When we bought our house last year, one of the first things I wanted to do was plant a garden. We didn’t get it accomplished last year, but creating a garden was my highest priority this spring. Here are some of the good—and bad—things to come from my first gardening experience.
Making the Garden
I knew I wanted to make our garden as “organic” as possible given that we live in the land of lawn fertilizers. I decided on a 4×8 foot raised cedar bed. I bought four end posts from Gardener’s Supply and lumber from Menards. That sounded easy but those two decisions came from a lot of research!
Our next step was to bring in “clean” dirt and filler. I did a lot of research on what type of soil to use and basically brought in plain soil and added good nutrients to it. We carried bag after bag of soil to our backyard and were very thankful for a donated wheelbarrow. Looking back, we should have had someone haul dirt to our house and not gone the bag route.
We decided to do a square foot garden that we read about on Pinterest. This was a great way to try to grow many different plants. However, I think we over planted our garden and didn’t plan for the tomatoes and squash to take over everything!
We marked our garden in squares using nails and twine. We loved planting a variety of seeds and seedlings! We tried lettuce, chili peppers, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, trombone squash, peas, beans, and zucchini.
Tending the Garden
Watering, weeding, pruning, and fertilizing became my part-time job this year. I spend a little time in the garden every day. I might be able to skip a day or two, but it does require a lot of time and love. I love tending the garden. It definitely became a type of therapy for me!
We had bugs, pests, toads, and blossom rot this year. I had a good group on Facebook to consult, plus lots of time on Google!
This is the fun part! We had a lot of fun picking our harvest, and I love seeing it all on the counter! I also love knowing I was able to provide my family with healthy produce from the backyard. I find a lot of joy going to the garden and picking dinner ingredients for that night. I was also able to can pickles and salsa, many of which we gifted to friends and family.
Including the Kids
My youngest son was very involved in all aspects. He’s 8 and a perfect age for the planning, planting, and harvesting. He was also great at watering. My oldest didn’t have as much interest in the garden but definitely helped me research and implement our squash bug control protocol. We definitely learned a lot about pests (the bad ones) and the bees (the good ones) this year!
I would definitely do a lot of research before you tackle a backyard garden. What size, what you plant, what your growing practices are (organic or conventional), raised or in ground, etc. are all important to consider.
I am already making plans for our garden next year. I definitely made some mistakes this year, but we also had many delicious meals from our garden. As an added bonus, we even had a really huge squash that we entered into the Iowa State Fair Most Unusual Vegetable contest and won 2nd place.
This garden took SO much time and energy this year, and I’m hopeful for an even better season next year.