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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Licky's Family Gardens (Part 1)

You're all probably wondering who this "Licky" character is, and why anyone in the world would carry that moniker, so I'll tell you. It's me. (waves!) And the Licky thing? Well...it's my Mommies Network username gone awry. (Hi Jenny! haha)

I'm The Mommies Network's National Blog Manager, my REAL name is Jenn, and I'm the lady who schedules all of the wonderful, fabulous posts you see popping up here each week. My job is very behind-the-scenes, so I haven't had a chance to introduce myself. Hello, fabulous readers! If no one has told you this yet, WE LOVE YOU! ;)

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to share my family's adventures in earning our green thumbs. I'm sure there are many fellow gardeners out in the blogosphere, so while I hope my posts will act as a reference and confidence booster for newbies like me, I'm hoping to learn a thing or two from you guys, as well! This post is the first stop along my gardening adventure, originally written in February - stop in next week and see what we did! :)

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When I was 14-ish, the gardening bug bit me.


Or maybe it was a mosquito.

Either way, I was strangely interested in growing things. Strangely - because I was a teen with an unhealthy crush on Justin Timberlake and little to no regard for foreign ideas like "environmentalism" or "fertilizer" or..."hard work".


What I did with my interest, I realize now, was kind of terrible. You see - my Grandma had all of this land and all of these ready-to-go garden plots, and considering I visited her at least once a week, I saw opportunity. She loved the idea of me planting a garden in her yard and going out to work on it when I was around, so when I asked - she ushered me right to her car and drove me to a nursery. If I remember correctly, I picked whatever was the most colorful and fabulous so when Justin Timberlake's stretch limo broke down in my Grandma's hidden rural driveway he'd notice the beautiful girl in her baby blue tank top (his favorite color, you know) digging in the best garden he'd ever seen, and a proposal would be inevitable.


Gotta think ahead!


I remember planting the flowers and painting some terracotta pots to decorate the area with - but I'm really not sure what became of it. I don't remember how long I actually took care of it or how successful it was considering I was too busy plotting out my Timberlake children's names.


When I look back on that, I feel bad for my Grandma. It obviously never amounted to much if I can't remember anything about it, and I know she had been excited about my idea. But, I hope she'll be proud of me now - because I'm gonna get that green thumb back, darn it!


I think gardening has always been in my head as something you just need to do. The way something tastes fresh off the plant, bush, or vine is so beyond anything you can find in a store! Growing up, my Dad had a veggie garden next to my swing set and I'd trample through it with my friends - eating raw green beans and corn on the cob. My Grandpa always had peas in his yard and I'll never forget picking a handful and cracking open the pods, hoping for nice fat peas to munch on. All of my Grandparents had berry bushes - raspberry, blackberry, and strawberry. I think I annoyed my parents on many occasions, begging to go pick some, then eating them unwashed and covered in dirt. Yum!

I want that for my kids. And not just as a memory to pass along through the generations, but for both health and environmental advantages as well. I don't think I'll ever be as organic or environmental as I'd like to be. Yet, making small strides and doing little things to set foundations for my kids (and a better life for us all) feels really good.

Which brings me to our 2011 garden.


My husband and I bought our (second) house in the Spring of 2010 for three main reasons - the school district, the yard, and the basement. We were so busy moving in and getting the house in our preferred condition last summer that we weren't able to take advantage of any of it, really! We did have a good time in our yard, but - we never had time to garden. Every weekend we'd talk about it, but my poor hubs would be consumed with mowing our almost-an-acre of grass or pulling weeds out of the landscaping or repairing this or that - and we'd never get around to it. We finally said, "oh well, next summer!" when speaking of our garden dreams....and then, I got pregnant.

Being due in July put a damper on things. We almost gave up the idea entirely - but then I spoke to someone with experience in my chapter of The Mommies Network (BuffaloMommies). She gave me a few tips & ideas and I think I'm fairly set on growing a small container garden on my patio. The only problem is - I'm kind of terrified to get started.


What size containers do I need?
How much do they cost?
What should they be made out of?

(I'm ultra paranoid about using plastic, especially if it will be heated - and I assume it will outdoors in the summer. I fear chemicals seeping into foods, and I think I'd rather go about this as naturally as possible.)


What things thrive in containers? What fruits and veggies are easy enough to care for while I'm very pregnant? Should I start them as seeds, or buy the already sprouted plants? What do I put in the containers? Soil I buy at the store? Fertilizer? How often do I water everything? Can I put them in the garage overnight to keep them away from animals?


Ahhhh!

The woman I spoke to suggested that I make a list of things I can't live without and would like to grow - and most of them will do well in containers if they are the right size. So, I suppose once I choose everything I'll be able to get answers to many of my questions - but goodness - is this going to cost a fortune?


I know that I want an herb garden, and some veggies that we use often - but I'd still like to chose 1-2 more herbs and 1-2 more veggies or fruits. Here's my wishlist so far:
  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Parsley
  • Tomatoes
  • Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
  • Peppers
I think that list, plus 2-4 more things will be good for our first year, especially considering my impending largeness.

So my question for you is - do you have any experience with container gardens? Do you know of any good gardening blogs? And do you know where I can get Justin Timberlake's contact information?

Post submitted by Jenn, National Blog Manager for The Mommies Network and quirky stay-at-home-mom who blogs at The Very Best Housewife. Originally submitted to The Very Best Housewife blog on February 15, 2011.

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