Today’s post is a guest post from one of Your Gardening Friend’s followers. She explains how she has taken little steps each year, in small gardening spaces, to “grow” in her vegetable gardening journey.
I am not much of a gardener. I feel like there is so much I don’t know. Which plants need how much sunlight? Which plants need which kinds of soil? What grows well with what? If I plant it now, when will it be ready? For some of you experienced vegetable gardeners, you might say, “Well, it’s easy. Just plant this with that, over there, and water it then.” But it was enough to cause me not to want to garden… for years.
Then my husband started getting interested in the idea of being able to sustain ourselves if the economy collapsed, and we were forced to grow our own food. So we started very small.
My brother (who is good at gardening) told us that tomatoes and peppers grow well together, and that nasturtiums help keep away insects, and are edible. (nast-what?!) I had never heard of nasturtiums. Apparently, they are flowers you can eat, and they’re a tad tangy/spicy.
My First Year Gardening
Well, the first year, we used the foot-wide space that runs along our sidewalk. By late summer and fall, we had big, beautiful tomatoes. I don’t even eat tomatoes very often, but it was neat seeing something grow like that. And I had plenty to give to my mom, my mother-in-law, and neighbors. It was great, although the plants eventually overtook our sidewalk. And I even experimented a little cooking with the peppers.
The other little garden on the side of the house was pretty pathetic. Everything over there usually seems to die. I could blame the ground, but it’s probably the neglect.
My Second Year Gardening
The second year (last year), I used some bamboo stakes to create a framework to help support the tomatoes. (The stakes were tree supports that I got from a neighborhood tree-planting day.) I used just a few 4-foot stakes in the ground, and a couple stakes nailed and cable-tied to the tops of the vertical ones. This really helped keep the tomato plants off the sidewalk.
The tomato plants did not take a lot of work. I remember watering them early on, and then neglecting them when the weather got hot. Apparently, according to my mom, I didn’t even have them where they would get enough sun. (They were on a wall that gets a lot of sun, but is shaded by the house part of the day, as opposed to a location where they would receive sun ALL day.) But they still thrived.
Just doing something with planting gave me inspiration to do more.
My Third Year Gardening – This Year
I planted my tomato plants again this year. I created some cages for the plants out of some scrap chicken wire I got from a yard sale a couple years back. They look pretty good. My husband, Tod, says the tomatoes will soon show me that they “cannot be contained.”
Contains onions, zucchini (I think), nasturtium, carrots, beans, and peas.
Contains tomato plants and peppers. I think something else is growing in the front. I’ll have to figure out what it is.
I’ve started reading on square-foot gardening. This is where you take a 4-foot by 4-foot square (16 square feet) and plant different things in each square foot. Mine is around the side of the house, and I’ve already been neglecting it, too. But I’m taking little steps. One day I’ll have multiple 4×4 gardening squares, a chart of what and when to plant and harvest, and wonderful recipes for all of my “crops.” But for now, I’m just having fun experimenting and trying little steps. I’m off to make some supper for my family… a meal that doesn’t yet include any of these vegetables.
Heather P. lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband and three kids. She enjoys gardening when she gets the chance and motivation to do so.