My daughter came home from kindergarten announcing that we needed a vegetable garden. The class had dropped a few seeds in some plastic cups and set them on the windowsill. A few days later, Id been recruited to become Farmer Brown.
But I liked that she was so excited. And with the economy in the toilet, the idea of growing something- ANYTHING- that we wouldnt have to buy at the grocery store was appealing.
You dont consider a vegetable garden to be much of a landscape feature? Why not? Its another usable area of the yard. It encourages you to get out and interact. It serves a purpose. And unlike a koi pond, it pays you back!
Things to Think About:
- Sun/Access: Vegetables need a lot of it, so that may dictate where you place it. For me, it was the front yard. Yeah, I know. Classy. But it actually worked out. Its right next to the driveway where it wont be forgotten about. No excuse not to go water it since its on the way to the mailbox. And its become a neighborhood conversation piece to boot!
- Materials: I did a raised bed. Easier than tilling up ground that would just become weedy no matter what. Spent forty bucks on lumber, and built a four-by-eight-foot box. Its a nice height for working in, easy for my daughters to access, helps keep hungry critters out.
- Dirt: Heres the biggie. It would have taken me and my truck several round trips and probably a whole day to transport 1.5 cubic yards of soil. Instead I splurged and had rich, composted soil delivered in bulk. For two Benjamins, they dumped it 4 feet from the box. Suddenly, putting a veggie garden next to the driveway was sheer genius. One hour with a shovel and I was ready to be a farmer. Cue up some John Cougar Mellencamp.
- Seeds: This is the fun part. Plant whatever you like. Try tomatoes and peppers to make your own salsa. Carrots and zucchini for salads and breads. Throw in herbs youll use. Go nuts. What works is gravy. What doesnt work didnt cost you much.
- Water: I highly recommend getting a five-year-old. Mine loves dragging out the hose and giving the garden a good drink every day, whether it needs it or not.
Several months later, we have 6 tiny tomatoes that havent turned red quite yet, a row of green beans that might actually be ready to pick in the next week or so, some lettuce that I was sure had died but is making a comeback, and a daughter who is absolutely astonished that we are growing food in our own yard that she will actually eat. Id like to think that its teaching her about Mother Nature, about self-reliance, about patience, about the miracle of life. Id like to think that well never have to pay for carrots again. We may get nothing more than one lackluster salad out of this whole experiment. But its already been worth it.
And the neighbors are already asking for extra tomatoes.