Right before Mother’s Day, I posted an article on the gift of a garden as a special and unique present for mothers, emphasizing that a garden can be a great family activity and could be accomplished in spaces of all sizes. I am proud to report that I took my own advice and planted a summer garden, using both my upper deck and the bordering areas of my back yard.

Planning My Garden

In selecting plants for my garden, I decided that I wanted both vegetables and flowers.  I also knew that I wanted the flowers to include fragrant blooms that could be cut, placed in vases and used for decorations.  Additionally, I wanted flowers that attracted hummingbirds, honeybees and butterflies, as well as flowers that repel mosquitos.  As a result, I chose colorful dahlias (both plant and bulb varieties), Lantus, roses and red Salvia for the flowers, tomatoes (both bush and patio varieties, bush beans, cucumbers for vegetables and rosemary (my lonely herb).

I contracted with my neighbor to build two large planters, which I used for the tomatoes and bush beans.  I then proceeded to gather flower pots and planters that I had on hand for the rest of the plants.  I note that the key to the success of my garden was the use of Miracle-Gro© potting soil as opposed to topsoil.   The Miracle-Gro© is rich, clean and porous and a great medium for both vegetables and flowers.

With the assistance of my husband, I was able to prepare the lower backyard borders for planting.  After planting, we watered our garden areas and plants diligently and  fertilized a couple of times.  Most importantly, we deadheaded the flowers to keep them fresh and beautiful.

Lessons Learned From My Summer Garden

As stated previously, I learned that it was well worth it to use the Miracle-Gro© potting soil, rather than cheap topsoil.  Everything that we planted grew very well in the Miracle-Gro©.

A second lesson came as a result of my tardiness in starting this project.  Secondary to other obligations, this garden project was not initiated until the third week of June, which, in the middle Atlantic states where I reside, is “very late” for planting.  When shopping for plants, I found the inventory to be paltry in both volume and appearance.

Turning to seeds, the only thing available was seeds from Renee’s Garden, a small company committed to organic gardening for over 25 years.  I selected this company’s bush bean seeds and was very pleased with the crop.  While visiting my area Farmer’s Market the following week, I spoke to a farmer regarding the scarcity of vegetable and fruit plants and seeds.  He graciously agreed to bring me some cucumber plants on his return visit the following week. Most importantly, he cautioned me to pay attention to nature, not commercial businesses.  As hard as corporations try to harness the seed and plant industry, they cannot dictate the growing season.  That is Mother Nature‘s job.  He said, “keep planting, and your seeds and plants will grow.”

So even though I planted out of season by Monsanto and Burpee‘s definition, my garden was (and still is) hardy and beautiful.  Everyday we enjoy colorful fragrant flowers and visits by butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds.  We are surprised on regular intervals by bursts of color from beautiful dahlia bulbs.

Gardening presents a unique opportunity to celebrate nature and its gifts of beauty and food.  Hopefully, many of you will try a garden next year or maybe a winter garden this year.  Please remember that no space is too small.  A garden can be one plant, a windowsill planter or an entire yard.  This really is a wonderful chance to live green, be green.

Pictures From My Garden

God’s Garden by Robert Frost

“God made a beauteous garden
With lovely flowers strown,
But one straight, narrow pathway
That was not overgrown.
And to this beauteous garden
He brought mankind to live,
And said “To you, my children,
These lovely flowers I give.
Prune ye my vines and fig trees,
With care my flowers tend,
But keep the pathway open
Your home is at the end.”

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