I grew up on an 11 acre property, with a river at one end, and seemingly endless woods at the other. My parents had one serious garden. Looking back, it was probably much smaller than I remember, but as a child it seemed never ending when I could walk between all the corn stalks and see the giant patch of cosmos. We also had an orchard bursting with every kind of apple I could imagine. These things, plus always having at least a few cats, a dog, and at some point, chickens, bunnies, guinea pigs, a pig, and a lamb, made for a childhood full of adventure. Never a dull moment when you can walk down your driveway and find a baby deer and a giant turtle both on the same trip! This is a true story, but don’t worry, Mom didn’t let us keep the deer.
Now, we live on a modest half acre, at the end of a cul de sac. I have many sweet memories of all the adventures I had as a child, and I think that’s what started my love of being outside. All you have to do is step out, and there is always things to discover, explore, and God’s creation is there to marvel at. I want some of those same experiences for my kids. I know it’s different now, but my heart longs for them to grow up with an appreciation for nature. To know that there’s always some place new to discover, always a new beauty to marvel at.
Our little garden is made up of two, 4×8 raised beds that my husband built, two pallets I threw on the ground last year and dumped dirt in because I was desperate for more space for zucchini, and a couple random pots for various herbs and tomatoes. Oh, and a circular area I dug up this spring for a pumpkin area. Very official, very organized, very planned. Ha! But, we do well with the little space we have. These years of having three little ones is very busy, very demanding of my time, and I’ve always wanted gardening to be purely enjoyable. NEVER an obligation. So I’m OK with the small space. I’m not allowed to have garden guilt, because then it’s just another to-do, and all the joy is sucked out. Sure, I dream of having a larger space someday. MUCH larger, with a real fence, and real string bean tee-pees, and a real carrot patch big enough that I can actually bring some inside for cooking because they didn’t all get eaten outside by little hands eager to see what’s growing beneath those bright green tops. But for now, for this time in our lives, this little garden is just perfect, and it produces a pretty good variety of things, and I’m so very thankful for it. If you’re curious about growing things, but maybe a little intimidated, my advice is just GO FOR IT. Gardening can be whatever you want it to be- a few herbs in a pot on your porch, a haphazardly thrown together patch of wild flowers, or a large organized and planned out plot that provides produce for your family nearly year round. Go to your garden store and grab that pot, those pretty seeds, and some soil, and get your hands dirty. The satisfaction gained when that little radish sprout pops up just a few days after planting, then quickly transforms into a beautiful, vibrantly red and spicy radish, is one I think everyone needs to experience. My recommendations for first time gardeners are: radishes, carrots, peas, beans, any lettuce, any squash, cosmos, zinnias, and sunflowers. All of these grow well from seed (cheap!) and tend to do very well in this PNW climate.