It’s round two for the Bower garden. Let’s raise our tomato stakes to toast organic gardening!
Last year was our first year for planting a garden. We have a great slice of yard in the front that is hidden from the driveway and the front exterior by some large bushes (those purpley ones on the left corner below)…and I was THRILLED to be able to plant a little happy garden last year.
By the time the end of the summer rolled around, our tomoto plants took off…as did the rosemary and basil…and the peppers did okay. Everything else? Um notsomuch.
Yeah – maybe I was overbearing….or maybe I was just plain unlucky with pests…but either way, the squash were literally squashed the first month…and the cucumbers? They were like a cast member of Jersey Shore in front of Donald Trump. They didn’t last a week.
So this year, I was determined to try some things again and to switch up a little to see if other plants did better.
In late January, the garden was looking a little, um, dead. Except for the rosemary. It survived. It thrived. It did yoga on the weekends just to show off.
And now, after tilling, resoiling, turning, planting and waiting patiently as I stared at the plants wishing them good growth…it looks a little like this:
Above from L to R: Yellow Squash, Red peppers, strawberrys, and the rosemary transplanted from last year. Dead bush in the corner – another rosemary. Rosemary’s baby if you will.
The other side has four tomato plants (one big boy, one roma, one cherry, one deceased and dining with Jesus), along the back is a ton of basil, and the two in front are jalapenos. I also planted two green peppers in the front right corner, but over-zealous Katie put them out too early and the last frost got them. Surprisingly, they also got all the tomatos and jalapenos but they CAME BACK.
So I’m definitely thrilled…and still considering throwing some green peppers in there, as well as one more tomato plant and one more herby type plant for beside the rosemary. May isn’t too late, right?!
And just as far as dreaming goes – I asked Jer to build me a nicer fence (the one above works great against the numerous deer and other critters we get, but it’s a pig in need of lipstick, if you know what I mean.) and I also asked for two more beds….BUT with him going back to the office and having limited time here, I decided that I would fulfill my need to put plants in the ground by planting three blueberry bushes instead.
Ideally, one day, like say maybe 2043, I will have a giant garden. One that has wider pea gravel paths and six beds for all sorts of deliciousness. It’ll have a nice fence with plantings and flowers around it so that it looks like it’s been there forever. I would also love for there to be a nearby grape vines (maybe muscadines too since we are in the south afterall) and a beautiful chicken coop with a couple hens named after famous people. That way, when I’m yelling at the chickens, it’ll put a smile on my face….afterall, who wouldn’t want to tell celebrities to “come eat”, amen?!
What would your dream garden have? Have you been planting this year? My dad decided that this would be his “Year of the Tomato”….he’s got six pots in his backyard with Big Boys. Which is kinda hilarious because I think that the only thing my dad ever grew was a chest full of hair. But he told me that they are showing fruit already – so it just goes to show that anyone can do this crazy thing called gardening 🙂
I love your plans. My dream garden (and i would need to win powerball) would be Martha Stewart’s Bedford farm!!
Katie – I would LOVE your dream garden! BTW – have you grown strawberries before? If so, how do you keep the bugs from eating the fruit? We’ve got one in a container and it’s bearing fruit, but just as they are becoming ripe, the potato bugs eat them up. Good luck with your garden 🙂
Your “dream garden” reminds me of my brother and his Seattle urban farm! They have chickens, bees and enough crops to provide the majority of their food throughout the year! What they don’t grow in their yard they purchase at farmer’s markets and they can food to live off of during the winter. My daughter and I were just visiting them there:
Looking good! Our rosemary over-wintered into a giant bush this year too. We also planted about 10 tomato plants, eggplants, lettuce, spinach, peppers, thyme (over-wintered), a bunch of basil, cilantro, parsley, cucumbers, and beans. If it makes you feel better, we have you beat in the ugly fencing department: rabbits were raiding the bean plants so our nice neighbor loaned us some old rusted rolls of chicken wire and stakes. It’s makeshift, it’s ugly, but the beans and bunnies are in separate time-outs now so we’re happy. Don’t know if Peter Rabbit’s happy though.
