrients. I believe micro nutrients help with indoor herbs and vegetable flavor.



You can go solely organic but remember plants can not tell the difference. I've made indoor organic solutions before with a beet product and kelp extract (as you will see). It works but I found  Miracle Gro to be effective and easier. I also understand we all don't have large selections of fertilizer at our finger tips. Use what is available in your area and don't stress. Gardening is meant to be fun.



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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thank You For Visiting My Blog and Spreading the Word on Your Social Media

Thank You for Visiting My First Vegetable Garden! 
and Spreading the Word

I really enjoy gardening and have several garden YouTube Channels and blogs. This blog and associated channel are for new and relatively new gardeners. The videos are shot with more detail and explanation of each step. I plan to video my entire vegetable garden for 2014. Seed starting is now. Soon it will be setting up the  greenhouse.

Today, I noticed 1700 page visits. I typically only get 75. So that means people are kindly helping me out by spreading my blog existence through their social media. I thank you greatly!

I really enjoy making the video and answering questions about gardening. Feel free to ask questions about anything related to gardening. The hardest part about gardening is just getting started. Seeds want to grow and people want the help you learn.

THANK YOU! for sharing

Gary

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Great Herbs! How to Start Cilantro Indoors: Keep It Sowing!


Great Herbs! How to Start Cilantro Indoors: Keep It Sowing!

Cilantro is an outstanding garden herb. It loves cool weather and it grows tasty leaves, tasty seeds (coriander) and great flowers for attracting bees and predatory wasps. Although many people suggest not starting cilantro indoors because it won't mature to a full sized plant... I say you will still get leaves even if the transplant doesn't fully mature to a 2 foot plant.




You can start it indoors to get some quick early leaves in the spring. When you plant your transplants also drops some seeds into your vegetable garden beds. I recommend seeding cilantro every 3 weeks for a continued harvest.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How to Seed Start Cantaloupes and Water Melons Indoors: Fruits?: For New Gardeners!

How to Seed Start Cantaloupes and Water Melons Indoors: Fruits?: 
For New Gardeners!

There is debate on whether a watermelon is a fruit or vegetable. Either way, cantaloupes and watermelons add a great sweetness to your garden. They are large seeds and they don't like to really have their roots disturb during transplant. They should be grown in larger containers or cups and I recommended planting 2 per cell and two together in the garden.

You can start melons about 4 weeks before they would be ready to go into the ground. That is when the garden is warmer not after last frost. A couple extra weeks of growth indoors isn't so bad if you need more time for the soil to warm or you want them to get a bit bigger. They grow fast and you want to make sure you time them as to not let the roots systems get root-bound in the containers. You don't want to see their root circling and winding in the bottom of the container.




Just to be clear upper 50's at night is fine for your cantaloupes and melons. I do mention 60 degrees in the video. They key is warmer garden beds for transplants. You just want a soil temperature that is out of the 40's. Cold soil makes them sit. A cold night is not as bad as long as the days and soil are warm.


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Monday, January 27, 2014

How and When to Start Your Zucchini and Squash Indoors: For New Gardeners!



How and When to Start Your Zucchini and Squash Indoors: For New Gardeners!

Like cucumbers, zucchini and squash like the warm weather. It is best to start them indoors about four weeks before you have regular 60 degree nights and when the garden soil is warmed. That is about one week to germinate. Two weeks to grow indoors and one week to slowly acclimate them to the outdoor sun. You can push it a bit at mid 50 degree nights if you want. They seem to grow best in the 65-85 degree day range.

You want to use the larger container or cups as seen in the video. The key is to give them enough room to grow for those four or five weeks so that when you plant them into your garden, you don't overly disturb the roots. I've been doing transplants this way for years and have not had issues with transplants.




You only need to put one or two seeds in a starting container. Pick the seeds that look plump, large and healthy. They tend to germinate very well. You really only want one plant per planting hole in your garden. These plants will get very large and they are quite prolific. Less is more in these varieties. If two seeds come up, you should remove one.

