Plant

Catherine Davis

Home Farming Challenge | Cool Weather Vegetable Planting

Having spent the majority of my life living in Illinois, I know how unpredictable spring weather can be. As eager as I was to begin planting all of my vegetables after constructing our raised bed farm, I quickly learned that our drastic weather changes in the past few weeks were not going to cooperate with my tomato planting plans. Instead, I used the Home Farming Vegetable & Herb Guide to learn about which vegetables would grow best during these cooler weeks.

There are three vegetables I discovered that thrive in this cooler weather and they just happen to be three of my absolute favorite vegetables to cook – broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Looking at the HomeFarming.com Planting Guide I discovered that these vegetables will do well in our cool Spring months and likely won’t be ready to harvest until late summer, at which time I’ll be making good use of the cabbage for my mother’s stuffed cabbage rolls recipe.

Having divided our raised bed farm into 3 sections, I used one of the legs of our L-shaped farm bed for planting broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and two rows of red and yellow onions.


One the opposite end of my raised bed farm, I created an area just for fresh herbs to use throughout the summer to add fresh flavors into our family meals. In fact, I started using the rosemary last week when I sprinkled some of the fresh leaves on top of our broccoli cheddar chicken crescent braid.

You may have noticed that our herbs have grown far beyond what would have been expected from the seeds I started weeks ago. Well, living the life of “3 Kids and Us”, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of our toddlers got into the seeds and pulled all of the new sprouts. Knowing it would be nearly impossible to keep the delicate seedlings away from our curious toddlers, I decided to purchase more mature herbs that were ready for planting.


Unfortunately, our seedlings weren’t the only casualty in the past weeks. Due to heavy rains and winds, my sweet basil plant died as well. Thankfully, my wonderful mother brought over some of her mint to transplant into my farm.

In the coming weeks I’ll start working on filling the rest of our farm space which will include bell peppers and my personal favorite, tomatoes! Until then, I hope you’ll take a moment to join the Triscuit Home Farming Community where you can track your farming progress, ask farming questions and use the plethora of farming resources at your fingertips.

Also, if you’ve started a home farm whether it is in containers, a ground plot or a raised bed like mine, I’d love to hear about the progress you’re making!

Home Farming Blogger Challenge Journeys


Annie M.

Setting Seeds for a Home Farm

Josh’s dream is coming true! I am 100% on board with his home farm and eager to get in there and help him make it grow.  He has put countless hours of planning and research into home farming – namely of the square foot variety – and when I shared with him that I wanted to learn he couldn’t wait to get out there and show me.

I am joining two other wonderful bloggers as we participate in the Triscuit and Better Homes & Gardens’ Home Farming Challenge. Cat from 3 Kids and Us is doing a raised bed, Culinary Concoctions by Peabody is doing container gardening, and I will dig into the earth as I plant an in-ground plot.  All three of us will be posting from now until August about our home farms – the sore backs, the cute buds and the frustrations – on our individual blogs and here on Better Homes & Gardens.

Here we are, at the beginning of home farming season!  We planted the hardy root plants in the ground and started the more wussy – err, “not frost tolerant” – plants indoors in small containers until all dangers of frost have past.  We have started planting all our plants outdoors and I can’t wait to see them grow! (Good bye frost, you will not be missed)

While some people start their home farms with a hoe or tiller, we have a tractor. We live on 20 acres of land, so we are going to plant almost every kind of plant we can and share our experiences (and hopefully success stories) with you.  Josh and David mowed a plot that is roughly 100 ft x 50 ft.  Then, Josh used a rototiller on a spot that is 1/4 of the plot for our root plants.


Since Josh is all about the square foot gardening, he took some scrap wood from his shop and constructed 1ftx1ft squares to divide up our ground plot.  Then, we took a magic marker and wrote on the board what we planted in that spot.

I got my hands into the dirt and planted the seeds! This is the first time I have ever planted anything. Josh is the farmer but I am quickly learning.

I started out with carrot seeds, and dang those are some small seeds! It was really difficult to keep only 2 seeds from falling into each little hole. I have a feeling the plots I planted will be a tad overgrown compared to the ones Josh planted. He is so much more careful.

I will admit, Josh got a lot more seeds planted than I did. We both agreed that since Josh is more particular about home farming, as soon as the kids needed one of us, it would be me that attended to them.


