A few years ago I was known…KNOWN…for killing plants. My husband would ask me why I bothered to buy house plants just to slowly torture them to death. The only thing I had ever grown successfully was roses; frankly, I’m not sure that was me or all the rain we had in Texas.
I think there has always been this under current of desire to grow things. But it wasn’t until last year that my desire for a garden (and chickens) became too unbearable to ignore. I MUST GROW.
Fast Forward to Summer 2012
I purchased All New Square Foot Gardening. I loved the beautiful pictures, the rich soil (not AZ clay) and the ability to grow so much in a small place. So my husband built me a small 4×4 box and we filled it with Pre-Mixed Mel’s Mix. My daughter and I started some broccoli seeds in the house and a few squash plants in self-watering buckets because of The Urban Organic Gardener.
Eventually we planted kale, carrots, celery, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
In January youngest was so excited to help me pull the carrots out. I think they were all gone in a day or two!
Then our broccoli and cauliflower!
One of the first lessons I learned about growing heritage/non-gmo veggies…they don’t look like the stuff you’ve been buying at the grocery store.
While I was waiting for that to happen I lost some…and got bright yellow flowers.
Out of that box we also ate our kale and lost our Brussels Sprouts.
I found out that celery should only be grown by the most patient of gardeners…not me.
This summer hasn’t been much more successful but I do have watermelon, sweet potatoes and green bell peppers growing. I had a lot of cherry tomatoes in the early summer too.
But I have big…BIG…plans for the late summer and fall. We’ve built 2 more 4×4 boxes and a big 12×4 that I daydream about. I’ve got farming friends who are so willing to give advice that I don’t always have to learn from my failures.
This summer I’ve been studying companion planting, composting and have become fast friends with the planting calendar my mentor shared with me. I recently went to my mentor’s home and saw her lovely backyard garden…uh, yeah, I had NO idea that squash leaves were that big. Recalculate the vision….
So my advice to you newbies?
- Start reading all you can about gardening.
- Look for information specifically for your area. If you’re in Arizona, like me, you’ll find most books won’t apply to you at all!
- Start networking. Get on Facebook, blogs, twitter and meet-ups that get you in touch with real people that love to share information and experience.
- If you can, find a local gardening class. Check out your local permaculture, they may be offering them.
- Get yourself a mentor. Mine has been my crutch, my encourager, my teacher and my friend.
- Cast a vision, but start small. A small success can give you the confidence to continue where a large scale disaster could dampen your dream.
- DO NOT GIVE UP! There is a learning curve; trust me, I am still riding it.
- Have fun. Don’t make this a job. I call my garden, “dirt therapy”. It is my happy place.
- Buy quality seeds and transplants. Preferably organic and non-gmo.
- Most importantly – START!
Oh and yeah we got chickens that summer too…hard to believe they were ever these little peepers.