Disease and insects can take a toll on your squash and zucchini plants over the growing season. I recommended starting a second season batch just like the way you planted them in the video but instead of starting them indoors, just set the seed tray outdoors in a shady area where the sun won't dry out the cells. Do this at about the time you harvest your first squash or zucchini. These new plants can replace beat up old plants or can go into other parts of your garden. I am in Maryland Zone 7 and can put out zukes and squash in May, June and July..


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Friday, January 24, 2014

How and When to Start Peppers & Tomatoes Indoors: For New Gardeners

How and When to Start Peppers & Tomatoes Indoors: 
For New Gardeners

So... many people say to start your peppers and tomatoes 6-8 weeks before last frost. That is true as a frost or freeze will kill off the plants. But... they are warm weather plants and they won't take off and grow until the soil is warmed to the 50's. You won't get bigger plants faster by getting them out 3 weeks early in cold soil. The plants will just sit still and often they look stunted and can get some purple hue to them. That is the cold.




Now there are some tricks you can do to warm the soil and keep the plants warm at night and I will show you some of those tricks over the 2014 season in videos. The tricks are how you get them out into the cold and get a jump on the season.

I recommend starting your tomatoes and pepper 6-8 weeks before you have soil temperatures and nights that stay mostly in the 50's. The days will certainly be warm enough as will the soil. A few night of 40 degrees won't hurt the plants. Warmer soil means your tomatoes and peppers have what they need to take off and thrive.




Tomatoes and peppers need mid 70's temperature to germinate in a timely manner. Tomatoes actually germinate in about 5-10 days and peppers can take 7-14 days. Lower temperatures will slow germination down and warmer temperatures will speed it up a bit.

They will need 10-14 hours of light to prevent them from becoming 'leggy.'  I keep mine about 2 inches under my grow lights and the timer is set for 12-14 hours depending on a few factors. You can use a windowsill if that window truly get 8 or more hours of direct sunlight. That is... sun that can actually be seen from that window for 8 hours.




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Thursday, January 23, 2014

How and When to Start Cucumbers Indoors: For New Gardeners!



How and When to Start Cucumbers Indoors: For New Gardeners!


Cucumbers like the warm weather. It is best to start them indoors about four weeks before you have regular 60 degree nights and when the garden soil is warmed. That is about one week to germinate. Two weeks to grow indoors and one week to slowly be acclimated to the outdoor sun. You can push it a bit at mid 50 degree nights if you want. They seem to grow best in the 65-85 degree day range.




There is not a great advantage to pushing them out the door early. They like the heat and mature quickly like in 45-55 days. They will just sit there in the ground if it is too cold.

Your should feed your seedlings with 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer 10-14 days after germination. I recommend watering from the bottom as a way to prevent disease issues and soil splash, plus it will save you time.

Because they grow so fast... you have to really supply them with nutrients and water when put in the garden. A well composted planting hole goes a long way. Regular feedings help too and I would recommend a feeding every 2 weeks or so with a liquid fertilizer. If you are growing your cucumbers in containers you will need to ensure consistent waterings and increase the liquid feedings.

Cucumbers are often susceptible to soft bodied insects like spider mites. A basic soapy water spray on the top and bottom leaves, 1x a week, is a good prevention against soft bodied insects. Here is the basic soapy spray recipe I use. As always... test any sprays on a few leaves and wait 48 hours to make sure the plant can handle them.





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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How to Start Rosemary Indoors: Start Early!





How to Start Rosemary Indoors: 
Start Early!

You can start rosemary indoors 10-12 weeks before your would put it outside. A lot of herbs can be started quite early indoors as they are slow to germinate and grow. Rosemary is one of those herbs. You only plant 2 or 3 seeds to a starting cell as one plant will grow quite large. Letting it establish indoors will really let it take off  when the planted outdoors in the warm weather. You should get enough growth that year to use it in your kitchen!





