May 5, 2015

Patio Vegetable Garden: Getting Started

We've been talking about starting a patio garden for two or three years. It's one of those things that can be a bit pricy to get going. So, we've been accumulating pots, tools, and bags of drainage rock here and there over the last few years. While irritating, it's been for the best since it gave the girls time to grow into being able to take active roles in tending the garden with us.

Gardening with children.
The girls learned how to transplant seedlings. They were so gentle with their beans!
Thus far, 2015 seems to be the year to get started as things finally fell into place with only bags of high quality potting soil and seedlings left to go. So with the girls' bean plants outgrowing our kitchen table, we devoted Friday afternoon and just about all day Saturday to setting up our first patio vegetable garden.

The girls worked extra hard all week to finish Friday's work before lunchtime, so we could go pick out seedlings and get potting soil before we had to get ready for their homeschool group's graduation that evening. We would have taken the entire day, but Friday was the first of the month, meaning I had billing to handle for my day job before we could go anywhere. Internet connectivity problems made that take two hours longer than usual, so it was past 1 p.m. before we were able to leave. By the time we got back home, we only had a half hour to work, but we still managed to get a couple plants in the ground.

Now, the girls are a bit little still to sit through a high school graduation ceremony, so they spent the night with my parents. This was good since it was past their bedtime when we got back, and it gave Hubby and me the chance to get out early Saturday morning and get the rest of the potting soil and a few of the plants we couldn't find on Friday. We had most of the pots filled with drainage rock and dirt by the time the girls came home just in time to plant their beans. We ended up running out of the big pots with four still needed, so we stopped and got ready for our niece's third birthday party.

newly planted patio vegetable garden
Funny how we didn't realize how small our patio is until we established a garden on it.
After the party, we stopped and picked up the four last pots and three tomato cages, since we ended up getting more plants than we'd intended. We planted the last few seedlings, strew our green onion and radish seeds, arranged the pots, and swept up. Of course we had to snap a few pictures before we gave everything a good soaking and went back inside for our delayed family night.

So far we have three varieties of tomatoes, petunias, basil, sage, banana peppers, green onion, cucumber, radishes, rosemary, dill, two varieties of beans, and aloe. We also have some thyme growing in the house. We still want to get some oregano and some other pest deterring flowers, and we still need four more support poles for the beans and trellises for the cucumbers. We'll likely get all of that either this weekend or sometime next week.

One thing we didn't take photos of is the bulb garden we dug early Saturday morning. We tried filling three of the largest pots with irises and day lilies last year, but they were drowning in the pots. Plus, we needed them for vegetables. So we worked up a one foot wide strip along one side of our storage building and moved them there. We suspect it'll take two to three years for them to fill out and really start blooming again.

On a whim, I decided to plant the two pitiful hills of cucumber we'd purchased that looked like they were dying out there behind the irises to see if they'd come back and climb the building. One looks like it might make it. I'm not so hopeful about the other.

We looked all over for chamomile, but no one around here seems to have it in stock. So Hubby and I decided to order seed. I want to work up another small garden on the other side of our storage shed to start growing ingredients for a nighty night tea blend. It'll take a couple of years to get fully established, but it'll be worth it in the long run given our family's love of chamomile tea.

I'm itching to start now. It seems I've been bitten by the gardening bug yet again. However, after all the lifting, hauling, and carrying Friday and Saturday, my hands have been protesting and the right one's been swollen, painful, and weak. It's just now starting to go back to normal.

I'm still trying to suss out what I can and can't handle these days, and apparently setting up two small gardens in a day and a half is a bit too much at this point. Still, I'm hopeful gardening as well as continuing with crochet, knitting, sewing, and soaping will build and maintain flexibility and strength despite the RA if I can find the balance between doing too little and too much.

Hubby and I are both brimming with ideas for home and garden improvements we'd love to bring to life. Our dream is still to turn our little half acre into a micro-farm over the next five to ten years. Whether we'll be successful or not, we have no way of knowing. But small as it might be, this little patio garden is a start and gives us hope. After last year's damping off disaster, where all the seedlings we started were killed by a fungus born in subpar potting mix, we didn't think we'd ever get even a patio garden set up.

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