With 2015 wrapped up and tucked away, I thought I’d share some photos of my garden, lessons I learned along the way, and the dreams bouncing around in my head for this coming year.
When I started building raised beds last spring, I thought to myself… This is going to be my first real garden. It’s going to be neat and tidy, and I’ll be organized, and all the little plants will line up in a row and I’ll have time to cook a delicious, home grown meal every night.
Yeah, right. What actually ended up happening: I had home grown plants (they grew everywhere, bunched up in the corners and some of them falling over on top of themselves….. not in neat little rows) and I ate home grown food. Not a fully cooked meal every night though. Usually, it was just munching on cherry tomatoes from the vine when I was frantically running around with a watering can, trying to make it to work on time.
I learned 3 very important lessons from last year’s garden:
1. There’s no such thing as a real garden. All gardens are real. Put some herbs in a pot on your porch – that’s a garden. Plant arugula seeds near the fencing in your yard – that’s a garden. Grow microgreens and you have a garden. I won’t fool myself anymore into thinking that I need to have a designated space for growing. It’s certainly nice, and slightly easier to keep weeded. But completely unnecessary. Any amount of growing your own food is now in my mind a real garden.
2. If you plant food, it will grow. In early spring I stressed out about proper spacing of seeds, sunlight overexposure, flooding rainstorms, and snacking squirrels. Thoughts of squirrels munching on MY succulent, sunkissed eggplants kept me up at night. I wish I could say I was joking. But… I’m not. Luckily, I learned that plants are resilient. They may not produce enough to feed 10 strapping men each night, but whatever amount you do harvest, it will be enough. And if it’s not, well then it was an adventure, and you’ll know what NOT to do next year. I, personally, have developed a good long list of what NOT to do. Some of which, I can guarantee you, I will do again this year anyway.
3. There’s no time to overthink it. I thought I needed to know EVERYTHING before I started. So I would worry, and stay up late reading articles on what kind of mulch to use, and the best way to mix compost into soil. I finally gave up on all of that research, and just dug in. Got my hands dirty. Tore holes in my favorite jeans. Found worms, planted seeds and got mud all over my toes. I looked up what I didn’t know as I went along. And got dirt on my phone in the process. I think there’s still dirt and mud under my phone case. And I realized, that I will never, ever, ever know everything. And while there are still some days where I have to force this fact down my hyper-organized throat, for the most part, I find it oddly relaxing.
My plans for 2016 include an orchard of dwarf fruit trees. And a slightly smaller actual garden space. My last garden bed was 6 square feet, and while I loved every leek, writhing worm and kohlrabi in it, I may try something more manageable this year, and spend more of my time doing some long-term planning.
I’ve got a big new backyard, and some big ideas for permaculture and xeriscape in the backyard. Ice plants, creeping thyme and sandstone are dancing in my vision for 2016. If you have xeriscape dreams too, be sure to check out the free class series being offered right now by Tagawa Gardens. These classes are being taught by Craig Miller, an expert in his field, and are incredibly informative. Check out the class calender here. Happy planning, happy growing, and of course, happy eating!