Grit Blogs > News From Razor Family Farms

Garden Planning with Lacy

By Lacy Razor


Tags: gardening, cloches, seedlings,

Gardening in a mason jar

Josh and Lacy RazorWe love gardening but I wouldn't say that we are pros.  I'm fascinated by the term "expert gardener" since I think it is an oxymoron similar to the classics: government organization, adult male, affordable housing, cable service, and decaffeinated coffee.  The simple fact that we, as gardeners, are always learning makes even the best gardener an amateur in the face of dramatic weather changes, invasive insect pests, and blights.  When gardening: expect the unexpected.

I love oxymorons.

Each year, we must pull a Tiger Woods and rethink our strategy.  We spend the off-season studying up, aching over plant placement, sunlight, drainage, soil composition, and potential hazards.  We draw from the lessons learned in years past as well.  Let me waltz you through our basic garden start-up pictorally (and with steady commentary from yours truly, after all it is my GRIT.com soapbox):

Making a garden plan

We plan out where and when we are planting each vegetable (I painted it with watercolors because I have entirely too much time on my hands) and then set up a table in the driveway to fill the minigreenhouses with seed starting soil and seeds.

Waiting to sprout

We start our seeds in minigreenhouses.  These often grace the shelves of large hardware and gardening stores.  We love them.  I use them year after year in my kitchen window.

Mini greenhouses in the kitchen window

Shouldn't every window look like this?  Why doesn't Southern Living or Better Homes and Gardens show this stuff?

Plants protected with mason jars

When we can no longer keep the lids on the minigreeenhouses without bending the seedlings, we transfer them out to the garden and cover them with wide mouth canning jars.  These work as makeshift gardening cloches (which can be read about in the GRIT article, "Get Your Garden Growing Early").  It only makes sense to use canning jars because the produce will ultimately end up in those jars anyway.  Why not?

As the garden grows, I'll be showing you some of our tricks to getting more plants in less space.  In the meantime, I'm offering one lucky commenter a copy of Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression.  How about that?

Want more Lacy? Check out Razor Family Farms!

elizabethsagarminaga
2/26/2015 2:49:03 AM

Nice article on garden.i appreciated your all insightful ideas that you have shared here.thanks for great tips.


rock_1
6/8/2009 7:53:25 AM

Just caught this blog for the first time. Saw a lot of 'stuff' on the mini green houses, though I didn't read it all. So, my suggestion may be redundant. Around here (zone 5) a lot of the Amish collect our used gallon and half gallon milk jugs, cut off the bottom, and use them as mini green houses. The translucency (rather than transparency) of the plastic may regulate the sunlight coming in (throttle back the heat build up), and the cap is easily removed to provide venting. It's also a nice way to reuse the jug.


douglas burns
6/7/2009 8:24:04 PM

As a new gardner trying to grow some veggies out of raised garden beds in South Florida, your advice and hints are helpful and will be uesed as I continue my green adventure as I dont have a clue :) I have some old mason jars left from my grandparents so I'll make use of them to protect the little seedlings after the transfer. Any suggestions on gardening in South Florida? What will grow here and when to plant. I think the season for planting is different from when my father use to plant his garden up north. I wished I helped him more now as I would have gined lots of knowledge and experienced. Thanks again, Douglas


douglas burns
6/7/2009 8:23:53 PM

As a new gardner trying to grow some veggies out of raised garden beds in South Florida, your advice and hints are helpful and will be uesed as I continue my green adventure as I dont have a clue :) I have some old mason jars left from my grandparents so I'll make use of them to protect the little seedlings after the transfer. Any suggestions on gardening in South Florida? What will grow here and when to plant. I think the season for planting is different from when my father use to plant his garden up north. I wished I helped him more now as I would have gined lots of knowledge and experienced. Thanks again, Douglas


