So, I’ve told you already I’m a gardener. This little hobby…obsession (potato potahto) began last year. I was helping my mom and sister plant our yearly side bed garden. We always did okra, some kind of tomatoes, maybe some squash, and always a bunch of herbs. Our tomatoes haden’t done well in a few years, they were so small, and they would crack before the sun could turn them red. Our okra always produced way more than we could ever eat, because here in Texas, the unofficial state weed is the okra bush. So if you live in Texas (or anywhere else where it’s hot as all get-out from the end of April till November) and you want something that is a heavy producer, okra is for you. Seriously.
I haven’t had much luck with herbs in the ground. So this year I made myself a bucket.
I have in my fun little bucket: catnip, thyme, flat leaf parsley, marjoram, stevia, sage, and basil.
Sidenote: don’t plant basil until there is ZERO chance of frost. That basil in the picture is my third one this year. They just can’t handle any kind of chilly weather.
So since the herbs and tomatoes in the ground didn’t work, I’ve decided to try more pots this year. Things I have had trouble with, or have never grown before, I put in pots.
The second, and my favorite part of my garden is my raised bed. I started it last year after I saw the idea on Pinterest. I am not much of a carpenter, so I didn’t want to try and fabricate a wooden one. I opted to do the cinder block bed because of a few reasons:
1. No fabrication
2. Cheap and accessible materials
3. Fun planters for small things on the border
4. No rotting wood to replace in a few years
So here’s my actual step by step (revised from the Pinterest version)
Pick a sunny spot
Lay a fairly thick layer of cardboard.
Place cinder blocks on the cardboard around the perimeter. And my advice would be to add a layer of expanded shale and poke holes in the cardboard to help drainage. I made the mistake of disregarding drainage my first year, and anything requiring deep roots withered, and everything else got root rot. I added the drainage this year and it was much more difficult to do than if I would have done it in the beginning.
Add lots of compost and potting soil. Another tip from the school of hard knocks: DO YOUR MATH CORRECTLY. It will save you from making the 4 COUNT EM 4 trips I made to the home depot because it took me that long to figure out I needed to cube the area of the bed to know how much soil I needed. Math is important, people. Very important.
And this was my first week of planting:
Corn and jalapenos! That corn was from seed and so very promising. Lack of drainage kept them from growing big enough to tassel. No corn for me. But the jalapenos did AMAZING as you can see by my end of season picture below.
So that was my first year of raised gardening. I’m on year two, and since I’ve added the drainage and aerated my soil, everything has taken off at a pretty steady rate.
Onions on the left, cucumbers in the small peat pots in the front, carrots in the front behind the cucumbers, three different peppers in the middle, mint in the back, snow peas hidden behind the pot of brussel sprouts on the far right.
And there you have it. My intro to gardening. Besides food, this is one of my favorite things to talk about, so if you’re into that kind of thing, watch for my gardening posts as I tell you about the lessons I’ve learned in this ever changing hobby.