Plant it and it Will Grow... (Sometimes)
Each year around summer time, I find myself thinking of the long, hot days we spent at my Granny's house.
I remember singing loudly into a hairbrush (while my sister sang backup), running through sprinklers on the front lawn, feeding apples to the horse I never rode... but what I think of most is her garden.
When I was small, the garden seemed massive. I assumed this was the norm for everyone. What I didn't realize was the effort that went into making that garden grow. Unfortunately, I've never really had much of a green thumb, but I'm lucky to know a woman who does!
A couple years ago I decided to try my hand at a vegetable garden so my kids could develop these same memories. I don't have the same patience, skill, or extra square footage to have the same thing Granny did, so I had my (very unhandy) husband build me some small garden boxes for the back yard. I bought some seeds, I planted them, and to our surprise -- things grew.
Having a garden was really important to me not only for the memories, but also because...
...it's a Challenge.
If you're like me at all (and maybe you're not), you love a good challenge. Taking a tiny seed and turning it into food is a challenge I've grown to love. Being successful feels nice, doesn't it?
...it's a Teachable Moment.
If you have kids, I can promise you they will think your garden is magical. Let them help you pick what they want to grow and allow them to be a part of the entire experience from start to finish. It teaches them where food comes from, how to accept responsibility, and it encourages them to try new and healthy options in their diet. It's a family adventure that everyone can enjoy.
...it can Save You Money.
I never dreamed we would grow enough vegetables to save us money, but our family goes through tons of veggies. The first year alone I could see how we were running to the grocery store less often. It's so fun to run into the back yard and pick out what's for dinner.
I really assumed that the harvest my Gran had each year was easy to grow.
I was wrong.
Luckily, Gran came to the rescue. Before I give you some of her tips/hints, let me paint a picture of my Granny:
Even in her late 80's, Dorthene Daisy bikes a few miles each day, makes the best homemade cinnamon rolls you've ever tasted, and she mows her own yard... and that's probably all done before my husband's even out of bed. ;)
Her being available for every question I have is my most valuable resource.
SO -- are you ready to buy a sun hat and dig up your back yard yet?
Here's how you can get started:
1. Dig it up.
Build some rustic boxes to fill with soil or borrow a tiller to turn over the ground. Garden boxes are a little easier, and I think they look nice too! You will have to fill them with fresh soil or buy some at your local hardware store. I also like to add coffee grounds, egg shells, and other compost materials to my soil daily. BUT before you add your soil, I reccommend putting down a layer of cardboard, plastic, or garden liner to help keep weeds out as best as you can.
You can also purchase premade garden boxes. If you're looking for something cost-effective that can be a quick fix, click here to check these out. The goal here is to make growing your own food EASY, CHEAP, and FUN.
2. Pick what to grow.
If you're looking for something easy, try these starter veggies:
Tomatoes any variety (My kiddos love the tiny grape ones)
Those are my favorite starter plants, but don't let that stop you from trying to plant other things. The worst thing that can happen is that they don't grow.
3. Get to Growing!
In the end, plants need the basic things that we all learned in elementary school: sunlight and water. Keep your soil moist (yeah, I said it the "M" word...) and make sure your plants are placed where they'll soak up some sunshine -- you'll be surprised what will grow!
Make sure you put lables where you plant so that you can remember what's growing where. This is really helpful when teaching your kids how certain vegetables develop -- it would be awkward to describe why your tomatoes look more like carrots in the end.
Now for the rough part... Here are some problems you might want to plan for:
Bugs like plants (Who knew?!), and they can ruin your harvest. So keep an eye out and take appropriate action. If you're having a specific bug issue take a photo and run to Lowe's, Home Depot, or your local nursery to ask for help. Chances are it's an easy fix.
Once things start growing you have to pick them... That seems simple, but if you don't pick fast enough - they rot. Pick your veggies! Share with your sweet neighbors, family, and friends -- a little sharing goes a long way.
My least favorite part. Everyday when you go out to water check for weeds and pull them.
...and that's pretty much it!
This has been such a fun and rewarding experience for our family, and I hope you all enjoy the experience as much as we have! This will be my first year growing strawberries, so I'll be sure to report back.
If you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below. I'm no pro, but I'm happy to help however I can!