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!


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.


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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