This is our first year with a garden and I believe we have beginner’s luck. We planted 4 tomato plants (they have 43 tomatoes on them already!), 4 green peppers (with 3 peppers already), 4 jalapenos (I can’t count the jalapenos there are so many), a cabbage (it’s being eaten by something), and 2 yellow squash plants (with lots of blooms and one little squash). We have a very wooded lot so we planted in the only area that got some sun. We didn’t expect it to do anything but boy were we wrong. I think I need to learn how to can some tomatoes. I am thinking about planting some herbs in pots so I can make salsa all summer. YUM! I love the little fence around yours and if you ever get chickens, I would love to see how you care for them. I have considered getting some myself. 🙂
Katie, how close together are those plants? They look a little tight in the photo. Generally speaking, you want 2 feet apart for tomatoes and 12 inches or so for other plants (like the peppers). If they’re too close together, they stunt each other.
I’ve found it also helps to have your garden where there’s shade for part of the day–it prevents the plants from drying out totally or not getting the chance to soak up a watering. You can also use mulch to help hold in the water, but get the plain, rough natural kind that’s not colored.
Of course, I’m not gardening in Georgia, which I’d bet is an entirely different animal! But I’ve still learned a few things in the 4 years I’ve been doing a backyard garden 🙂
Katy Campbell says
The day we had a great big hail storm (in good ole SC) was the day that I thought (prior to the hail arriving) was the perfect day for planting…so my rosemary, cilantro, basil, sage, cucumber, zucchini seedlings got a heavy beating (thank goodness I waited on the tomato, pepper and strawberry plants!). Fortunately all of them have comeback, the rosemary bush took the longest to come back but it finally looks well again – yours looks amazing! But I’ve already pulled 6 zucchini – and I thought I had a brown thumb! Love your garden and your garden plans for the future look amazing, I’m loving gardening and would enjoy something that big and that rewarding!
I’m pretty proud of our garden, but would someday love to have the kind of half-acre garden my parents had when I was a kid. We practice square-foot gardening and train our tomatoes to climb (http://casah.blogspot.com/2011/06/tomatoes-up-there.html) I think you could try this in your current space and take advantage of some more vertical space.
Kelly T says
I’m trying my first garden this year! So far, so good-ish. Four tomato plants, a cilantro, a basil, a rosemary, a squash and an asparagus plant all in a 4×4 raised garden. I haven’t had anything to harvest yet! Trying not to get my hopes up, but those little green tomatoes are making me have big aspirations of tomato sandwiches and homemade spaghetti sauce!!! I hope they make it to red, ripe fruition!
Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove says
Yay gardens! We have an indoor garden of basil, oregano, parsley, and lettuce! Sadly, our garlic didn’t make it but it’s definitely something I’d like to try again next year 🙂
what are the dimensions of your garden? the size looks nice. ours are too big and it makes it hard to reach in to weed so I am considering chopping the raised bed in half. Of course I will have to do it next year b/c I was too lazy this year. I mean I was too anxious to get this years garden in the ground.
I grew up with quite a big garden but was scared to start one of my own.
We have a TINY yard but managed to fit in 3 raised beds among the kids pool and play house. So I’m attempting 2 kinds of tomatoes, 3 types of peppers, sugar snap peas and a variety of herbs. Our northeast Ohio weather is very unpredictable so here’s hoping we at least get enough tomatoes for salsa!
Good luck with yours!
Cilantro is a super hardy herb. I started my from seed, transplanted it, and it’s doing great in the ground (even with only part sun!). I’m working on a tomato plant and a multicolored variety of jalapenos. I’m hoping that come up (again, limited sun). I was able to get some tomatoes and green peppers to grow last year in pots although the plants were tall and stringy instead of full and lush. I dream of a garden like yours – sun and fruits and veggies of the earth.
