It’s time to admit to the world that I am only an amateur gardener. As a child, I spent quite a few summers helping my grandmother in her garden. But clearly I learned more about my love for vegetables from those years than how to properly care for the garden.
In May, I started to weed an old raised bed behind my apartment building, only to remember a lesson learned at a recent KidsGardening garden installation: Moss = Shade. This mossy bed didn’t get enough sun for the crops I wanted to plant there. I promptly asked the owner of the barn where I board my horse if I could use her two raised beds for my garden. She said yes (and will get half of the harvest as a thank-you). And so I began my very first garden adventure as an adult. Needless to say, I still have a lot to learn!
With the guidance of my KidsGardening colleagues, I purchased an assortment transplants from Gardener’s Supply including; tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and broccoli. I also had a variety of squash, pea and lettuce seeds from High Mowing Seeds. I had planned to plant the seeds in raised bed #1 and the transplants in raised bed #2, but that’s as far as I got with my planning.
I landed myself in a muddy, rushed and humorous situation come planting day. The day was overcast, the raised beds were weedy and I was determined. But by the time the beds were weeded and the compost was mixed into the beds, it had begun to rain. Determined and ruthless, I got everything planted. Despite slipping a few times in the infamous Addison County clay, all I could think to myself once the job was done was, “Well, at least I don’t have to lug out that watering can tonight!”
Hills and Valley’s
I was quite proud of myself for planting in a rainstorm and for how nice the raised beds looked now. One day the farm owners pointed out that I had planted in the valleys, not the hills... thus, I gained another nickname – “Valley Girl.” Despite this mistake, I regained hope that my garden would be okay when I saw the strong sprouts popping out from the ground.
After six short weeks, the garden was flourishing! I was so proud, but I realized how crowded the beds were becoming even though I was weeding regularly. Looking back, in the rush of planting in the rain, I had ignored the planting directions on the labels and seed packets. Another lesson learned, and now I had to find a solution to my mistake. A few DIY trellis’ later, along with some judicious thinning, and my plants seemed much happier!
Lessons Learned and The Little Things
I was raised to learn from my mistakes, and have I ever learned a few things from my gardening adventures this summer! The biggest lesson learned is that gardening is all about planning. Plan for the weather, for the layout of your garden, for the plant spacing, and for gardening materials you will need as your garden continues to flourish.
In spite of the mistakes I made, I learned to appreciate the little things that these two raised beds brought my way. The little things like spending quality time with the barn owner, the excitement of seeing the first few sprouts, the chance to sit and relax while weeding and watching the horses graze, the realization of how much I meant to this little farm, or the numerous beautiful sunsets over the green peaks of Snake Mountain. I am truly grateful for my very first garden adventure as an adult, the lessons I’ve learned and the harvest to come!
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- This week: National Children & Youth Garden Symposium, July 7-9
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