Friday, June 15, 2012

My Garden Experiment

One of the things I have been most excited about since buying a house in September is starting a garden.  I don't know much about gardening, never having been the queen of my own garden before, but weeding and helping in the garden was always my favorite Saturday's chore.  

When spring came around, I didn't feel like I was up to the task of doing a whole garden from nothing.  Our focus has recently been on house projects, I'm expecting a baby in September, and my yard is mostly shady and I haven't yet figured out where to put the garden.  Those are my excuses, take them or leave them.

But I couldn't let a growing season pass without trying something!  So I bought a few basic seeds, found a bunch of pots in my shed, and bought a good pot soil.  The extent of my reading on the subject, I'm embarrassed to say, is the back of the seed packet.  

About a month ago, I planted the seeds.  Because I'm an impatient gardener, I also bought some starts of the most important vegetables.
After a month or so, this is what my garden looked like!  I was pretty surprised that with a little water and sunlight every day, plants do just grow!  (The three tallest were from starts.)
I started noticing that many of the plants were stopping to thrive in the pots.  They were growing out of their little homes, and I just didn't have enough big pots to keep repotting them.  So on a whim, I decided to move them to the ground.  Where?  Just where they had been sitting in pots, because they seemed to be doing okay there!
I removed the grass (and found tons of wasp larvae!).
I was right; some of the plants were just exploding out of their pots!
Then I plopped them in the ground, after adding a bunch more (potting) soil.  I have sweet peppers, two kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, basil, peppers and a few carrots, all planted too close together.
Things seemed to be going well, so I decided to start a few more plants. 
I did it the same way as before, because that seemed to work.  Then when the starts are big enough, I'll clear out more grass!
I planted a few seeds in each pot: beans, zucchini and pumpkin.  I put this little grate on top so the birds and squirrels (and little boys) don't get the seeds before they get a chance to sprout.
A week later, they look great!
Rather, everything but one pot of beans looks great.  The beans in the small pot are doing well, though.
So far, it has been very rewarding.  I have been surprised and impressed at the daily growth I can see in my tiny garden.  It has definitely given me the bug to keep going!  I anticipate during all the cuddling with my newborn this winter I'll have time to read up on just how to do it right, what really should go into the soil, where (besides Home Depot) to get the seeds, and why one of my tomato plants just has one big beautiful tomato and why my my cucumber plant just has one big beautiful cucumber.
For now, I couldn't be more proud of my cucumber and my tomato!
These little yellow pear tomatoes are popping up all over the place, so at least I'll have lots of those!

As a bonus, here's a butterfly (right) on another surprise flower!
What suggestions do you have for a first-time gardener? What books should I read or websites should I look at?

Happy summer, and I hope you're all getting lots of outside time, in whatever form you can get it!


  1. What a lovely garden! The house we're buying has several nice garden boxes, but I confess, I've been so tired from what we're doing inside, I haven't gotten much done in it.

    One of my old roommates living here, and she is so wonderful to volunteer to come and help me weed the vastly overgrown boxes. She is amazing!! We're doing one box at a time. Oh, and I bought two tomato plants this week...

  2. Inspiring! Oh I can't wait to have a garden. Wait, why am I waiting?

  3. I love your garden, Ariel. Your plants look very happy! (From experience, I hope you cut up that knot of cilantro roots before planting. I didn't do that with some starts I bought a couple years ago and they didn't thrive because they couldn't spread.)

    A friend told me about the Square Foot Gardening method a few years ago as I was contemplating the beginnings of my garden. I bought the book and loved it (called All New Square Foot Gardening), and we've been doing that ever since. Mel, the method's designer, also has a helpful website you might like. Just search Square Foot Gardening.

    A while back, my dad sent me The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C. Smith, which has a ton of great information. Our first year here, Keenan gave me a book called Southern California Gardening. You might look for something specific to your area for more localized information about what grows well and how, what pests you might see, how to grow around the changing seasons, etc.

    My biggest tip would be to get your homemade compost going if you haven't already! It's unrivaled as far as plant food goes.

    Have fun and blessings on your plants!