Plant it and it Will Grow... (Sometimes)
I've never had a green thumb, but I know a woman who does. A couple of years ago I decided to try my hand at a vegetable garden. I had my very unhandy husband build me some rustic garden boxes in the back yard. I bought seeds, I planted them, and to our surprise things grew. Looking back I see flashes of hot summers spent at my Granny's house. I remember singing loudly into my hairbrush while running through sprinklers, feeding the horse I never rode apples from our tree, and countless other things that at this point in my life I consider to be priceless memories. But the thing I remember best is her garden. It was massive and to me it was just the norm. I would wake up with the sun and run outside to see her weeding the garden. Water glistening off of a gorgeous harvest that I assumed was a breeze to grow. Even now I can see the rainbow that would form as the sunlight hit the misty waters that kept the plants from drying out. Today, I'm blessed to say that my Granny is alive and well. You can still catch her trying to mow her own yard (which we all discourage) or hopping on her exercise bike for a few miles each day. She no longer lives on the same property that I remember so vivdly from my childhood and to be honest, a big garden is probably a little much for her these days. That being said she has been my most valuable resource for growing my own plants. And to this day, even though I grow my own tomato plants, I still gladly accept some from Dorthene Daisy's small harvest each year. It's a tradition. I'm excited for my sweet babies to share some of those same memories with me!
Before we get into some easy ways to start your own garden, let's talk talk about why it's so much fun!
-The challenge. If you're like me at all (and maybe you're not) I love a good challenge. Taking a tiny seed and turning it into food is a challenge I've grown to love.
-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 their food comes from, responsibility, and it encourages them to try new and healthy options. 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 your dinner.
- You can control what's in your food- Listen, I'm not a super neurotic health food junkie but I do try to keep an eye on what I should buy that's organic vs things I can buy that aren't. However, if you're growing your own stuff you are in control of what you put on your plants. That can save you some cash if you're always buying organic produce.
Have I convinced you buy a sun hat and dig up your back yard yet?!
Here's how you can get started today:
1. You have two options- 1. build some rustic boxes to fill with soil or borrow a tiller to turn over the ground. To be honest garden boxes are easy and I think they look nice too! You will have to fill them with fresh soil. I also 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 to help keep your weeds out. You can also purchase premade garden boxes. I'll share a couple of links to some cost efficient ones. The goal here is to make growing your own food EASY, CHEAP, and FUN. It's not a job unless you're family depends on it so don't sweat the small stuff.
2. Once you have your beds made it's time to pick what you want to grow.
Here's my list of great starter veggies:
Tomatoes any variety ( I like growing all kinds but my kiddos love the tiny grape ones)
Those are my favorite starter plants that didn't make me feel like a complete failure, 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. 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) and make sure your plants are placed where they will soak up some of that fabulous sunshine and you'll be surprised what will grow!
I HIGHLY RECCOMMEND GOING TO LOWES OR THE NURSERY OF YOUR CHOICE TO PURCHASE STARTER PLANTS. Especially if this is your first rodeo. Make sure you put lables where you plant so that you can remember what's growing where...
Some problems you might run into:
-BUGS. Bugs like plants 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 your local lowes or nursery to ask for help. Chances are it's an easy fix.
-Not picking your veggies often enough. Once things start growing you have to pick them.... Seems simple, but if you don't they're rot. So pick your veggies! Share with your sweet neighbors, family, and friends!
-Weeds- My least favorite part. Everyday when you go out to water check for weeds and pull them.
-Watering- Initially you can get by with once a day, but as the hotter months approach you'll probably want to do once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Utilize sprinklers if you want. Your kiddos will gladly help with this one.
That's pretty much it. It 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! I'll be sure to report back. If you have questions (I'm not a pro, but I'll tell you what I know) feel free to leave them in the comments below.