I’ve been planting mostly in pots for the last three years. Despite having gotten exactly zero tomatoes the last two years, I’ve got 10 pots of tomatoes (some with two or three plants) in various types. I also planted lettuce this spring and am really loving it. There is nothing as self-satisfying as eating a salad that you grew!!!
We got a professional landscaper to design a plan for our backyard. Maybe we’ll have it ready for fall. Looking forward to having a permanent garden.
it’s looking great! we always plant WAY too much, but it keeps us busy 🙂 we’ve got zucchini, corn, peas, green beans, and about 20 tomato plants. plus blueberry bushes, raspberry bushes, fig bushes, 3 beds of strawberries and a ton of lettuce. whew!
Ooh… wouldn’t that be lovely! Great plantings and here’s hoping for lots of bounty!
Your ideas are endless, Mrs. B! I love hearing all your updates – personal and with your home… thanks for sharing! So… I live in an a townhouse/condo-ish type of complex, so I have to resort to potting my herbs and veggies instead of putting them in the ground, where they belong (here’s a link of this year’s planting: http://ninasquared.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/spring-is-here-at-least-i-think-so/). Unfortunately, I don’t have a link for last year’s plant batch since I am new to blogging. However, I wanted to mention that I made the mistake of planting bell peppers late in the game (May-Junish) last year and I was able to only get about 4 med-but-let’s-face-it-really-small-sized red bell peppers. However, I did use this trick this year + planting them earlier from: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/features/gardening/2009/08/the_trouble_with_peppers.html. Whew! Maybe I would have been better off emailing! Finally, just in case your eyes aren’t crossing from all this, a more recent update of my jalapenos and bell peppers (using the trick from Baltimore Sun): http://ninasquared.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/garden-update/. Again, thanks for everything you share and for reading this!
Urban Wife says
My dream garden is one that doesn’t die every single year. I have a notoriously black thumb. It’s pretty sad. But hey, yours looks great so far! I would love to have some chickens though. Bad gardening doesn’t kill those. 😉
Pamela @ Pink Hammers & Sippy Cups says
Ooooh what a lovely little garden, I hope it all turns out for you this year! I planted my garden just last weekend some tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, lettuce, and strawberries! I’m quite excited for it and hoping it turns out because I’ve only ever had a teeny tiny garden once before that like yours only half turned out haha.
I absolutely love your idea of a dream garden btw! If only we had the land for it/time!
[email protected] says
I really wanted to plant a garden this year, but I think it may be too late for us. Oh well, there’s always next year! By the way, watch those strawberries! We planted them one year and they took over the whole bed! Once you get them growing they grow like weeds.
This is my first time – I got the plants on clearance at Walmart (can’t beat $1 pots, right?!) and so far we’ve gotten just a few berries. I don’t know how to prevent pests – so I’m not much help but surely there is a gardener website for your area that you could google 🙂
xo – kb
Your garden looks great! I am DYIN’ for a chicken coop, but I can’t get the Hubs on board. One of these days…
My husband and I just bought our first home back in August and so we’ve been busy clearing the land for my “dream” garden. We’re almost there-just have some mulching left to do and the chickens will be here in 2 weeks! 🙂 Better get started on the coop! We planted lettuce, broccoli, sugar snap peas, 6 different kinds of tomatoes (for a total of 10 plants), red/green/orange/yellow peppers, basil, oregano, parsley, peppermint, lemon balm, spearmint, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, grapes, nasturtiums, and I’m sure I’m missing something else. We’ve been BUSY! We put in (3) 4×8 raised beds and (4) 4×4 raised beds. My goal is to have everything growing in the yard be edible except for my hydrangeas. Next year we’ll plant apple trees and maybe add to our flock. 🙂
Erin @ One Project at a Time says
I’ve been spending hours this year trying to make a beautiful garden out of a huge (25’x 15′) sand filled and overgrown platform that is built into our retaining wall. So far I have 3 beds with tomatoes, peppers, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, beans and sugar snap peas, not to mention an asparagus bog, 12 raspberry bushes and some rhubarb. My latest project has been tackling another platform to make a Zenia cutting garden so I can pick and display fresh flowers this summer. I’m exhausted from all the work, but its really starting to look beautiful! http://oneprojectatatime.blogspot.com/2012/05/my-rock-garden.html
Love that you are planting blueberry bushes! In New England our wildlife problems can be, um, large, so I just finished making our garden fence out of recycled pallets. And it was actually pretty easy!