Rosemary likes dry soil, sun and heat. Plant it on the south side of a house and it will  keep growing year after year in the Zone 7 areas. It does quite well in the winters if it is in a dry sunny location.



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Saturday, January 11, 2014

How to Seed Start Chives & Thyme Indoors: Over Seeding Method!

How to Seed Start Chives & Thyme Indoors: Over Seeding Method!


You can start chives and thyme indoors 10-12 weeks before they could go outside. I show you how to over seed them as a planting method. Both herbs are very strong and very hardy and the single cell you start them in can be divided, when the plants are big enough. A lot of herbs can be started quite early indoors as they are slow growing plants. These are not herbs to plant as just 1 seed... over seed!



Thyme seeds are quite fine and I must put in 20-30 seeds per single seed starting cell. Chives are much large and probably 5-10 or a bit more go into the cell. The reason is that both plants have very strong root systems. 



You are basically making herb plugs of many plants. I tear the root ball down the middle when I transplant them into cups and each cell gets me two plants. I can even sometimes divide the transplant one more time when they go into the garden. They are extremely hardy plants that come back year after year!


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Friday, January 10, 2014

How to Seed Start Sage & Lavender Indoors: Slow Growers!



How to Seed Start Sage & Lavender Indoors: Slow Growers!

Sage and lavender are great aromatic herbs. They do get large but they start out small and are slow growers. They can take up to 3 weeks to germinate. You can really start sage and lavender indoors 10-12 weeks before the garden will be ready for them.

Sage and lavender can  handle frost and in Maryland Zone 7, they are perennial herbs. They come back year after year and take our snows and freezes. They are sturdy herbs. I like to get them into my garden in the first week of April. I am not worried about frost with them. My goal is to grow them indoors to size so they really establish the first year and maybe even flower.




The video shows the basic method I use for getting them started indoors. I will do other videos on their growth, cup transplanting and final planting into the garden. Why not join my channel for new gardeners call My First Vegetable Garden!?



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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Assembling a Collapsible Vegetable Grow-Light Station: My 1st Vegetable Garden

Assembling a Collapsible Vegetable Grow-Light Station

I have been talking about starting seeds indoors and thought I should include something on lighting.  Here is one design for a collapsible grow-light station. You can start seeds with it and maintain larger vegetable transplants. This is not the construction video but I do provide the link for the complete build, including cost for parts, in the video.





The benefits of a grow-light station are:

  • You can save a lot of money and grow vegetables, including cost of energy, for .05 -.25 cents a plants. This cost goes down over time as you use the light and supplies over the years. This beats the 2, 3 or 4 dollars a transplant you would pay buying them at a store.
  • You can start varieties of tomatoes and peppers you can't buy at stores. Seed catalogs are now your options for plants instead of picking only what is at the stores.
  • You can grow perennial and annual flowers and get them to size for blooming that season and again the cost is significantly cheaper.
  • It gives you something to do during the winter and early spring before the garden is ready. It adds to your pleasure found in gardening.
  • You can start mid season crops indoors as the outdoor garden finishes up with the ground planted crops. You can save weeks of time by putting in transplants instead of seeds into your mid and late season garden beds and containers.




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Monday, January 6, 2014

A Basic Tour of a Vegetable Seed Starting Grow-Light Close: Considering One?

A Basic Tour of a Vegetable Seed Starting Grow-Light Close: 
Considering One?

This is just quick tour of my grow-light closet I use for starting my vegetable seeds indoors. I don't have construction video for one but thought I would show you a basic design in case you would like to build one in your house or garage.



The materials are pretty inexpensive. You can even buy plastic shelves and set them in a closet. All the supplies can be found at your standard Do-It-Yourself stores.



Visit my YouTube Site dedicated to New Gardeners:
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