Meet the Knife and Fork of Gardening
That’s right! I always refer to the garden trowel and the garden fork as my knife and fork of gardening.
That’s because they’re the standard tools that I use when I am doing my kitchen gardening or vegetable gardening. They represent what that old song said, ‘Love and marriage. You can’t have one without the other.’
In kitchen or vegetable gardening you need the pair – garden trowel and garden fork. You can’t have one without the other! I use the garden trowel and garden fork to plant all my vegetables (lettuce, cauliflower, beetroot, tomatoes, cabbage, celery, sweet peppers, seasoning peppers, chive and thyme). These are my kitchen garden staples.
Scroll down and see how easy it is to produce your own organic, home grown vegetables, as I:
a. Share with you some effective gardening tips.
b. Show you how to use this inseparable pair of garden hand tools to start creating a simple, tiny but neat nursery and kitchen garden.
c. Showcase some of the tools and accessories you will need to start growing and eating your own organic vegetables.
Planting the Seeds: Your Tiny Nursery
Once you’ve bought the seeds you want to plant, start preparation and planting of your seeds:
1. Get some small containers to plant and germinate your seeds. I used three (3) Styrofoam cups and a small plastic feta cheese container.
2. Bore tiny holes at the bottom of each container with a kitchen knife. This will allow any excess water to drain out of the container.
3. Use the garden trowel to dig some dirt, soil or mud and place in the small containers.
4. Now use one (1) prong in the garden fork to make half (Â½) inch deep holes in order to plant your seeds.
5. Place 2 to 3 seeds in each hole. This increases the likelihood that every hole will produce a seedling.
6. Use the same prong from the garden fork to cover the seeds with dirt, soil or mud. It’s a very delicate process at this stage as you’re dealing with miniscule seeds.
7. Finally, make sure to use a holding container so that the excess water can be reabsorbed by the soil and seeds as necessary and keep moist.
I used the 3 Styrofoam cups to plant beetroot, cauliflower and tomatoes and the small plastic container (feta cheese container) to plant the lettuce seeds. There you have it! Your tiny nursery.
Did you know that some vegetables grow best around certain other vegetables and that some vegetable should never be planted next to others? It’s true and the concept is known as Companion Planting.
“Companion planting is the planting of different crops in proximity (in gardening and agriculture), on the theory that they assist each other in nutrient uptake, pest control, pollination, and other factors necessary to increasing crop productivity” (Wikipedia) .
Here are some examples. Did you know that growing Broccoli and Celery next to each other benefits both? Did you know that Beans should never be planted next to Peppers or Cabbage. Did you know that Cucumbers attract ground beetles and ideally should not be planted next to Tomatoes or Sage?
Ignorance of these simple growing tips could prevent you from reaping the benefits of a successful vegetable garden. So for a complete listing of which vegetables help others, which ones are helped by others, what insects they attract and deter, as well as what vegetables to avoid pairing them with when planting, click on the link below:
Caring for Your Vegetable Seedlings
After about 7 – 21 days, your seeds will begin to germinate and sprout into seedlings that you need to protect from the elements – rain, wind, sun. At this stage, the seedlings should not be exposed to too much sunlight, wind or rain. Too much heavy raindrops will hammer your seedlings into the ground. Too much wind will tear apart your seedlings and too much sun will wilt them. I usually place my seedlings to the back of the house where they are sheltered from the morning sun and get only about four (4) hours of full sunshine. And remember to water them early in the morning before sunrise and in the afternoon when the sun is going down. These are the coolest periods in the day. So much water isn’t lost through evaporation.
Preparations for Transplanting Vegetable Seedlings
When the seedlings are about 7 to 8 weeks old, you can begin to transplant them to a larger container.
Again you’ll need your pair of gardening tools – garden trowel and garden fork.
1. Half fill your large container with dirt, soil or mud using your garden trowel. You can put the mud in a smaller container , like I did, and then scoop it out into the large container.
2. Next, use your garden fork to loosen and aerate the soil. Just use a firm side to side twisting motion, with your garden fork, in the dirt, soil or mud until it is no longer clumped together and heavy. Loosening the dirt, soil or mud like this reduces soil compaction and improves soil aeration which results in improved water drainage, more oxygen being made available to the plant roots and makes it easier for the plant roots to penetrate and spread out further and deeper into the soil.
3. Then water the aerated mud, soil or dirt until it is just about saturated. This will ensure that the bottom soil is not dry and there is sufficient water for the plant roots when you fill up the container and transplant your seedlings.
4. Dig out some more dirt, soil or mud with the garden trowel and keep scooping soil into the large container until it is about three quarters (Â¾) full. The remaining space is to add dirt, soil or mud later on as your seedling grows into a full plant.
5. Repeat steps 2 and 3. That is, loosen, aerate and water the dirt, soil or mud.
Transplanting Vegetable Seedlings and Harvesting Time
So your seeds have germinated well and you have that gushing feeling of pride that you have “green thumbs”. Well it’s time to give your seedlings more room, watch them mature and reap the rewards of your hard work:
1. Water the vegetable seedling in the small containers were they germinated as seeds. This will help loosed the soil and make it easy to remove the vegetables seedling as easily as possible with its roots intact.
2. Use the garden trowel to make planting holes in the soil in the large container.
3. Next, use the garden trowel or 1 prong in the garden fork to gently loosen the vegetable seedlings by the roots. Gently is the key word here, since the seedling roots are very tender and can easily break off from the stem of the vegetable seedling.
4. Transfer (Transplant) the vegetable seedlings from the original individual small containers to the large container(s) and place in the previously prepared planting holes.
5. Water the vegetables seedlings in their new large container.
6. And don’t forget to wash your garden trowel and garden fork.
7. Now you just water your vegetable seedlings at least twice each day and continue to monitor them for over exposure to wind, rain and sun.
8. Then sit back and reap the fruits [or rather the “vegetables”] of your labour!