There’s something about a garden that is extremely relaxing for me. It doesn’t matter if I’m planting it, tending it, or just sitting enjoying the view. My stress levels drop to nothing.
Since we moved to our new home almost three years ago, I’ve been adding gardens a little at a time. This place used to be an empty field, but now little dots of color are popping up here and there in the yard. However, my main focus this year was expanding our vegetable garden.
I’ve had plots of veggies before. But our soil was not the best for growing; it took a lot of amendments to make something produce. Even then, they were rather pitiful looking. It was difficult to keep up with the weeds and keep the dogs out.
When we moved, I decided to try pots. Our soil here isn’t much better than our last home. Also, I was hoping to keep the weeds down and not let the dogs dig or run over them. The downside is that pots are a greater upfront expense. You have to buy the pots, then buy the soil. You have to watch the water levels, because a pot will dry out faster than the ground. This causes a slight uptick in the water bill (unless you have a rain barrel. A few of those are on my dream garden list!)
I had to shrink the size garden I wanted in order to stay within our budget. But I was willing to do so if it meant I wouldn’t have to fight the weeds and dogs. I decided to spread out the cost over a few months so I didn’t have one huge bill come planting time.
That January I bought mid-sized pots. For the larger containers I needed, I bought cheap plastic tubs and a couple cans of spray paint.
I drilled a few holes in the bottom and sides for drainage and sprayed the outsides. Instead of being bright colors, they are now various shades of brown. Similar size pots start at $30 a piece, but mine cost $11 ($6 for the pot, $5 for the spray paint.) If you like bright colors, leave off the paint and it will be even less expensive.
I also watched the sales papers. In February, different places began displaying spring planting items. When a store advertised potting soil or compost at a special price, I stocked up as much as I could and put it off to the side.
In March, it was time to buy the plants. I did not grow from seed the previous because I couldn’t get around to buying them until it was a bit late. So I went with seedlings from a local store. That trip was the most fun of all.
The experiment turned out to be a great success. It wasn’t big, only about 6′ x 6′. But we packed a fair bit into a little space. We harvested tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and zucchini. For fruits, we managed a couple of blackberries. The blueberry plant was still too young to produce. There were no weeds to speak of and the dogs left them alone. After years of pulling weeds and resetting knocked over plants, this was awesome.
Since maintenance dropped to just a short time each morning, I was able to spend more time with the kids actually enjoying the garden. They helped water, prune, and harvest the vegetables. We also loved watching the insects the flowers attracted.
This year we expanded to about 6′ x 16′. In addition to everything we grew last year, we added spaghetti squash, yellow squash, eggplant, lettuce, and strawberries. I followed a staggered purchasing schedule again this year. I bought seeds and cinder blocks in January, extra pots and framing material for the garden expansion in February, and soil and compost in March.
It was a cool spring, so I delayed planting until the last week of March. The pots I sprayed last year needed a little touch up, but they were still in good shape.
I started a small herb garden as well (the cinder blocks down the middle). From last year, I had oregano, parsley, mint, basil, and onion tops survive the winter. This year I added rosemary and thyme. For fun and to help encourage bees to come, we also planted bergamont, calendula, and soapwort.
Not long after this picture was taken, I was injured (you can read about that starting here). The garden went downhill rather rapidly. We had a dry spell and my family was more concerned about me than making sure this little hobby kept going.
I don’t have a photo, but overall everything turned yellow/brown and began to die. I was already in pain and stuck with very little to do. I would look out the window and see my plants drooping further and further, aggravated I could do nothing to stop it. Not being outside in my garden definitely added to my funky mood.
As my physical therapy progessed, I started doing little things again. I couldn’t pull the hose or lift a pair of snipes, but the kids helped as I pointed out what to do (I have amazing children. Just sayin’). This went on for weeks. At first I couldn’t see any difference in what we were doing. But over time, our work payed off. And eventually we got to this:
We started harvesting veggies almost everyday and eating them with our lunches and suppers. All the time and energy we put into it was worth it. The garden is over for now, but I am already looking forward to next year. I have plans drawn up for a slight expansion, complete with a bench to relax on and possibly a small container pond.
I can’t wait to get started.