How Does the Garden Grow…

Spring is starting to break through here in central Georgia…or at least it’s trying to.

My backyard is turning into a giant purple field.  I may not have any grass, but at least the weeds are pretty!  We even have some of our seedlings growing in little pots or egg cartons on every windowsill in the house.  Our humble little garden is all planned out and I’m excited to see how it will grow this year.

I don’t really know what I’m doing really, out there in the dirt and the ground and the earth.  I’ve never had much of a green thumb.  Black, maybe…but definitely not green.  (I killed a cactus once.  Seriously.  It shriveled up and died…a cactus!)

But last year my daughter’s therapist suggested that we try growing our own vegetables…that it might help her along on her journey to eating more foods.  (Long backstory there…perhaps one day I will share more details…but my oldest daughter, my “picky eater,”  was diagnosed with a sensory disorder about two years ago.  Basically she has a hard time eating a variety of foods.  Food aversion.  Anxiety.  Sensory disorder.  All these labels that really have little to do with who she really is…my beautiful, amazing, brave girl, who just happens to taste and feel things a bit differently.  Therapy has helped her so much, and this whole thing has been quite a journey for our whole family…a journey I am now very thankful for, because it has helped shape us and grow us all in ways that I would have never imagined.)

So anyway…it was suggested that we grow our own foods so she can be a part of the process.  Just grow a few vegetables, plant a little garden….they made it sound so easy, and yet the whole idea just seemed like a failure waiting to happen from my perspective.  (I mean, I killed a cactus for heaven’s sake!)

But I was willing to give it a shot…for Emma’s sake.

This was the extent of our little attempt at a garden last year:

And what do you know?  We planted these tiny little seeds….and they GREW!  Not only did they grow, but by golly, we got some vegetables too!  Now, they wouldn’t win any prizes at the state fair or anything…but the fact that something green actually came out of the ground, and then produced something that we could actually eat….that was a miracle in my book!

I had no idea what I was doing, though.  The plants were WAY too crowded.   I was so excited to see things growing, I just let them ALL grow…all crammed together and on top of each other.  And who knew that tomato plants got so BIG?!  And that cucumber plants have these crazy vines that take over the whole garden bed?!  (Well, gardeners know these things…and I would have known it too if I had done any kind of research and reading before we just went crazy with the planting).

Yeah…this is what our garden last year ended up looking like:

But I had such low expectations for that first tiny little garden last year…any growth at all was a huge success.  And the girls really enjoyed it…it was a great learning experience for us all.

But what surprised me the most…what I did not expect…was how much I would begin to truly love gardening.  I’m not sure what it is about it that changed my perspective…maybe it’s just the whole miracle of it all…how something so tiny and dead can become something so big and alive. Maybe it’s the joy of watching the process.  Or maybe it’s that having that little garden added something beautiful to our plain little backyard.  (Or maybe it’s all of that combined)

Whatever the reason, I really do love gardening (or at least humbly attempting to pretend to garden).

So we are planning another small garden again this year.  I’m adding just a little to what we had last year…and making space for our plants to spread out.  And I’ve been reading and researching and scouring Pinterest for lots of new gardening ideas.  I still don’t really know what I’m doing…but I’m actually really excited about seeing our garden grow this year and learning more in the process.

We have onions and potatoes and some lettuce in the ground now.  Ranunculus bulbs have been planted too. There are tomatoes and peppers and marigolds sprouting on our windowsills.  I’m supposed to be planting the carrots soon, but am a bit behind schedule.  We’re also hoping for cucumbers and green beans and lots of flowers this year.

(Oh, and to help a completely helpless know-nothing gardener like me?….I use this handy dandy little free website called Smart Gardener.  It has been very helpful in reminding me when to plant each kind of plant, giving me “to-do” lists for each week, and it also has nifty little tools that let you plan out a garden design.  Such a great little resource!)

And then yesterday while running errands with Lilly, we saw fruit trees for sale outside the grocery store.  That little nature-lover child of mine talked me into getting one.  And then later I learned that I will need two in order for them to pollinate and actually ever produce any apples. (Who knew?!)  So I guess I will be going back to get another one.  And I guess we will have two apple trees in our backyard soon.  (We have NO trees at all right now….so I’m just a little giddy excited about even the possibility of having an actual live tree of my own!)  Now…whether or not they actually survive, let alone produce apples…that’s a whole other story.  (I’ve been known to kill trees too…yep!)

And for those of you who would rather just look at pretty pictures of flowers and plants rather than get out there and get dirty and grow your own (I was so that person not all that many days ago…), here’s a pretty little garden-inspired (very simple) little print for you:

spring printable

{Click HERE for PDF file of the 5×7 print}

Happy Spring (hopefully soon!)

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