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.
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.
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