I’m a daydreamer because I have always been a book reader. When I was younger I read “The Secret Garden” and ever since I knew one day I wanted a big garden with lots of roses and vines growing up walls. That dream hasn’t changed but the garden I did create as an adult is less viney and rosey and more vegetables and butterfly attractions.
When we bought our first house this summer I knew one of the things I eventually wanted to do was have a garden and turn the yard into something that was practical and functional for our family. So I started to make it happen this weekend.
There are a lot of ways you can reduce waste when starting your own garden. I knew I could have done more but it would have cost me both time and money because of availability. Although I did make better choices than I previously would have if I wasn’t being conscious of my choices.
- Plants – I bought some seeds to germinate ourselves but for the garden I bought all the plants from a local nursery. Some of them cost more than what Home Depot sells them for but, some where less. Our local nursery was amazing because they had more options than a local home improvement store plus, I enjoy supporting local businesses! I also made sure to ask that they didn’t spray pesticides or used any GMO’s on their plants which is something most places like Home Depot do.
- Soil + mulch + compost – We did buy all of these from home depot. I can say we produced around 25 bags of plastic between these three purchases. You can have soil + mulch delivered by a local businesses but it does cost more. Even though I opted for a spending the extra for organic mulch + compost it wasn’t as expensive as getting it delivered. I am starting my compost this coming weekend though so that will help with future gardening waste!
- Edging stones + pavers – these are actually repurposed from our yard! The edging stones were around some of our palm trees where our hammocks tied and the pavers were a little walkway that was crooked and worn.
- Repurposing plant containers – all the containers we got from the nursery we kept. I plan on germinating more seeds for other flowers, herbs + vegetables.
- My tomato cage – my cousin made me this make shift cage out of stakes in our garage (probably left from previous owner) and some wire hangers that Dan gets from taking his dress shirts to the cleaners!
So before I even realized what I needed for the garden I had to come up with a plan. And let me tell you, that was just as mentally draining as it was physically draining as the actual gardening.
- Pick your spot – somewhere sunny, where water can drain well, with a good amount of space where you can grow multiple plants. Well, finding all those factors in the spaces we are currently in may not be available for everyone. So I ended up in a spot that doesn’t get the sun time almost all my internet searches led to. So what happens if plants don’t get enough sun? Apparently not enough sun mostly just causes you to have a lower yield. So blossoms will happen but not as many per plant, or not as large depending. But, other searches led to that not always being the case. I’m curious to see how my plants do in the spot I chose.
- Know what to grow – are you looking for flowers + shrubs or vegetables + herbs? Or all of the above? I chose all of the above. We opted for vegetables that are easy to grow in our area and ones we eat often – broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers + cucumbers. As far as flowers I wanted to do something that would promote butterfly + honey bees health as I knew I wouldn’t be spraying any toxic chemicals on my plants and making the effort to buy organic – lavender, salvia, milkweed + marigolds. Plus I found Marigolds are helpful for warding off unwanted critters + insects. For the herbs I picked some basic ones we usually buy or use as a dry seasoning – sage, basil, parsley, cilantro. I also chose lemongrass to use as a barrier for where we are putting the grilling patio as more of a grassy shrub.
- Spacing + care – during my research I learned about the square foot method for gardening vegetables, growing more food in smaller spaces. Depending on the plant depends on how many you can plant per square foot. Broccoli, peppers + tomatoes are 1 plant per square feed. Cucumbers are about 2 per square feet and carrots are 16 per square feet! Now in general all the plants require the same basic care – food, sun and water. I plan on checking on them at least every other day for now. Especially with the adjustment of transplanting (then of course we have had crazy weather rain and now it’s dropping to 40!) I have a feeling they will be fine and I’m going to be that first time plant mom that is googling “why are the leaves on my tomato plant droopy” in about 2 weeks.
My end result after hours of research and messaging everyone I knew that has cared for their own yard I drew an actual garden plan. My measurements, the plants I wanted + their spacing and put it all down visually. The final result? An uneven design that wasn’t able to be fully complete because of a sprinkler system I overlooked that’s beautiful, perfect and exactly what I wanted. We worked together on this project for 2 days that will result in some delicious snacks + meals in our future!
So what’s next? I have already started to germinate my own seeds for future projects and am starting my compost this coming weekend. Maybe I will be able to make a sign out of refurbished materials to stick in “My Secret Garden.”