Last year my grandmother had a standing garden bed. It was so charming and right outside of her bedroom. I thought that would be a great project for C and I now that she is old enough.
I am a serious NOVICE when it comes to gardening. I helped my grandmothers growing up here and there, but I really did not know where to start on my own.
So I did a little googling and decided it was worth a shot. First I found an elevated bed similar to my grandmother’s. Then I had my dad set it up even though I probably could have managed by myself. It took him a whole ten minutes.
We filled the bed with some soil and I started filling it up with the seedlings that I had purchased. I had extremely low expectations that any of it would be living in a week, but it was. It was even growing. Every day I checked on it and it was so fun to see a new little leaf sprouting up or the stock of the plant becoming sturdier. Eventually, everything was getting so big I had to transplant it to my mother’s garden. Then I bought a couple more pots and now my terrace looks like a jungle.
My daughter even came home from her Montessori school with a bean they had attempted to grow. She was so excited to put it in the garden and I was already nervously trying to figure out if I could pass off that bean for another plant in the bed to avoid disappointment. To my surprise, the bean shot up as well.
I understand that people garden all of the time, but because I have killed many a shrub in my yard, growing vegetables was a bit daunting. It is with pleasure to say that I have climbed over that hump and am finding gardening extremely therapeutic. Having our first salad this week was a fun moment for us. We can’t wait to continue this hobby for years and years to come.
Here are the things 10 things I learned with my first garden:
- It actually works! Conceptually, I knew that seeds in dirt with water and sun grow plants, but in practice I assumed it must be more complicated than that. I think it has to do with the sheer amount of literature on the topic. There are so many people who know so much about gardening that it can be intimidating.
- Water! Water! Water! It was a huge help to have my garden near the hose.
- Don’t think you will feed an army or save any money. This is a hobby. You need scale and variety to make this profitable.
- Prepare for hiccups. I started early with lettuce, broccoli and brussels sprouts. There are great guides on which season to plant what in which zone. If you start with early spring plants and they don’t survive, you can switch them out for late spring plants.
- Put your garden where you can see it from inside. Every day I brush my teeth and look at my garden from my bedroom window. It’s also very accessible from our house. I can go out and look at it in pajamas without feeling strange. The more you can enjoy it, the more you will want to take care of it.
- Don’t take on too much. I have seen community gardens or ambitious people plant start gardens that are way too big. This is something that needs attention almost daily and if you have to pick weeds out of a 100 sq. ft. garden and are not retired, you may want to give up or worse dread it.
- Herbs are the gift that keeps on giving. I planted parsley, mint, rosemary and basil. It’s great to go take a little throughout the summer here and there. It makes you feel like you are producing something all year which is great because some things I am growing only provide fruits for a short window.
- Use good dirt. I went to my local gardening center and asked a knowledgeable person for the best and safest dirt for planting vegetables. Wahoo. They had great recommendations.
- I planted a young parsley plant and some lettuce plants. Some of the leaves ended up under the dirt. This can create rot and contaminate your plant. It’s better to pull off the buried leaves than leave them attached.
- Ask experts. Sometimes you ask questions to your family who gardens and they look at you like an alien. It’s hard for an experienced gardener to comprehend you don’t know the basics. Go to a garden center and tell them you are an absolute beginner, ask for simple plants, where to plant them, how to plant them, how much water they need or anything else you might not know. The internet is also a great resource, but it can be overwhelming when an article goes in depth about the different breeds of tomatoes and all of their needs. I think it’s a lot like cooking. Get the basics down first and then get creative. Expect a lot of trial and error and have fun with it!