Feeling like a Proud Mama

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted again. Since then, I’ve taken a family vacation to Disney World and made a weekend trip to the beach with girlfriends. Yes I know, my life is hard. But the traveling hasn’t left much time for posting.



Before I left for my vacations, I started drafting a post about having second thoughts. I felt like I did in college when I woke up the morning after spending the previous night drinking Boone’s Farm. Thoughts running through my head then and now- what was I thinking? Why did I think that was a good idea? I was very frustrated with my garden. It seemed like a lot of work for no return.

But I’m happy to report that I have fruit growing! With all the rain we’ve had lately, my watermelon are really starting to take off. I feel like a proud mama. All the planting, maintaining and weeding have paid off. It just took awhile. I can also see other water melon starting to come in. In a conversation I had with a coworker the other day, we decided that baby fruits and vegetables are extremely cute. Baby anything, really.

It’s good to know that the hard work is paying off and that I’ll soon have produce to enjoy. I think my carrot is about ready to pick and my cucumbers should start coming in any day. Below are other pictures I took of my garden today.

Baby Watermelon

Baby Watermelon

Garden on August 18

Garden on August 18

Step 1: Building Raised Garden Beds

Garden area before

I decided to use raised garden beds instead of digging in the ground because it seemed easier and honestly, I’m a bit lazy. It also helped that there was a 4X4′  raised garden bed in the backyard from the previous homeowner. I didn’t want to go too big or too small for the size, so like Goldilocks I chose a size in the middle and settled on a 4X8′.

Next I did some research on local home improvement store websites to see what products were out there that I could use. I didn’t want to go too high-end in case (the very real possibility) things don’t work out. I settled on the
Frame It All variety. It seemed easy enough to put together and that it would hold up.

Using Power Tools to Build the Garden Box

Using Power Tools to Build the Garden Box

Once I got home and opened the box in the backyard to start the assembly process, I realized there were a few broken pieces. One to never let an incomplete set stop me, I plunged ahead with the help of my husband.
Thanks SJ!

As I thought, the raised bed was pretty easy to put together. It just took drilling a few holes, inserting some screws and snapping the pieces into place. I even got to use some power tools (and looked good doing it!)

After an hour or so, including preliminary work like leveling the ground, we had a raised bed. We also put down a screen to prevent weeds from growing.

Adding dirt was a step for another day. It was enough effort to get the thing built.

Partially Built Garden Box

Partially Built Garden Box

Finished Garden Box Close Up

Finished Garden Box






My Top 10 Reasons for Starting a Garden

I’m starting a garden this summer so I want to share my reasons why. My top 10:

1. Prove I don’t have a black thumb- My husband tells me I have a black thumb because I manage to kill almost all the plants/flowers I bring home. At least I’m pretty sure that’s the reason why he tells me I have a black thumb. I want to grow a garden and do it well.

2. Save money on food- You can’t get much more cost effective than buying seeds and then doing the rest of the work yourself. If done right, you’ll end up with a variety of fruits and vegetables that last all summer, for much lower than grocery store prices. Like a lot of people, I eat a lot of produce during the summer months.

3. Learn more about gardening- Since this is the first time I’m growing a vegetable garden, I expect to learn a lot this summer. I’ll use what I learn this year to have an even better garden next year. Although if I’m no longer a veggie garden virgin next year, I’ll have to rethink a new name for the blog.

4. Develop a new hobby- I’ve been a competitive runner for over half my life, until earlier this year. I’ve had knee problems on and off for the last couple years and few months ago, my knees told me enough. (Cue the sympathetic violin music.) So I have to find a new hobby. I don’t know if there’s competitive gardening, but vegetable gardening will do.

5. Make good use of outdoor space-I lived in a townhouse with an 8 X 8 concrete patio for several years. Since moving last summer, I have an actual yard! Now I’ve got enough room to make a go of a proper garden.

6. Exercise- The bending, pulling and movements needed to till, weed and tend to a garden are all good exercise. The best kind in fact- exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise because it’s something you enjoy doing.

7. Enjoy the outdoors- Gardening is a great way to spend time in the sun and enjoy the warmth of summer. Although June through August in North Carolina, summer warmth is really blasts of a hot furnace blowing on you combined with the humidity of a wet blanket thrown over your head.

8. Relax- Gardening is a great way to relax and get lost in what you’re doing. It’s also relaxing to listen to the sounds of nature like birds chirping. And hopefully not the sounds of the non-stop barking dog that lives behind you. Just me?

9. Easy access to delicious, fresh foods- You can’t get fresher than your own backyard. I’ll have access to fresh foods all summer that will be perfect for salads or the grill. All I’ll have to do is walk a few feet from my back door.

10. Take on a new challenge- I don’t know if I’ll be successful at this or not. It will be interesting to see if I can solve problems that come up and become a full-fledged gardener.

Welcome to Veggie Garden Virgin!

Welcome to Veggie Garden Virgin! So MJ… what’s up with the name? No, this isn’t a fetish site for vegetable enthusiasts. I chose the name because I’m growing my own vegetable garden for the first time.


Photo by Sheila Brown

Since moving last summer from a townhouse with a tiny concrete patio to a house with more land, I actually have room to try what
I’ve been wanting to do for years. Hopefully my efforts this summer will go better than when I tried to grow tomatoes from seeds a couple of years ago. Let’s just say that I started the seeds in March and didn’t get any fruit until November. And that was only because
a neighbor took enough pity on me to give me large pots and high quality compost. And then help replant the tomatoes. After that, I had a few juicy, although small tomatoes just in time for winter.

I’m using this blog to track my gardening trials and tribulations. Hopefully others will find this a useful tool (or a guide of what not to do.)

My husband has graciously offered to help, although I think it’s more for a front row seat of all the ways I could potentially mess up this summer. I’m hoping to have some friends with experience offer some tips and guidance as well.

I’ve done my research, which mostly consisted of reading a few gardening articles and looking at pictures of pretty gardens. Let’s see what happens this summer as a veggie garden virgin!