For the longest time I rambled on and on about how awesome it would be to have enough land and time to grow our own food. I thought about my grandparents' gardens and crops and thought, "wow, those were the days, huh?" As I reflected on the size of their vegetable gardens, it dawned on me that space wasn't actually the problem. We have an averaged sized yard in suburbia with adequate sun light and a long growing season. Honestly the problem was that we just had no clue where to start. I glanced around at our landscaping and thought, "Well hell, we have been keeping that completely useless shrub alive for quite some time now. It can't be that hard, right?!"
My phenomenal in-laws with their farming and gardening expertise, assembled my first two containers for gardening as a gift on my 34th birthday and in the fall of 2014, I ate a fresh picked spinach and kale salad everyday for lunch. For mother's day, I asked my husband to use the random supply of brick in our garage to build a wrap-around herb garden, lining the back patio with herbs that deter mosquitoes and taste delicious. My 35th birthday, we built two more containers and are now growing a variety of 20 different vegetables. Listen when I tell you that if I can do this, you most certainly can too. I have brutally murdered every house plant I have ever owned. I labeled myself a black thumb several years ago, but somehow growing something useful retains your focus. In my backyard, if you can't eat it, we won't plant it.
Let's Do This:
Step 1: Find the sunny parts of your yard. Most plants need full to mostly full sun on the daily. Although there are some that do not. Research the vegetables you eat most often and find out what is required to grow them successfully, especially temperature (season) and sun light.
Step 2: Measure out some dimensions and start getting creative. Think about where you could find some empty pallets, and/or wooden crates. You can use just about anything that is the right size for your space, a minimum of 6 inches deep, and sturdy enough to hold up against inclement weather. Hit up your favorite flea market first!
Step 3: Purchase your list of must-haves: organic seeds, garden soil (you will need a lot), assembling equipment (try to borrow someone else's tools first), watering hose and attachment, organic vegetable plant feed.
Step 4: If it's early enough in the growing season (Fall or Spring depending on where you live) you should first start your seeds in small containers that can be moved to protection from inclement weather. Carefully, move them to the garden when they grow to 2-3 inches in height. We used plastic cups, and biodegradable growing containers. (I blame the environmentally unfriendly plastic cups on my husband, by the way)
Step 5: If you do not want to dig up all the grass under your garden (it's a pain in the butt), simply cut the bags from your soil and lay them out flat on the ground before you dump the soil on top. The plastic bag will act as a barrier against grass and weed growth. You can plant your garden on top of them and poke holes through the plastic with your shovel as you place each plant.
Step 6: Fill the soil to the very top of the container (the soil will settle and shrink a bit once you plant and water).
Step 7: Following the instructions on the seed packages, either sow the seeds into the soil or move your 2+ inch seedlings to their new home, leaving plenty of space between each plant.
Step 8: With a gentle stream (I like the rain shower setting on my gardening attachment for the hose), water the new plants generously. They should remain damp or wet these first couple weeks in their new place. You will likely need to water daily or every other day in dryer climates.
Step 9: Maintenance is all it takes to grow a garden once it's built. Simply trip back tomato plants that reach thigh-height, cut the leaves of lettuces and salad greens when they reach your preferred bite-size and watch as they produce re-growth through the season. Do NOT cut from the root, but rather the branches or extended leaves.
Step 10: Protect plants from pests without using harmful pesticides by using 100% Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils for Gardening.
Life on a budget