Since we moved into our house two years ago, we've been dreaming of planting a garden and growing our own food. It's been hard to find the time with life being so busy these days, but this past spring/summer we tried our first season of planting. And while we only harvested a little bit of produce, we had a lot of fun and learned a lot. Want to see what we grew?
We ordered some heirloom seeds online, and here is what we decided to plant: watermelon, corn, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, kale, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, and sunflowers. Wow that seems like a lot, right? We built one large, square raised garden bed in the front yard, and we also planted some things on the side of the house. We planted the seeds in mid-March, and two weeks later we started to see some sprouts. A few things never seemed to sprout (the cucumbers and sunflowers), but I was amazed by what did grow. It's truly amazing to plant a tiny seed in the ground, and see all the different varieties of produce that spring up.
I should mention that Adam is the chief gardener in our house. As much as I love the idea of being a gardener in theory, I just can't focus on it right now. Adam, on the other hand, has a natural affinity for plants. He's always paying attention to them and checking to see how they are doing - whether they need more water or nutrients or sunlight. He did all the research about knowing when to plant and how to harvest and all that. Mostly I just watched and took pictures.
We started by pouring a layer of compost into the garden bed, and covered it with a layer of organic potting soil. Then we planted tomatoes, spinach, bell peppers, carrots, kale, and lettuce in the garden bed. We'll come back to the garden bed later, but first, let's talk about the watermelons!
Our Wonderful Watermelon Friend
The watermelon patch was my favorite part of our garden. We planted seeds in March, and ended up with two tiny little watermelons by the end of June. We surrounded the plant with eggshells and diatomaceous earth to protect it from bugs.
I was really fascinated by this process. First a couple of tiny little sprouts poked out, and they eventually grew into a long, leafy vine. Shortly after that the little watermelon buds showed up, and in a few months they grew to the size of a large grapefruit.
I was surprised by how juicy and sweet it turned out. I worried it might be bland and flavorless, but it was actually quite tasty!
The Corn Fields of Ocean Beach
We also planted several stalks of corn along the side of the house. Of all the things we planted, this was definitely the most exciting and dramatic transformation. The corn stalks grew so fast, and by mid June they were taller than Adam!
Adam pollinated each ear of corn by hand, and we were so excited to harvest them, but (SPOILER ALERT) they got infested by bugs. As we peeled away the corn silk from the stalk we discovered nasty little bugs in them called earwigs. That was a bit of an unpleasant surprise. We ended up cutting off the damaged bits and feeding the corn cobs to our neighbors' chickens. Oh well, maybe our next harvest will turn out better.
The Raised Bed Garden
Last but not least, let's come back to the garden bed and see how things are coming along. The lettuce, spinach, and kale were by far the easiest to grow. We got several harvests out of them, and used them in soups and salads. Eating vegetables that you have grown yourself is such a treat. The carrots were a bit small and twisted, but they tasted great. The tomatoes never popped up, and unfortunately we lost our pepper crop to bugs as well.
What We Learned From Our First Year Of Gardening
I am honestly so proud of us for planting a garden and growing our own vegetables. This was our first time planting, and it was definitely a learning experience. Keeping our crops safe from pests was the biggest obstacle. We'll have to do a little more research for our next round of planting.
We didn't harvest a ton of food, but the few vegetables we did grow were delicious and so satisfying. Growing your own food is a lot of work, and it's not easy. But I had so much fun watching our garden grow, and we can't to wait to try again.
In other gardening news, check out these posts to see how we replaced our grass lawn with drought tolerant plants:
1. Planting a Drought Resistant Lawn Part 1 - Goodbye Grass
2. Planting a Drought Resistant Lawn Part 2 - Hello New Plants