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New Weelicious Series: My Own Edible Garden

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I've got two thumbs but trust me, they're not even close to being green. I honestly don't know how this happened. I grew up with a mother who, from as early as I can remember, always had her hands in the dirt and a grandmother who moonlighted as a landscaper. Flowers, gorgeous trees, a perfect lawn, even a homegrown compost pile with the sweetest tomatoes you've ever tasted growing out of it were all the handiwork of my family matriarchs. Somehow in my case, their talents skipped a generation as I have always been much more adept at eating rather than planting.

When my husband and I found our house 4 years ago, one of the major selling points of it for me were the newly planted fruit trees and potted vegetable plants around the house. I was determined to maintain them and fantasized about us growing all of our own produce. Well, two children and a start-up business later, our once flourishing garden has become populated with a mish mosh of plants that I probably over water, may or may not get the sun they need and are overrun by weeds. The only thing that requires no attention throughout the year and grows non-stop in my jungle is shiso leaf and as much as I love shiso, it's not exactly an herb you can use in most recipes.

All this doesn't mean that I haven't tried here and there to keep my garden growing. About twice a year, the kids and I get really excited when we see interesting fruit, vegetable and herb plants at our local farmer's market, we buy a bunch and bring them home to plant. The amount of fun the kids have helping me in the garden is greater than almost any other activity I see them involved in. They love digging in the dirt, looking for worms, breaking up the roots with their little hands, covering the baby plants with soil and of course, watering, watering, watering. We've grown watermelon, corn, sweet peppers, tons of basil, and quarts of cherry tomatoes. We even have a blueberry bush in the summertime that the kids and their friends love to pick clean. As great as all this sounds in theory, I have a bad habit of planting things without really knowing what I'm doing and so plants that require more sun get less and vice versa. The results can be mixed and I tend to lose my gardening mojo as soon as the first "crop" has been harvested and then my garden falls apart completely until I get the urge again.

Enter one of my mommy idols, Lauri Kranz. Lauri is mom to two adorable little boys, Milo and Gus, and she is one of the coolest ladies you'll ever meet. Aside from being a gifted singer and songwriter, Lauri builds and nurtures local school gardens and, with her company, EdibleGardensLA, helps local chefs and other wannabe farmers like myself grow lush gardens full of organic foods.

Over the next few months I'm going to absorb every bit of knowledge I can from Lauri and with her, fill my neglected pots with plants, put in raised planting beds to increase our bounty, start to compost, improve our soil, FINALLY learn how to grow two great big green thumbs and get the whole family out in the garden regularly!

From witnessing my own little ones as well as those of my friends, I've always believed that getting kids in closer contact with where their food comes from is essential to them developing good eating habits. With all the time I spend in the kitchen for weelicious, building my own edible garden just seemed like a logical step. The best part about this new adventure is that I'm going to keep you posted of our progress every step of the way and hopefully inspire you to get out into your own garden, create one if you don’t already have one and show you just how easy gardening can be (Lauri assures me it is!). Every other week here at weelicious we’re going to feature a special section on My Own Edible Garden and offering tips tricks and ideas (and even a few freebies) for how to make yours better. As usual, I welcome any great ideas or suggestions you want to offer!

Here are some "before" pictures, wait until you see what's happening in two weeks!

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Comments






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  2. Allison

    March 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    We have to use pots as well, don’t have enough sun in the plantable areas of my yard. Wondering the best type of pot, and do I need to worry about chemicals leaching from the pots into the plants? Thx!!

  3. NotJustAnotherJennifer

    March 21, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    LOL! Love your comments on your photos. Good for you getting the garden going. We had one last year and loved it. This year, we’re making it bigger. To be fair, my DH is the one with the green thumb, and I’ve done very little. Our 3.5 YO is really excited about it again, and the 1 YO will hopefully get to enjoy it more by harvest time when she’ll almost be 2.

  4. yeni

    March 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Wonderful, can’t wait to follow along. My hubby has a green thumb, and we’re planning on starting our garden this month. Hopefully my 3-yo boy will enjoy growing things he can eat. Now if only I can get him to eat them!

  5. Ashlee

    March 18, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    This makes me so excited!!! I was just talking to my husband about maybe growing some basic herbs, like basil and cilantro, in a little planter outside. I’ve never grown anything before though. Can’t wait to see and read about your progress, and hopefully find some more inspiration! Good luck!!

    • Ashlee

      March 18, 2011 at 7:48 pm

      p.s. I literally laughed out loud at the picture of the ‘sad, neglected, dried out pots’!

  6. Amy

    March 18, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    We have a large plot in a community garden that was a bit disastrous last year. We had 4 squash plants and just one edible zucchini. Gonna try again this year, using what we learned didn’t work last year. We’ll see how it goes. Looking forward to your advice!

  7. Julie

    March 18, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Great idea! Good luck and I look forward to following along. My mom has a wonderful green thumb and a beautiful garden and I did not inherit any of her skills at all, so I admire your ambition!

