We are all aware of the phrases “eat local” and “buy local”. Most of us love when this is brought to our attention and will make the choice to do both whenever possible. What may not be so obvious is how to do “DIY” when it comes to growing and preparing some of our own food. It seems like a daunting task and a lot of work.
My husband and I have lived in a condo for the past 10 years. We managed to grow herbs and have a couple of fruit trees. We tried tomatoes but they never thrived on our patio with its intense heat and sun. This past year we moved into a house again with a back yard. Our dogs were thrilled and so were we!
We decided we wanted to take on the challenge of DIY gardens from which we could harvest our own vegetables in addition to the herbs we love. I also petitioned for a “cutting garden” for flowers I could cut and make arrangements with to enjoy in our home, especially when we have friends over for dinner.
Our yard is not that big and with our start up business we travel frequently so we knew we didn’t want to make the beds too big. We wanted to make it a fun adventure where we could manage the reality of weeding and watering the garden while looking forward to the results of our labor.
My husband designed 3 beds. The smallest bed is for my cutting garden, the next biggest for our herbs and the largest for our vegetables. Because of the dogs, our backs, and fostering good soil, we built raised beds. This was a weekend of hard labor.
Next we had to decide what we wanted to plant.
For the cutting garden we kept it simple with: snap dragons, zinnias and gerbera daisies.
For the herb garden we chose our cooking staples: basil, chives, dill, parsley, rosemary, sage, summer savory, tarragon, and thyme. Then in a divided corner of the vegetable garden, we planted mint.
For the vegetable garden we picked the ones we thought would be easiest to grow: 6 different tomatoes, 5 different sweet peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and summer squash. We planted cucumber as well but it died within the first 10 days.
This is our first summer in our new home with DIY gardens. We are learning a lot to say the least. We are learning that some plants are thriving better than others. We live at a higher altitude where the sun is strong. We also planted in mid-June, which is pretty late. Good news is all the vegetables are thriving…except that one darn cucumber plant. The herbs are having more trouble. It may have just been too hot when we planted everything. The summer savory withered quickly. Most everything else has survived. The rosemary is the healthiest… besides the mint, which knows how to grow no matter what!
The herbs and flowers have grown quickly. We are already enjoying DIY herbs in our cooking. The snapdragons are also in bloom and ready for making into a DIY bouquet. The vegetables will need another few weeks but everything is growing by inches each day.
The weeding and watering have not been a burden. We ended up with drip hose in our beds attached to an outside faucet. The weeds are easy if you check daily. It takes no more than a few minutes to keep on top of them. So far we have no pests!
DIY gardening is a great way to add some healthy activity and food to your life. It is also a great way to engage your family and share with your friends. You can’t beat the carbon footprint and “eat local” benefits. The key is to make it doable and enjoyable. Stay tuned for more about our DIY Gardens for Cooking and Entertaining Adventure.
Enjoy! And Live Vibrant