I love to garden! I have ever since I was a little kid. My parents had a fairly big garden while I was growing up. My obsession has always has been and always will be tomatoes. My dad tells stories of us picking tomatoes and I would take a bite out of each one as I picked them and put them in the bucket. I ate tomatoes just like apples. I still LOVE tomatoes to this day, but I usually slice them up before I eat them now.
Once my husband and I got our own house, I wanted to put in a garden. My dad drove the 45 minutes to our house with his tiller to get the ground prepped for us each year. I was so excited to plant a few things. We planted tomatoes and some cantaloupe. Nothing too crazy. It was the BEST cantaloupe crop we ever had. They were small in size but they were so sweet and juicy. And we had SO many!! We loved eating what we could and then giving them away to friends. We have never had a successful cantaloupe crop since!
But that hasn't stopped us. We have since moved to a different house and of course, we put a garden in. My dad drove up for many years to till it at the beginning of the season and the end. We had a friend that would help us out if Dad couldn't come up or the weather refused to cooperate. A huge blessing for us came a couple of years ago, when dear friends of ours heard that their neighbor had an old tiller they wanted to give to someone.....that tiller now lives at our house!! It is an old beast of a machine, but it works great! And my dad still comes up at least once a year during gardening time to visit....and so he can check on the garden.
We still keep our garden pretty simple. Over the years we have planted peas, peppers, cantaloupe, tomatoes (of course), sweet corn, lettuce, radishes, carrots, pumpkins (one year we grew mini pumpkins for my sister's wedding) and flowers (at my daughters request). My kids have grown up working in the garden. I think they enjoy the planting part, but they despise the weeding part (don't we all?).
I have reached out to our friends in our Facebook Community, The Bannor Toys Collective, for some gardening tips and I will throw in a few I have used as well:
🥕 "Radishes and turnips are great at breaking up soil compaction. Marigolds can help with pests. Beans and peas can help fix nitrogen. Mulching can help with moisture conservation and weed control, but don't overload the soil with too much carbon, the microorganisms can immobilize nitrogen as they decompose mulch. If you do, you may need some N fertilizer." (Amanda Bragg)
🌼 "I’m all about perennials because I don’t have the time or patience to plant more flowers every year. I also find that established perennials require pretty limited maintenance, which is a huge bonus in my book! Also, try to pick plants that bloom at different times. That way you’ll have flowers all throughout the season! Some of my favorite perennials are Iris, Bleeding Hearts, Bachelor Buttons (cornflower), Echinacea (coneflower), Lupine, and Shasta Daisies." (Cara Radzins)
🥬 "I have an herb garden along my front walk. I love being able to just step outside and snip off whatever fresh herbs I need when I'm cooking or making cocktails. It's also great because I freeze or dry whatever we don't use immediately and have those herbs all winter long." (Harmony Chamberlain Harrington)
🥔 "I love planting potatoes. Sooooo low maintenance." (Kami MacIver)
🍅 "My tried & true tip for tomatoes is to put crushed eggshells & used coffee grounds in the hole before planting the seedling. The eggshells add calcium, coffee adds nitrogen, and it makes the tomato plants super strong." (Polly Root Sturgeon)
🍅 I second Polly's tip about the crushed eggshells. I also read that you can put a Tums tablet in the hole before planting and that will also add calcium. I have done this the last few years, because I always forget to save my eggshells!
🥕 "I love gardening! I start seeds with my kids in the spring. This year I took classes and learned a lot of new things. I mostly do veggies and herbs with some annuals. I am trying to start a perennial garden this year. I start most from seed but any that don't work out or I don't have room for I buy plants. I prefer raised gardens to keep animals out!" (Kellie Simons Riley)
Here are a few pictures Kellie shared with us of her garden spaces:
Kellie's garden from last year.
Some of their seeds still inside.
Their new squirrel proof tomato garden. (This is awesome!)
🐦 Another garden pest (besides squirrels) that we deal with are birds. When we first put our young plants in the ground, the birds love to swoop down and pick off the top of the plant. This year, we are planning to take plastic ice cream tubs (plastic coffee containers would work, too) and cut a hole in the bottom an then place those over the plants upside down. Hopefully that will give the plant some protection until it is bigger and the birds can't get to them. Our neighbor has done this for years!
🐇 We also have a lot of bunnies that love to come and eat our plants. I will not put a plant in the ground until we put a fence up around the garden. Be sure to secure the bottom of the fence as bunnies will crawl under if it isn't.
🍅 The last tip I will share is one I think most people know, but be sure to put cages around your tomato plants. It helps the plant grow up so the fruit doesn't lay on the ground and rot. We have 5-6' tall cages made from wire that we use and then use fence posts to secure them. Once the tomatoes start really growing, we go out every few days and place the branches of the plant back inside the cage so we encourage it to grow up and not out.
Have some helpful tips to share with our readers? Please put them in the comments below! Happy Gardening!