(My Mom’s square foot garden–it’s her baby!)

Spring is in the air, which means it is time to roll up our sleeves and get dirty in the garden. From the time I was little, everyone I knew had a garden–my grandma, my grandpa, my mom, my aunts, my cousins, my neighbors. It seemed that gardening was just a way of life. It is funny how gardening has become a lost art of sorts. I am hoping that our focus this month on gardening will help inspire you to begin to plant a garden, a fruit tree, or any type of food on your own property. Even the smallest effort can bring big rewards.

I know gardens can be intimidating. Although I have had a garden nearly every year I have been married it doesn’t mean I am an expert. In fact, I am the complete opposite. I really am an amateur, I just love the feeling of being self reliant and growing food in my own backyard. I promise, if I can have a garden and (some how?) keep it alive, so can you!

So, why do I plant a garden? Well, for many reasons. The main one is I can’t get enough fresh produce and produce from the grocery store is usually where half of my monthly budget is spent. Produce prices have sky rocketed this past year and I can hardly bare to spend the $1.78 for a colored bell pepper..ugh! The fact I can grow food for practically free is a HUGE bonus when you are trying to cut back on the amount you spend on food each month. Not to mention, the food you grow in your garden can easily be turned into food you can store on your shelf for an emergency (bottled salsa, canned peaches/pears, bottled apple pie filling, jalapeno jelly, homemade jams, pickle relish, salsa verde, and much more).
Another reason I feel gardening is so important is it teaches our families to work. Just ask my kids, I am sure they love it–hehe!There are times I wish I lived on a real, honest to goodness farm. There is nothing that drives me more crazy than seeing my kids be lazy. I grew up in a home where we kept busy, we worked hard, and even though we had four girls in our family we were expected to mow and edge the lawn, pull weeds, help in the garden, wash the cars, etc. We didn’t get paid for these jobs, it was just something we did. Sitting and watching t.v. for hours was never an option. Whether this was the right way to be raised, I don’t know. But..I do know I want to teach my children the value of hard work. Having a garden is a fantastic way to teach your children that if they work hard, they will reap the benefits of their labor. A garden also teaches patience and the basics of science and how plants grow. There are so many benefits to a garden, I think that is what keeps me coming back each year–despite the weeds, the dead plants, and the sunburns.

I am hoping that as I share with you my successes and failures throughout this summer that it will encourage you to plant your own garden. If you don’t have the space to plant a large garden, just plant one or two plants in a pot or in a flower bed. Something will be better than nothing 😉

I am excited to share with you a new method of gardening called square foot gardening. I am sure many of you have already heard, or are using, this method–it seems to be the trend in gardening. For 8 years we have tried to prep our soil, till the ground and for some reason our dirt still ends up being as hard as a rock, dry and full of weeds. My children and I have spent most of our summers up in the garden weeding until we have blisters on our hands. If this type of garden sounds familiar to you, a square foot or raised garden bed might be the answer for you.

There are many benefits to square foot gardening, all of which I have found to be absolutely true now that we have put in our own.

*You can grow 100% of your harvest in 20% of the space.
*No more digging, tilling or adding new dirt each spring. The soil never needs to be replaced.
*No weeds–I know this is a big statement, but everyone I have talked to, and in my own garden I have not seen ONE weed (fabulous!!)
*Attractive-the raised beds look appealing and make your garden look neat and organized.
*No more heavy equiptment, rototillers, soil testing or digging down your garden.
*Less expensive in the long run because you are not replacing soil every year.
*Easy accessibility, ease of walking around, kneeling, working and harvesting. Everything is within arms reach.
*Excellent drainage and moisture retention.

Whether you choose this method for your garden or not, the important thing is that you find a system that works and you stick with it. For our family, this method has been heaven sent and I think will save us much turmoil throughout the coming months (I will keep you updated).

If you are debating whether or not to do a square foot garden in your yard, or if you just want to know what to plant when, I have the BEST gardening website for you! Emily is the author of the website My Square Foot Garden and she has done an amazing job at helping beginners understand how to plant a successful garden. Her website is filled with helpful tips, photographs, charts, and other information to help you when planting your garden. Anything you want to know about square foot gardening can be found on her website–it is amazing!

Throughout the next few months I will be sharing with you what I chose to plant, how we built our garden beds, what works and what doesn’t work, and best of all…recipes that can be made from items you grow in your garden. I have amazing recipes lined up that I can’t wait to share with you.

DEALS TO MEALS GIVEAWAY

This month we are excited to be giving away 2 e-books from Emily’s website My Square Foot Garden that are packed full of helpful information that will make growing your garden easy & fun! Her e-books are usually $19.98 and are an amazing resource to keep on hand for your gardening needs. We will have two winners, here is the low-down:

1st Place Winner: Both E-books from My Square Foot Garden (Gardening for Beginners & Plant by Color) & $50 to Home Depot or Lowe’s to get your garden started.

2nd Place Winner: Both E-books from My Square Foot Garden (Gardening for Beginners & Plant by Color) & a set of mini food storage cookbooks (one book is all about vegetables, another about sprouting and one book filled with recipes you can make without a wheat grinder).How to enter: All you need to do is visit Emily’s website, browse around and leave a comment on this post about something you learned from her site. You can also leave your success stories of your garden or share with us why you want to (or already do) have a garden. We would love to hear from you and hope we can encourage each other in this important effort.

(Winner will be drawn randomly and the contest will close July 8th at midnight)

Good luck to you and check back often for gardening updates and recipes.