Mary Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells And pretty maids all in a row.
You know what you want to grow so now is the how are you going to grow it?
There are gardening essentials everyone needs regardless of the plants they choose.
Tools like a shovel, gloves, knee board and or short bench if you will be working at ground level.
You will also need containers to start your seeds in and even larger ones if you choose to do a container garden.
Seeds of choice and some good plant food and soil, dirt and poop
I love what Jennifer Beauchamp of Tucson, Arizona does to celebrate the season. One of her friends will open up her house and throw a “Dirt Party”.
You see, Jennifer is from farm folk and has never met a bag of steer manure she didn’t like. But now that she lives is the very dry city that is Tucson, several of her friends (and their friends) are desperate for her country knowledge on how to keep their plants from dying.
Every guest brings a plant that needs to be re-potted. The men do the hauling (manure, potting soil, dirt,) and the women get their hands dirty re-potting the plants in Jennifer’s special mix:
1/3 local soil
1/3 potting soil
1/3 steer manure
Everyone swears by Jennifer’s not so secret formula, and all the plant owners go home with healthier plants.
If you know the person with the green thumb, you may want to throw your own “Dirt Party” and get your hands dirty in spring for salsa in the summer.
Start small and create a Kitchen Garden
I started to attempt to garden when I was homeschooling my kids back in the elementary grades. The house we owned had a small, plot of dirt in the corner of the yard, just large enough for a few small plants to get started.
We planted a few, small veggies. I have to say our first year was wildly unsuccessful. (Who knew that things like watering would be so essential?)
Fast forward several years. Roger and I decided to plant our own salsa garden in containers on our back patio, (we live in a townhouse, so my visions of sowing seed for crops and my own hen house have to be put on hold for a while.)
We kept it simple the first year – just a few tomato plants, a couple of peppers, cilantro, etc. But as our garden grew, so did our farmer-like confidence.
This year, we planted more than a dozen tomato plants of every variety and size you could imagine. Our herb garden is off the hook, and Roger has peppers a plenty to make all the mouth-burning recipes he can handle.
Here is what we have planted:
- a variety of Tomato Plants
- a variety of hot and mild peppers
- green onions
- green garlic
We have learned a few things in the couple of years we have been playing around with amateur gardening:
- It is not necessary to purchase every tomato plant at Home Depot. Starting off with a half dozen plants is a great place to begin.
- Pick some early bloomers and some late bloomers. Otherwise, everything comes in at once and you go from famine to feast in a matter of days. (And, if you happen to be on vacation when all the tomatoes come in, it may be an indication to the worms of your neighborhood that you don’t want your tomatoes and that you were kind enough to plant a smorgasbord just for them.)
- Install a drip system. I am a stingy water-er. I always feel like I have better things to do (probably something involving a rerun of The Office) than stand in the back yard with a hose.
But, as soon as Roger installed our drip watering system, I was AMAZED at what a difference watering makes. (Yeah, I know. Duh.) For less than $60, our entire backyard bumper crop is downright lush because of the daily hit of water. If you are person who embraces routine and loves the meditative state of watering – great. Otherwise, get a drip-system and get it on a timer. When you are sitting down to enjoy the season’s first bruschetta with your home-grown tomatoes, you’ll thank me.
Every good idea needs a plan. Gardening may intimidate some but it is rather easy and you do not have to dig up your yard and plant a farm. It can be as simple or as difficult as you make it.
Keep it Really Simple. To start with, I suggest you start with a simple concept for the types of plants you purchase. For the past several years we have planted a low-maintenance “Salsa Garden” and have enjoyed the variety and simplicity of that assortment every time. Here is what goes in our salsa garden:
- A variety of tomatoes plants
- Green Onions
Ask an Expert. Explain that you want to keep it simple and ask what you need. My own experience here is that it will do you no good to ask the 17 year-old at the giant Depot store what are the best tomatoes to grow for an early harvest in your area of the country. This is where the little mom and pop gardening store shines. Ask one of the employees (who probably is in the midst of growing her own garden at home) what you should get.
