One of the item on my “to do” list for this year was to grow something in the earth and keep it alive for an entire year. I decided that the best thing to attempt to grow would be a garden of veggies. I like eating, I like eating vegetables and honestly somewhere in the back of my mind is that Apocalyptic – world ending – no food in sight – how would I survive scenario? The best thing I can do is to know how to live off the earth! I know, I know…my brain is its own little amusement park. You wouldn’t believe some of the scenarios I can come up with. But I digress.
I am growing a garden. I’ve always wanted to have a garden with fresh vegetables. I’ve just never had the room nor a home to do it in. And to be perfectly honest, I probably don’t have the know-how to do this on my own – this is why having a brilliant landscape designer as a friend (and someone who knows about growing things in the earth) comes in handy! When I mentioned my plans my girlfriend said, ” Great, I’ll help!” and off a planting we went!
I picked out what I wanted to plant based on some criteria someone else discussed with me when I mentioned I was going to do this. As I was finding out there should be some sort of plan in order to do this correctly. Who knew?
Rule #1 – Only plant things you want to eat or will eat. The reason being, that once everything starts to sprout – they really get going. Meaning, you’ll have a lot of whatever it is. So, rather than having food wasted – you should only plant items you eat a lot of and will be using. Growing eggplant, just because they look like something you can grow, probably isn’t ideal. Sure, they are pretty but if you don’t like them, what are you going to do with them?
Rule #2 – Decide if you are going to start these plants from seeds or get partially grown plants at Lowes, Home Depot, etc. What it really comes down to is the possibility that the seeds won’t take and you’ll have to replant and the cost. Partially grown plants are higher priced and part of the work is done for you. Starting with seeds is less expensive but a little riskier. I felt like buying the plants already started was cheating so I went the more difficult route and got seeds. I do everything the hard way – why would this be different?
Rule #3 – The area in which you are going to plant your garden needs to be properly divided into appropriate plots. I knew this in the back of my mind but never thought about the act of actually doing it? So my friend Ashley became the master mind in creating a grid for my plants. We sorted them and decided where things should go – and then used some yarn (That’s all I had) to create the plots. Next we got plastic forks (again it’s all I had) to stick in the ground to attach the yarn to and then…viola – 15 minutes later…I had 4 rows with 4 plots in each row for all of my veggies! I planted Broccoli, Red & Green Lettuce, Fennel, Oregano, Carrots, Green Onions, Chives, Cucumbers, Green Beans, Squash, Bell Peppers, and Tomatoes!
Something to keep in mind – you need to make sure the area in which you are planting your garden is fairly free of weeds. Ashley, my son and I spent about 15 minutes pulling weeds out of the ground before we mixed in the potting soil. Not terribly exciting but terribly necessary if you want your garden to grow. The funny thing is – I didn’t know what were weeds versus anything else so basically I just waited for instructions from Ashley, “Pull that out”, “Leave that alone”, “Don’t worry about those”, “Yes, that’s good enough”, etc.
Once that was all done, we dug little trenches and put the seeds in. It took from beginning to end about an hour to accomplish everything and although I had never done anything like this before it felt good to think that at some point in the near future I would be able to feed myself and my family food that I had grown!
The part that I am inept at and still struggling with is distinguishing what is a proper vegetable versus a weed. For instance, the man I live with and I were outside looking at the garden. I said, “Is that a weed” to which he replied, “Looks like it, pull it”. So I did! After I pulled it I stared at this “weed” and exclaimed, “This is an onion”. Oops. He responded by saying, “Put it back in the ground quick!” So I did. I think the onion died a short time later – but trial and error at this point is just par for the course. The last interesting thing I noted upon examining my garden was how certain vegetable are growing in places where they shouldn’t be? I thought it was because when I’ve watered with my hose I blew the seeds all over the place. In my head it seemed like the reasoning behind why I was pulling out green onion “weeds” where lettuce should be growing. Nope. When I was relaying this story to my aunt the other day and laughing about how lame I was at pointing out weeds versus vegetable my 8 year old son chimed how – “Oh yeah Mom – I dropped a bunch of seeds when we were planting” he just didn’t want to bore me with the little details of his mistake! Naturally.
It’s been about 8 weeks since I started my garden project. I water my garden daily (shhh don’t tell Villaraigosa) and everything has been growing remarkably well. It seems like everything I put in the earth is actually sprouting. The best part has been getting my kids involved. The help water the vegetables and take the time to go out and check on the garden every afternoon. It seems important that they should know that food isn’t just something that shows up in your fridge – somewhere people are actually taking the time to grow and nurture the food we take for granted.
(my youngest daughter also gets to help with watering the garden, although sometimes the garden fights back!)
So another item to check of my list and soon fresh veggies to be consumed by all! I’m so excited and proud that finally I have a use for my gardening hat and all the tools I keep buying and stuffing into my kitchen drawers. I knew that one day I would actually use them.