In my twenties, living in an apartment with only a tiny balcony, I was constantly itching to get my in some soil to grow some plants. In fact, the top railing of my balcony was lined with window boxes overflowing with flowers and herbs. I was obsessed with the show Gardening Naturally and fantasized about having some space to grown a proper vegetable garden and even a flower cutting garden. I may have even daydreamed about running a small hobby farm.
That apartment balcony garden eventually gave way to a proper vegetable garden when I got married and moved into the house that I’m still in now. We have added literal truckloads of soil amendments into this garden and employed the Square Foot Gardening (affiliate link) method many times to make the most of the rather small square footage. Tomatoes, squash, green beans, peppers, strawberries, blackberries, greens, corn, and lettuce have all been in rotation at one time or another.
But at some point, having three small kids with all the activities–Saturday sports games, scouts, play dates, etc. I just didn’t have the bandwidth to keep up with the garden. We still planted one every year, beginning to home in on what worked well–jalapeno peppers and tomatoes are all we did some years. We even got the kids involved–having them help to turn the soil, plant, and water. I can’t even tell you how many bean tepees we’ve grown so that they could sit inside on a hot summer’s day. And while I helped out with the initial planting I eventually left all the care and upkeep to my hubby.
But things are different now. I’m in a different season where there are no Saturday games anymore, and my kids are starting to leave home, and even when they are here, they just don’t need the attention that they used to. Add that to the fact that my hubby has a bit of a neck issue this year–which means that if I want a garden, then it’s up to me to plant and maintain it.
And you know what? I love it! I’d forgotten how enjoyable it is to get out there with my hands in the soil, watching seedlings grow (sometimes almost before your eyes!), push some seeds into the ground and trust that with the right combination of soil, water, and sun–that they will poke up in just a week or so.
I’d also forgotten what an awesome workout gardening is! I’ve been weeding, cutting back and mulching the rest of the yard and no gym workout I’ve done recently has compared with the full body work I get during a Saturday morning in the backyard.
And now that we are about six weeks from the initial planting, and I smile every time I look at the garden. Plants are filling in nicely–, the sunflowers are starting to cover the back wall, the strawberries are putting out runners and a few small berries, tomatoes are blooming, and we are harvesting lettuce for salad at dinner.
The jalapenos are a disappointment this year. Lesson learned–they didn’t look that good at the nursery when we bought them, but they were the only ones they had, so we bought them anyway. I won’t do that again. While everything else in the garden is thriving, these have stubbornly refused to grow.
My goal over the summer is to spend just fifteen minutes everyday out in the backyard pulling weeds and deadheading–easy chores that don’t get you all sweaty. Then that leaves Saturday to continue with an hour or so of more intense garden work–trimming, mulching, fertilizing. It seems a very doable schedule that actually makes me really happy!
I love to sit outside this time of year as much as I can, and while my style of gardening could be described as “controlled chaos”, it makes me happy to know that I’m tending my tiny, suburban plot of land well.