Last spring I started the project of turning my weed infested side yard into a small vegetable garden. Most of my yard is shady owing to the fact that I have a million trees. This is the only area of my yard that receives full sun and is not spoken for by a tree, a bush, or some other landscape effort. I wanted to take what was my least favorite portion of my yard and turn it into a place I actually want to visit. Enter lots of hard work:
We started by ripping up the insane amount of weeds and growth that had taken over the area. What a mess!
Then the ground needed to be leveled and cultivated. For this, I ended up renting a tiller or as Bee called it a “ground chopping tool”.
Here is the most macho picture Bee has taken in his entire life. Look at him just chopping that ground!
We then bought three kits to build raised beds and ten big bags of soil. After a lot of work, sweat, and Bee squealing about bugs getting on him, we had this:
A short while later I had my first harvest:
It looks pretty meager, but I was very excited!
By the end of the season, that little garden had produced an insane amount of veggies. I ate so much squash I was sick of it. I canned some delicious Tomato Jelly (sounds odd if you’ve never tried it, but it’s amazingly yummy) and some tomatoes, peppers, and onions for sauce use later. I gave away more peppers than I could count. The experience was so rewarding that I couldn’t wait to plant this year’s garden.
Lessons I learned to carry over to suburban garden 2.0:
- Don’t plant so many peppers. I think I had 5+ plants last year. That’s a lot of peppers for one person!
- Space out the plants a bit more/don’t plant so much. The garden got unruly last year! Stuff was everywhere.
- Beans are a waste of time in a garden this small. I wasted so much space on beans and got enough for roughly one and a half meals.
- Tomato plants get crazy and take up far more room and need far more bracing that you anticipate.
This year planting took all of an hour. Matt joined me for the task this year and was relived to not have to till anything. We weeded, added some additional soil, and put down a bit of fertilizer.
We’ve had a ton of rain over the last two months and the garden is loving life. I swear that the squash and cucumbers grow 6 inches+ post shower. They’re like mutants! Here’s our first harvest (aside from the lettuce we’ve been enjoying for months):
These squash were two inches long two days before this picture.
When the tomatoes start to ripen, we’re going to have to be ready to act quickly! There must be no less than 100 green tomatoes out there just bidding their time. Salsa, marinara, and jelly are planned. We’re also going to be pickling some cucumbers…our first attempt at this. If anyone has a great pickle recipe, send it my way!
Matty better be glad I think he’s the best thing since sliced bread, because I’m totally eligible to sign-up for for farmersonly.com now!
Squash peeking through.
Planted in this year’s garden: squash, cucumbers, jalepenos, yellow bell peppers, sweet peppers, butter lettuce, brussel sprouts, collard greens, 4 varieties of tomatoes, onions, and radishes.
I will post recipes as we continue to harvest, cook, and can! All you gardeners out there, please feel free to share your secrets!
Stay positive & love your life!
Listening to: The Smashing Pumpkins – Here Is No Why
Eating: Brussel Sprouts, green beans, and black rice.
Random fact: I always wanted braces as a kid even though I had no need for them.