Use the Correct Container. Read those little tags carefully that tell you how big the pots you plant in should be. I was crowding my plants and not getting the results that I needed.
Figure out your watering system. For most gardeners I know their watering system is them. But since I travel a lot, it was important that I didn’t need to rely on teenagers to keep my basil alive. If you know that you are not going to want to rise at dawn every morning with a c. of coffee in one hand and a hose in the other, you may want to create a system for watering.
So as I’m writing this, Roger and I are driving over the Grapevine in So. California with snow coming at us sideways.
Naturally, my attention turns to gardening…
Actually, now is a great time to start planning and thinking about a garden. This is prime planting season for many of us (when it’s not snowing…) Let’s seize the opportunity together and eat healthier. It is more rewarding to eat the salad you grew yourself than from your favorite café. (Or let’s e honest – drive-thru. Where you intend to get a salad, but a salad doesn’t come with fries, so…)
Thanks to the internet there is loads of help for all of us. Mother Earth News is a great place to start o matter where you live in the US.
Here you will select the region you live in to find out what to plant and when. Everything has a particular time and season that it will produce great fruit.
This reminds me of one of my favorite Bible passages Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
There is just something so special about eating with the seasons. So check out their growing guide and start your planning (and dreaming…) Find out what works in your area, compare that to what your family loves, and go from there.
We always do a variety of tomatoes, peppers, green onions, and a ton of herbs. We call it our salsa garden (which can also be called a bruchetta garden,) and we eat from it for months.
Also, seed packets you purchase usually have the right time to plant for your region. You can also just start with buds you pick up from your local gardening center or health food store. The process is already started for you and you just need to transplant to its permanent home. It will take a few steps out of the process for you.
So are you a gardener? A wanna be gardener? How many are going to start this year for the first time? If you are an experienced gardener, tell me your advice, tips and tricks and what you plan to grow. Do what gardeners do – share your wisdom. Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing out gardening plans,container gardening tips, and watering plans.
Spring is here in California and right around the corner for the rest of the country! This is the prime time to start a garden.
Take the next week or two to start thinking about what you want to plant, where to plant, if you want a container garden or plant into the earth. In 2 weeks I will spend a week discussing gardening how to’s and tricks I have learned.
In the meantime you can s tart with a simple concept for the types of plants you purchase. For the past several years we have planted a low-maintenance “Salsa Garden” and have enjoyed the variety and simplicity of that assortment every time. Here is what goes in our salsa garden:
- A variety of tomatoes plants
- Green Onions
Several years ago Roger and I decided to plant our own salsa garden in containers on our back patio, (we live in a townhouse, so my visions of sowing seed for crops and my own hen house have to be put on hold for a while.) We kept it simple the first year – just a few tomato plants, a couple of peppers, cilantro, etc. But boy oh boy did we enjoy the benefits of fresh salsa ingredients at our door step. Here is Roger’s famous salsa recipe. Give it a try!
Roger’s Salsa: Roger Lipp
12 tomatoes (or two large cans of crushed tomatoes)
1 (15 oz) can of tomato sauce
1 bunch cilantro, chopped coarse down to the stemmy part
2 stems green onion, chopped medium
1 red onion, chopped medium (I use two slices from the center portion)
2 jalapenos, chopped fine (leave seeds in) — if you want mild salsa substitute Anaheim peppers; if
you want hot salsa substitute 4 habaneras.
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped fine
Combine these ingredients in large glass bowl.
If tomatoes were room temp to start with, I add two ice cubes and mix in. The following seasonings are very approximate… I don’t measure.
Add the following seasonings to taste (measurements given are approximately what I use… ish)
2 T fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 T cumin powder
1 T coarse ground black pepper
1 T fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp marjoram
I’d love to know, do you garden and what are your must haves each year?