Ever since I ditched my old unhealthy eating habits, I’ve always wanted to have a garden and grow my own food. The way I eat now includes LOTS of fresh produce, and I often cringe at the cashier at the grocery store at how much I’m actually paying for my organic veggies and herbs. $3.99 is just ridiculous for a small bunch of organic parsley!
Up until last Fall I had only lived in apartments with no access to a lawn, but now that I have a house with a nice sunny yard, I’m sooo psyched to be able to walk outside and freshly pick what will go in my dinner that night.
I had absolutely no idea where to start. Based on my prior experience buying some mini herb plants at the farmer’s market and trying to keep them alive on my kitchen window sill…I have a pretty brown thumb. I started by making a chart of the sun exposure in my yard. I wanted to build a big raised bed, but wasn’t sure the best place in the yard to put it, so I needed to see what area would get the best exposure. I drew an outline of my yard layout and used a highlighter to show where the sun was each hour.
After doing this though I realized the sun will change position in the summer, so it wouldn’t be totally accurate. It might be safer to go with a more temporary approach the first year. Next I took a trip to a local organic gardening center with my mom (who has been very successful at gardening).
I showed my chart to a super nice and knowledgable woman working there and asked her advice. She said the temporary approach was the way to go, and to start small, only a couple of plants. You’ll see soon I didn’t exactly take that last part of advice.
Next was the fun part! I got a tray and went down the aisles grabbing all kinds of plants: cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, mini tomatoes, Swiss chard, broccoli, kale, mint, basil, cilantro, parsley, sage, rosemary…and 3 blueberry bushes and a raspberry bush.
We then went to another garden store to see about pots. I ended up getting 2, 4×4 raised fabric pop-up gardening beds, and some pots. They advised me to fill the beds and pots with an organic mix of soil and compost, and before planting to mix in some ground oyster shells. They’re composed mostly of calcium carbonate, which means that when mixed into soil it provides a slow release of calcium that de-acidifies and helps balance soil pH.
I found a local place that carried what I needed for planting, and had a truck come a dump the soil+compost mix on my front lawn! We don’t own a wheelbarrow, but luckily my in-laws were visiting 🙂 My mother-in-law and I made lots of trips with buckets to the backyard where I had set up the beds, and eventually they were filled. Talk about a good workout!
Finally it was time to plant the seedlings. I had mapped out with someone from the garden store where I should put each one to make sure there was enough room for them. Most of the plants went in the beds, but some I put in the pots on the sides of the house to see if they’d grow well there too. I had my mom come by to make sure it went smoothly!
Below is the final product! I’m so happy with how everything has turned out so far. I water them (depending on rain) about every other day. It’s really hot and sunny down here. In about 30 days I’ll use the Down to Earth brand Vegan fertilizer mix to help keep the soil nutrient-dense and help my plants grow into some delicious food! Keep your fingers crossed for me…