My love for flowers comes from my love of the garden, and I can't help but share all this wonderful natural goodness with you this gardening season 2022! I thought it would be fun to share my suburban hobby gardening adventure this year to provide encouragement and inspiration particularly if you find yourself in this category too. I learn from many skilled gardeners online, so I'm not so much teaching gardening as I'm just sharing my experience, learning (and messing up) as I go right in my regular suburban backyard.
My gardening facts:
Location: Cleveland, OH
Growing Zone: 6a (borderline 5b)
Last frost approximate date: around May 15
Years gardening: entering year 6
Yard size: .25 acre total
Garden size: The current footprint is two 4 foot square raised cedar wood beds, one 2' x 8' in-ground flower bed, and two vintage galvanized metal wash tubs used as raised flower beds. I'm expanding this season!
My Garden in Years Past
I started my first garden in 2016 with two 4 foot square raised cedar wood beds purchased from Home Depot. Our backyard gets lots of full sun, so I chose to place the beds along one of the chain-linked fences on the side of the yard. And that was it! I literally plopped them right in the grass, laid down paper over the grass inside the beds, filled them with bagged Miracle Grow garden soil and started gardening, knowing hardly anything. I just wanted to get started and not get too wrapped up in so many details that could prevent you from starting at all.
Over the years, I eventually expanded the footprint of the garden to include a gravel path and stone edging, one 2' x 8' flower bed where cosmos thrive, and 2 vintage galvanized metal wash tubs where I grow dahlia tubers. It's a wonderful little garden!
The garden is getting a substantial makeover this season - over doubling in size if all goes well! Here's why:
1. The cedar beds have completely broke down and need replacing. Northeast Ohio has some pretty rough winters which I'm sure shortens the life of cedar beds. I just prefer the look of wood to the more durable metal.
The current garden all in shambles. This winter was particularly rough as we had literally at least one month with more than one foot of snow on the ground.
2. I want more room to grow more veggies! Up until this point, my garden has been just for fun, and if I grow something we can eat - great! This year, I'd like to actually contribute to the household groceries. I'm not pressuring myself to grow food for the family, but would like to dive deeper into what it looks like to have some self reliance.
Some 2020 cucumbers. Not the right shape but still were delicious.
3. I joined TikTok end of 2021, and I found some fabulous gardeners to follow who inspire me so much. One of them is Red Leaf Ranch, and he shared growing luffa - the bath sponge! I'm like I must grow this too! Luffa needs lots of space to grow, so I'm going to need a large trellis - and space - for this baby!
4. We have a berry tree planted near our patio on the south side of the garden. I did not take into account that this tree would continue growing and eventually grow tall enough to cast a mid-afternoon shadow over one of my garden beds. Live and learn right? I don't have the heart to cut down the tree since it provides berries for the birds, so the whole garden is shifting as far north in the backyard as possible.
So here we are. A new gardening season is upon us! One of the first official gardening season tasks is to start some plants indoors if you want to get a jump on the growing season to harvest more fruit sooner. Honestly, I've had mixed results with starting seeds indoors. I don't have grow lights or a heat mat. Like I said, this has been a fun hobby for me, but as I become a more serious gardener, maybe one day soon I will invest in those. We have a large south-facing window in our home, so I put my seedlings there to catch the sunlight, when it's actually sunny here.
This year I am attempting to grow:
Chive, Dill, Oregano, Basil, Parsley, Thyme, and Calendula Flowers for tea.
Cucumber, Haricot Vert Green Beans, Cabbage, Lacinato Kale, Celery, Carrots, Beets, Zucchini, Mizuna Mustard Green, Romaine Lettuce, Bib Lettuce, Tomatoes, Rainbow Bell Peppers, Banana Peppers, Sweetie Peppers, Turnips, Luffa, Spaghetti Squash, and possibly Ornamental Pumpkins
Nasturtium and Marigolds planted all around.
What I've started indoors already
Celery, Cabbage, Cucumber, Zucchini, Spaghetti Squash, Luffa, and all the peppers. My mom will graciously give me a couple tomato seedlings she has started.
Spaghetti squash seedling with snow outside.
Does anyone else constantly check the seedlings to see if they sprouted, even after right after planting haha? As of this blog post, cabbage, cucumber, spaghetti squash and zucchini have sprouted! I've read the celery, peppers, and luffa take at least 2 weeks, so that is totally normal to still see bare soil. I just need patience.
I purchased the new raised cedar beds, and they are eagerly waiting in my garage. I considered building my own beds to try and save money, but with the cost of lumber these days, the beds I purchased were cheaper and shipped right to my door with no building labor other than easy assembly. With a business and a family, this easier option sounds good to me!
I think this was a good general overview of my gardening adventures and where I'm at today! In the coming weeks, I can share more specifics about the garden plan and the actual garden transformation, if this snow ever stops and it warms above freezing.
Are you doing anything new in your garden this year?