I did it! The girl who kills all kinds of easy-to-care-for houseplants, had a garden. And the garden produced FOOD.
I started the garden very modestly because I didn’t want to invest a lot of time and money into something that I was going to kill.
My kind step-mother-in-law gave me 2 tomato plants, a green pepper plant and a banana pepper plant that she had started from seed. She also gave me some yellow marigolds (which I put in pots around my deck) and another plant which I thought was a different kind of marigold, but turned out to be these beautiful pink flowers that I don’t know the name of. (If you know what these are in the photo, please let me know in the comments… I’d ask my step-mother-in-law, but I’m a little embarrassed to admit I thought it was a marigold!)
In addition, I bought 4 zucchini plants and 3 broccoli plants from a nearby greenhouse. I used a coupon to score a deal on some gardening soil from Home Depot. My most expensive purchase was the vinyl square foot gardening kit I got at Lowe’s for about $40. In total, I spent about $67 starting my first garden.
The first harvest
Here’s what I was able to grow for my small out-of-pocket investment:
- 2.5 pounds of broccoli
- 7 pounds of tomatoes
- 14.5 pounds of zucchini
- 3 banana peppers
- 1 small, gawky-looking green pepper
I also picked 3.5 pints of raspberries from a wild raspberry patch near my house. Not too shabby for a first attempt at gardening!
Lessons I learned from my first garden
Next year I’m going to move the tomatoes to their own pots. My mom has some big nifty self-watering pots that I think would work great for me.
I’m going to do a better job of supporting my tomatoes. I bought a couple of wimpy supports and by the end of the season, my tomatoes were falling all over each other and laying on the ground where they were assaulted by critters and bugs. One of the reasons you will not see a garden photo from the middle of the growing season is because I’m a little embarrassed over how unruly my tomatoes got!
I’ve also learned that I can’t plant peppers in the shadow of everything else. I had no luck with my peppers because….
The zucchini just took over everything… It started climbing out of the garden bed and reaching out into the lawn. I now know that zucchini should have a little more room. I am also now better prepared for the prolific zucchini harvest, thanks to all of you!
Who knew if you don’t pick broccoli at just the right time it will turn into pretty little yellow flowers? Now I know to pay more attention to it!
I have no idea what to do with banana peppers.
I need to be better prepared to use my harvest. A lot of the produce started showing up at a particularly busy stretch in our lives. I was completely unprepared for what to do with all of it, and it was too much to eat quickly. Next summer I’ll have a better game plan for freezing and canning my harvest.
There’s always next year
It was very inspiring to grow my own food – it felt good to grow something on our land. I’m already looking ahead to next year.
Taking the lessons, I’ve learned, I’d like to expand on my little square foot garden by adding some new vegetables and perhaps some herbs. I know that starting from seed will be the most economical, but I’m not sure yet, if that’s a project I want to tackle.
The bottom line is this: I tried something I knew nothing about and was afraid to try, and I didn’t completely bomb out. And I saved money on our food bill doing it. That is encouraging!
How did your garden grow this year? What things did you learn?
About Christina Brown
Christina is a wife and mother dedicated to figuring out how to live a simpler, happier life on a budget.