Gardening has been a new experience for me. This year was my first attempt at growing organic vegetables in my tiny backyard, and it has been not only fun but educational as well. We started by building a raised garden box, 6ft by 10ft. We felt this was a decent size to start out with and possibly expand on next year. Turns out, it was to small for what we got.
In the spring we planted a row of Cooking Onions, Cucumbers, Green Beans, Peas and Hot Peppers. We also planted a row of tomatoes. All in seed form. That was just in two thirds of the garden. Then we planted in the space that was left some herbs like Savory, Sage, Greek Oregano, Dill. And too help keep mosquitos away. A lavender plant.
After a month or so after planting we saw germination in much of the garden except from two rows, the hot peppers and the tomatoes. So my husband and I bought some pre-grown plants. Seven plants in total and each a different variety. Don’t ask which ones by name, I couldn’t tell you. Some are cherry types, one was just a regular vine, another looks like tiny pears and are yellow.
Well, we quickly realized after planting the tomato plants that we made our mistake because the row of tomato seeds we had planted began to sprout. After they sprouted we ended up with eleven full plants just of tomatoes. We thought, okay we can deal with this.
By June the growth was phenomenal. We had so much growth that the green beans and peas were beginning to be choked out. Thankfully we managed to harvest some green beans and enough peas to plant for next year. So I yanked out the almost dead plants and that left room for my tomato plants. Then I discovered another problem. The cucumbers were now thriving due to the removal of the peas and beans. The vines spread all over. So I made a trellis for it to climb and climb it did, but it also choked out the row of cooking onions. Thankfully, again, I was able to save the seeds from one onion plant for next year.
We then went away for a week for a vacation. When we got back we got another surprise. Our garden seem to had grown three times the size, by that I mean the tomato plants and cucumber vines grew so much that now my herbs were being threatened. I have never in my life had plants grow this big and this was new to me. My garden was now officially, out of control, and really it didn’t bother me that much.
So now we have gotten to present day and the garden is spouting about 3 lbs of ripe tomatoes a day. All my herbs have survived, even the dill which I thought was dead until today, which turns out it had adapted and has vines all over to get sunlight, and I’ve been constantly trying to come up with ways to store, dry or can my harvest.
I’ve made a rough estimate that we will save just on Tomatoes and Cucumbers alone over the next year, approximately one thousand dollars off our grocery bill. That doesn’t include the herbs. Since my gardening has been a success, I will also be building a hybrid aquaponics system for fresh herbs during the winter to use along with the herbs I have dried during the summer. Which for a small cost of a hundred dollars, will produce approximately four hundred dollars of fresh herbs all winter.
So from this experience so far, plan ahead. We made our mistake of planting to much in such a small space. Next year we will have a plan in place. We already are working on a vertical pallet garden for our herbs to keep them separate. Maybe with some strawberry plants as well. And the raised bed will have less tomato plants and more of other vegetables. Just so we have more variety.
Is the garden worth it? Absolutely yes. The money we save alone is worth the effort and not only that, but we grew these veggies ourselves and know there are no pesticides, and know they are not GMO. We have healthy food, save money and the added bonus is that the gardening experience is relaxing and rewarding. Watching those seeds germinate and grow and produce things that you can eat is quite satisfactory.
Try it! You will like it!