A Retrospective: The Story of My First Real Garden

Good day! I hope everyone’s 2023 is off to a great start….Today I am going to be talking about a subject that is kind of different from my usual lineup, but nevertheless, stay with me. Are you surprised by this new chapter on this blog? You shouldn’t be, you know I am always a about nature and the outdoors.
I’ve written about birdhouses, windspinners, windchimes, no surprises there.

I know you don’t need me to tell you that we live in nutso times. Have you ever thought about starting your own subsistence garden to get yourself and your loved ones through these bizarro times, not to mention the wonderful life skills that can come out of it.

Over the years, I had a few container plants….nothing serious. A tomato here, a zucchini there, just trying my hand at different plants.I used 5 gallon buckets and a few of those big 18-gal Sterilite totes. I got a few fruits out of them when all was said and done, but they’d always crap out in the July heat.

But now, this one is for real. Now I have to catch you up on some things. Prior to this, my backyard was just a big mess of grass that had to be mowed every month or so – I always joked that there was more weeds than actual grass. My better half, John (whom I introduced here) suggested to me that we could turn my backyard into a “food farm”. As he grew up out in the country in north Georgia I wasn’t skeptical about his ability to make good on that.

WE had some seeds we were starting with. I’ve always kept lots of egg cartons – they have many uses, one good one is for seed starters. I use the styrofoam ones since the moisture won’t soak them through like the cardboard ones. I labeled them all, each carton had a different vegetable crop planted. Here is how they looked after a few weeks (this was sometime around April)

seedlings in egg cartons

There’s lots of ways to get seeds started, but that’s the best way.

One been seed got big enough I had to move it into something bigger until the last frost was over. Two of them, actually, I replanted one into this small pot and another into the bottom end of a coke bottle. I kept them in the window until they could safely be transplanted outdoors without danger of frost (over here, you can always expect “one last” cold snap until after Easter.)

bean plant sprouting

Eventually, when all the seedlings outgrew the egg carton compartments, we tranferred them to red Solo cups, that I’d strategically poked holes in the bottom of. Look at how many we had…Squash, peppers, (yes some of them were jalapeno) cucumbers, beans, and maybe a few watermelons.

We Started a Raised Bed Garden…

In the meantime we started work on the beds. This was a raised bed garden. Why you ask? In Georgia, the soil is no picnic ot work with. It’s red clay, and very rocky…lots of roots to pick through….You’d need one of those tools to pick through it all, and who knows how long this could take.

A raised bed is an ideal solution for those of you in zones with soil that is less than ideal. This past spring, we put together a total of 3 beds, we had plotted a fourth, it would be a different shape. I’m not an expert on square footage and all that, but each bed is about four feet wide and twenty feet in length.

What we used:
Lots of potting soil. Filling up the trunk of the car, wow….fun, fun. I can’t tell you exactly how many was used, but it had to be around 50.

John got the wood timber stakes used to build the beds from someone on Facebook he messaged in a group. We also had corner stakes for stability made from 1″ x 1″ square and 1 foot high stakes.

Space lined in between with dark brown bark chips.That black sheer material you see is something he put down under it.

Crops we planted:
Tomatoes, corn bed 1, beans, bed 2, and a mix of beans and tomatoes in bed 2.

WE had designated space around the perimeter of the backyard for additional plantings (cucumbers I think()

They didn’t do too well. It was very dry in June and we got a sprinkler system set up to run in the evenings during the summer months when it was a prolonged dryness.

I took a number of pictures to document and log our yield.I know you are probably curious about that one, how did our yield go? Well, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves….

Lots of cherry tomatoes, some plum shaped (I think they’re called “Roma”), lots of peppers, mostly banana and jalapeno, lots of beans. Some could have been better.We also got a few ears of corn out of it too! Not too shabby….

Any big takeaways here?

The soil needs lots of nutrients, to be sustainable. We think this upcoming year will be much better.

Cutting up jalapeno pepper swill make your eyes sting like the devil. I learned that the hard way until I washed my knife off and my hands, good.

In conclusion…

Well, that’s my story. I’ll bet you never thought a nerdy entrepreneur like myself could ever enjoy getting her hands dirty…well, yes, and yes, I would do it again!

WE probably won’t do anything new until spring, but we will keep you posted for the year 2 of my garden journey. Hope you will see it soon!


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