As some of you know, I recently decided that it was time that I developed a green thumb. Previously, my thumbs only possessed the kiss of death as far as plants were concerned, but as we developed the landscape plan for our home, John was insistent that it include several large garden boxes. I love to cook, I love farms, and I love farm fresh produce, so it seemed like a natural next step to try my hand at growing a few of my own crops.
Since we eat mostly plants, we decided to grow as many fruits, vegetables, and herbs as could fit in our garden beds. We began the planning process during December and January. My in laws were kind enough to give me an indoor seed starting kit for Christmas (it’s funny how our Christmas requests change as we age), and I researched where to find seeds and what varieties would grow best in our zone (this information can be found at the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map in case you are curious).
Once I procured the seeds that we wanted to plant, we planted the little guys in the seed starter container, and tended to them as though they were prized possessions. They were right in a main thoroughfare in our kitchen, mostly because this is the only place we could fit this little science project, but also because I loved the ‘show and tell’ nature of the display. I would show them off when people came over, and I would constantly lift the lid to check on them and make sure they weren’t over or under watered. It became a bit of an obsession. I quickly became–the plant lady.
When it came time to transplant them into the garden, John made sure the soil was tested and prepped to aid in an ideal growth environment. This prep included a Bill Nye type Garden PH Test that I had zero interest in learning about, but that John insisted on showing me. However, in the end, I believe it was the soil prep that gave us such great success.
Once the seedlings were planted, and we added irrigation lines to all of the beds, it was time to let Mother Nature do her magic. Over the course of the summer, I fed each of the beds with an organic garden fertilizer, I used some essential oils to treat garden pests like ants and aphids (I used a blend of Cedarwood oil, Orange oil, Rosemary oil, and Peppermint oil), and staked the plants as they grew.
It was a labor of love, but so worth it! Our garden area turned into a jungle! The squash plants took on a Jumanji like growth, where their vines were latching onto everything around them. I spent many hours trimming them back, and have still had tremendous output from each.
This year we grew: summer squash, spaghetti squash, buttercup squash, onions, shallots, romaine lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, Swiss chard, beets (both red and golden), leeks, melons, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes (several varieties), green bell peppers, red bell peppers, Thai peppers, Caribbean hot peppers, jalapenos, basil, thyme, lemongrass, rosemary, mint, and Italian Parsley. We had great luck with all but the leeks. I believe the leeks simply didn’t grow well because they were overtaken by our summer squash plant.
So for my first year of gardening, I would say it was a success! I enjoyed each step of the process, and am definitely addicted. There is something about planting your own seeds and watching them grow into the food that you prepare for your own family. It feels truly rewarding and purposeful. I still have a lot to learn, but trust me, if I can do it, anyone can!
The Plant Lady