Seeds and seedlings! 08/01/2013

OSH Gardening blog:
The highs and lows of growing our own food.

The following posts are a series written by Katie about being a member of NFI's Garden Education Program for the 2013 season (May through September). She will be sharing her thoughts on the experience over the next few months.

We were scheduled to plant June 1, which was a hot hot hot day!  Not an ideal environment to be planting the delicate seedlings, but we forged ahead anyway and just watered the heck out of our plot.  As part of the program, NFI supplies the seedlings and seeds.   However, most of the seedlings weren’t labeled so all of us novice gardeners stared at the seedlings quizzically, wondered what they were, took wild guesses or tried to track down Joe (the NFI gardening yoda) to get his opinion. 

Joe leads a discussion at the beginning of each class where he dispenses sage tips and advice.  For instance, one thing that particularly made an impression on me during this class was he told us to not be afraid of the root ball – you need to get in there and break that sucker up pretty well before putting it into the ground.  He also advised us not to bother planting certain things in the summer in DC (like spinach or broccoli).  Make your life easier and stick with what does well here in the heat and humidity – zucchini, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, beans, okra…

Phil and I planted several varieties of peppers (not sure which, but it will be fun to find out once they start producing), basil, thyme, swiss chard, 4 different types of tomato plants (again, we look forward to finding out what variety they are!), and eggplant.  Joe told us that he doesn’t have much luck growing the cucurbit family from seedlings (which includes crops like cucumbers and watermelons), and recommended planting seeds instead.   Squash and zucchini grow so fast from seed that there really is no need to start with seedlings.  So we also planted a couple different varieties of cucumber seeds, as well as bush beans, squash, and zucchini seeds.

We carefully placed straw (not hay!) on the rows around our plants to keep the weeds down and help with water retention.  From there it was just water, weed, wait, and see…

(It was so blazing hot by this point that we did not bother to take photos)

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