The Accidental Gardener
Finally…it’s garden season here in Omaha, and soon we will be chowing down on home-grown tomatoes like they’re going out of style. I can’t wait!
Please don’t let these pictures fool you, though. Yes, they are shots of my very own personal garden. But, no, I am not a gardener.
I can’t really even say that I particularly enjoy gardening. I mean, wouldn’t an avid gardener be pouring over seed catalogs in mid-January?? Not me. I’m more of what you’d call a “lazy” gardener. Sure, I enjoy the harvesting and the feasting, and, yes, I might shed an occasional tear at the miracle of a seed that actually sprouts or a stem that somehow manages to bear fruit…but I am not so keen on the manual labor of prepping soil, planting seeds, staking plants, washing veggies, etc.
Basically, I’m truly more in love with the idea of having a garden than with the process of gardening itself. In fact, I’m most accurately described as a gardener of circumstance. It’s not that I have a green thumb or just can’t get enough of wading around in mud, pulling weeds, and being eaten alive by mosquitoes. Heck no; I am a C-I-T-Y girl through and through. I have just developed a deep appreciation for real, organic foods…and growing these things oneself is, by far, the cheapest (and freshest) way to go!
As you’ve likely surmised, gardening does not come naturally to me. I envy the folks who just seem to have a knack for it. Every time I teach someone anything about gardening or learn that I have “inspired” someone to start their own garden, I have a good laugh (on the inside, of course!) because I know the embarrassing truth about the limitations of my gardening “expertise.” I suppose you could say I learn things “the hard way”—I’ve pretty much learned all that I know about gardening by losing crops and then frantically checking in with Google (or one of my human friends) for an explanation and, hopefully, a solution.
Speaking of losing crops… consider yourself warned: Critters that look like cute little yellowish-green lady bugs should not be treated as such! They must die! (Sorry folks, no one said this was gonna be pretty!)
The Square-Foot Advantage
Luckily for me, very early in my gardening “career” (chuckle), I was fortunate enough to be tipped off to the concept of Square-Foot Gardening —or as I fondly refer to it, “Lazy, City-Girl Gardening.” Oh, it is a glorious method, indeed—with no tilling, minimal weeding, and no flooding (yes, even this year)! It’s as if this method were invented just for me!
If you’re interested in the concept, I highly recommend getting yourself a copy of the Square-Foot Gardening book. It’s a very basic book that gives you all the info you need to get started…without overwhelming you with details! If it worked for me, it can work for anyone! This book covers everything from how to construct the raised beds and what to fill them with, to how many seeds to plant in each square and how long to wait before harvesting!
Square-foot gardening is a method of raised-bed gardening that allows for maximum use of garden space. It looks pretty darn cool, too (according to my neighbors)! It’s also great for yards with contaminated ground soil (e.g., lead) or no soil at all (patios and balconies)! The beds can also be built on legs for folks who are in wheelchairs or have trouble bending. All you need to get started is a 4’ x 4’ space and a taste for good, fresh food!
Lessons from a City Girl’s Garden
In closing, I offer you a “Top Ten” list of lessons I’ve learned from my extensive (cough, cough!) gardening experience. Have any tips you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below!
10. Bees are our friends. They are not to be feared (regardless of how afraid of them you may have been raised to be because you grew up with a mother who was terrified that they might buzz around and get all tangled up in her very long, very thick hair)!!
8. Plant your garden where you can see it and enjoy it (and, thus, where you’ll be less likely to forget about it or neglect it). There’s no law that says your garden must be tucked away out of sight in a back corner of your yard. I have a lovely view of my garden right from my bedroom window! Just be sure your space gets 6 (preferably 8-10) good hours of sun!
7. Plant your garden out of reach of any male dogs. Veggies taste best when watered by humans.
6. Food tastes better when you know where it comes from, so grow as much as you can.
5. Plant more than you need. There’s no better feeling than giving fresh food to others. Plus, if something goes wrong and some of your plants die, you won’t be left veggie-less!
4. Always plant radishes. They provide instant gratification because they grow very quickly. Even if you don’t eat them—just grow them and give them away. They’re pretty dummy-proof, so you’ll feel successful even if the rest of your garden dies.
3. Fake snakes will deter birds, but the birds will eventually realize their fakeness if you never move them! Or, perhaps, birds just don’t fear snakes they presume to be dead?! Either way, you lose!
2. If you’re the type of city girl who doesn’t enjoy little spiders and things crawling on your kitchen counter, it may behoove you to give your garden-fresh veggies a quick rinse outdoors!
1. Make friends with every gardener you meet. Sure, they may be great folks and you might enjoy their company, but that’s really beside the point. Chances are they will have extra food they’ll need to give away at some point. Which brings me to…Lazy Girl’s Gardening Lesson #1: Never grow for yourself what others will grow for you for free!
Happy Gardening…and a special bonus! Watch the video below as Christy takes us on a tour of her square foot garden.