I’ve been trying to grow a vegetable garden for a few years now and haven’t had much success. I think this might be the year I’m able to grow a decent amount of food, an amount that would impact my grocery bill.
The past few years of failures haven’t been a waste, though! I’ve learned how to compost, how to use mulch and other organic matter (like coffee grounds) to improve my soil, and I’ve gotten to know my little patch of suburban ground in a whole new way. I’ve started the process of healing the land by refusing to spray it with chemicals (like Trugreen) and by reinvigorating the soil with compost. I’ve planted flowers for the birds, bees and butterflies, and I’ve made a tiny toad pond that the birds also use as a bath. Instead of being a chemical-saturated monoculture of lawn, I have started to create a little nature preserve.
This weekend I went to Lowe’s for a trash can to make a rain water catcher (more on that in a sec). They had a ton of plants on clearance and I ended up getting a bunch of mostly perennial flowers for $1 or $3 each. I also got a few things to add to the veggie garden.
Every year I add more and more plants to the garden beds in my front yard. They were all bought on clearance because I feel like going out and spending hundreds of dollars all at once sort of defeats the purpose of trying to live simply and within my means.
Instead of dumping a bunch of money and doing it all at once, I’ve accumulated plants from the clearance rack each year until finally my front yard is starting to look full of bright, colorful plant life. I’ve also started to mix in herbs, like rosemary and sage, in the front yard so that it’s a food garden as well.
Back to my rain barrel… I saw where someone had taken a cheap trash can, flipped the lid upside down and drilled holes to make a rain water catcher.
I have wanted to collect rain water for a while and that seemed like the cheapest, easiest way to get started. I need to add mesh to the bottom of the lid to keep the mosquitoes from laying eggs inside. I used a brick to keep the lid from blowing away. I plan to use it to water my vegetables this summer.
One part of my garden that is doing very well is the salad bed. I have collards, romaine, chard, onions and garlic growing in a bed that gets partial shade.
I managed to keep the chard alive all through the winter, and I think it will survive the summer since that bed doesn’t get full sun. Those plants can’t handle the relentless summer sun in Hotlanta, so that partially shaded bed is perfect to have an all year salad garden. It’s all about figuring out how to best use the space I have.