Growing Better is about more than just essential oils (though I’m clearly obsessed). It’s about our journey to being better, healthier, happier people. And hopefully, it’s a place of encouragement and information that helps others do the same! Today, I want to share a bit about my first garden experience.
I’ve always wanted a garden. Something to cultivate, something self-sustainable. But, there’s always been a better reason to not. You know, “we’re too busy,” “we don’t have a green thumb between us,” “it’s probably cheaper to just buy the veggies anyways.”
Trust me, we’ve used just about every excuse in the book. But not this year. This year we decided to go for it. I mean, come on. In the last four months we’ve eliminated 90% of the toxic chemicals from our home, changed (or tried to change in most cases) our eating habits to get as close to whole and natural as we can, waved goodbye to my beloved candle addiction—a garden was a natural next step for us wanna be granolas.
We went the more practical route and bought a starter kit for a raised bed at SAMs Club (I mean, wholesale prices anyone??). Of course, I forgot to take pictures during the process, but let me say that from the start, I highly recommend this raised bed. It slips together like Lincoln Logs, no tools required.
If you are thinking about testing the home-garden waters, I recommend buying a kit. It will save you time up front, and remove a lot of the intimidation that comes with trying to build the best raised bed (and it only cost us $39.95, so we really had nothing to lose).
We opted for organic soil (a bit pricier, but seemed to be the best option if we were serious about removing the toxicity of traditional fertilizers).
Being that this was our first take at this whole garden thing, we spent a good amount of time talking with our local Lowe’s garden center associate. If you live by a Lowe’s of Home Depot, USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE! We have found some of the most knowledgable people there, who offer great advice on just about any DIY project.
After some conversation, we opted to go with small plants rather than seeds (a bit safer of a route to be honest). In our bed we are growing Goliath and cherry tomatoes, sweet onions, cauliflower, snap peas, cucumber and red peppers. We opted for 40 onions, 6 cauliflower plants, 4 snap peas plants and one of each of the others.
We are just about a week in, and everything is looking good (minus one snap peas plant that didn’t take around the 48 hour mark).
ProTip: If you buy your plants from Low’s or Home Depot, they have a great return policy. Ss if your plants die within 15 days, you can return/replace them!
Some of the tips we learned along the way:
- Make sure that you choose a location that gets ample sun, but some protection if you’re in a high-scorch area. Our house faces directly East, and we have no close neighbors or trees. That means that some areas of your yard are absolutely scorched—all the time. So we made a conscious effort to choose a location that would obtain a lot of sun, but also some protection by the shadow of the house during the hottest times of the day.
- Remember that not all veggies (or fruits) play well together. If we had not taken the time to talk to our Lowe’s associate, we would not have known this. So, be sure to either research or talk to someone before you place certain veggies next to each other! For instance, we put the onions by the cucumber, because cucumber is actually a big meanie! It’s roots will grow and strangle other root systems, so it is best to plant them on a mound of dirt far from any other veggies. The onions are set back a bit, but are one of the safer options, since their “root” is a bulb (the onion!).
- Water a ton! I wasn’t really sure how much was too much, how much was not enough (where is the rule book?!?). But, after a week (and a few thriving plants) I think we have it down. I water twice a day, in the morning and in the early evening. Try to avoid watering the leaves, as this can cause them to mold.
- Pluck off the bad spots! This was another thing I wasn’t very comfortable with, but if my one dead snap pea plant taught me anything, it’s that this is important. If you have spotted or dying leaves or limbs, cut them off! They will cause the rest of your plant to die if you leaflove them on. I know, it seems intimidating to snap of portions of your tiny babies, but trust me, it will help them grow!
If you’re on the fence, I say do it! You can start small, and having a tiny bit of sustainability is always a great thing. Fingers crossed we get veggies in a few months!
What are your favorite veggies to grow? Any other tips for me and my budding garden?!