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calling experienced gardeners!

OK, so I have a house now, and I cleaned the yard up, and I'm stoked to grow something other than tomatoes. Last year I had many, many, many delicious tomatoes, but this year, I want to expand my horizons.

I was thinking I would do peppers, tomatoes, Swiss Chard (since I've heard it's easy to grow up here), sweet corn, and maybe cucumbers or zuchinni.

I also want to do some herbs, like, basil, oregano, mint, and chives. My question is:

Is is better to start the things from seeds inside? (it's still randomly cold/warm up here) Or should I just wait and buy the plants already sprouted?

Also: if I start with seeds or tiny seedling plants inside, can I just start growing them in random leftover plastic or glass food containers? I have a ton of those. Or do I really NEED pots to facilitate better growth?

Do I put something special on them or just sun and water?

Sorry, I'm a very inexperienced gardener! Thanks in advance!

Oh goodness...my favorite topic!

If you are just starting out I would suggest to do a little of both.  Starting seeds indoors is super fun! And it is super easy.  You really just need some decent dirt (vermiculite and compost is a good mixture...) water and a sunny window.

Some veggies are best to start indoors when you live in a colder climate with a short growing season.  Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc....

Other seeds grow really well sown directly outside. Lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes, green onions, etc...

I have a ton of seeds growing right now.  Way to many....seriously, every meal I have to move 3 seed trays off of the kitchen table so we can actually have room to eat...the plants have taken over!

Good luck! 

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oooh what fun!
spring is definately springing!

what zone/ area are you actually in?

i agree w/ VS about the seeds and such. you can use any kind of container really just dont let the soil get tooo wet (which could happen if in plastic w/ no drainage or in not in sunny enough a spot). you can just touch the soil and pretty much tell.

*if you are growing mint... do not plant it directly into the ground, it is invasive and will take over, esp if you dont have an established garden. you can do it in a large container, or even a pot which you can bury in w/ your other plants. you just want to make sure the mint has some boundaries. i mean, i love mojitos as much as the next lady, but i cant drink *that* many!  :D

also, think about where you are going to put your plants outside. are you doing a raised plant bed? there are some plants that do better in mounds, etc.  if you think you ever want asparagus (yumyum), plant it now, it takes a few years to get anything from them...same w/ strawberries, you usually have to wait a season for fruit.
the plant beds or ceramic "chimneys" (basically a ceramic squared tube, w/ open ends that you "plant" w/ soil) are good for keeping out rabbits and such.

check w/ your local garden centers too for help that is specific to your area or your yard's climate/ shade/ sun, etc etc. keep an eye out how much sun each area in your garden you will be getting. it will give you a good idea of what will thrive where.

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ooooooh, now I'm way excited to get some seeds!

So if I plant them in plastic, I should poke holes in the bottom or something so help them drain?

I have no idea what zone I am in...but I live in southeastern Minnesota, if that helps. The feedback I am getting from people here is that it is generally safe to plant things outside after Mother's Day. (no more frost). So I suppose I could start some seeds and then if they bomb, buy some already started plants from a nursery. But hopefully I will not bomb.

LA, thanks for the mint tip. I would have had no idea about that!

I think I'm gonna do the veggies on the side of my house and behind my garage - very sunny and I had my grandpa bring me some good black dirt from up north.

The rest of my yard is pretty shady - I have lots of trees (and birds!). But maybe I could do the herbs in a giant barrel/planter thing I found here at a garage sale? It is probably four feet across and very deep. I was thinking about starting the herbs inside and then putting them in that out front. (except for the mint. ha!)

Can I put like, three different kinds of herbs in the same planter?

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yup you can put all kinds of herbs together. and  a cool thing to try is to plant lettuces near herbs, or lavender...and it gets scented!
but, that may be for later... :) 

the plastic containers should prob be fine if the sprout is not too big (seeds wont get to the base of the container anyway) but if you want, you can just poke a few small thumbtack holes in the bottom/ sides.

starting herbs out ahead is a good idea...i have even planted the diinky plants from the grocery store in the little flower section..and they've worked pretty well. (parsley is a hard one for me though. humpf).  rosemary and chives also grow well.

is the big barrel thing a whiskey barrel? those are the best. we have some that you could still smell the whiskey. just be sure to put in drainage holes and rocks/ screen at the bottom, so the soil drains but doesnt flow out of the hole.

it'll be a fun summer nonetheless. theres nothing like being able to just go out and pick your dinner!!

