My Garden 2024

⭐ Star Date: Mon Feb 19 2024 ⭐

We just had a pretty hefty snowfall here in New York (finally!) But oddly enough it's time to start planning the garden!

I'm far from a greenthumb, but over the last few years, I have somewhat fallen in love with plants, gardening, and such. I hope to someday find my way to becoming a bit of a suburban farmer of sorts.

In the meantime, I enjoy learning things and stand in awe and gratitude of the sheer amount of knowledge and work so many people do everyday to help grow the food we eat and build the landscape we live in. I thought it might be fun to share a few of the tools, groups, and things I've been learning about.

Seeds and Catalogues

In the dead of winter, when the darkness grows and it's hard to imagine anything different, the seed catalogues arrive. These books can be small little pamphlets or hefty magazines with colorful photographs that standalone as true works of art. Signing up for them is free! If you have access to a little spot to grow things in, I'd highly recommend signing up for one or two!

Here are some I'm currently signed up for:

This year I ordered most of my seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, but then there were a few things I wanted that I couldn't find there, and decided to see if there were other companies a bit closer to my area. Through them I ended up finding Hudson Valley Seed Co and the Experimental Farm Network.

Hudson Valley Seed features seeds with beautifully designed seed packets, focusing a lot on native plants. If you're looking to give seeds as a gift, this is a great place to go.

Experimental Farm Network is.... something wild and wondrous to me. In their own words: "EFN is a non-profit organization committed to truly sustainable agriculture and justice for all people". They are preserving seeds from communities affected by colonialism, war and other conflicts (Native Americans, Palestinians, Ukrainians, etc) and growing new varieties designed to withstand Climate Change (like perennial kale!), among many other ambitious and beautiful projects. Sadly, I put in a rather large (for me) order 16 days ago and have yet to get a shipping confirmation (or a notice explaining the delay), so I guess jury's out on whether this is truly all that it seems to be. But as a nonprofit group, I'm crossing my fingers they just move at a slower pace than some of these other groups and that the seeds will ship soon enough. When I tell you I literally cried reading some of these seed descriptions they are so beautiful!


I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that there are pretty good SaaS products out there for home gardeners. My home is on a little less than half an acre of land, which of course feels huge for me, but I suppose is not much when it comes to wanna be farmers. Most of it is not exactly quality farm land either. It's a rocky, steep slope, mostly in the shade (which is great for my energy bills but bad for my attempts at growing things). My first year of gardening (last year), I experimented and tried to find the sunny spots, but didn't really have a "plan". The result is that I only ate a few radishes and small potatoes from garden last year (despite planting much much more), but I did manage to learn a few lessons through this failure:

So this year, I want to expand my raised beds in the front yard from 1 to 3, and more importantly I want a plan. Somehow that brought me to Southern Exposure's Garden Planner which had a free trial, and I got hooked. When you put in a plant it shows you what companion plants go well with that plant, it also will show you how much space that plant takes up, and gives you a schedule of when to sow seeds and things like that. It's pretty awesome. It doesn't have every variety or every plant obviously, but you can add varieties and change plant spacing and sowing times. To my surprise it also lets you "publish" your garden. So obviously I had to try that:

My plan is already horribly inaccurate but oh well, it's a start. Please admire my naive optimism of thinking I can grow a paw paw forest and peach trees from seed in my second year of gardening.

Raised Beds

Speaking of raised beds, I wanted to share how I "made" my bed and hope to make more this year. Based on knowing nothing last year, I went to wirecutter who recommended these block things. I brought my dad with me to home depot where we proceeded to talk to 3 different home depot employees. Everyone (especially my dad) thought I was a little strange to be making a raised bed over just buying a package but I think I saved a fair chunk of change doing so (although I quickly learned that soil is the real cost when it comes to raised beds). It was so easy to put together, I think I also probably saved a bunch of time when compared to buying one of those ikea-style boxes off the internet that you'd need to screw together.

Basically I bought around 6 of these block things and then some untreated cedar planks. Buying the lumber was the most intimidating bit because I had never been to that section of home depot and felt a bit like an imposter. But as it turns out it's pretty easy. IIRC I bought ten 2x4. I then asked someone at home depot if they could cut 2 of the 2x4s in half. They will do this for free for you! (who knew?) Then I brought them home and made something like this (imagine a birdseye view):

      2x4    2x4
    * ---- * ---- *
2*2 |             |
    * ---- * ---- * 

I learned that the 2 in 2x4 means it's 2 inches thick (or well almost lol it's actually less than that??) and 4 (or whatever the second number is) means the length so in this case 4 feet. The * above is where I put the blocks. And I then I did another layer so that the raised bed would be a bit taller.

Anyway I think the whole thing cost me like 40-60 bucks or something I can't recall. Which I think is pretty good considering a lot of the "pre-built" raised beds will cost you like $150 or much more sometimes. And it's pretty easy to replace a rotten board or change up the shape later if I want. Would totally recommend!

Soil Blocking

Last year I didn't really do seed trays. It just seemed like way too much work. But this year I've taken time off of work to actually garden and I'm hoping to get started on some seed trays soon. But one thing I've never really liked was this idea of plastic trays. They seem finicky and expensive to me and like...not the aesthetic experience I'm going for as a hobbyist.

But then wouldn't you know, someone in another Slack I'm in shared this video about soil blocks:

I love a good mechanical gadget and wouldn't you know they were on sale from Johnny's Seeds so of course I purchased one. My hope is that one of these weekends will be warm enough soon and I'll have at it and try to make some soil blocks and start sowing some of my seeds. But for right now it's so cold and I'm too lazy. Who knows maybe the soil blocker will just sit in the garage for a future year and I'll just direct sow like the lazy gardener I am.


I have spent wayyyy too much money on seeds and tools this year. I'm up to $443.44, and I haven't even bought what I need for my 2 extra raised beds. There's really no need for me to have spent this much, but the retail therapy has already happened, and I have a 2 ideas on how to recoup a small portion of these costs:

Anyway, thanks for reading! Wishing you all many lovely days filled with growth of all kinds.


I got my delivery from Experimental Farm Network! Magic is real! Thank you EFN!

many seed packets on a table