Why You Should Set Vegetable Gardening Goals

Spring arrives and we gleefully start digging in the dirt to coax life from our gardens, but have you ever stopped to think about your vegetable gardening goals? If you are like many gardeners, you may find your main motivation is simply to get outside and reconnect with nature. You may also enjoy gardening as a way to squeeze more physical activity into an otherwise hectic schedule or you simply wish to have healthier, organic fruits and veggies on hand. Without question, growing a vegetable garden is a very relaxing way to accomplish these goals.

Why You Should Set Vegetable Gardening Goals

A sense of personal satisfaction and better overall health are admirable and worthwhile objectives on their own. However, if you dig a little deeper you may find you have a number of other goals for your vegetable garden. If you find you are short on gardening space, clearly defining these goals before you begin growing will make it a lot easier to achieve them.

For example, if you want to reduce your monthly grocery bill throughout the year by preserving part of your harvest, you’ll need to figure out how much you can actually grow in the space you have available (you’ll find my formula for tomatoes here.) Even if you just want to grow enough so your family can enjoy fresh produce during the warmer months, you’ll still need to figure out what you want to grow and how to make it work within your personal space and time constraints.

Assess Your Garden Space

In most cases, the amount your garden can produce will be defined by the amount of resources you can devote to it. Therefore, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions:

1. How much time do you have to work in your garden?
2. How much space do you have available to plant?
3. If you plan to preserve part of your harvest, where will you store it?
4. What is your budget?

This last question is often overlooked, but it is very important because financial considerations will determine how much you can invest in seeds, transplants or other supplies. Honest answers to all of these questions will ensure you don’t get in over your head or become discouraged before you’ve had a chance to see results. Defining the amount of resources you have available upfront will allow you to set more achievable vegetable gardening goals.

Plus, it’s always easier to overcome a challenge once you clearly define it. Taking stock of your current situation can help you find creative solutions to potential challenges. For example, perhaps you can overcome a small budget by swapping seeds with neighboring gardeners or online communities. If you are short on growing space, maybe you can take advantage of unused vertical space along a sunny wall.

Define Your End Vegetable Game

Once you’ve developed a clear picture of what you have to work with, you can set realistic gardening goals. Make a list of the fruits, vegetables and herbs you use most in your cooking and highlight your most important “must-have” items. This will help you focus your resources on what matters most to you and will make it much easier if you decide to scale back your plans later.

As you can see, there are many benefits to setting vegetable gardening goals. Once you have a clear picture of what you’d like to get out of your vegetable garden, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to put into it.

Write down your goals and keep track of your progress with these handy, printable Garden Journal Supplement Pages.

Continue your garden journey with author Barb Webb’s new book Getting Laid: Everything You Need to Know About Raising Chickens, Gardening and Preserving — with Over 100 Recipes! (ISBN 1632280213,) an encyclopedia of farm to table knowledge designed to empower modern homesteaders!

Easy Edible Plants to Grow This Spring, No Green Thumb Required!

Spring is in full splendor here and if you’ve been hesitating to start a garden, it’s time to sow your nourishing seeds! Whether you are new to gardening, pressed for time, or think your thumb is a little less than green, there are edible plants nature designed to make you instantly feel like a pro.

Easy Edible Plants to Grow This Spring, No Green Thumb Required!

Sugar Snap Peas – This sweet, crunchy treat with a high tolerance for frost is hard to resist eating straight from the vine.

Spinach – Rich in calcium, fiber and an impressive list of vitamins and minerals, spinach deserves its reputation as a superfood. It’s also a super garden grower that thrives in cool weather, rapidly producing large yields. Lettuce, kale, mustard greens and cabbage are also easy-to-care for spring crops.

Nasturtium – A hardy annual with edible flowers and leaves, nasturtium will brighten your landscape and your salad! Other low-maintenance floral edibles include Dahlia, Pansy, and Calendula.

Cilantro – An often over-looked garden herb, cilantro’s versatility, cool weather tolerance and quick cycle boost it to the top of the spring planting calendar. Basil, thyme, parsley, chives and rosemary are also ideal picks.

Zucchini – The trick with this vigorous plant is to be careful how many seeds you sow. Zucchini is such a prolific grower, one to two plants will produce an abundance.

Radishes – If you are seeking speed of growth and virtually no-maintenance, radishes produce in 3 to 4 weeks. Use mulch to help protect from frost and keep weeds at bay.

Easy Edible Plants to Grow This Spring, No Green Thumb Required!

Have limited gardening space? All of the plants above are container garden-friendly.  You can grow them indoors or on your porch or balcony, just be sure they have adequate light.

Want to perk up your indoor plant fun? Try growing a coffee plant! They are easily domesticated and if allowed to pollinate, will produce aromatic flowers and coffee beans suitable for roasting.

Start on the path to homesteading today with author Barb Webb’s new book Getting Laid: Everything You Need to Know About Raising Chickens, Gardening and Preserving — with Over 100 Recipes! (ISBN 1632280213,) an encyclopedia of farm to table knowledge designed to empower modern homesteaders!

Get Dirty: Garden Journal Supplement Pages

Garden Journal

Below please find garden journal supplemental worksheets for the Get Dirty chapter of Getting Laid: Everything You Need to Know About Raising Chickens, Gardening and Preserving — with Over 100 Recipes! Hope you enjoy these extras and have a very successful growing season!