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a few more thoughts...

a few books that explain companion planting are "carrots love tomatoes" and "roses love garlic". companion planting can be tasty but also helps w/ pest control.

when doing your seeds, you want to water them by spritzing them, not drenching the soil.
while seedlings need light, seeds themselves germinate with heat. so keep em a bit toasty.

y'know those plastic containers that have salad mixes? they have a top that closes and they have vent holes? well, they make great seed greenhouses...they help keep the moisture in, and let in light.

if the seedlings arent getting enough light, they will get leggy... tall, skinny and lanky...and will fall over and probably not do well if you try to plant them.
make sure you rotate your seeds/ seedlings too.

some plants will do fine if you just plant them outside, they wont really grow any faster if you start them from seed now... but some larger plants, like tomatoes are good to start from seed.

about 2 weeks before you are going to plant them outside, you have to "harden them off"...take your seedlings outside during the day and inside during the night. otherwise they will go into shock when you banish them to the garden! haha.

thats all i can think of now....except that the herbs will need alot of sun too...the shade wont do for them ( i think its about 5 hours/ day that is considered sunny, veggies need about 6 hours).

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Drool.

I have my herb seeds sprouting.... last year I had cherry tomatoes, mint and jalapenos. I have a large court yard pots and a retaining wall plant be along with mastering compost. I have a 40 gallon container of compost soil.

Sounds great, my new fav...

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When I start seeds inside I use Jiffy seed trays.  It's a black plastic tray with small divided sections that sits in another tray, with a plastic dome lid.  You put the lid on to hold in the moisture until the seeds sprout, then you take off the lid and let them grow bigger and then replant them.  It's kind of a pain and with seeds you get tons of plants.  For a small garden, I'd rather buy plants.

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Sweet! Thanks for all the time you took to write down and post all these great tips!

I am going to have the best garden ever. Then I'll have you all over for dinner.

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Whoa! LA, this is great!  I'm planting a garden too for the first time this year 'cause I have a house with a yard. Some of the veegs from the Boston vegan club (who don't have yards) have offered to come help weed, but I haven't actually seen any of them show up and give me any advice....

I once compiled a list of helpful vegweb links about gardening, I'll see if I can find it anywhere....

a few more thoughts...

a few books that explain companion planting are "carrots love tomatoes" and "roses love garlic". companion planting can be tasty but also helps w/ pest control.

when doing your seeds, you want to water them by spritzing them, not drenching the soil.
while seedlings need light, seeds themselves germinate with heat. so keep em a bit toasty.

y'know those plastic containers that have salad mixes? they have a top that closes and they have vent holes? well, they make great seed greenhouses...they help keep the moisture in, and let in light.

if the seedlings arent getting enough light, they will get leggy... tall, skinny and lanky...and will fall over and probably not do well if you try to plant them.
make sure you rotate your seeds/ seedlings too.

some plants will do fine if you just plant them outside, they wont really grow any faster if you start them from seed now... but some larger plants, like tomatoes are good to start from seed.

about 2 weeks before you are going to plant them outside, you have to "harden them off"...take your seedlings outside during the day and inside during the night. otherwise they will go into shock when you banish them to the garden! haha.

thats all i can think of now....except that the herbs will need alot of sun too...the shade wont do for them ( i think its about 5 hours/ day that is considered sunny, veggies need about 6 hours).

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see, you have to get Cody to learn to weed. put him to work  ;D . b/c otherwise dogs just are freeloaders. haha.
are you doing composting too? thats just the best for your soil...and fun (as long as critters ...and cody...dont get into it).

just keep an eye out for drainage. i dunno what your situation is, in terms of neighbors and things, but if they use any kind of chemical on their lawns or the street drains into/ thru your garden, you dont want that in your veggies. you can build up a bed or use containers as you need.

we'll all have to post pics of our plant porn soon!  ;D

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we'll all have to post pics of our plant porn soon!  ;D

Plant porn! I love it!

My grandma always mixed dog hair in with the dirt near her tomatoes to keep rabbits away...maybe Cody can finally earn his keep since the cab driver thing didn't work out once he was denied a driver's license....  8)

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