Bucket List Item #7: Plant a Vegetable Garden
Earlier this year, I planted a vegetable garden to harvest this summer!
This is not my first attempt at a vegetable garden. Last year, my husband and I filled the long garden box in our backyard with wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt and topsoil to make a healthy habitat for homegrown produce. I had been inspired by a podcast called “Homemaker Chic” where the art of homesteading is somewhat glorified. We live smack-dab in the suburbs and have zero interest in homestead life, but I still find the podcast about their daily life charming and found inspiration to at least cultivate some of our fruits and veggies in our backyard. But after a spring and summer spent watering and watching my garden grow in 2021, I ended up with more “lessons learned” than edible goods. Lessons that I took into this year’s gardening attempt.
Lesson #1 from last year: I prefer root veggies.
In late April this year, Baby Brynnley snoozed in her stroller while we browsed the seed selection at Zamzow’s – Idaho’s favorite lawn and garden store.
I picked beets, rainbow carrots, onions, bell peppers, and a flower called Delphiniums. My seed selection differed from last years lettuce and squash varieties because I learned that I’m more likely to actually eat the food I produced if it was a root rather than a leafy green. My garden last year was a little burned from the sun plus covered in spider webs. The brown spots on the lettuce leaves and the webs across the garden box were so unappetizing. I threw nearly all of my lettuce and squash away.
Lesson #2 from last year: follow the seed packet instructions/growing guidelines.
This one probably seems like a “duh.” Last year, I just emptied all the seeds from the packets into dirt rows. I didn’t want to throw away or waste any seeds I bought, even though the space I had for them was much too small to accommodate the entire packet. I felt like “the more, the merrier!” Unfortunately in gardening, more is not merrier when you plant 200 carrot seeds within 2 square feet of each other. They stunted their growth because they were so entangled underground.
This year, I topped off my garden box with new organic Miracle Gro soil and raked it over to combine the new with the old. I made sure my drip sprinklers were still working, then I divided the long box into five sections for each type of crop. I carved out two or three rows in each section. Finally getting to plant the seeds is the fun part! The beet seeds were so big and scraggly, they reminded me of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal pieces. Next to the beets are the Delphinium flowers which will grow to 4-5 feet tall in shades of blues and purples. I couldn’t wait to see them! The rest of the garden box is filled with rainbow carrots, onions and bell peppers.
Lesson #3: use some sort of produce-safe insecticide if you don’t want spider webs all over your vegetables.
Like I said, that was the most unappetizing part of growing lettuce; the thin cobwebs turned me off completely from even trying what I grew. So this year I used an organic spray to deter insects from taking over the garden box.
When I worked on my garden in late May & early June, Zeb was gone on a trip and I wanted to let Brynnley join me outside without worrying about her getting too much direct sun or any bugs on her skin. So I took to Amazon and found the cutest little mini tent for her to stay shaded and enclosed in while getting to enjoy the backyard with me.
The seedlings turned into green baby sprouts in a surprisingly short amount of time. I think it was about 5-8 days from planting that I already saw the tip of a green stem shooting up from most of the vegetables, which was so much faster than I expected. They continued to grow as I watered them over the next several weeks, despite having a long heat wave with high 100+ temperatures.
Unfortunately, my garden had a big bare bald spot where I planted the delphinium flowers. The seed packet said they took 21 days to germinate so I held out hope that I just got a slow batch, but 3 months later and the gaping patch of dirt amid the beets and carrots is pretty clear that my flowers gave zero effort in growing this season. I was very bummed because I was so excited about the tall beautiful pop of color I would have had in my garden bed!
By late July, my beets and carrots were hearty enough to harvest! I plucked a few to throw on a sheet pan of roasted veggies. I enjoyed my bright beets and rainbow carrots with some added zucchini from my parents’ garden plus some storebought sweet potato. Drizzled in olive oil, tossed with Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute blend then roasted at 425 for about 45 minutes. I also added some chicken sausage, and enjoyed it all together in a bowl.
My onions are still growing, and the bell peppers are great hearty stalks but they haven’t actually produced any peppers yet. I had read that growing bell peppers from seeds was a very time-consuming crop and so we will have to wait and see if they yield anything before fall or if next time they will need to be started from an existing plant.
And while we’re on the topic of gardens, what a perfect opportunity to show off my adorable girl in her little gardening outfit :)
Future little gardening girl ☺️
Last night, Zeb & I crossed off another bucket list item that I’ll make a post about shortly. And I have 2 more scheduled for the rest of this month! I’m starting to feel the pressure to get to the “weather sensitive” bucket list items because my days of opportunity before the Big Day in February are slowly dwindling and I won’t be hiking or paddle boarding in Idaho once October hits! So the next two months are about to be jam-packed, get ready! 😁