  8. sylvia

    March 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    kuddos to you! My hubby comes from a long line of farmers so he has planted tons of berry bushes, rhubarb and even muscadine grapes in our yard. However, he does not have the time to care for our plants properly so I will be following along and hope to learn somethign from you to help my own neglected garden!!

  9. Lisa

    March 18, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Catherine, Does your friend have any recommendations on where to purchase seeds? DH and I were thinking what fun it would be to grow some heirloom tomatoes, but, don’t know where to buy seeds. Thanks!

    • catherine

      March 19, 2011 at 10:59 pm

      Lauri and I are sitting down to chat about all 1000 of my questions :) I will ask her where to buy seeds and more!!

      • Lauri

        March 24, 2011 at 2:05 am

        There are so many great seed resources out there. A couple that I really like are Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Franchi and Bountiful Gardens.

  10. Kristen

    March 18, 2011 at 7:50 am

    I’ve just atarted writing about my efforts Container Gardening. As a military family with sometimes short notice moves, we don’t have the stability to do much “in the soil” gardening. For those who think where you’re living keeps you from gardening, not true! I’ve grown much of our summer produce for the last three years and usually have enough to can and freeze.

  11. Lisa T

    March 18, 2011 at 4:46 am

    We just moved in to a rented house that has an acre of ground beside it that we are hoping to use to make a veg garden. My husband has already planted onions, tomatoes and raspberry bushes for us and we have parsley and dill in pots in our sunroom. We’re getting more seeds next week to put down. We’re in Ireland so not sure how much will grow but we’ll hopefully have a good summer again and get some produce out of the garden. If we’re sure we’ll stay longterm we want to get a proper greenhouse too. Cant wait for all the tips to help us along. :D

  12. alison

    March 18, 2011 at 12:59 am

    Catherine,

    I just LOVE your website. So much better than all of the over-cooked (no pun intended) over-dramatic mommy blogs out there. Your recipes are delish — we’ve made several of them now. And this entry about an edible garden really resonated with me. We’ve recently bought a home and I’m keen to dig into the dirt, while managing a full time career, husband and a sweet two year old son. Keep up the great entries.

    alison
    american in sydney

  13. Donelle

    March 17, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    I’m so excited for this. I want to plant an edible garden in my back yard and have been waiting for my youngest to get a little older (and the weather to be right). So I am really looking forward to learning with you!! Thanks so much!

  14. Kim S

    March 17, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Can’t wait to follow along I am super excited !! We’re trying a raised box garden this year. We live on the water and don’t have much of a yard.

  15. Shanna

    March 17, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    You will LOVE having a garden. My husband is the green thumb of the family and he has built 6 raise bed gardens in our backyard. Starts everything from seed in our garage in late winter with heat pads, lights, timers etc so everything is transplanted on time. The best part is how involved he has gotten our 2 1/2 year old. She loves to help daddy plant the seeds, water them and of course pick and eat them. Last summer I don’t think any sugar snap peas or cherry tomatoes made it inside. She ate them all as she helped pick them. I think its neat to be able to show her how easy it really is to grow our own produce and have a mini farmers market in our backyard. With how involved your kids are with your recipes I am positive they will want to be fully involved with the garden. We have a neat little compost pail in our kitchen and our daughter knows that’s where her banana and orange peels go to help make “good dirt” for her veggies. Plus home grown taste soooooo much better than store bought!! Have fun!

  16. jen@vickyandjen.com

    March 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Good luck!
    We look forward to seeing this great adventure grow!

  17. Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}

    March 17, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    I will be interested to read along this series. We are renting right now, but once we buy we plan on doing some gardening. :-)

  18. Tami G.

    March 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I love that my super-picky preschoolers will eat ANYTHING we plant. Whenever they pass by the veggies while outside planting, they always grab some grape tomatoes (easy to hold a few and pop into your mouth like grapes) or green beans or peas (fun to pry open and see what size peas are inside). I grew up with 2 big gardens and I miss them. Wish I had room in my small yard. Oh well, potted plants seem to be working for now! Can’t wait for the summer for my tomatoes, peppers, eggplant,…! This year we’re adding strawberries to our “garden”.

  19. Lissa

    March 17, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Can you ask lauri what we can grow in your apartment in NYC in the windowsill??? We are in ohio for the week to get our suburban fix…So jealous of your garden!!!! :)

    • Lauri

      March 24, 2011 at 1:56 am

      I like planting leafy greens in a window box. Spinach, lettuce, kale, swiss chard – all kinds!

  20. Andrea

    March 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Can’t wait to follow along. We’re trying to plant some different veggies in containers this year as well. We did a couple of tomatoes last year…learned a bit along the way…and now will be adding some herbs and peppers this year!

  21. Mary

    March 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    I rent a small space in Hawaii, and have only a small lanai for planting space. In 3 long low pots, from seed, I’ve planted green peppers, lettuce, and spinich, w/ scallions all around the edges in all 3. The lettuce and scallions are looking great; the spinich and green peppers are just coming up. In hanging baskets (topsy tervy’s), I’ve started jalapeno and edemame (also from seed – very easy), strawberries, blueberry, lg round tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and roma tomatoes, sage, oregeno, basil, a sugar substitute I can’t recall the name, and I recently sprouted 8 cilantro plants (don’t know where they’ll go yet – but I’ll find a spot). Not much room, but all organic, and I’m hopeful to produce some edible treats!

