For the past few years I’ve thought it would be fun to grow my own vegetables, but I had no idea where to begin. I kept thinking about everything that could go wrong and that I didn’t want to put in a bunch of work without being certain it would produce anything edible.
I got caught up in all the potential problems. Won’t insects or animals come eat everything? Where in my yard would I put it so it’s easy to access, close to a hose, gets direct sunlight and doesn’t affect too much of the grass Robert works so hard to maintain? And even if I did find the perfect spot and grew actual food, would it even taste good enough to eat?
I decided to put all those fears behind me this Spring and give it a go. I’d found a perfect little spot on the corner of our deck for a raised box garden. We’d start small and see what happened.
One Saturday in February we set off on a family trip to Lowe’s with the intention of buying some raised gardening boxes, soil and established plants. I figured this approach was about as easy as gardening could be. All I’d have to do was fill the boxes with dirt and plant the plants. Easy peasy. Well, family trips to stores don’t always go as planned. Luke was set on getting seeds, and not just any seeds, but watermelon and pumpkin seeds, which obviously require lots of room to grow.
As a sidenote, these seed advertisers really know how to sell to kids. The labels are vegetable cartoon characters and they are so cute they’re hard to resist. Plus, Lowe’s sells these little greenhouse kits that are basically fail-proof. The soil is perfect for seeds and there’s a water tray so you have just the right elements to ensure the seeds will sprout.
I figured what the heck, let’s try some seeds. If they start to grow, we’ll figure out where to put them at that point.
We left Lowe’s that day with two small garden boxes, dirt, a tomato plant, two strawberry plants, a squash plant, a red pepper plant, a seed starting kit and seeds to grow bush peas, green beans, onions, cucumbers, and of course, pumpkins. (We’re saving watermelon for our next gardening attempt.)
We had a fun afternoon planting everything, and the boys were enthusiastic helpers. I quickly realized that gardening takes up a lot of space! My two little garden boxes were fully occupied by the strawberries, squash and red pepper. I planted a bunch of pea seeds in one of them, knowing that if they sprouted, I’d need to eventually thin them out. Fortunately the tomato plant came supported so I planned to keep it in its container for the time being.
Fast forward to mid March and our seedlings were quickly sprouting inch by inch. It was working! We were gardeners! And we didn’t even have to do anything after the initial planting. The water we put in the bottom of the tray was still there and roots had grown deep enough to drink the water. This was way more fun than simply planting established plants in the boxes. Seeing the whole process was exciting for all of us, and as the seeds sprouted up, it felt like a big victory.
Next we had to find a larger, permanent home to plant them. After all, we were growing pumpkins, and the peas were all sprouting up one on top of another in the little box.
I consulted my handy husband and mentioned how I’d seen lots of plans online to build your own raised garden bed. We agreed on a plan and he got the supplies and spent a Saturday morning assembling it.
Now it was time to fill it. Robert had gotten some organic garden soil, but it wasn’t nearly enough. We added two trash cans full of leaves first, and 20 or so large bags of dirt on top. Hopefully that’s an investment we will only be making once because I find it hard to pay for dirt.
Once the soil was in, I planted my sprouts and relocated most of the peas that I’d originally put in the small garden box so they’d have room to grow.
Now we spend time every day watering our plants and checking the progress. The boys are pretty interested and get excited when they see a new flower. Plus, spraying each other with the hose never gets old.
Some plants are really blooming while others are leaving something to be desired, but I’ll save that for another post. That being said, so far I’m loving the addition of having a veggie garden in my backyard. We haven’t reaped anything we’ve sowed yet, but it’s given us fun times, which is all I’d really hoped for when I think back to why I wanted to start a garden.
If you’re reading this and you’re a gardening pro, please send your tips my way! As always, thanks for reading, and be on the lookout for posts about our progress!