douglas burns
6/7/2009 8:23:38 PM

As a new gardner trying to grow some veggies out of raised garden beds in South Florida, your advice and hints are helpful and will be uesed as I continue my green adventure as I dont have a clue :) I have some old mason jars left from my grandparents so I'll make use of them to protect the little seedlings after the transfer. Any suggestions on gardening in South Florida? What will grow here and when to plant. I think the season for planting is different from when my father use to plant his garden up north. I wished I helped him more now as I would have gined lots of knowledge and experienced. Thanks again, Douglas


robin_1
5/16/2009 2:41:59 PM

I want to come see your garden! Hugs, Robin


razor family farms
5/11/2009 9:30:36 PM

Susan, It will act as a terrarium because of the heaviness of the glass and will not only keep the plants warmer than the plastic will but will also keep seedlings moist and watered. Care must be taken when using glass that the plants don't get too hot. I take mine off during the day if it's going to be really warm and use them mostly so that I can set plants out in the garden early (a god way to keep from having to transplant the seedlings a bunch of times). Many people argue that they must have a vent but I think removing them to water them and when it is warm works quite well. Goodness, I hope that helps. Let me know how it goes! All of my plant babies are happy and thriving. (Pictures soon!) Blessings! Lacy


susan_3
5/11/2009 8:39:06 PM

I covered my plants with the mason jars. How long can I keep them on and do I have to remove them during the day? Also, do I need to vent them?


susan_3
5/11/2009 8:36:46 PM

I covered my plants with the mason jars. How long can I keep them on and do I have to remove them during the day? Also, do I need to vent them?


yeongshe davis
4/27/2009 1:41:42 PM

What a great idea! I should give that a try. I do have lots and lots of canning jars sitting in boxes.


josephine
4/26/2009 7:01:29 PM

Lacy, I love the use of canning jars! Seems like all modern-day homesteaders, have a collection of canning jars and no where to store them. I still have some that were my grandmothers with the glass lids, thankfully, you can still buy the rubber rings for them. I have 3 trays of seedings in my kitchen window also. We can't plant in the garden until June up here in mountains. Hey Lucy, do you or any of your fans have any suggestions of what to plant on top of my raised septic mound? I've already planted some sedum. I planted a bunch of wildflower seeds, but I think the birds get them before they germinate, so not much has come up. I don't want grass, it's such a waste of resources.


laura_1
4/25/2009 5:53:56 PM

Lacy this is such a cool idea...they're like mini greenhouses, sorry I've never seen them before :o) Too bad the weather down here isn't the same every year, it poses such a challenge for the small scale farmer.


annmarie_2
4/25/2009 2:32:31 PM

The jars are new to me too. I've used plastic milk jugs, but they, of course, will blow away if they aren't firmly planted and they don't allow as much light and if you take them off on a hot day, you have to bring them inside. Not with a jar! My grandparents grew up in Iowa during the depression. My grandfather didn't talk much about it and my grandmother was long into dementia by the time I realized the wealth of stories they could have told. I would love this book!


green mountain blog
4/25/2009 11:45:05 AM

I love the jar idea Lacy. I always hated the seedlings were too young to have the domes off and too tall to have them on. I used sticks or skewers in the corners and wrapped plastic wrap around that and on top. I think the jars will look nicer! looking forward to watching your garden grow. Love the oxymorons especially the government organization and adult male ;)


green mountain blog
4/25/2009 11:33:46 AM

Lacey, i love the jar idea! I always hated that the seedlings were too young to have the lids off, but too tall to have them on. I always used sticks in the corners and saran wrap.....i think your idea is much easier(more eye appealing too). Can't wait to see your garden grow. Love your oxymorons.....especially government organization and adult male ;)


warren
4/25/2009 7:19:57 AM

Using the jars is a great idea! We always have so many empty ones by spring (that used to be full! Yum!) that we never know how to store them! Great idea using them in the garden!


