The Garden 2011

**Before you begin reading this post, I want to make it clear that I am NOT in any way a gardener.  I know very little about gardening. I only know what I have to know to get plants to grow and have no natural gardening instincts.  I rely 100% on other people or websites to tell me what to do.  My parents were both great gardeners, but they planted mostly flowers and decorative plants rather than vegetables or fruits.  Regardless, I did NOT inherit their green thumbs.  I don’t necessarily kill all plants, I just don’t love the process of gardening as much as some people do.  Amen.**

One of the more obvious ways to save money and have healthy foods available for your family is to grow your own foods.

Last year I decided this was something I was going to do for my family.  I was just starting out as a stay-at-home mom and I was scared to death on how we were going to afford everything on one income.  But I wanted to continue making sure my kids ate plenty of fruits and vegetables, and we all know that the stuff that’s good for you is often the most expensive.

Enter “The Garden”.  I spent two days between my last day of work and the day my kids were done with daycare digging out a 4×7 square foot space out of the yard in one of the few spots in our backyard that actually gets decent daytime sunlight.  One of the downsides of having a shady backyard.

Last year I started a few plants and herbs indoors before it got warm enough to plant outside.  Only the basil and the cucumbers made it.  😦  I actually believe it was due to two things.  1) I didn’t use enough new healthy topsoil and 2) I just used some flat limestone rocks to line the garden.  Our yard slants a bit and the heavy rains we had in the spring and through June washed away a lot of the good topsoil I did use. 

This year I was determined not to let that happen again.  I didn’t want to invest the time and money into the garden just to have only two crops survive.  However I might expand the garden in a year or two and didn’t want to build a barrier or raise the garden to just have to redo it next year.

So I bought some of those scalloped stones and lined the garden with those.  Then we filled it in with a good partial-organic topsoil.  It’s only been a few weeks and we haven’t had any ridiculous downpouring rains yet, but so far the stones seem to have done the trick.

Here’s the garden before this year’s improvements.  I had already removed the limestones but hadn’t weeded or turned up the soil yet.

Soil turned over and new scalloped stones inserted.

Garden all planted!  Okay, so I cheated a little.  The final picture the day we finished the garden was horrible.  It was late afternoon, I was getting bad shadows, and I don’t have enough skills with my camera yet to adjust for all that.

This picture was taken today.  Can you see it?  Little spouts of cucumber, zucchini and beans popping through!  The tomatoes and red pepper plants were transplants, which is why they’re so big already.

See?  That’s the zucchini.  Or the cucumber.  I can’t remember which seeds I put where.  Guess we’ll find out when the fruit develops.

And the cucumber.  Or zucchini. The opposite of whatever the other picture is.  After I took this picture I weeded out all but two of the sprouts.  I want one or two good healthy plant with lots of fruit, not five or six with little fruit.  I might even weed it down to one after a while, especially if the other spot I put cucumbers (or zucchini) in starts to sprout.

We have beans!  Then again, last year my bean plants got to this point then pooped out on me.  I hope these fair better this year.

And these little guys?  These are the start of my summer time love affair.  With basil.  I adore basil, and last year I think I put fresh basil into just about every dish we had.  I loved it, but by the end of summer the rest of the family was a bit tired of basil.

 Unfortunately I only had one small pot left to start these in, and if last year’s growth is any indication of what this year might do, I’ll have to transplant this at some point in time.  Which is fine, because basil can handle transplants well.

What hasn’t come up yet?  Just some of the other herbs I planted — cilantro, dill and rosemary. 

I’m starting to doubt the rosemary ever will come up, because I read too late that rosemary does better from a cutting rather than from seed. 

I tried growing dill last year too with no luck.  There are cards on the Triscuit boxes this time of year with dill seeds in them, so I figured I’d give it a shot. 

And the cilantro.  This one disappoints me the most.  I’ve heard its hard to grow, and this is only the second year I’ve tried it.  I know it bolts easy but I haven’t heard much about how to get it to even start growing.  And we use a lot of cilantro, especially in the summer.  I’d love to just snip some from my yard and not have to buy it at the store all the time.

I wanted to do some lettuce and early spring vegetables, but it was so cold this spring I never did get around to it.  I hope to plant some lettuce and cauliflower later this summer so we can enjoy these little delights as the weather starts to cool off again in the fall.

One of the things I really enjoy about this is how my kids are learning about where their food comes from.  So many kids think food just comes from the store, and don’t have any idea that fruits and vegetables grow and need to be cared for and watered and get sunlight. 

The girls loved watching us prep the garden for this year, and Carlie watched while I planted this years seeds and plants.  Carlie has also been assigned the task of reminding Mommy every morning to water the garden.  So far she’s 0 for 13. 

Now is the hardest part.  Sitting back and waiting for all those delicious fruits to start producing.  I hope we did the right job and that in two months my posts are begging you to send me recipes on how to use up all the beans, cucumbers, zucchini, red peppers and tomatoes.  Or begging you for your address so I can send some to you.

Do you garden?  What have you planted this year?  What crops are most successful for you, what is least successful?  Do you plant anything unusual?


7 responses

  1. LeeAnn-

    I am impressed. Your story sounds similiar to our gardening experience. It is fun to watch the kids so excited about planting their own garden. We are just so impatient when it comes to final product.

    Great post and pics.

    Happy Gardening!


  2. We have tomatoes, green beans, yellow straight-neck squash, bell peppers, jalepenos, watermelon, basil, cilantro, oregano, flat leaf parsley, lettuce, spinach, and strawberries. We also have sunflowers, but that’s for the birds. Our bunnies already got the cantelope.

    For what it’s worth, most of that stuff is incredibly difficult to start from seed. If you really want to grow those plants, just buy small pots and you should be fine. Don’t think that because you couldn’t start the seed that you won’t be able to grow the plant…germinating the seed is very difficult, especially without a greenhouse.

    • Thanks Carrie. I need to search out a bit better next spring for what our garden centers carry already sprouted. I don’t recall seeing cilantro, that’s the one I want to work the most. 🙂

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