Yet again, I am thinking of taking up gardening as a hobby. I had a small content site that was gardening-related for a while. My dad mentioned it in passing to an aunt, an aunt I rarely see, and she mistook the website to mean that I am a gardener. So she bought me a very cute little gardening basket and a gardening stone that says "welcome to my garden."
I took it as a sign.
While I am on semi-vacation (obviously I am still writing some) at my parents' house for three weeks, I am now itching to get around to planning my garden. Luckily for me, I got a gift card for a bookstore for Christmas. I also picked up a couple of gardening books from the library for some research for this site.
So I am set with some research materials. Now I am thinking of my yard and how I will be able to garden. To be honest, I am going to have to go the container gardening route. I am thinking that I will use a raised bed type of garden for next summer.
Our yard just does not lend itself to an in-ground garden. Last summer we had a lone tomato plant. When I am planning our garden for next summer, I definitely have to keep in mind my personality and the amount of time I will have next summer to put into the garden. Our tomato plant last summer was wonderful. We did little to it, except water it occasionally. It was our first attempt at gardening, and the results were decent.
I am probably going to expand to five tomato plants this year. First, we went all organic last summer, just because it is less expensive to garden organically. We will stick with it this summer but be a little better about taking care of the plants and picking the tomatoes when they are ready instead of leaving them on the vine for too long.
We also are going to try carrots and lettuce, so we will have a sort of salad garden. I have read that lettuce will grow in slightly colder weather so I need to make sure that we will be able to grow it. On the other hand, it may be a slightly earlier plant than our others. Still, everything I have read suggests that both lettuce and carrots are fairly low maintenance, high yield crops.
The other consideration for me is if the plants will need a significant root system. I would love to grow potatoes, for example, but I do not think that we will be able to get the dirt deep enough to allow for a solid root system for the plants.
I am going to begin a compost pile when I return home. While it is a little late to start a compost pile for this year, I am hoping that by leaving out the composting materials and putting it in a small container will help speed up the process. Most suggestions are to leave a beginning compost pile for one year, but I would like to start using mine in June, so it will have had six months to begin to compost.
The container garden also yields itself well to growing herbs. Most of them are small plants, and we want them close to the house so that we can cut off a sprig of mint as we are cooking. I am going to begin my herb garden soon although the research there is just beginning. I am unsure what I want to grow, which means that there is more to learn! The educational part of gardening will keep me busy until I actually begin to grow my own herbs and veggies. Hopefully by this time next year I will have my own herbs right outside my window to spice up our cooking.
The process of starting a new garden is one that excites me and one that I hope to share. I will admit that I am probably hopelessly unrealistic about my gardening plans, but I envision the garden as a peaceful place as well as a place I can begin to teach my son about how life cycles work and how we are part of the world environment.
By Julia Mercer