  22. sherin bual

    March 17, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    This is such a great idea! I look forward to reading your posts. I am trying my hand at container gardening again this year (for the 3rd time)…hope i’m successful this year…

  23. Lisa {Smart Food & Fit}

    March 17, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Great idea. My grandfather was the gardener in our family and my father learned some tips from him. They both grew up in Italy on farms and had to have a garden to feed the family. Now that I am older I want to carry on the tradition.
    I had my dad build me two gardens a few years ago, one is 20 x 20 and the other is 15×15. Having a garden is real exciting for kids, at least it is for mine and my picky 4 yr old helps with taking care of it, though he still won’t try all the veggies we grow, he at least will touch and smell it. A first step in the right direction!I
    So excited, looking forward to your series.

  24. Gretchen

    March 17, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    I love this Catherine! My kids love gardening too. I love it as well, but like yours, my life gets busy. The other day I realized I hadn’t even been to see my garden at the side of the house for 2 weeks!

    I can’t wait to watch / read all of your updates!

    • Pit

      February 5, 2014 at 7:24 am

      When I initially left a coemmnt I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new coemmnts are added- checkbox and from now on every time a coemmnt is added I recieve 4 emails with the exact same coemmnt. Is there a way you can remove me from that service? Thanks!

  25. dawn

    March 17, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    I will be following along since I haven’t had much success with my garden…this is exciting!

  26. Krista

    March 17, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    You have an amazing space to work with. Plants ARE easy….you just have to embrace the weeds (weeds are beautiful, they can be considered a friend….just call them “friend”) Also, the heck with weeding, just take some scissors and cut them shorter than your plant (sounds like I’m kidding….I’m not). I read in a book last year that weeds and plants grow together because they thrive off of one another. I read that you should always leave at least one plant of each type of weed that grows in an area for that very reason….because it’s there for a reason.
    Anyways, don’t be so hard on yourself….I went to college to become a horticuluralist and my yard and garden has, by far, the most weeds and an incredible amount of neglected empty planters :) Adds….character??

  27. Heather

    March 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    You have no idea what great timing you have! I have two very brown thumbs as well, but hubby and I are planning a vegetable garden on our balcony with pots and raised planting beds this year. We’re using something called square foot gardening. Hopefully we can both come out with something edible!

  28. Catherine

    March 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Great idea. I wish I had a yard to plant veggies, fruits, herbs etc but I am in a condo :-( I will still gladly follow your gardening success :-)

  29. Ashley

    March 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    yes – I love this new series already and can totally relate. Can’t wait to be as inspired by your gardening as I have been by your cooking!! Cheers :)

  30. Lisa

    March 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Our family is going to try square foot gardening this year. I would love to plant some basil, cilantro, rosemary, rhubarb, green/yellow/red peppers, radishes, tomatoes (regular sized and cherry), cucumbers, etc. Love to hear about your progress. Hope it goes well for you.

  31. ashlea mask

    March 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    lol……that’s what my pots end up looking like when i plant something!

  32. Kristin

    March 17, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I love this! I am planting a garden this year too. I will follow along!

  33. crissy811

    March 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Good luck. I just got seeds today but its still too cold in Indiana. I had a great garden in NC in my huge yard last year Im so used to starting a garden in February. Now I have very limited space and have to put everything in containers :(

    • catherine

      March 19, 2011 at 10:56 pm

      I use tons of containers. You have to work with your space and light :)

  34. Mrs. Cox

    March 17, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    You have a great start!!

    Since we’re renting there’s not a whole lot I can plant…but I did start an herb garden and a strawberry pot! When we’re homeowners I’ll have a garden. I plan on growing lettuces, berries, fruit trees, rhubarb, root veggies – the works! :)

  35. Stephanie

    March 17, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Try rhubarb! It’s so easy…you really don’t have to do anything to it and it grows like a weed…but if you remember to water it it grows even faster! My hubby and I came across a giant rhubarb plant at our previous residence and only ate it because it was growing like a weed…now that we have moved we want it back! Good luck!

    • esophian

      March 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm

      just be careful about rhubarb — it’s poisonous for the first 3 years but afterward is edible and wonderful.

  36. erica

    March 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    hi i am trying to grow our own too but i am doing it in pots did she say anything abt planting in pots ? wea are doing strawberries, tomato’s, and bell pepers

    • catherine

      March 19, 2011 at 10:56 pm

      We’re going to plant in TONS of pots. I’ve had a ton of success with it too. Lauri will answer all of your questions over the coming weeks!

      • Lauri

        March 24, 2011 at 1:50 am

        I have two dogs and pots are a great way for me to have a garden in my back yard without worrying about my dogs digging it up. I use large pots for growing vegetables that need more room for their roots such as tomatoes. Strawberries need much less soil to flourish and can be planted in pots made especially for strawberries. I use pots to plant my grape vines and berry vines as well. I put bricks under the pots to leave some space between the bottom of the pot and the ground to help with drainage and circulation.