My mother-in-law was scheduled to stay with us for a few weeks, and our home needed a little sprucing up.
One of the items I was tasked with was cleaning up the back yard, so we could enjoy it during her visit. At first glance, “no big deal” I thought.
Oh, but I thought wrong. Our yard consisted of large weather-beaten children’s toys, yucky stuff hidden under tarps, and, of course, garbage cans and recycling bins in dire need of replacement.
After a week of hard work, I was left with a pretty decent size stretch of dug up earth, that I eventually turned into a 5’ by 20’ space. But what to do with it, grow a garden? I had killed nearly every house plant I had owned, and I certainly couldn’t do that to a whole garden of living breathing flora and fauna. I couldn’t, or could I?
After running the idea by my lovely and supportive wife, we decided to give it a go! I went to the nursery, hardware store, and anywhere else I could think to get what we needed to start.
What follows below, I hope will at least be informative, but above all else, I hope it will give you a little push to grow a garden of your own.
April 1st (no, really) mother-in-law arrives. I now have everything ready to start planting, even our 4-year-old daughter wants to chip in.
We planted: Strawberry, parsley, oregano, basil, black kale, broccoli, cucumber, carrots, green onion, shallot, garlic, lavender, green beans. And, of course, lettuce…tomatoes would follow two weeks later because of the late spring.
Phew!!! That was a lot of planting, and I had no real idea what I was doing!
I had tilled the earth, mixed in planting soil and watered when needed. Heck, I even talked to the garden every morning. Patiently (but not really) waiting to see the first signs of life, after two weeks I started to give up hope. Then, something happened…Eureka! Or, lettuce to be more precise…either way, I GREW FOOD!
Soon after, most of the plants started to explode. I can say I was shocked at the rate of growth. By now the kale was 2’ high, and some little green strawberries were starting to show. After that, almost everything was growing, and we were soon ready to harvest lettuce and green beans. It was truly a glorious time to be a gardener! Well, until I realized I had made a few errors when planting.
Location, location, location!
Or in my case, spacing. I had planted so much and left so little space that everything was growing into each other. Which of course meant…Gasp! The sunlight was not getting through to half of my crop, the basil was dying, the strawberries were tiny. Even hearty broccoli looked like it was throwing in the towel, greenbeans were trying to out muscle tomatoes. It was anarchy!
But fear not, an attentive gardener can tackle almost anything with a little grit and dirt…lots and lots of dirt.
I carefully removed a kale plant, and gave the green beans a taller trellis to grow away from the tomatoes. After harvesting the lettuce, the herbs began to shine.
Trimming back the shallots, garlic and green onions, gave the cucumber room to spread. Of course, diligent weeding is needed, but instead of a chore I found it to be quite cathartic. Between the kitchen and the garden, I found I was becoming less stressed out by the day to day lives we live. The ability to step out the backdoor and pick the veggies for dinner, and start cooking is truly a delight I suggest all to try. Plus, you cannot, and I can’t stress this enough, cannot beat the flavor of fresh from the garden vegetables.
What about next spring?
I’m hooked on the gardening bug for sure, and I can hardly wait to start planting the new crop.
I learned a lot from last year, how to space better, how not everything you plant will grow (it happens) and knowing when to pick your bounty for optimal flavor.
But most of all, I learned to have fun and to slow down a little. It is the things we do with love, and with our loved ones, we cherish the most.Blue
So, get out there and start your own garden adventure, you never know what you can do unless you put your mind (and hands) to it.