At this point, most gardeners have reached a sort of holding pattern. Seeds have been direct seeded into their ground space or containers, and seedlings have long since been transplanted. You’re waging a war on weeds that is never-ending, and you beg your baby plants for forgiveness when you forget to water for a day or two. Pests may be making your life extremely difficult, and you can’t take your eyes off your dogs for a single second, lest they trample your poor bean plants.
Direct seeding for me was very fruitful; I planted beans, peas, carrots, and beets directly into the ground and had a lot of success with them. My beans did not come up, but I learned that the particular variety of bean that I had chosen had given some other people trouble as well, so I didn’t feel so bad when I had to replant with a different variety.
My seedlings were another story. I struggled with deciding how long to harden everything off before planting outside, and my poor seedlings suffered because of it. In general, your seedlings should get about 2-3 hours of sun for about 7-10 days, gradually increasing their sun exposure until they’re fully prepared to endure spending the days and nights out in your garden.
‘Before’ on left or top and ‘now’ on right or bottom:
Pepper, aspabroc, squash, and tomato seedlings
Out of the peppers, tomatoes, aspabroc, squash, zucchini, melon, and cucumbers that I started, only about 50% of my total seedlings survived. I completely lost my cucumbers, melons, and most of my squash; forcing me to direct seed the cukes and squash. I’m still waiting to see if the beans, squash, and cukes will come up and grow fast enough to bear anything before the first killing frost. The melons I’ve considered a lost cause… I was warned against trying them my first time with the level of care they require, but I had to find out for myself… and I certainly did. Next year I hope to direct seed from the beginning, utilizing a protective covering for the seedlings to flourish in within the garden itself.
Strawberries in pot and in ground
When planting, I worked a dried fertilizer/nutrient into the soil furrow before planting my seedlings, and this seemed to work fairly well. I also fertilize with a water mixed fertilizer once a week, and my plants are always thankful for that. I’ve also learned that watering at the base of your plants as opposed to showering them with water from the hose is best… this severely decreases the risk of soil-borne diseases splashing up onto your vulnerable plants.
Weeding has been a battle I’d rather not ever fight again, but unfortunately this is a part of gardening that is pretty much unavoidable. I utilized mulching between my rows of plants to help keep weeds down, and that was very effective (I used grass clippings from my lawn). Jaci also suggested using straw (not hay), or dried leaves as mulch. You don’t want to use any bagged bark mulch, as the acidity can kill your tender plants.
A ground cover that I have yet to identify, trying to choke out my zucchini plants
At this point I’m just watering and weeding, and trying not to kill anything else. I’ve also been maintaining some herb plants that I got as seedlings from another gardener, and they seem to be doing well. Seeing things flourish, like the peas and strawberries in particular, is a very bolstering experience. My next task is going in and trellising the peas, as well as thinning out my carrots, beets, and lettuce.