I really have to get better at gardening. I have two fantastic gardeners in my life as role models, my Mom and my Father-in-law. They have two very different gardens in two VERY different locations. My Mom has a wonderful ornamental and food garden (click here to get a peek at it). She’s got fantastic fruit trees; figs, apples, pears…she’s got blackberry bushes, okra, tomatoes. So many delicious things grow in her South Carolina garden. My kids have spent many Summers with them picking those blackberries and eating them straight from the bush. My Mom would freeze the rest until she had enough for a big batch of blackberries and dumplings…I’ll have to get that recipe from her. I know she cries a little on the inside when she sees my tragic yard. This year will be better.
My Father-in-law has a garden in a concrete covered yard in Queens, New York (my home town). I wish I had a picture of his garden, you would not believe the bounty he gets from a yard with very little soil. One year he grew a watermelon out of a crack in the concrete. A CRACK IN THE CONCRETE! It was AMAZING! He uses every available spot in his yard to pile some soil and plant tomatoes and okra. He gives most of his crop to the seniors’ center he and my Mother-in-law frequent. We visited them last October and came home with a whole bunch of okra and green tomatoes that I later pickled.
Every year I attempt a garden. It always starts out with so much hope. I get the entire family out to pull all the weeds and clear the leaves that have settled in our garden beds. I shop for seeds and seedlings and think about the delicious dishes I’ll serve my friends and family in just a few short months…..but it never quite works out that way.
I start off strong but my enthusiasm fades as the temperature goes up. I don’t go out for daily garden inspections, the weeds begin to make a comeback and my watering is sporadic at best. This year things will be different. This year I promise to tend to my garden with great care and my loved ones will dine on only the FRESHEST of vegetables.
We’ve cleared the planter boxes around the back patio and planting has already begun. Some resilient herbs planted several Summers ago have rebounded. The thyme was planted two years ago and while it’s not as robust as it once was it never really went away. I don’t even remember when the chives were planted but I’ve been snipping from the same bunch for a number of years. I love to see them peek through the soil in the Spring, they’ll get beautiful (and edible) blossoms in a few weeks.
I bought two beefsteak tomato plants, one bell pepper plant, one mild banana pepper plant and one cherry bomb pepper plant from Sam’s ( this is NOT a sponsored post, I really shop there). The plants were huge and already loaded with vegetables (technically fruit because they contain seeds). They were in plastic pots with cages attached but I wanted to put them into my planter beds. I had to carefully remove them from the pots as to not damage the stalks, that went pretty well.
I bought a large pot from Sam’s while I was there and used that to make a raised bed of sorts for my tomatoes. The plastic was thin and kind of brittle so it was easy to chip the bottom out with a knife. I’m not recommending you use this technique as you may damage the pot and yourself, I’m just telling you what I did. I figured removing the bottom would allow for good drainage so I filled the pot with organic garden soil and inserted the tomatoes.
We still have a long way to go but I think we’re off to a good start. I’ll plant some marigolds throughout the planter box, marigolds are natural bug repellents I’m told…and they’re pretty and cheap, too.
It’s a work in progress so stay tuned.
Do you have a backyard garden? I’d love to hear your tips and advice. Please share in the comment section below!