One woman’s Gardening Journey
Written by our own TopChefGirl

gardenjuneHow this all got started: I lost my dogs (13 & 15 years old,) this past October. I was so heartbroken. I didn’t want anything around to remind me of them, and I refused to go to the backyard, which is one of the places we spent the most time with them.

My husband cleared a small planter full of beautiful flowers and plants, and suggested I grow an herb garden. I was furious, as those plants were expensive, and besides, I was too down to think about a new hobby and I hate bugs!

Months went by, and the planter was filled with weeds. Finally in late March I decided to go outside and pull the weeds.

During our next trip to Home Depot, I walked around the garden center. I was drawn to the smell of the fragrant herbs. Then I noticed the price…just $3 for the plant, where I have payed as much as $5 for a small amount of dill. I chose a few favorites and decided to give it a try. I bought parsley, cilantro and oregano, and although I don’t eat tomatoes often, I grabbed a plum tomato plant as I as excited at the prospect of making my own sauce.

We knew the planter did not have the best soil, so we bought a large bag of organic soil, and then my hubby grabbed a bag of organic compost. Compost? I wanted to have nothing to do with that, but he said if I wanted the best herbs that we should mix it in the soil. The process of mixing the two and getting it all down, took us about 2 hours. By the time we planted the herbs and tomato plant, we were exhausted. Did I mention that the compost smelled like cow poop and was difficult to get off my feet and from under my nails? Make sure and use gloves and closed shoes!

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In less than a week, the tomato plant had yellow flowers everywhere, and I could not contain my excitement when I saw the first few baby tomatoes. I wanted more plants – I had the room in the planter so why not? I did a little research on the Internet and started learning about companion plants. Who knew there were so many things to consider? I ended up planting sweet basil and chives on either side of my tomato plants, followed by cilantro next to the basil, and then the oregano and rosemary. Less than a week later, I also bought dill, thyme, tarragon, and mint, which I read repels ants. Last but not least, I planted a few marigold near each tomato plant, as they also deter bugs.

Ok, I had a little more room, so I went back one more time, and bought a cherry and Big Boy tomato plant as well as one each of red and green peppers. Compulsive? Perhaps but everything looked great! For someone who didn’t want a new hobby, I was looking forward to going outside every morning to see the changes.

Regardless of how many tomatoes or peppers I would get this season, I had already started using my herbs for cooking and the taste was amazing. I felt confident that I would get my monies worth along with the satisfaction of growing my first garden.

For those of you interested in starting a garden, as you can see from the photo, you can put a lot of plants in a small area. I invested about $100 and 8 hours my first month of gardening.

Watch for updates on my garden’s progress.

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April 30th…everything is going well. I have been finding spider webs in the garden. Not easy to get down – spray water with a hose does not do the trick. You have to remove with a broom (or shoe if you are in a rush.) I want to avoid using pesticides, but I did find an insecticide spray made by Veggie Pharm that is made with garlic & 100% Organic Peppermint Oil, that is suppose to help deter bugs. We have also been getting a lot of rain, so I noticed some leaves particularly on the tomato plant turning yellow. I Googled it and I believe it is called blight. I am just removing the yellow or dead leaves as I see them.  Here are some pictures of the plum tomatoes and green peppers.

Plum tomatoes growing in garden

Green Peppers in garden

May 7th:  My first tomatoes & green pepper! I carried them around for 2 days to show family and co-workers…I was so proud. I have noticed several leaves throughout the garden have been chewed on. I can only assume it is the lizards I see hanging around, as I do not see any sign of other bugs. I have looked under the leaves as suggested, but don’t see a thing. By now you should be using plant food such as Miracle grow. They sell a convenient bottle that attaches to your garden hose. I have not used it yet as I planted food pellets when I first put the plants in and that is supposed to last 6 to 8 weeks.

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