Friday, February 27, 2015


It’s the end of February and for many of us in the Deep South and Southwest, the heart turns to love - lovely visions - of beautiful veggies growing right outside our doors. That’s just where I am right now. My house doesn't have a lot of space around it but that doesn’t keep me from dreaming about a garden and pursuing those dreams – on a small scale, of course. Also, I’ll be taking care of the garden myself. So, I want to plant just a few kinds of veggies and those that are hardy enough to have a high probability of success. That’s why, at this time, I’m contenting myself with a salad garden.

As of today, I’ve chosen six veggie items for my salad and salsa garden along with marigolds to go on the perimeter to chase away unwanted insects. This is going to be a four-foot, square garden design. Come May, it’s going to be packed – Hopeful Hazel that I am - with loads of fresh salad goodies. And, when I think of a delicious fresh salad, there are some vegetables that I definitely want on my summer table. Small as it is, the size of this garden is large enough to provide a good amount of ingredients for many green, summer salads and salsas.

Here’s what I’m planting in my garden.
Seeds now but a promise of salad bounty all summer long.

Jalapeno pepper plants
Tomato plants
Mixed lettuce plants
Red radishes
Green onions
Marigold plants

As you can see in the photo, all the seeds are of USDA organic and I’ve bought a huge bag of organic soil to plant them in. I found it all at a BIG-BOX Hardware Store. Is it all I could want in a salad garden? Well, of course, not. I’d love to also have green peppers, squash, cucumbers and more herbs. But for space and time reasons, I’ll settle on what I believe is enough - for now.

The area for my garden is very limited, just a strip of yard on the side of the house. So, it will be only one bed about four feet square. And that’s small enough that I won’t have to lean or crawl very far to work the garden. I’m also being very selective about the kinds of veggies I’ve chosen. These veggies require little space so when they produce, they’ll fit in a compact area. The garden will be beside a high wooden fence that will help shade the plants for part of the day, a plus for our usual high temperatures beginning in May. There won’t be any need of industrial fertilizers either. I’ve purchased plenty of organic soil and I’ve started my compost pile at the end of the back yard.

Don’t just dream. Plant that garden.
I hope the plans for my new salad garden start you daydreaming about the possibility of planting  your own veggies this spring. You don’t have to have so much space in your yard – a small salad garden like mine is a good way to begin. Even if you are an apartment dweller, you can have pots of veggie plants on your patio or in window boxes that get a lot of afternoon sun. Also, for some, it may be possible to go together with family or neighbors and plant a community garden on a larger plot of land.

The research and money for planting and maintaining a small garden are minimal. A bigger challenge will be the hours needed to take care of it. When you have your own garden, you need to take good care of the plants, watering, weeding, and looking out for pests. But, if you start out small, you shouldn’t have any overwhelming problems. The rewards are many. You’ll save a lot of money on food costs and the veggies you harvest will be healthier for your family than what you buy at the store. You’ll feel even prouder of yourself, when you use organic gardening methods, compost for fertilizer, and flowers in the same beds to repel unwanted insects. And there are important social benefits of gardening, too – you’ll be able to share your bounty.

Update March 1, 2015
Seeds are now planted in pots. The wait begins for the little seedlings to appear. I've planted a lot more than I can use - if all come up. so. I'll probably have little seedlings to share with friends and neighbors.

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