By Tiffany Selvey, Master Gardener, blogger and mama of 1
Even as a child I found the process of dinner from the garden exciting. We would go to my grandparent’s house where I would go out to the garden with my grandpa and bring in salad fixings. As we walked, we snacked. I remember the sour sweetness of chewing on rhubarb and the bliss of finding a ripe strawberry. As an adult now, with a child of my own, I get to see that process from another perspective.
After living my entire life in Northwest Arkansas, I can honestly say there is no place I would rather be. I’m partial, in part, because I can still take my son to my grandpa’s garden to snack and learn, but also because NWA is a great place to grow! While we many not always like our extremes, the weather here makes growing almost anything possible.
With so many options, where do you start? That’s the whole beauty of this gardening thing, there’s always something you can do! My philosophy at 20by20 is, “If you have dirt, you can grow something!” Frankly, I have yet to have anyone prove me wrong.
Here are a few things to consider:
- How is your soil? Do you have red clay? Rocks galore? If so, don’t let that stop you! Container gardens are easy, pretty, and low maintenance. Anything from plant pots to coffee cans can be used for a garden, check out my pinterest Garden Ideas page for inspiration. Drill ¼” holes four inches apart in the bottom of water-tight containers for drainage and fill with garden soil like Miracle-Gro from Lowes.
- How much space do you have? Choosing the right plant variety, such as “Patio” tomatoes, can offer a great harvest. Any garden center associate should be able to help you choose plants for your containers. In an act of extreme container gardening, I’m experimenting with growing tomatoes indoors to satisfy my year-round tomato addiction. I will certainly be sharing the process for winter fruit in an upcoming post.
- How much time do you have? While you might want to avoid orchids and citrus, there are plenty of plants that thrive with little maintenance. Believe it or not, lettuce is my favorite low maintenance, container plant. In your container filled with soil, sprinkle loose-leaf lettuce seeds (Black Seeded Simpson and Salad Bowl are a few of my favorites that can be found at Lowes and Wal-Mart) and water thoroughly. In a few days to a week you will see sprouts!
Many garden professionals would try to convince you there is a “right” way to garden. Don’t believe it! If we look at nature herself, she doesn’t form neat rows or perfectly manicured bushes. I believe in reckless gardening, the act of gardening as a learning process and an opportunity to enjoy the journey. We don’t garden for the harvest, we garden for the adventure, the harvest is simply a benefit.
While we are on the subject of benefits, there are endless benefits of growing outdoors. We all need a daily dose of vitamin D, some fresh air, and room to breathe. Not only is it good for us, it’s good for our babies. Children should know where food comes from. Is someone having a bad day? Well, just try to stay grumpy under a grape trellis or surrounded by the aroma of roses. Sometimes even mamas need a time out.
Knowing your limitations is the first step of gardening. Identify what you have and work with it. After all…. If you have dirt, you can grow something!
Tiffany Selvey is a Master Gardener who writes about her passion for growing, cooking, and living naturally at www.20-by-20.com. When she’s not elbow deep in soil, she enjoys raising a very active son, laughing with her husband, and wrangling their five pets.