Category Archives: seeds

How we got started

American Gothic by Grant Wood

Almost four years ago, we bought a house with just about 2 1/2 acres of land. The majority of the property was in an untended state; close to the house the flowering gardens were becoming overgrown and invasive species bordered one side of lawn near the house. We spent that first summer (2007) knocking the yard back into shape, removing the invasive species by hand and dealing with all the things new homeowners typically encounter, like the fact that our paychecks were going almost exclusively to home improvement stores and occasionally for groceries.

By two years ago we had pulled down over 100 feet of 20 foot high invasive bushes (and by we I mean my husband did a fantastic job with an occasional assist by me) and had uncovered and mostly rebuilt an old farmer’s stone wall. The prior winter we had discussed the idea of putting in a vegetable garden, and that spring we borrowed my cousin’s tiller, bought some fencing, and put in our first garden in a sunny section of our yard. It was about 8′ x 20′. We went to a nearby nursery and purchased 4 types of tomato plants, summer squash, peppers, jalepeno peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, a few pumpkin plants and corn, and crammed them all in. (Well, the pumpkins had to go outside the fence line; there just wasn’t room with the way they spread.) J set up an automatic watering system on a timer and we put down weed block to cut down on unwanted plant growth. It was totally a lazy person’s garden, and we figured we’d give it our best shot.

It went better than we could have expected – the garden produced a lot for so many plants crammed in a small area. The corn struggled, but that was an experiment from the start – we knew right away we did not have enough stalks for decent self-pollination but we weren’t even sure the corn would grow. We did manage to harvest a few small ears; enough for the two of us for one dinner.

Last year we purchased seeds and started them in the basement before moving them onto our sun porch during the day so they could get some light. We brought them into the kitchen nightly and put them in the ground right after Memorial Day. We expanded and contracted some of our selection, too – we cut back to two types of tomatoes (Sungold and Cluster) added two new types of jalepeno peppers and experimented with eggplants, and added a lot more corn. A lot. I also decided to experiment with carrots and lettuce down at one end of the garden, an experiment that got decidedly mixed results. (Planted too late. June? Really? In New England? What was I thinking? Those carrots weren’t ready until almost October.) We also grew peppers, zucchini & summer squash, cucumbers and those pumpkins again. Overall we were pleased with how things turned out, and made a few notes on what wanted to do differently this year.

Starting with the purchase of a 1984 John Deere garden tractor two days before Christmas off Craigslist. Apparently not very popular around here, we had to drive just over 2 hours to Connecticut to pick it up (and this was the closest one J found.) And then J spent a good amount of time on Christmas Eve cleaning it up and preparing it for winter, before I snagged it and went joyriding around the yard. (Yes, really. Yes, I’m in my 30s. But you cannot know the joy I feel in knowing I no longer need to use a push mower to cut our grass.) Since then we’ve purchased a rototiller and plow attachment, mulching kit and bagger, and a 6-gallon sprayer attachment. Oh, and the plans for the garden? Or should I say garden(S)? About five times the current space, spread out in various sunny locations on the property.

But that’s a story for another post.