Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Summer Project–A Container Garden

Last summer I decided that it would be fun to have a small container garden.  I thankfully realized it was not the right time for me to try it out since I was expecting Michael to arrive in the middle of August.  I kept the thought planted in my mind (pun intended) and talked about it occasionally during the winter with Steve. 

I have never considered myself to have a green thumb or to really enjoy digging in the dirt.  However, I decided to try a garden for a few reasons.  The first is that I do think it is important that my children understand how we really get our food.  It doesn’t just magically appear in a grocery store.  I wanted to see if it would be more economical for me to grow some of my favorite summer produce like yellow squash, zucchini, and cucumbers.  I don’t like tomatoes, but I do have a tomato plant and two grape tomato plants for Steve and the girls to enjoy.  I also thought it would be a fun project for the girls and I to have this summer.  The girls love the PBS Show Sid the Science Kid and are always talking about making scientific observations.  What better way to make observations than to watch our seeds grow, our plants produce fruits and vegetables, and to harvest them ourselves.

I did some on-line research and talked to several people about what I should try to plant and the best approach.  We decided on three 3X3X12 planters.  We went to Lowe’s and had them cut the wood.  Steve put them together for me.  We bought the soil at Lowe’s because they had a special on it that weekend and the plants at Strange’s, a local greenhouse and garden center. We also bought two large pots to place on our patio. 

This is what it looked like when we planted everything last Saturday (with a special thanks to my photographer Natalie):


One of our planter boxes.  The area that they are in has a slope so we made an attempt to level the ground out underneath them as much as possible.


We filled them about 3/4 of the way with topsoil then covered them with landscape cloth to try to keep “critters” from coming up and getting our plants.  (We probably should have used a layer of wire mesh at the bottom but we didn’t.  I think the squirrels are going to be more of a problem.  Any tips?)


I cut out areas to plant the plants through the landscape cloth.  This bed has yellow squash and the holes are where I planted seeds for butternut squash. We did cover the cloth with a very light layer of soil.  (My photographer had gotten bored at that point and I didn’t get a picture.)


My strawberry plants in a pot.  They have produced a few berries, but I think either squirrels or birds are eating them.  Any advice?

The final census of what we planted in our garden are 7 cucumber plants, 8 zucchini plants, 8 yellow squash plants, 4 banana pepper plants, 1 tomato plant, 2 grape tomato plants, 2 strawberry plants, and seeds for at least 3 butternut squash.

I’ll try my best to keep you posted on my progress and the trial and error of attempting my first garden. 



Praznow said...

What a wonderful idea. I remember when I was younger. My family did a garden every summer and boy was it fun. Take plenty of pictures of your little ones to show them in the future.

Anonymous said...

When Jonathan (21) was little we lived in a different area. We decided to try the square foot garden method - we had 3 boxes as you do, and a few other larger beds. For the box gardens at first we used old window screens as a covering. Those were replaced with box shaped coverings made of chicken wire later. It was pretty successful - we had more produce than we could keep up with...but our main invaders were rabbits. When we moved to the West End the squirrels, chipmunks etc. laughed at our physical barriers! I wonder if there are any companion plantings that would discourage critters? Bugs are a whole other issue.

Wit's End said...

Wow! You are going to be swimming in cukes, squash and zucchini! The strawberries will do better next year.

Ann said...

Praznow - I am hoping this will be a fun experience for the girls that we can continue in the years to come.

Lisa - I am worried about the squirrels. I think they are the ones eating my strawberries already. I thought we had enough acorns in our yard that they wouldn't be interested in my few plants.

Amy - I didn't have very much faith in my gardening technique that I planted extra plants in case they don't all thrive. I figure that if I have an overabundance there are plenty of people that will gladly accept fresh vegetables. :)