Getting my Garden on... | Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

May 1, 2012

Getting my Garden on...

Gardener illustration

Every year since we've been married, Hubby and I have attempted to grow a vegetable garden.  Before we owned a home, we tried our hand at container gardening.  The results were so-so.  Right before we moved into our house, we built a raised bed (which I mentioned in this post - and yes, I used the Pioneer Woman's plans).  Our first summer in the new home, gardening was not a priority since I was pregnant and we were transitioning to being homeowners.  We did a few containers with herbs, and tried to keep one measly tomato plant alive, but neither worked out well.

The container gardens that mostly brought death instead of life

Last summer, we were ready to give gardening the old College Try.  I bought The Vegetable Gardener's Bible as a reference guide, and sought the advice from several friends with green thumbs. We started seeds indoors in the late Winter, and were pleased to find some actually sprouted! Once the spouts were big enough, we transferred them to a larger container and continued to care for them.  When May rolled around, we got some hearty plant starts from the Grower's Market for the vegetables we hadn't started by seed.  After the last frost hit, we planted everything in the raised bed and hoped for the best.

It was not long until things started going downhill.

We got a few small tomatoes from our bounty, but most of the plants fizzled at the flowering stage.  Some of the pepper plants almost sprouted a pepper, but then they died.  Our herbs did well for most of the summer, until we learned that we are supposed to keep them from flowering. They shriveled up shortly after.  Halfway through the summer, our garden was all about decimated.

I blame myself.

First, I need to accept the fact that I have a Black Thumb.  Gardening is not in my blood, nor is it easy.  I have to admit I may or may have been good about watering my plant babies.  And, if I am honest, we didn't actually get a good soil mixture to fill our raised bed (it may or may not have been dirt from an abandoned flower bed on the other side of the yard).

May the Garden Gods have mercy on me.

This year, Hubby and I intend on making an extra effort to see our Veggie Garden to success.  We're going to get soil brought in to fill the bed appropriately.  We ditched the lofty idea of starting seeds, and intend on going straight for the plant starts from the Grower's Market. Keep it simple, right?  And we are committing to tending to our plant babies this year.  Water? Check.  Bug control?  Check.  Harvesting? Check.


Here is our raised bed, ready to be cleaned out, filled and planted: 

Just a little work and we're ready to plant!

Wish us luck!

Do you garden? I'd love to hear your expertise and advice:

1) What kind of soil mixture do you suggest for a veggie garden?

2) What veggies/herbs do you recommend for beginner/bad gardeners?  We love all veggies, and we were hoping to go for tomatoes, broccoli, peppers - but would try anything if you think we can keep it alive!

3) What tips would you give for caring and tending to a garden? How do you keep it manageable?

Leave a comment and share your wisdom!


  1. We do a vegetable garden every year with everything under the sun. Our tomatoes do great; as does edamame and zucchini. We've done broccoli; but it takes forever to be ready to pick--like until Halloween! By then I am done with gardening!!!
    Good luck! We are trying potatoes this year.

  2. Here in Kennet Square we have great soil. Last year we had a lot of success with what was already in the yard. This year we did buy bagged soil from Lowe's to fill our boxes since we've expanded so much. Peas are a no brainer and the kids love to eat them right off the vine. We're also doing 2 different types of tomatoes, 3 different peppers, cucumbers, and eggplant. We're still up in the air with what to plant in the remaining two boxes we have. The biggest thing we've had to deal with is keeping everything watered enough once summer rolls around.

  3. My Dad always had a garden when we were growing up. I like gardeners : ) We can't have one in our neighborhood. I wish we could. I think you are going to do great! I have a good feeling that this is your year. Use Miracle Grow : )

  4. If you can, add some compost to the soil and if you like, some fertilizer type thing like Miracle Grow for veggies. I agree with the other posters, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers are all easy. I'd also add zucchini which is super easy and gives you a ton. Just look for a bush plant instead of a vine one if your space is limited. Green bean seeds should be going in soon too, nothing to do there except drop the seeds in and keep watered, great project for the little ones. Good luck!

  5. I think you live near me. I am in the West Chester/Downingtown area. Last year was a really tough year for all the gardeners I know because of the long period of drought and really high temps. Then we got tons of rain which wasn't good and made many of my tomatoes split. So don't be discouraged!

    Finding your stride in gardening takes time. As far as plants, beans, cukes and basil have always been the easiest for us to grow. I suggest choosing a few plants from the local Home Depot and see what works best for you. Seeds are great, but seedlings give you a better start especially when you are beginning.

    I do raised beds and recommend a mix of ingredients.

    One way to consider is lasagna gardening ( which is creative and easy.

    Another is this mix, which is similar to what I used when I started: I took the different items and placed them all on a tarp and mixed them that way because it was easiest for me.

    Good Luck!


Hey! Share a thought or two - I'd love to hear from you! ~ Steph

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