Amanda @ phdandparenthood.com says
Your garden looks like it’s coming along nicely! You might want to try an eggplant. They sort of in-between the size of a small tomato and a pepper plant and they’re so much fun to watch grow! In a garden of your size I would recommend NOT planting mint because it will take over so quickly. However, you can always have it in a clay pot on your deck or something.
My garden this year is small. Last year, it was a graveyard of sadness. Everything died after blooming spectacularly. I was heartbroken. This year, I’m planting just tomatoes, jalapenos, and zucchini. Fingers crossed!
Your dream garden looks amazing.
If you like the raised bed gardening, and chicken coops, you need to check out Karen’s blog.
She tore up her whole front yard and started square meter gardening. And she built her chicken coop all by her crazy self.
Gardening is a gift we give our children-engaging them with the earth/universe, providing them with fresh wholesome food that tastes better than store bought-and saving resources, too! It’s more than just saving money-it’s responsible parenting. Michele Obama is pushing the gardening thing too as a way to cut childhood obesity.
For me , it’s all about being one with nature. OHMMMMM 🙂
Here in Orygun, we have to wait to plant until Memorial day-ish. UGH. When I lived in TX, we could set things out in March! Next year we will be in SoCal, so gardening will be more year round. Can’t wait!
So, we got our veggie plants yesterday, and this weekend will be planting time!
I do cherry tomatoes and Early Girls; peppers, jalapenos, japanese eggplant ( smaller and great for stir fry), lemon cucumbers, peas, green beans, lettuce and herbs like chives, basil, thyme, and whatever else strikes my fancy and will fit in our beds/pots.
We put sunflowers there, too, for the birds-they’ll leave other things alone if the have seeds.
Here’s a link for a sunflower play fort-you could put one in for Will!
I volunteer here at the relief nursery ( for babies in families with tough issues) and I am helping put in a garden that will have that fort, lots of kid friendly veggies, flowers and whatnot.
here’s that pinterest link:
I ♥ to garden. My mom was amazing at it, and it looks like I have inherited her green thumb. My daughter lives in San Diego now and has a patio that she felt the need to dress up with pots of dalias, tomatoes, and plumaria-so that gardening DNA has surely been passed on.
LOL @ your chicken names…priceless. Hope you have other ideas for that baby! LOL
I have garden envy! We bought our house last year and were so excited to do a garden this year that we bought seeds and raised them inside in one of those little incubator things. Well, trying to be a good little gardener I left them outside on one of our first warm days this spring to let them get some good sun. And then I forgot about them. All night. Until the next morning when I opened the curtains and saw the frost on them. 🙁 Needless to say, we are going to be buying some plants to replace the failed seeds.
Don’t forget to get different types of blueberry bushes. They won’t grow fruit if they don’t cross polinate!
Yes! Chickens should be named after celebrities! Or vintage girly names. We are building our first garden fence that looks the same as yours, definitely a “pig that needs lipstick”, ha. Also got 8 chickens and named them Betty, Hazel, Dixie, Lucy, Poppy, Rick the Rooster, Libby and of course, BEYONCE! …courtesy of Jenny Lawson, the bloggess who wrote this…
sarah b says
if you’re looking for excellent gardening and garden design tips, check out Square Foot Gardening. our local garden center highly recommended it. it is amazing how much you can grown in a 4×4 foot garden bed. we bought the book and have learned so much!
