It’s Garden Season here in Georgia and I am a giant dork about growing tomatoes. Just one big dork. Growing up, we would get to see my grandfathers garden in Mon Valley Pennsylvania and it was just such a peaceful – almost euphoric experience. Walking through the lines of plants, smelling the rich earthy tomatoes and having them sliced thick with mayo and salt n pepper on fresh bread. Just thinking about the entire experience – feeling the weeds give under our fingers, seeing Pappap’s hands soiled with dark brown dirt and the moment when he said “pick that one!” and pointed with his crook of a finger. It was THE BEST.
Obviously I want that same experience for the rest of my life and for my kids….the joy of gardening and eating the thing you grew from the earth. It’s dorky to say but the THRILL is real. And it can only happen after a whole lot of hard work…aka – getting your garden ready and those plants in the ground! Mother Nature will do the rest 🙂
We call my Pappap “Happy” now – it was a long story – but its why I named our little garden with raised beds “The Happy Garden”…..both in honor of the man who is more passionate about taking care of people than anyone else I know and because dang if this little space doesn’t make me oh-so-happy. Let’s go in! I’m happy to show you around 🙂
Inside the fenced area (all the links to past projects are at the end of this post), we have four raised garden beds. A lot of people are asking about how we made these and I’ll share more in depth info soon.
All four beds get the vegetables and usually I stick with tomatoes and peppers and herbs as those are the items that I am good at using.
The garden is full sun and we struggled to keep our aggressive bermuda grass from invading the beds so that is why we did LOTS of layers and then this rock. I’m happy to say that besides the random shallow rooted weed or two, we have no grass issues!
We also put stepping stones around the bed (I’m often barefoot) and we had a water line run to the far corner so I had a way to keep everything from drying out in our blazing hot sun.
I’ll list everything that I planted in each bed and then I’ll put a * if it is a new-to-me plant. I usually try to do a couple new plants each year just to experiment and see what I like.
BED #1 (All Tomatoes)
- Super Sweet 100 – Cherry Tomato variety
- San Marzano * – plum shape, perfect for sauces
- Early Girl – high producer, ripens earlier than most
- Big Boy – obviously large variety, sandwich slices
BED #2 – (HERB BED)
- Parsley *
- Lemon Thyme *
- Lemon Verbena *
- Sage *
- Oregano *
BED #3 – TOMATO BASIL
- Rutgers – classic tomato
- Yellow Pear * – done yellow before but not pear ones! nice for salads
- Better Boy – large size, versatile
- Super Steak – super sized tomato (hard to find in stores)
- Basil – I again planted way too many (6) and I’m gonna have to trim them or give away a few of those plants.
BED #4 – PEPPERS
- Better Belle – green to orange
- Orange Bell – sweetest of colored peppers
- Better Belle II – green to red
- Golden California Wonder – mild yellow pepper (great for kids!)
- Big Bertha – long peppers, my favorite for fajitas
Flanking the other gate (that leads out to where the blueberry bushes are and the peach and apple trees, are two pots I got from Walmart and popped ground cover roses in. They are called Sweet Drift for those wondering.
The pots look like concrete but they are actually just plastic and they are super lightweight.
The largest plant in the beds right now is the lavender and it is probably going to be in bloom in June or July. I’ve had this plant for less than a year and I’m excited to see what happens!
Another new fun purchase were these smaller cages. I use larger ones for my tomatoes and last year I just used stakes for the peppers but it wasn’t the best method. I found these at Home Depot and decided that they were the perfect solution to my heavy plants. Here is the link for them!
The larger cages might not be the ultimate tomato solution (especially for my largest varieties but I’m still learning what is the best fit for me. My Pappap (who by the way is in his 90’s!!!) still stakes his tomatoes with steel rods but I just don’t think I have the stamina that he does! For now these cages are my friend!
Another new thing is that I added a cluster of pots at one side of the fence. I wanted to have a few things that the kids could participate with and this was the perfect solution!
In these pots we planted –
- hydrangea with potato vine
- butterfly bush (this will get transplanted)
- strawberry *
- purple basil *
- tarragon *
This pathetic hydrangea was forgotten and dying in the garage but I think we finally see signs of life and it should be ok soon.
Speaking of signs of life…one of the pots in the corner have two very new plants that I will be transferring soon. It’s a sweet mini watermelon and a pumpkin plant! The boys are obviously extra thrilled with these.
Oh and in the corner that has our water spigot, we added two new accessories – a hose holder and a double hook for pretty flowers. I love the way both of these things add beauty and make the area look well loved.
Of course the little red splashes in the garden make the green really pop and remind me of the beautiful tomatoes to come!
Thank you so much for visiting our little Happy Garden and if you would like to stay updated, I will be sharing our weekly updates on Instagram stories every Sunday night. I did this last year and it was so fun to see what plants did well and what was a complete flop and also there was learning for me along the way. You guys apparently know WAY more than I do so it was fun to share the little tidbits of what I have learned and then of course learn more each growing season. OH – I guess that is another reason why that is called the growing season! Ya learn something new everyday Katie!
And because I know I will get lots of sourcing questions – here are the links to past posts on everything we did to create this space….
- Grading for the Garden
- Blocking the Bermuda & Getting a water line
- Building a Fence – Part 1 – POSTS
- Building a Fence – Part 2 – SIDES
- Building a Gate
- Staining the Fence
- Staining the Stepping Stones
- Last Years Garden
And here are some sources for things we have, love and use every year in our garden…