Fellow gardeners know this time of year is about more than lovely weather and the pollen count. It is either time to plant your garden or, if you got ahead of the game like we did last weekend, it is time to tend to it lovingly.
If you think I’ve been a lifelong gardener raised by parents who loved digging in the dirt, you’re wrong.
I was raised in the suburbs, always near a major city, and thus consider myself a certified city kid. I have always, however, been a country-girl wannabe.
Even as a child, I wanted a garden. My dad’s idea of gardening was planting a tomato plant or two. Some years they produced, some years they did not.
Once I dug up a sunny spot along the side of our house and planted all kinds of vegetable seeds. Of course, I didn’t know what I was doing and I figured more was better than less.
I ended up planting 10 packs of seeds in a plot that was probably four or five feet long and one foot wide. Needless to say, nothing grew. I am sure the soil was probably solid clay as well.
To pacify my longing for a garden, I began collecting houseplants. As it turned out, I had a pretty green thumb when it came to those. So ever since I was about 10, I always had a plethora of houseplants.
Our home is overflowing with houseplants. When I get the winter blues, I always head to the nursery and purchase a few more plants to brighten my mood and remind me gardening time is coming.
I tell you about my lack of past gardening experience because I am proof that even those without a background (or with a failed one) can successfully grow vegetables and herbs. I still consider myself a fairly novice gardener, especially compared to those genius Master Gardeners I know.
That being said, some of you will remember that last year I had to learn how to can because our tiny plot produced so many tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. If you have never planted because you think it is too difficult, here’s some advice:
• First and foremost, make sure you pick a sunny spot. Somewhere that receives six or seven good hours of sunlight is your best bet.
• Also important is your soil. Some crops do OK in Georgia clay soil (think peanuts and cotton), but most vegetables like loose, loamy soil that’s rich in nutrients.
I have had numerous gardens over the years, both too big for me to handle and pretty small, like the one I currently have.
A few years ago, Paul built a raised bed and we filled it with good soil, manure and some lime. This year he built another one just like it so we were able to add a wider variety of vegetables and herbs to our plantings.
• Check your garden daily and water and fertilize frequently. We make it part of our nightly routine to walk down to the garden and check on things.
Sometimes this can be frustrating when you notice the rabbits ate something or a pest is bothering one of your plants. But most times garden-checking is relaxing and then exciting when vegetables are ready for harvesting.
Nothing is more satisfying than cooking dinner based on what the garden is producing. Likewise, nothing perks up dishes more than the addition of fresh herbs.
Even if you don’t want a big garden, you can at least plant a few tomato plants and some herbs.
Growing your own food is incredibly satisfying. Like my dad used to say, “Nothing beats a homegrown tomato.”
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at email@example.com.