my grandparents have a farm just outside of my hometown. we use the term “farm” loosely. in reality it is land my grandpa uses mostly for his hobby of restoring cars + tractors. it is surrounded by working farmland. but on their piece of green space, it’s more vintage vehicles, a few buildings, many trees, and wide open space. when I was little, my grandparents planted a large garden at the farm each year. I have the best memories of picking carrots + radishes right out of the ground, running into grandpa’s shop to wash them off, and eating a handful before I made it home. when I eat raw carrots from the grocery store, I always think “these have nothing on fresh from the garden”. those happy memories are the why behind our backyard garden.
two years ago I convinced the husband we needed a stock tank in our backyard. it would serve as my first raised garden bed. that’s where my plan ended. low expectations + big dreams on my side, I started gardening. after a mediocre first attempt, I naturally decided I needed a bigger space. I drew my plan on a piece of notebook paper and presented it to the husband. shortly after, construction began.
this is a look into our backyard garden
how a novice plans a garden
in addition to our stock tank, I asked the husband to build two raised beds, a trellis, and a fence around our garden space. I figured I’d devise a plan on what to grow during the construction process. I quickly found myself lost + overwhelmed by the crazy amount of information at my fingertips. while hiring someone to just plan the garden crossed my mind countless times, I determined I learn best by doing and gardening would be no different.
once construction was complete, I filled the garden with vegetables I knew we’d eat, herbs I would use, and flowers. it included: cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, bell peppers, peppermint, lavender, oregano and thyme. the placement of each was selected at random. (even though research revealed placement is pretty important). again, I had high hopes for many successful harvests, but my expectations remained low.
if at first you don’t succeed, keep trying
when it comes to gardening, I’m the hardworking + ultra passionate benchwarmer. I show up to every practice and just keep trying. they’re not getting rid of me until I earn a starting spot. end sports analogy here. these are a handful of lessons I took from year one:
- broccoli is not my crop. I’ll try again someday.
- get gardening gloves so tending to the cucumber plant isn’t so painful.
- before planting anything, make sure the soil is ideal.
- don’t let the tomato plants get out of hand. prune regularly.
- peppermint smells amazing, but will overtake the garden bed. plant in it’s own pot.
- experiment with natural ways to keep pests off plants.
- always plant cherry tomatoes. the littles love them.
- this corner garden has become a happy place. keep trying.
what I’m growing this summer
the tentative plan is to plant cucumber, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and potentially zucchini in the corner garden. I’m moving the herbs to our deck, into an elevated garden. it’ll be filled with chives, dill, basil, and oregano. we’ll be growing our wildflowers again. the little ones loved picking cherry tomatoes + eating them right off the plant. this year, I want to them to have more of a hand in our garden. they will be helping with planting and harvesting. even bringing our vegetables inside and helping to make our meals.
“you never fail until you stop trying” – albert einstein
I am not the person you should seek out for gardening advice. I can’t answer why your bell peppers have spots on their leaves or the best way to enrich your soil. I will, however, cheer you on in your efforts. it’s fun to make meals and exclaim “I GREW THOSE TOMATOES”. but even more than that, it feels good to be a little more self-reliant. to begin learning how to grow food + feed our family. I’m cheering us on.