It’s warm enough here, so yesterday we began planting seeds in our outdoor gardens. We’ll hold off a week on planting any plants, however, just in case that thermometer dips.
This year we’ve added another garden box that my husband built. (You’re the best, Dearest.) It’s been a challenge living in the “Driftless Region” where there is no flat land anywhere to be had. The solution is to build these boxes into the hillside. Then, because of the droves of hungry deer, we’ve got to put fences around it all.
This is so different from gardening in North Dakota, by the way. (You may remember that we recently moved?) Deer fence. Right. Nah, just grab that tiller and till for miles and to hades with the fence in the Nodak.
Now, since the region is rather hilly, we’ve also been forced to be creative. For instance, the space in the front of the house was landscaped with rock and lovely perennials, but we’ve decided that this wasn’t practical for a large family. So, I bribed my sons with cash to pick the rock and pull the perennials and voila! We’ve got onions and beets.
My husband is also working on tiering the garden that the children began on the hillside last year. We’re going for potatoes, cucumbers, and tomatoes up there. I hope it’s more successful than last year.
Now, I will say that the children are a great blessing. In fact, I couldn’t do it without them. They are most willing to help. But this could be because they sell me all their produce. They begin the season by purchasing their seeds and plants, watering them all summer long, weeding them, and then selling me produce along the way.
I’m telling you, if you’ve got kids, this is a great way to go.
Anyone else have any ideas for maintaining a garden with lots of children?
As I stand in my yard and look around at the deeply wooded ridges and valleys, I think, Humph, I’m not in Kansas anymore.
Actually, I never was in Kansas, but I was living on those same Great Plains for nearly four decades, and now I’m not. This is my first year gardening in the “Driftless Area” near the Mississippi River. Driftless Area is a technical term referring to 24,000 square miles of steep, forested ridges that the last Glacier Period neglected to iron out.
In other words, we have zero flat spots in our yard in which to place a neat and orderly garden.
No matter, though! We’re figuring it out. Gardening is worth it after all, even if one doesn’t have a green thumb. Today I’ll show you what our family has done this year, and by doing so, I hope to accomplish one thing:
To give hope and inspiration to those of you who find gardening horribly tedious or overwhelming, like me.
Now, if you’ve got a beautifully well-managed garden, this post will still be for you too, because perhaps, by reading about those of us struggling to keep our thumbs green, you may be inspired to give us your extra lettuce and rhubarb. For heaven knows ours didn’t grow.
Gardening Tip #1: Get Somebody to Help
Now I’m the mother of 7 little children. I need help. Thankfully my husband is more than willing to bust out the power tools and build something. Earlier this spring he built a little garden box into the hillside because as I said before, we have zero flat spots in our yard for a traditional garden.
And here it is today:
This box features one tomato plant, two pepper plants, two broccoli plants, and some basil. Originally I had planted mint, but it didn’t come up. I have no idea why. So after about a month, I drove over to the local nursery to see if they had any vegetables left to buy. This was really smart on my part because they were practically giving away the remainder of their broccoli plants and jalapeños for free.
I’ve never planted broccoli, but I thought, why not? And my husband loves jalapeños. So we’re giving it a shot.
But that little box is hardly big enough for everything I wanted to plant. And so, that leads me to my next Gardening Tip:
Gardening Tip #2: Get More Help: Enlist the Children
Last year we tried something new. We told our children that if they wanted to earn some money, they could plant a garden, and I’d buy all the produce. And they actually did it. They bought seed with their own money, planted some potatoes, onions, and pumpkins, and took care of it, and I bought it all. It wasn’t a lot, mind you, but it was worth it.
This year, we knew we’d have to get more creative. Just where were we going to dig up some earth for the Children’s Garden? Well, why not try on the hillside?
So, the boys carried up their folding saws and bow saws and hacked away at the sumac in order to clear a patch of earth. Then my husband hauled up the tiller and did his best to rip up the ground. Naturally the soil wasn’t fertile, so we added some peat moss and Holy Water. Lastly, the whole thing had to be surrounded by a deer fence, if we hoped to enjoy any of the produce ourselves.
And this is what we ended up with:
Admittedly, it’s rather small, but I guess something is better than nothing. This little garden boasts of a pumpkin plant, a few onions, some green beans, a pepper plant, and two tomato plants.
Here is a close up of the pumpkin and pepper:
And here’s the tomato plants:
They had planted cucumbers in there too, but they chose not to grow, which is just as well as they’d likely have vined all over the place.
I tried to get the children to plant beets, as they’re one of my favorite vegetables to roast and eat, but alas, the children positively refused. They insisted that there was no room for such nasty-tasting roots, which leads me to my third Gardening Tip:
Gardening Tip #3: Plant Vegetables Instead of Marigolds
Now this hurts me a little, as I love flowers, but if those rebellious children won’t plant beets, somebody’s got to! So, instead of a row of marigolds, I planted a row of beets (and some onions) right by our front door.
Anyone can see that neither vegetable is truly thriving. I’d like to blame this on the hail that went through a month ago, but really it’s because I’ve got a two-year-old who walks all over it too.
In the end, I hope this little garden tour inspired you to keep at it, especially if gardening overwhelms you. It’s always worth it!
Just the other night the children sold me a handful of their green beans. We haggled over the price. I told them that the average market price was a $1.68 per pound. They responded promptly by reminding me that their green beans were organic and likely worth triple that amount. How outrageous!