And it worked! Okay, it worked-ish. Two years ago, my husband and I bought our home in Byron. The previous owners had a big apple tree, lots of beautiful perennial plants and flowers, big mature trees and a garden. We moved in at the end of August, so we didn’t make use of the garden. Then once the next spring and summer rolled around we didn’t think we had time in our schedule to plant. However, I have always been interested in being a gardener.
Before I had kids, I worked almost two years in agriculture communications, including a fun work trip to NAMA Boot Camp where I learned a lot about farms in America. During my time in the industry I worked almost exclusively with products for specialty and diversified crops, so I have a basic knowledge about various fruits and vegetables. On top of that, my grandfather had large gardens when he and my grandma lived on a small hobby farm. I loved visiting in the summer; helping him plant, harvest or make delicious treats with the bounty. And, my father-in-law, a high school agriculture teacher and retired strawberry farmer, has also been gracious enough to answer all my ag related questions.
In my pursuit of becoming a full fledged gardener, I had three motivations. First, my love of fresh fruit and veggies. Second, my desire to contribute to the family grocery budget. And lastly, my cravings for dishes/desserts and canned goods my grandmother used to make. For my first season of gardening, I wanted to document and report the moments that made me feel like a pro and the ones that made me feel like a newbie. If you are interested in gardening, I hope these help!
Pro Gardener Moments
- Spotting the lettuce, carrots and squash plants starting to grow.
- Seeing the first signs of tomatoes and peppers.
- Endless meals with fresh yellow squash and zucchini.
- Baking zucchini bread with a recipe from my grandparents’ church cookbook.
- Feeding my girls fresh green pepper and cherry tomatoes with lunch.
- Daily walks through the garden spotting new veggies.
- Peaceful moments in the garden; weeding while my kids played, picking veggies during nap, etc.
- Watching black birds peck away at my rows of peas and beans (which never came up).
- Attempting to water the garden, but getting soaked instead (while I’m sure my neighbors were watching).
- Letting the lettuce grow WAY too long (it tasted super bitter).
- Trying to fix my poor tomato plants after a big storm came through.
- Seeing my cucumber plants slowly die.
Should you plant a garden?
- Find an expert. My ag teacher father-in-law came down for an entire day and helped us till the garden, buy the supplies and plant.
- It only took us one day to get the garden ready and planted.
- Although I could have weeded more, I still had an ample harvest with minimal weeding.
- You can have fresh food for weeks!
To say I am sold on gardening would be an understatement. I love it! It’s relaxing, fun and a great opportunity for me to make an additional contribution. Gardening is also a great teaching space for my girls. They enjoy helping, finding worms and eating the cherry tomatoes about as fast as I can pick them. I can’t wait to continue gardening. I hope to grow new types of vegetables and maybe even some fruit next year!