I’ve been wanting to get up some postings on gardening but I wanted to wait until mine was complete so I could show you some pics. Things are going a little slow so I figured I’d just show you a finished product later in the month.
But here’s what we had last year–a fairly small garden-It’s a 4′ x 8′ bed. There’s also a few strawberries to the left that got cut off the picture.:
And this is how far I’ve come this year: (the kids are actually waving to you in this one!) This is my main garden with all sorts of good stuff. Each of the kids has their own 3’x3′ Grow Bed. And then there’s the 3’x3′ “Salad Garden” where I’m growing spinach, lettuce and cucumbers.
We have quite a few potatoes growing in our three potato bags: (My kids just LOVE these! I paid a little more so they could have the colorful ones and it really added some nice color to the garden area!) Organic Gardening has a great article on how to grow potatoes–so many options!
The strawberries are starting to ripen. They are teasing us by looking red but not fully ripe yet:
And lastly, the tomato and pepper bed:
I still have to “pretty-up” the area. I think we are going to mulch in the area in-between the beds as it’s hard to mow throughout that area and it will help keep grass from flying in. Overall, we are growing: Garlic, Oregano, Turnips, Spinach, Chard, Swiss Chard, 4 varieties of lettuce, Squash, Kohlrabi, Beans, Peas, Carrots, Watermelon Radishes, Beets, Regular Radishes, Brussel Sprouts, Leeks, Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers, Onions and Potatoes. (Whew!) My son is still wanting a watermelon plant so we’ll see what happens.
And let me tell you, I wouldn’t have a clue where most of these were planted if I didn’t have it all mapped out. Having a plan is such an important part of gardening. Over time you learn what grows well by each other and what not to plant close by–if nothing else because the plant gets tall and shades your other plants too much! I was able to create my garden map through the Free Garden Planner App on Gardeners.com.
I thought it was a fantastic idea from my reader Karen for each of the kids to have their own garden plot. I cannot even begin to express how much pride they have in that little space of land that is truly just theirs. Both of them help me water everything on the days that it needs it, being careful not to flood anything.And since I went with raised beds, there really isn’t a lot of time wasted with weeds. This year, we actually had so much rain that I had to replant quite a few of my seeds. They were flooded to the surface or didn’t grow at all. Right now is a fun time watching everything starting to really take off.
So I wanted to share with you a few ways to garden so you might decide to give it a try. The first thing that every veteran gardener gave me for advice was—start off small. Pick a few plants that are easy to grow and that you know you’ll use. My first year, I grew tomatoes and peppers. That’s all. Each year, I added a few more to the equation until this last year I felt confident that I could handle more.
If you are gardening with kids, strawberries are an easy one to grow, along with tomatoes, radishes and my kids got a kick out of picking beans last year. Whatever you pick, be sure it grows well in whatever Zone you live in. I always thought that if I didn’t get things planted in the spring, it was too late. But there are several summer and even fall plants that do well, even in a colder state. So it’s not too late to start!! Once you decide what you are going to grow, you need to decide which method you are going to use.
Now, our soil is extreme clay soil. I can take a shovel and dig up pretty much any spot in the yard and find a clay chunk and hand it to my kids to mold into something. I tried working new soil, compost and all that in but I still didn’t do too well and battled so many weeds. So I decided that raised bed gardening was best for me. Another method is container gardening. This is great if you have limited space or even if you live in an apartment that has a deck. I loved growing patio tomatoes when I had my apartment.
The most frugal way to garden is probably just digging up a spot and planting–that is, if your soil is OK and not terribly clay. You may fight weeds more with this method but it’s the cheapest. Seeds are fairly inexpensive and there are a lot you can plant without having to start indoors first. I usually buy transplants for my tomatoes and peppers as I haven’t had luck with seeds for them and they usually only run about $1 each.
Raised bed gardening is great if you have poor soil. You’ll need to pay your start off costs of the raised bed itself (whether you choose to build it or buy a snap-together kind) and you’ll need your soil elements. If you are going to go this route, I highly recommend the book All New Square Foot Gardening. It’s a great resource on how to plant a lot in a small area. This is the guide that I refer back to a lot.
Whatever method you choose, I hope you’ll take a chance and try to get a few veggies planted this year. It is a little bit of an investment of money and your time but having your own fresh produce to pick from in your backyard is fabulous! –and I actually find that gardening is a great stress reliever for me, too.
More to come soon!