Hi Katie! The husband and I are taking a road trip to Savannah, GA next week. Have you ever been there? If so do you know of anything fun and exciting we could do?? Thanks!!
Do you just go out to the garden every few days and water with the hose or watering can or do you have some sort of other method (drip irrigation system) that does all the work?
That’s really exciting! I’ve wanted to start a little garden in pots but never got around to it. We did have a raspberry bush but it died last year. 🙁
[email protected] says
I have one strawberry plant that has been ignored, tossed around, chewed on by dogs, and yet every year it comes back and gives us a few strawberries. I blame the Georgia clay!
Yup – I have two cans so that only takes me about three trips…but I talked to Jer and he thinks we have a water line on that side somewhere that the water company can tap into and give us another spigot…so that’s when I’ll get a couple soaker hoses and relieve the can-duty 🙂
xo – kb
I have been there – but only when I was little for a girl scout trip…so it’s definitely been a while. I know John & Sherry went one time when they came down to visit us!
xo – kb
Oh yes – that is something I learned! Our three different types are Climax, Austin and Premier – I was told they are all early fruiters – which apparently is also important when picking out the plants 🙂
xo – kb
Ooooo, I am all about some dream gardening right now…we are closing on a house in June which has a big spot for a garden, although nothing is established really yet, so we’re in your boat and starting to dream big. We’re leaving behind a small garden with strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, kale, and peppers in this house (for the new people) because we’re nice like that 🙂 So exciting to start thinking about growing…we also want chickens!
That’s a good idea – thanks so much Katie! And gotta love $1 plants 🙂 We got most of ours this year from a local gardner at a flea market and most plants were about a buck – love it! Good luck with your garden Katie!
Be sure to keep an eye on your strawberries and catch the runners before it’s too late. Otherwise they’ll take over the whole bed, kinda like mint does. We keep ours separated in galvanized bins just in case I start slacking off and miss some. Good luck!
Watch out with basil and strawberries, once you plant them in ground they are hard to stop from growing and taking over, especially strawberries.
I had planted a small strawberry plant last year in a pot and it somehow managed to survive the winter and it’s pushing tendrils into the ground surrounding the pot!
I’m thinking of putting in a small garden box just for strawberries to keep them from choking out the rest of the veggies.
My co-worker has a few chickens up here in Richmond. Her first chicken she nameds Eggsmerelda. HILARIOUS! I seriously giggle every time she would talk about that chicken.
Peppers like it hot and dry. My mother-in-law plants peppers in a rocky strip of dirt that runs along her driveway and they grow like mad! I really need to get out and weed my garden, but this is what it looked like a couple years ago: http://rustsunshine.blogspot.com/2010/07/veggie-garden.html. That was before my son was born…hasn’t looked that good since…
Erin @ The Great Indoors says
Not sure if someone has suggested this to you yet, but plant some marigolds near your garden to attract some buzzy friends. Our first year of gardening, our squash did terribly– and I’m pretty sure it’s because we had more mosquitoes than bees! Last year our marigolds brought in all sorts of bees, and all our plants did better.
Good luck this time around! I love your big garden plan. As Ouiser on Steel Magnolias says about old women, “We’re supposed to wear funny hats and grow vegetables in the dirt!” So by the time you get your big garden, it’ll fit. 🙂
I’m trying my first garden this year… kind of. We still live in an apartment, and I planted some herbs and flowers out on our balcony. Cooking with fresh herbs has been amazing! I am so looking forward to owning a house and getting to expand our repertoire 🙂
I love your current and dream garden plans. Have you ever thought about installing a rainwater harvesting system for watering your plants? If not I’d love to see a post on how you maintain your garden, including how you water it.
We actually have but our house came with an underwater draining system so the rainwater goes straight back into the ground. It makes for a good lawn but unfortunately we can’t do a rain barrel without messing with the system.
xo – kb