Gardening 101

Do you like the fact that I planted a garden approximately 6 weeks ago and I already am writing a blog post like I’m qualified to give advice about it?

But really, this is less of a “gardening 101” post and more of a “how I’ve so far not managed to kill everything I’ve planted” post. (We’ve still got a ways to go so KNOCKONWOOD again y’all.)

When I started the garden this year, I got advice from friends, the lovely Master Gardeners of Southwestern Indiana, and of course, the Internet. I’m going to compile the list of helpful things I found online plus some of the things we purchased if you are curious. And so I can reference it again next year. 🙂

Total Beginner Info

Planting Calendar and Zone Finder

Vegetable Gardening for Beginners

Common Gardening Mistakes and What I’ve Learned from Them

Raised Bed Gardening

Raised Bed Basics

How to Build a Raised Bed

Soil Info

Soil Calculator

The Perfect Soil Mixture for Filling Your Raised Bed

We ended up using a pre-mixed organic soil (because I’m lazy and didn’t want to buy a bunch of different soils and mix them together). We used this Harvest Organics brand from Lowe’s.

Other Helpful Stuff

Mulch for Vegetable Gardens

Rain Barrel How-To

Seed Starting FAQ

My Beginner Notes

Like I noted earlier, we used a pre-mixed organic soil, and I think the quality of the soil has really done most of the work in the garden for us.

My friend at work told me to put straw down (see the post on mulching your vegetable garden above). I was doubtful at first because I had never seen anyone do that, and it would make the garden look a little…ugly. I am so glad that we did. A bale of straw was probably $5 at Lowe’s, and we used about 1/4 of it. So far, I think I’ve pulled one weed out of the garden, and the soil is usually pretty moist since the straw helps it retain water.

NOTE: Don’t get hay. Get straw. Maybe you already know the difference between the 2, but I didn’t. If you cover your garden in hay, you’re going to be pulling weeds all summer.

For questions on specific plants, I’ve been referring to my friends who have gardens or searching gardeners.com advice section. They have lots of specific articles on different fruit, veg, and flowers, so I’ve found myself on their site several times, especially when I was first planting.

Hopefully I’ll be back soon with an update when our veggies actually come in. Until then, I’ll keep anxiously checking every night while I water. ❤

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Starting My First Garden

As a kid, my mom and dad would take me and my younger sister to a Lowe’s or Home Depot every year to pick out flowers. There was a small flower bed alongside our back patio, and they thought it would be a good experience for us to learn to plant and take care of something. She and I hated it, and finally, one year my mom stepped in and told my dad, “We’re not doing this anymore. They hate picking out flowers.”

That was basically the extent of my gardening experience until about 2 months ago. Moving to a house with a big yard, I had always thought it would someday be fun to have a garden. Someday.

In April, my boyfriend and I offhandedly started talking about starting a garden. And then one day I came home to this.

(He’s pretty handy.)

OK, so we’re starting a garden, I thought. For real. And with this beautiful setup, the pressure is going to be on me to make it work.

Luckily, I had coworkers and friends and the Internet to help me navigate. I spent several night reading alllll about organic gardening at home, when to plant, HOW to plant…basically I created my own Vegetable Gardening for Dummies manual.

Since it was kind of late in the season, a friend at work recommended that I go to the Master Gardeners plant sale, which was in a few days. They had plants already started, and she thought they would be more trustworthy than picking them up at a local garden center. So I headed to the plant sale that Saturday morning with my boyfriend’s sister and loaded up.

I found everything I was looking for and more…including a succulent and a couple hanging baskets. Seriously, the Master Gardeners are amazing and the plant sale was so much fun. I’m looking forward to going next year.

That weekend, we finished getting the fence and beds built, and then it was time to plant!

This is our bigger bed, which had several plants I got from the Master Gardeners, plus a few I was starting from seeds (zucchini, yellow squash, and spinach).

Here’s our smaller bed, which had 2 strawberry plants from the Master Gardeners and arugula and leaf lettuce that I was starting from seeds.

I also got several herbs, which I put in small pots so I could use them year-round.

My biggest fear when starting a garden is that I know myself, and I historically get very excited about projects like this and then lose interest very quickly. We had spent a lot of time and money investing in this, and I was worried I would get lazy and let everything die.

However, we are only 2 months in, but I’m happy to report that I LOVE having a garden! It’s so fun to go out every day and see how the veggie plant babies are doing. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that my first garden has done pretty darn well. (*KNOCK ON WOOD*)

This is a picture I took about a week ago, and the tomato plants are probably a foot taller and the zucchini is enormous.

Here are the herb babies. I planted the mint from seeds and it is finally coming up.

I would like to take a moment to remember my yellow squash, which has unfortunately passed on to veggie heaven. I might try to replant in a separate container and see if it does better like that, otherwise, we’ll just continue purchasing organic yellow squash at the grocery store. 🙂

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