How My Garden Grows

Today’s post title is a play on lyrics from an old Oasis song. I’ve been nostalgic for the ’90s lately, especially music. Maybe it’s because I grew up during that period- junior high through half of college. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have adult stresses to deal with. Maybe it’s because I’ve never gotten over my disappointment of not becoming a Fly Girl.

As a side note- Notice I didn’t put an apostrophe before the s in ’90s. It’s because the word is plural not possessive. Misused plural/possessive apostrophes annoy me to no end.

Now that the rant is over, my plants are growing! It’s been raining here so much that I’ve hardly had to water the garden. I was worried that all the rain would flood my garden but as you can see below, that hasn’t been a problem.

I fertilized everything two weeks after planting. I bought some organic tomato and vegetable fertilizer during my last trip to the garden center. I didn’t fertilize all of last year, even though I know I was supposed to. I think fertilizing has really helped my plants. I just need to remember to keep doing so all summer.

Some of you may notice that I let the strawberry plants flower. I read that you shouldn’t let them if you want a bigger yield for next season. But if you’d rather have more strawberries this year, let them flower away. I wanted the instant gratification of strawberries this summer. Well as much instant gratification as you can get from planting, tending to and waiting two months for the fruit to ripen.

Everything seems to be on track!


Week three of the garden. Strawberry plants in front, tomatoes in the back.


Close up of my strawberry plants










Cucumber plants coming in


Lettuce plants coming in


Time for Planting

I wanted to lead this post off regarding a comment I received on my April 21 article. Commenter stated, “You are no longer a gardening virgin. You’ll need to change this to Popped Cherry Gardener.” Very funny and factually accurate. But I’m still keeping the original name or the 10 people who read this blog won’t be able to find it.

There was no complicated formula for choosing what to plant; I decided what to include in the garden based on what my husband and I like to eat. In the summer months, that means lots of salads and fruit. Come summertime, it will be great to walk into the backyard and pick produce for our meals. Because I’m doing things differently this year, I’m expecting to have an abundance of peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries.

I’m growing the lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers from seeds. With the tomato growing disaster I had a few years ago, I figured it was better to go with seedlings and skip months of frustration. I don’t have any prior experience with strawberries, but they seem to be hard to grow from seeds as well. For awhile, I felt a little guilty as if I was cheating by not growing everything from seeds. But that ended once I realized my sanity was more important than whether I grew from seeds or plants.

Hooray for spring and the start of gardening season!


Getting the plants into the ground


View of the larger bed with tomatoes on the left











View of the entire garden



Getting the Garden Back in Shape

I’m already far ahead of where I was at this time last year. I didn’t even plant anything until late May/early June, which was a big mistake. I was determined this year would be different. I started thinking about what I wanted to grow in late February, picked up materials in late March and planted in early April.

In the south, the last frost is around mid-April. If you plant before then, you run the risk of having your garden affected by frigid nights. I was willing to take the risk because I’m courageous that way. And I knew that if we did have a frost, I could throw a sheet over the plants to protect them.

So off to my local gardening center to pick up soil, compost, fertilizer and seeds. The staff was extremely helpful in picking out materials based on our needs. We ended up leaving with two bags of mushroom compost, two bags of rich vegetable garden soil, four tomato plants and cucumber, pepper and lettuce seeds.


Me mixing everything together with my high-tech shovel

Once I got to the garden, I had to combine the new with the old. I added a top layer of soil and compost and then had to mix everything together. I don’t have any fancy gardening tools so everything was done with a shovel and lots of manual labor. Doing the work ended up being very relaxing.

Once that was done, I finishing readying the garden by forming rows for the seeds and plants. I thought that was the correct strategy until I read online that for smaller gardens, you should plant in square zones that you can reach from either side of the garden. Planting in rows wastes space and should be used for very large gardens. The space between rows for walking on can compact the soil and impact plant roots. Oh well. This seemed to work okay for me last year so we’ll see what happens this year.

Check out the final results.


Ready for plants and seeds!

Veggie Garden Virgin is Back!

Like vaccine-preventable diseases, Veggie Garden Virgin is back! Last year’s first-time experience was a mixed bag, but I learned a lot.

I took a break from gardening over the winter, telling myself I would use the time to work on growing readership of my blog. I would start a gardening-related Twitter account, become active in the online gardening community, do lots of gardening research, etc.ID Channel

So how did I spend my winter? Mostly getting more addicted to the ID channel and starting a new addiction to HGTV. The important thing is not how I spent the winter- even though I’m pretty sure I could remodel the heck out of a house and run a murder investigation by now, but that Veggie Garden Virgin is back.

I know that technically that since this is the second year, the blog name shouldn’t include virgin in the title. But I figure I can add something new each year- this season it’ll be a compost pile. That and it’s too much effort to think of a new name.

I had to make a visit to my local garden center to get the garden back in shape after a rough winter, which for North Carolina means more than two snow and ice “incidents.” They can’t be called storms because the accumulation is generally less than a couple inches of snow and less than 1/10 inch of ice. But everyone still empties the bread, milk and eggs from store shelves as if we were expecting Boston 2015 type snow.

But back on topic, more about getting the garden back in shape in my next post.

I’m just glad that the dreariness of winter is over and spring is back. In celebration, enjoy the photo below of  azalea blooms!