Can I overcome my black thumb and have a successful garden?

The Garden. Strawberries, beans, lettuce, kale, purple cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, Walla Walla onions, chives, peppers, zucchini and yellow squash.

So after 30 years or so of moving every 3-4 years I finally have a place to call my own. The first thing my daughter and I did was start talking about a garden. Oh, such grand plans we had in the beginning. Talk about the blind leading the blind. Neither one of us is known for our green thumb, quite the opposite in fact.

We decided that raised beds would suit us much better than an in ground garden. We figured they would be easier to manage and a bit less work. Next question was “how do we build them”? Fortunately while searching amongst the zillion different ideas and plans for building raised beds I stumbled across a kit at Home Depot. Yep, you guessed it, we took the easy way out and bought two kits. We decided we had better scale down our operation a bit this first year and see if anything lives past the first month.

They went together beautifully. No muss, no fuss. Just slide the boards into the grooves and there you go. The hard part was digging up the sod and getting rid of the grass. I suppose we could have used a tiller but we only wanted to get rid of the grass not till up the yard. Man that grass did not want to come up but we finally managed to get it all nice and pretty for the beds.

And here comes our dumb moment. We were so excited to get the dirt in there we totally forgot to lay down our landscaping fabric. You know, a barrier or something to keep the weeds and grass from growing. Oh well, guess we’re going to have to weed next year. We’ll probably be good this year but I shudder to see what the beds will look like next spring.

It took us a few days to get the stuff in place and then another two weeks to pick up starts and seeds. We spent hours agonizing over what to put in the garden. We really had to pare the list down to those things we knew we would use right away. Most definitely there would be lettuce and tomatoes, not to mention zucchini. Can you believe I have a hard time getting zucchini from anyone? I thought everyone always had an overabundance of the stuff? Strawberries and lots of them! I want to make jam from strawberries out of my own garden.

Then I discovered Companion Planting. I bought  “Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening”  by Louise Riotte. For the uninitiated it simply means planting different vegetables and/or flowers nearby to help ward off insects, pests and even help with better growth. You even have to make sure certain vegetables aren’t planted near one another because they’ll fight one another. Who knew? So we have lettuce with our strawberries, carrots between our tomatoes and marigolds everywhere. Hope it works.


Last year I had pretty good luck growing basil in a container on my deck. This is different location but I’m hoping for a bumper crop again. I even added a few herbs like rosemary, thyme, Thai basil, cilantro, lavender and sage.

Rosemary, sage, thyme and Thai basil – I’m thinking these are too close and I need to split them up a bit more.

We also have a challenge in keeping the dog out of the garden. I think we are going to find carrots mixed in with the peppers and kale.

Let’s hope we’ll see some seedlings sprouting up within the next few weeks. Stay tuned for updates, I hope.