Lucy watched me plant the carrots. I only got one square foot of carrots planted before she announced she was not having fun anymore. When it was cooler out we came back out and she let me get another 5 minutes of planting done. Josh sweetly took her inside so I could plant at least 5 more square feet.

While I planted, Lizzie and David had their tiny watering pots out and watered my new seeds. Lizzie loved watering them more than David did.  He got distracted by a long stick and dug into the dirt with it.

By the end of the day we finally planted seeds in 1/4 of our plot.  We have carrots, lots of varieties of lettuce, cabbage, and different varieties of onions in the ground.  Josh has many more plants in containers indoors and has even started a few herbs for an herb farm for me.

I can’t wait to see them start to sprout! I hope I can keep them weeded and watered. Josh bought some hoses that should make watering easier for me. I have a short video I made introducing you to our plot, sharing a few tips and my own thoughts on home farming:



Tips & Thoughts I share in the video

We are stagger planting: This means we are not putting all our seeds in the ground on the same week. We will plant a few carrots this week and a few more next week. This way they will grow in batches and we can harvest them for many more weeks.

I hate pre-planning: I’m not very good at hashing out minute details to plans.  So having Josh sit down with me and go over exactly where each plant would be and how many to put in each little square foot plot just frustrated me. I want to just put the seeds in the ground and watch them grow. This will be a good learning experience for me. I’m going out of my comfort zone and planning out the small details.

FOLLOW THE #HOMEFARMINGDAY BLOGGER CHALLENGE


Peabody Rudd

Contain This: Starting My Home Farm

And so it begins…my home farm that is.


I was fortunate enough that in my previous house I tried to do a container garden with both flowers and herbs, so I had some containers to start with. I went and bought a few more at the nursery where I first got them. Lucky for me that day they were buy one get one free! So far the containers are certainly what cost the most in this adventure. Though they don’t need to be. If I had not already had some of the pots and was starting from scratch I would have just found random items to use. As it stands right now I also plan on trying to do a pallet farm. I am also on the lookout for a couple of dresser drawers that I can modify and plant some herbs in. I’ve been looking at the thrift stores but haven’t found one that totally works yet.  Picking your containers is very important as it will decide on what you can plant. Some veggies can grow shallow (like lettuce) but some need much more room (like my broccoli). So these are all things to consider before starting, especially if you have some veggies you really want to plant.

The next thing I had to decide on was soil. One of the great things about container farming is the fact that you just start with good soil. You don’t have to dig up your yard and assess your soil and figure out what you need to do. You just get soil and dump it in. I decided that since these veggies were hopefully going in my mouth (grow plants grow) that I would go organic. My mother wanted me to use a product that would enhance the size of my veggies and fruit, but I live in the Seattle area where we are all about local and organic produce. So I chose both an organic soil and fertilizer (which also needs to be added to your soil). But other than that you are good to plant. In case you are wondering, I used Gardner & Bloome BLUE RIBBON BLEND Premium Potting Soil: Natural & Organic Premium All-Purpose Indoor or Outdoor Container Mix and Dr. Earth Organic Vegetable Garden Fertilizer).


Next came figuring out what to plant. I read books, talked with my friends who grow fruits and veggies, and then talked to the experts at my local nursery (Molbak’s for those that are in the area), as well as consulted the Vegetable and Herb guide on the Triscuit Home Farming website. Given the time frame I have to work with I chose to start with small plants instead of seeds (but did you know you can get seeds for your very own farm right in your Triscuit box). I learned that leafy greens, broccoli, peas (sugar snap grown best in colder climates) would be good for my area. So I chose a variety of lettuces, Swiss chard, spinach, snap peas, and broccoli for my veggies and am giving a variety of strawberries a try that I had never heard of but wanted to try. And of course I have a large variety of herbs. I still plan on adding more but have to wait until the weather warms up. I must say that weather has been the biggest obstacle so far. I’ve had snow twice this week in the morning. Now granted, it was mixed snow/rain but still, not ideal weather at all. It’s funny, I normally prefer the gray skies and rainy weather, but now that I have a farm on my patio I am always mumbling about where is the sun! :)


As you can see by the photos, I did have a couple helpers on the project, the furry one was especially helpful.  I do have more space on my patio, but not totally sure how much more I want to add. It is only sunny on part of my patio and so covering the whole patio with a farm makes little sense.


What about you? How is your planting coming? Have you joined the movement yet? If not, it’s not too late to start a home farm! The more the merrier…and well fed.