Gardening for the...ahem...not so green thumb?
I remember when I first started thinking about putting in a garden at our new place. A very small, "easy" one to start with. It's not that I was a gardening novice as we had a HUGE garden when I was a kid and was forced to collect row upon row of string beans, peas, and tomatoes, *shudder*, among other veggies & fruit. But I didn't exactly help out with the planning and logistics of the garden when I was 14. And it's been a long time since then anyway. So I was just barely a step above novice when I started.
Also, I have this big problem in that I'm horrible at keeping things alive. My lucky bamboo even died and all you have to do with those things is keep water on it (which I did; it still died). Fish are lucky to last a few months in this house. I've found the secret to those is minimal fussing. Feed them a few times a week if you remember, turn their light on occasionally, don't bother with a heater, and never change or test their water. Be sure to let so much algae grow that you can't even enjoy them because you can't see them through the sludge.
Poor fishies! My husband and son are very fortunate to have lasted this long. And I can't say it hasn't been without incidences either. One year I gave my husband trail mix that had walnuts in it (he's allergic) and he swelled up so badly he looked like an Italian version of Will Smith in Hitch. We drove circled the local hospital while he sipped Benedryl through a straw. He was ultimately just fine and we avoided the 10000 hour wait in the ER thankfully.
After that it was my attempt to introduce peanut butter to my son when he was 2. Poor kid ended up covered in very itchy hives. He recovered, but still. As you can see my history didn't bode well for the future produce I attempted to cultivate.
Hoping to get my hands on some magic beans, the next issue was one of time management. I worked full time out of the home back then. And the husband worked second shift, so that left me a single mom to a very curious and active 2 year old dare devil of a boy most nights. I planned to do my garden maintenance on the weekends during nap time and in the evenings after little dude went to bed but before the sun set if I needed to. (Yeah, sure former self. GL with that.) I thought it was feasible if I keep the garden size under control.
We definitely have the space for gardens though. 1.2 acres split by a little natural water spring/creek thing. The back 1/3 of the property is not maintained (for privacy), and I have amazing plans stored up in this brain of mine for the coolest Japanese-inspired garden some day when I win the lotto. Or someone gifts me $100,000 since you really need to play the lotto to win.
For my convenience I put the garden behind the house. And completely enclosed it because we have a ton of wildlife in the back. Yes, I live in the burbs and the front of our house is actually on a double-laned major road. But the back of the house faces nothing but woods for miles. It's the best of both worlds really; 5 minutes from a mall in the front, but all the peace of country living in the back. My house is basically a mullet. Now when I say country, I don't mean pseudo-country. It's Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures back there most of the time.
We may not have deer and antelope at play, but we have deer and turkeys. And coyotes.
See that tall pine in the way back to the left of the photo? Our property goes about 20' past that.
So I needed to enclose the garden enough and plant animal deterring plants nearby to keep the critters at bay. The last thing was my neighbor. As I've mentioned before, he had a personal toxic landfill in the back of his property. AND apparently there use to be a pond in the back of ours that got filled in with "dirty" fill by the dude that flipped our house before we bought it. I've actually found the weirdest things protruding from the yard while mowing. Bricks, carpet, rubber garden hoses, and a ton of construction debris. I have a strong hunch that the "dirty" fill was actually all the crap he pulled out of the house so he didn't have to rent one of those big roll off garbage containers. Needless to say, this doesn't make for very rich garden soil. In fact one thing I looked into was plants that buffer the soil and extract toxins. Filter plants. Cover crops.
He has since passed on in this world and his daughter took over the property and worked very hard to clean it up.
The garden was small but quite successful those first few years. I eventually upgraded to a 600 sq foot fenced in space in the back of the property as well as a small bed along the south side of the house. Most recently I've added a large medicinal herb garden to the front of the house as well and turned the old original bed into a strawberry patch.
That first garden started it all though, and with the abundance that it produced, gave me the confidence to keep going, grow more, and just go for it.