When people ask me what time of year I start planning my garden I always answer “anytime.” The reality is all year round is a good time to plan your garden because it is so cyclical. Even in July during the peak of the season I am planning out and evaluating what I will do differently the following May. Gardening has become such an integral part of who I am.
When I started my first garden over 15 years ago it was in my parent’s suburban backyard. A space no bigger than 3 x 4 feet. I grew cherry tomatoes, peppers, flowers and herbs (that are still invading my mom’s flower beds to this day!) Every day I would go out and check for progress in my little garden and I was so amazed at how quickly things grew and that actual food came from the earth.
In college I planted in pots on the fire escape of my apartment. Being outside and enjoying any hint of green brought healing to me in so many ways and a refuge during stressful times. In the winter I brought them inside for fresh herbs through the cold season.
Fast forward to today and it brings me so much joy to share my love of growing with my children. Especially my middle son Kelby Jr who has taken up such a love for being in the garden. Ever since they were babies in a basket my boys would be outside with me tending to the soil, pruning, weeding and their favorite part harvesting. It is so much fun to gather the buckets and wagons and fill them until they topple over. I love the scavenger hunt in the cucumber patch, who can find the biggest one! I also enjoy the race in the bean bush of who can pick the fastest. Picking stunning bouquets of flowers to bring to friends is another highlight along with the surprise of pulling a giant carrot out of the ground! The best part is bringing it all inside and cooking with it.
We love to grow rare and obscure varieties of things from pink celery to purple carrots. I really believe the whole experience has taught our boys to love vegetables so much more. The other day we had friends over and Kelby Jr proudly told the table that everything in the soup we were eating came from the garden. He was so excited to share the fruits of his labor!
I think why I love gardening so much is it is forgiving. Nature desires to grow and yes it does have its weeds and pests that will attack your bounty but what I have found over the years is that if you start with a healthy soil, a good foundation, that a garden works together like a symphony.
I choose to grow my main crops in raised beds for a variety of reasons. In growing this way, I am able to start with healthy soil and amend accordingly. I also interplant everything so my garden looks more like a tropical forest than a mono culture farm. Cabbages next to marigolds, sunflowers next to corn and kale by the tomatoes. I started to plant this way because it was more beautiful but then I quickly realized it is so beneficial. The tomatoes bring shade to the kale on the hot summer days which keep the greens more tender, the marigolds detract insects that might feast on the cabbage with their strong scent and the list of benefits goes on. It is amazing how harmonious nature works together! Food tastes better too, at first I thought this was all in my head but then I discovered the science behind it. The more complex the microbiology of your garden the more nourishing the plants are which is translated into taste on our plates.
If you have ever considered gardening but stopped yourself because you were afraid to fail, I want to encourage you today to take the leap. You can start simple and small. Note that potted indoor plants are actually more challenging than growing outdoors because it is not a natural environment. Instead try to grow something outside, just a 2x3’ raised bed in the backyard. You will be amazed at what a little tending can do and how much you also will grow in the process of growing things. As always we love to be a resource to you. Please reach out if you have any questions or need assistance.