Every spring my youngest daughter asks me to get her flower seeds on one of my trips to the home improvement store. Once seeds are in hand, we rummage through the garage to find miscellaneous plant pots for her to have ownership of. Many of these pots already have her signature all over them as they are splashed with colorful patches and pictures she hastily painted on the terracotta surfaces. She loves marigolds, sunflowers and will claim any seeds leftover from previous years because she just loves the process of watching any seed grow. For a few years in a row, she transplanted her starter sunflowers from her pots into the lower flowerbeds. She felt happy and accomplished every day as she observed “her flowers” shooting up, eventually growing taller than she was.
My mother-in law is an avid gardener. Being in her seventies, one would think her garden would get smaller over the years, and more “manageable”, but no, it continues to expand as she plants new varieties of peppers, tomatoes and squashes. Her methods are also always changing when it comes to types of fertilizers, composting techniques and weed control. She is but a flurry in her gardening galaxy for most of spring and summer, digging happily in the dirt, noticing every round earthworm and encouraging every sprout along the way.
My family’s gardening experience has been somewhat limited due to the type of yard we have. Most of our backyard is a swimming pool with concrete patios and the other section of our yard is not conducive to a vegetable garden. My mother-in-law happily shares her bounty and we get the pleasure of harvesting loads of fresh vegetables from her garden, but I have been contemplating starting a modified vegetable garden here at home as well. I know my youngest daughter would love to participate in the process, and I always love the reward of getting “fruits from our labors”.
With space constraints, I want my garden to stay small and manageable. I think my daughter will want to take some ownership of a garden as well and it would give us a project that we can to do together.
Here are some of the gardening ideas I am considering:
Table Garden- This raised-bed form of gardening allows you to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers in a small space without stooping, kneeling or bending. The tables take up very little space and can be placed on a patio or deck. Table Gardens can be purchased at various hardware or home and garden stores but they are also easy to design and build.
Gronomic Vertical Garden - This form of gardening allows you to garden with space saving in mind. This shelf-like planter can be constructed or purchased (when purchased it often comes with a drip line irrigation system). There are many vertical gardening methods online demonstrating various types of containers and base systems.
Straw Bale Garden - This space saving technique gives you a gardening container in the actual straw bale. Using potting soil and fertilizer, the bale can be conditioned to be a thriving environment for growing vegetables. Some of the benefits of straw bale gardening are that it is inexpensive, the bales are raised and once the bales have been used, they break down into compost for flower beds and gardens (my mother-in-law is adding bales as well to her existing garden!).
Container Gardening - From pots to reusable grocery bags to plastic buckets, container gardens allow you to use containers you already own or find creative containers that bring personality to your gardening. Using containers allows you to plant in small spaces and move your pots around if necessary.
Whichever gardening method you choose, the planting process and the results will undoubtedly yield a great reward for you and your family.
"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul." - Alfred Austin
By Kimberly Bridwell, Kudoso Kontributor