mrs darling
4/24/2009 11:03:52 PM

Man Ive never seen such rigermarole to post a comment lol. Okay enter me into that drawing. Hey, I have a bunch of domed trays sitting around here too. Truly we are joined at the hip! You might enjoy my post two days ago on The Joys and Trials of Raising Seedlings. Its sort of a satirical look at all we go through to raise these little plants. Gardeners are definitely a strange bunch but we're happy anyway! LOL


julie at elisharose
4/24/2009 11:01:40 PM

As cute as all that is, we don't have much need for it here. It gets warm early. I have had the pleasant surprise of finding more sunny spots in my yard this year than last. Sir Ike did such a thorough job of pruning the trees that we have more spots where I'm going to try to grow some veggies. My little cherry tomatoes are already going great guns. Little green balls all over the thing. So cute. I'm planting some asparagus beans this weekend. They are fun.


razor family farms
4/24/2009 10:42:01 PM

Hi Barbie! Thank you! The photos are suffering a bit. I'd become a bit spoiled using Josh's fancy pants camera and he needs it for work. Now I must return to my little bitty humble Samsung point-and-shoot. *sigh* I'd love to see pictures of your flower garden! I bet you can grow lilacs where you are -- right? I MISS lilacs!!! They simply cannot survive the heat down here. Good luck on the book! Blessings, Lacy


barbie
4/24/2009 10:14:30 PM

Hi Lacy! I love your gardening posts...your photos are awesome and inspiring. Of course, I'd love to win the book. ;) I'm just starting to give my veggie garden some real thought, up here in the Mitten. I did dig out a flower garden this week, though. It is going to be so pretty when it gets done...I hope. Love ya, Barbie


razor family farms
4/24/2009 10:08:08 PM

Applie -- That's so sweet! I love when the kids try to help. They may cause some damage by weeding the wrong plants or stepping on seedlings but the memories are priceless. I, too, love the way the garden looks when it's full of canning jars with bright spots of green showing through. You'll love the book. I can't say enough about it -- WONDERFUL read. Blessings, Lacy


applie_2
4/24/2009 10:01:48 PM

A couple of years ago during a minor frost, my daughter's helped me cover up two herb plants. However; they didn't tell me and I didn't find out until the plants were dead. We can't leave our plants covered for long here in Florida. LOL It was cute to see that they were trying to help. Your garden is very pretty with all those mason jars. I'd love to be entered into the contest for that book. It looks like a very good read. I checked my library and they have it, but I am second in line to get it.


razor family farms
4/24/2009 9:44:39 PM

Crossview -- Yippee! My very own corner! Thank you! Blessings, Lacy


crossview
4/24/2009 9:34:41 PM

Ok. Done. On my blog, top right hand corner. Soon to be renamed "Lacy's Corner"! LOL!


razor family farms
4/24/2009 9:28:45 PM

Crossview -- I love that about you! Keep up the random seed placement because it is obviously working out (I seem to recall hearing about your garden success). And you will love the book. It is just delightful in every way. Blessings! Lacy P.S. I'm still not entering in this giveaway. :)


crossview
4/24/2009 9:24:11 PM

Wow! So organized... Truly inspirational. I do the method of- Hmmm, How 'bout we put this here and plant this there and stick some seeds over here. Your way might be more productive! LOL! I would love that book! And it might just be prophetic. ;o) And if I can't win it, I may just have to see if I can order it!


razor family farms
4/24/2009 9:15:15 PM

Hi Christy! It really works and it's so easy!! Just remember to water the seedlings by hand until a good root system is established (otherwise the jar will keep the water from getting on the plant). I love ours! It means we can set out our plant babies so much earlier and people think we bought them from a greenhouse. They stay protected from harmful critters, too. A big bonus when you are trying to grow chemical-free plants! Blessings, Lacy P.S. I will not be entered in the giveaway, don't worry. :)


christy harrill
4/24/2009 8:46:57 PM

I love that idea! I have tons of mason jars that I got from my great aunt. That book sounds like a must-read. If I don't win, I'm gonna have to try to find me a copy.