The food life

Since I declared this week the week of gardening posts I thought I’d fill you in on what’s growing in our side yard. That garden tour didn’t show you the best part of our yard… the back and side.

The trusty husband and I have been married for 11 1/2 years. In that time we’ve moved 12 times. Most of those moves were to apartments. One apartment was without an actual outdoor space. No deck. The majority of those 11 1/2 years I have had some kind of plant or another growing on the deck. The first year was flowers and a wayward mint fiasco. One year we had a fantastic wrap around deck and I had hanging baskets, roses and a few tomato bushes. The last apartment we lived in with an outdoor space was so full of plants you couldn’t see out. That could be because I was finishing up school (with that horticulture degree) and I brought home plants from school and work on a daily basis.

I vowed that when we finally owned our own home I was going to plant a vegetable garden. When that happened we had spent so much money renovating the inside and out there was little left to build raised beds or order the soil needed for such an endeavor. But, not to be defeated, I marked out two little plots in my side yard and started digging. I quickly ran into 4″ of gravel and other archaeological artifacts such as plastic bottles and carpet. Not to be deterred I rigged up a screen and screened out the gravel. I bought a few bags of compost and worked them in.

That first garden was mediocre at best. I grew peas, green beans and lettuce. All tasted fantastic, but the soil was rocky and with little organic matter. However, my friends would come over and devour my peas and said they were the best thing they’d ever tasted. I also planted strawberries and an herb or two throughout other parts of my garden.

Today my garden consists of 2 raised beds 5’x10′ and 2 raised beds 5’x5′. I plant all of my annual herbs in containers and have a plot on the corner with (hopefully) enough room for pumpkins and squash. I still have perennial herbs scattered throughout the garden, and I’ve added more berries (currants and blueberries) to the already growing strawberry patches.

The goal is to expand my garden to a full 1000 square feet or more. With that amount of space I could feed my family fresh vegetables year round relatively easy. We have plans to till up the side yard on the other end of our house and the slope down to the street, but at the moment we run into the money issue again. And then comes a point where you begin to weigh the cost of growing compared to the cost of buying.

In my opinion the cost of growing, although it may be more expensive, is insignificant. The satisfaction you get from walking out to your back yard and picking an ear of corn is beyond any trip to a farmers market or to some guy on the side of the road with a truck full of corn. Because I grew it. Can’t get any better than that.

Don’t forget to submit your gardening questions for the end of the week.? Post them in the comments or email me at elle @ lifeofelle . com

6 Comment

  1. Rhonda says: Reply

    I’d love to be able to do that. Right now, I am still trying to get the flowerbeds under control, but one of them is empty. I wonder if I could plant a few garden items. Is it too late in the year to plant anything?

  2. Wow! Good luck with the veggie garden plan! I’m just hoping to keep up with the weeding this year, and possibly plant a Q shaped garden for Quin to keep. Gardening questions, huh? The advice you gave me last year has been wonderful, and I no longer go for every last bit of weed, but instead just tackle the big stuff with the intent of going after the little stuff later on.

  3. mom says: Reply

    I loved eating your peas!

  4. Lena says: Reply

    My hill in my backyard needs some serious help … I have free rocks from the neighbor to try to make some terraces, but then what?

    It’s under the shade of a giant maple tree … I have some strawberries doing OK on the bottom of the hill and some heather plants … and there’s that blackberry bush who does whatever it pleases. Help!

    So, pretty please, let’s schedule playdate at my house.

  5. Lauri says: Reply

    My grandmother had a huge garden.. she grew everything… my fondest memories are just going out and picking berries and washing them off with the hose.

    My question- how can I add color to my front beds. I will need to email you a picture- we have 10 bushes that need a desperate trim( 5 on each side) and hostas- but it’s all green and I want some type of colorful low plant- don’t have alot of room to work with.

  6. Liv says: Reply

    I commented on your Irish Soda bread post and asked if you were going to do gardening this year. YaY!!! I asked what you thought of greenhouses. I am thinking about considering putting one up maybe in the fall so I can get a jump start on the spring. I found a lot of sites with greenhouse kits ranging from $700 or so up to $10,000 with hundreds of variables. I’m thinking with our mild winters (Panhandle Florida) I’ll be able to grow all year round with minimal climate control. I thought I could start with a smallish one, 8 x 6 or so, then if it goes well, I can get another small one and connect them.

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