When I first decided to carry on my family's tradition of gardening, I would only start growing food during the summer. As I got a better handle on what it took to be the lead gardener (which is much different than helping out your parents with their garden as a kid), I decided to grow veggies, fruits, and herbs during spring, summer, and fall.
The hardest part was always starting in spring. As an educator, spring signals the start of the last quarter of the school year. There is state standardized testing, field trips, awards programs, projects, fundraisers, and planning for the following school year. Once I decided to garden, starting in spring, it was always a balancing act. I would try to muster up enough energy to go outside and do something productive after work. It has gotten easier since my sons are older. I can trust them to water the plants and harvest.
However, COVID-19 changed everything. In those previous years, I was either a classroom teacher or in a special role such as an English language learner teacher, literacy coach, or librarian. This year is my first year as a school administrator. I supervise and evaluate nine teachers. I was nervous about how I was not only going to start my garden this spring but also start a brand new garden pretty much front scratch after moving from our home of 12 years back in October 2019. Yes, we were able to take some of the herbs, but it's just not the same.
I am fortunate to be one of the people who can still work at home and be compensated. The load is a little less. I'm grateful for small blessings because it has allowed me to get outside. I have a lot more done than I had originally anticipated that I would have done at this time.
Step one was figuring out where to put the garden. I had decided that I wanted my herbs right across from my kitchen door. I talked about that on my YouTube channel earlier this year. I was going to put the rest of the garden in another spot in the yard until I realized that we did not have a hose connection on that side of the house. It would also take away space for my growing sons to run and burn off their energy. This is especially needed now since last Thursday Governor Holcomb announced students would not return back to school this school year.
After consulting my husband, we decided it was best that I keep the garden all in one spot. Now, I going to continue the raised beds next to where I wanted to place my herbs. Even though it is hard to start from scratch, it is an opportunity to learn from my mistakes.
When I told my dad I wanted to grow food too, he bought and built me a 3x6 raised bed. I wished I could have taken that bed especially since my dad put it together, but it would have been a lot of work. I didn't have the time. We moved and then sold our first house. My husband is also an administrator in information technology. Our jobs are demanding which did not give either of us the time to deconstruct the beds and take them. The person who bought our house liked that we had the beds because his mother wanted to grow food there. I'm glad they will still be used to grow food. Even though we only moved four streets over, we have not driven over there to see if that's happening.
My students would tell you, "Mrs. Barnes has gone on a tangent."
As I was saying, I learned from my mistakes. I need to space out the raised beds more. It was hard to navigate around the raised beds especially as my boys got older. At first, we did not plan to add on outside of the bed my dad built, but I could not help myself. I wanted to grow so much food. I would just buy a raised bed and add them. I did not think out the logistics until it was too late. This time, I did a lot of measuring, made diagrams, consulted Mr. Barnes, and did research online.
My online research was about all the different types of beds we could purchase. We have decided this is our forever house. God willing, I will live a long time. I want it to be easy for me as I age. I wanted some containers that were higher for my herbs and plants like greens, radishes, or carrots. The lower raised beds will contain tomatoes and melons.
I like to grow melons vertically, and I intend to continue this because it saves space. I have plenty of space now, unlike my previous yard. Saving space when I have space gives me more opportunities to plant a variety of plants.
I purchased four planters (these have a bottom unlike raised beds) that are 20 inches tall. The width was also 20 inches, and the length was 3 feet. Then, I ordered six raised beds that were 2 feet in width and 4 feet in length. The previous owner had a birdbath hanging on a shepherd's hook in the areas where the raised beds went. My husband and I decided to leave it there, but we removed the birdbath. Instead, I'm going to hang a flower there to attract pollinators.
The boxes I originally designated for herbs currently have kale, carrots, and radishes growing in them. We can add herbs later. I really wanted to get something in the ground. That's where we are so far. I haven't filled up the six raised beds with dirt yet. I'm limiting when I leave the house to keep my family safe.
We still have another area, but I have to finish planning out what will go there. I know I want to put strawberries there. I also want those to be grown vertically. I'm currently researching options.
It's a lot of work, but I'm glad I have the time to do it right.
Remember to stay safe, practice social distancing, wash your hands properly, and look out for others.
Remember, anyone can be a gardener. You just need to get ready, get set, and grow!
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