Garden-Journal-Checklist
Garden-Journal

Kokedama String Gardens

Kokedama

Kokedama” is a rapidly rising search term that promises continued growth as more and more gardeners flock to find out about the gardening trend of the year. Perhaps it’s the creativity in which a gardener shapes the plant into a sculptural object or the eco-friendly nature of this container-free planting technique that keeps garden-lovers buzzing with excitement. Whatever the initial attraction, Kokedama is a innovative, cost effective way to decorate your home or outdoor garden.

An artistic plant hanging technique, Kodedama is a Japanese word that simply translates into “moss ball.” Initially popular in Japan, then spread across Euro-Asia, it’s now hopped across the pond and firmly taken root in the US. Professional landscapers, artists and gardeners are adopting the techniques to create upscale, artistic plant designs as popularity increases. Cheap, beautiful and effective for every space, the process requires very little material and just a dash of ingenuity to perfect.

Erin Kinsey, a Kodedama expert at Artisan Moss says in addition to live Kokedama string gardens, gardeners can create Kodedama from dried or preserved plants.

“Dried and preserved Kokedama are my favorite since they are totally care free,” says Kinsey. “Living Kokedama require a little more effort than caring for a regular style house plant as they tend to dry out faster and need to drip-dry in the sink before hanging again.”

Kinsey uses materials like circular florist foam, sphagnum moss, thin fishing line or embroidery thread to help form shapes for dried Kokedama creations, some of which may be viewed at the Artisan Moss Etsy Shop:https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArtisanMoss

The basic process for constructing a no-care preserved Kokedama plant involves:

  • Creating and securing a center shape using a spongy material such as moss
  • Covering the center with an attractive outer moss layer and securing it in place
  • Securing a long string to the center for hanging the Kokedama creation
  • Adding dried foliage cuttings by inserting the ends into the top of the moss ball shape

“Essentially the process is the same for wrapping moss and tying string for dried or living Kokedama,” says Kinsey. “The difference is the living plant’s roots hold your inner core, you won’t need to create one.”

For living Kokedama, Kinsey suggests beginners use succulents or drought tolerant ferns like Birds Nest Fern or Ming Fern. These will be the easiest plants to care for, yielding a bountiful Kodedama string garden.

As new methods continue to be introduced, the Kodedama craze will likely continue, attracting garden lovers with an eye for natural art and a love of recycling.

Create a Kokedama String Herb Garden for Your Kitchen

Kokedama StringA lovely addition to any kitchen herb garden, Kokedama may look complex but is actually accomplished in a few simple steps.  The only materials you need are scissors, a medium-size bowl, string, soil, moss and whatever you wish to plant.

Jute twine, the same you use to string trellises to support tomato plants, works very well for this D.I.Y. project.  You can purchase live moss for planting, but I prefer to collect it from our forest.  Just give it a little shake and inspection to make sure no critters are clinging and it’s ready to use (plus it’s free material, always a plus!) 

Herbs are ideal plants for Kokedama, but houseplants and ornamental grasses are well suited, too.  The plant, ideally, should be in early stage growth, so if you are dealing with herbs start them well ahead of planting or purchase a few transplants from your local greenhouse.

Step 1:  Cut two 4-foot long lengths of twine.  Lay the center of the twine in the medium bowl so the that the ends of the twine are hanging over the edges of the bowl and the center of each length of twine is overlapped in an X-shape.

Kokedama DirtStep 2:   Wet potting soil until fully moistened.  Remove herb transplant from it’s container and shake excess soil from roots.  Using wet potting soil, begin to form a ball shape with soil around the roots of the herb plant.  (as pictured.)

Step 3:  Wrap a layer of moss around the soil ball that you have formed.  Pat in place so that moss begins to stick to the wet soil.  Place moss ball in bowl atop twine.  Herb plant should be facing upward.

Step 4:  Begin tying off string around the moss ball by first crossing a layer of twine on the upper sides of the ball.

Step 5:  When the sides and top of the balls of moss are secured with twine, remove the plant from the bowl.  Continue tying twine around the ball of moss until all sides are secured.  Follow the curves of the ball of moss as you loop and tie the twine to keep the ball shape.  Don’t worry if your twine ties look “pretty” at this point or if you have more ties than you think you should have.  As the plant grows, the twine will begin to disappear into the moss and it won’t matter!

Kokedama Tie 2Step 6:  Once ball is fully secured, pull the remaining lengths of twine together and loop off to create a hanger.  If you’d rather just have the Kokedama string plant rest on a counter top, simply cut the remaining lengths of twine off.

If you find that you do not have enough moss to cover the ball or if it slides during the tie-off process, just add a little more moss to the open space and secure with twine.

Cut and tend to your herbs as you normally would, enjoying the natural beauty of the Kokedama container.

To water, submerge the moss ball in water for 10 minutes, being mindful to only submerge the moss container and not the plant.  Remove the moss ball from the water and gently squeeze it to drain excess water or allow it to drip-dry over a water container.  Plants will typically need to be watered twice weekly.  Judge by your plant, though.  If it looks dry or droopy, water.  If not, let it go a little longer between watering.

From my experience, Kokedama container plants tend to thrive in a South-facing window, but feel free to experiment to find the best locations for your green beauties!