Brown Thumb To Green-ish Thumb

Did you see the story about Michelle Obama planting a vegetable garden on the White House grounds this week? It’s the first time they’ve had a garden since the Roosevelt victory garden, and they plan to use the food they grow in the White House kitchens, donating any extra to a nearby soup kitchen.

With the recession hitting everyone hard, it only makes sense to start growing some of our own food. We have a large backyard, Aaron and I are both home all the time (thanks, unemployment), and with trying to lose weight and shape up, we’re all eating more vegetables and fruits. It makes sense that a garden will save us money, while also teaching Cordy and Mira about the process of growing plants and reducing our carbon footprint, even if only slightly.

I know what you might be thinking – Christina is the least likely person to keep a plant alive – and you’re right. I did a great job at killing my pepper plants last summer. I’m still amazed society has let me keep pets and have children. But I’ve been practicing! I bought this little strawberry pot at Target in February, and look! They’re still alive!

Pleeeeeze don’t kiiiillllll ussss!!!

It also helps that my mom, aunts and grandmother are champion gardeners. Not sure how I missed that segment of DNA, but even the talentless can be taught, right?

So the plan is to have an 8’x8′ garden. I can’t have corn, because that’s too tall for growing in our planned neighborhood. If the HOA won’t allow 6′ fences, I doubt they’ll allow 6′ corn stalks. But I do want to plant lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, sweet peppers, broccoli, carrots and zucchini. OK, it’s a little ambitious, but I tend to go all-in on a new project.

My mom grows a ton of tomatoes each year, so I can get those from her. I don’t like tomatoes on their own, but I wouldn’t mind trying to make my own pasta sauce this year. (Who the hell is typing this? Have I been possessed by Martha-freakin’-Stewart?)

If we’re lucky, and believe me, it’ll take a lot of luck, we’ll cut our grocery bill. Our house will be a little greener for it as well – the garden will produce oxygen (remember photosynthesis in 3rd grade science?) and we’ll make fewer trips to the grocery, using less gas.

I can’t wait to get started, although I am a little nervous. To all the green-thumb garden wizards out there – have any advice for a novice gardener?

Parent Bloggers and SC Johnson (makers of Nature’s Source cleaners) want to know how you’re living more naturally now. Visit the blog blast and see how other bloggers are greening up their homes, too.

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  1. Now’s the time to start some seeds indoors and transfer outdoors in a month or so. I have some cucumbers and peppers growing on my window sill. Right now they’re just leaves but hopefully will become veggies that we can eat!

  2. And don’t forget to add some geraniums too! the ‘smell’ of the flowers scares away little rascals like bunnies who will chew up all your yummy lettuce and veggies!

  3. Amelia Sprout says:

    Water, water, more water. (I under water when it gets hot, and you live somewhere hotter than me) I think broccoli is ambitious for a first time, so don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go so well. I suggest growing kale. You know my reasons.

    Liquid fence is your friend, since I know you’ve had deer. If you can’t find it where you are, I’ll send you some.

  4. If you don’t feel like digging up your yard, do some online research about potted gardens. My parents do one each year and we’ve had great success! 7′ tall tomato plants every year and high yield pepper plants as well.

    Watering is super important and miracle grow as well!

  5. I am wanting to join you in this quest for a garden. But every year, I look at how much yard work we DON’T do, and then I realize that a garden may just not be my thing…

    Good luck!

  6. We plant a vegetable garden every year and I love it. Radishes are by far the easiest thing to grow. However, I seem to be one of the few people in the world who actually likes radishes, so whatever.

    Do some herbs in a windowsill for that pasta sauce…I’ve got a great recipe from a Rachel Ray cookbook if you want it! (sleepynewmommyblog[at]yahoo[dot]com)

  7. Carrots grow best in sandy soil; if the soil is hard, or if you have rocks, they probably won’t turn out well. Zucchini will grow on concrete, and has a tendency to spread, so make sure to plant it away from other things. I agree with Karen; snap peas are easy and yummy. You may want to invest in a soaker hose if you don’t want to have to spend 2 hours a day watering (it wastes less, too). Good luck!

  8. Sounds pretty ambitious, but fun! Don’t be surprised with how much work it is, but it’s well worth it. Food always tastes better when you grow it yourself!
    The carrots we tried ended up knobbly and funky, not worth the space in the garden when we can buy the bag of baby carrots for $1. I’d say try growing some different types of squash, too – they’re awesome in soup or on the grill, and EASY. Pumpkins are great too – the kids have more fun at Halloween with pumpkins they’ve grown themselves.
    Broccoli is something I’ve never tried (I don’t like it!); when my friend tried to grow it, she ended up with a mess so like someone else said, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t go well. Sugar snap peas are great though!
    Have fun getting dirty!

  9. We’re doing our first vegetable garden this year! We’ve been digging for about 2 weeks now getting the ground ready, and we’ll be planting a few things in a cold frame we have on the side of the house in early April. I was thinking about posting about what we’ve been doing but wasn’t sure if others would be interested in reading about it, but maybe I will. And I look forward to totally mooching off your comments to get advice:)

  10. Condo Blues says:

    Last year my potted herbs grew great – because I found a better way to remind myself to water them. Yeah, plants need water in order to leave – who knew?! I checked the efficiency of my shower heads last year and ended up with a bucket of water. Insted of pouring it down the drain, I took it to the patio & watered my potted plants. Then I kept a bucket in my bathroom & when I rememebered but it in the shower to catch warm up/shower water during a shower. I dumped the bucket of water on my potted plants. yeah, it’s kinda crunchy but my herbs lived because I remembered to water them more regularly.

  11. Best wishes! I tend to have a green thumb but I have a cat that just simply won’t allow a plant in my house lower than 6 feet from the floor. So I am waiting for the snow to finally melt so I can go play in the mud outside.

    Found you via the blog party, nice to meet you! Have a great week. Pop by and say hello if you get a chance.

  12. I do not have a green thum either but good for you for going for it!! that’s awesome, I hope to try to plant green beans or something this year too.. we’ll see how it goes!

    Love this blog, stopping by from UBP09!

  13. Gardening is so much fun! We’ve planted one every year since we bought our house, and we always have so many tomatoes, green beans, green peppers and zucchini left at the end of the harvest that we freeze them. It is so awesome to have fresh tomato sauce in the middle of winter.

    Can’t wait to see how your gardening adventure goes!