The Veg Patch Diaries: Entry 01

in HiveGarden2 months ago

Disclaimer: I am in no way a professional gardener. In all honesty, I have basic knowledge at best and next zero practical experience. This is simply me chronicling my adventures in vegetable gardening!

The Reason

We as a family have been going through some pretty stressful times. Illness, the passing away of friends, and loss of employment have been some of the things we have been dealing with. Any one of those things alone is difficult enough, but when they all happen on top of each other it feels nightmarish, to say the least.

Personally, I have been struggling with my mental health quite a bit in the past weeks. Doing anything, even the things I used to enjoy, seemed like an overwhelming task. I was never in the mood and it all just felt... blah.

Enter my mother-in-law. She has been having some very strange health issues that have proven challenging to all of us. She has lost most of her sight in one of her eyes. Doctors can't tell us why. Though it is slowly getting better, there is no way of knowing if her sight will completely return. You can imagine how frustrating it must be if you are used to being independent and now suddenly you need to rely on someone for basic things, such as getting to the store.

But, my darling mother-in-law is made of stern stuff! And she is smart too! Deciding she needed a good way to let off some steam and help uplift her mood, the idea of making our own vegetable garden was born. She asked if I was game and I jumped aboard immediately.

The mental and physical benefits of gardening are well known. A quick internet search will yield many results and studies that show gardening can improve your mood. Not to mention it can be a good physical workout!

When I was a child and we lived on a farm, I remember having our own vegetable garden and harvesting various crops for dinner. As an adult though, I have never gotten the opportunity to grow my own. Until now that is!

The Beginning

Mom-in-law identified a few areas in the garden that she would be willing to designate as vegetable-growing areas. One of these included the old raised beds her late husband had used with semi-success. Of course, they were overgrown now, mostly with oregano and one or two invasive species which had taken everything over. Once that was cleared back, we got to take a look at what was left of the raised beds.


Old raised beds.

As you can see, not much remained after a decade or more of wild growth and no maintenance. However, the soil in these raised beds is still really good quality and can definitely be made use of! Mom-in-law decided that instead of trying to fix the old raised beds, she wanted them removed and levelled so that we could install new ones.

Now if you have seen my post here, you will know my mom-in-law loves crafting stuff. In fact, she has a wooden box of sorts, already painted and ready to be converted into a raised bed. But given her age and my general squishiness, levelling the garden bed ourselves would take us quite a few months. So reinforcements would be called in to assist. But before then we had a weekend to prepare!

Saturday, 6 August 2022

Our major goal for Saturday was to save as much of the soil as we could manage. We are working on a rather tight budget and buying bags of soil, later on, seemed like a waste, especially when there was good soil on hand.
So we walked the garden looking for any pots that could be filled.

This had a dual purpose, as the pots could be used to home seedlings and plant seeds while we sorted out the bedding. That way we could already start growing a few things that could be transferred to a more permanent home a little later down the line.

Growing the veggies in pots and raised beds is also one of the ways we hope to deter our doggos from using those particular plants as their potty space. I'm clumsy and we all know what is probably going to happen if I have to play dodge the landmines while trying to garden.


Sneaky snaps of us, courtesy of my husband!

We collected all the pots we could find and began shovelling dirt. Of course, it wasn't only dirt, we did actually make sure drainage was good in those pots and so on. I'm not a complete plant newbie! Well, I'd like to think I'm not.

I am, however, a gardening newbie. As you can tell in the photos, I was silly and did forget about my paper-thin skin before charging out into the sun. It was only once I started feeling the sun's sting on my face that I realised I had not applied sunscreen or bothered with a hat. So I rushed back inside to slather my skin. Obviously, it was a bit late, so I did get a light sunburn.


After shovelling and filling pots.

By the afternoon we had filled all the pots we could. Yet if you look at the after photo, it doesn't really look like we made much of a dent in the soil! Still, we did what we could and we called it a day. Needless to say, I really enjoyed a good long scrub in the shower soon after.

Sunday, 7 August 2022

The goal for Sunday was to transfer some of the seedlings mom-in-law had bought on Friday into the pots we prepared. I was actually pretty excited to get out into the garden and get going.

There were three trays of six seedlings each, spinach, lettuce and parsley. Both my mom-in-law and I love eating lettuce but it can sometimes go to waste if we buy it from the store. We are hoping that now, we will be able to harvest some whenever we are in the mood without food wastage.

Of course, I learned from my mistake on Saturday. I made sure to put sunscreen on and a cap! I also strapped my knee, which was complaining a bit about the previous day's physical exertion. And old injury from martial arts. (And yes I am in the same clothes, no sense in dirtying two batches.)


Sneaky snaps of me, courtesy of my mom-in-law.

I selected some pots and got stuck in, repotting the seedlings. As my knee was a little tender, I elected to park my behind on the grass while working. That way I would minimise the amount of time I would have to crouch. I sat near the soil supply so that I could top up the pots once the seedlings were in.

Of course, the doggos had to be involved in whatever it was that I was doing!

In the end, I managed to pot all the lettuce and parsley seedlings. I did not pot the spinach seedlings yet as the pots I want to use for those are too heavy for me to move alone. Once the garden services had finished on Monday, they should be in a position where I can then pot the spinach seedlings out.


A temporary homing spot.

I moved the seedlings to a temporary home in the garden where they would not be scorched by the sun all day and they would also be within range of a sprinkler. This way, they would still get some water, even if I got distracted during the week and forget to check.

Future Plans

We have a few packets of seeds which I hope to plant soon. I hope to also try growing some plants from our kitchen supply of veg, for example, some tomatoes perhaps. The garden services will be helping to clear out some beddings and opening up some areas this week, that we are going to make use of for vegetables.

We are starting off small with what we want to do, but we hope to expand in the long run to include a nice variety. I am aware that it might not always work out and some plants might die. But honestly, right now it is more about the journey. If eventually, we do manage to eat some of our own homegrown vegetables, it will be an awesome celebration of health both physical and mental!

Thanks!

As always, thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my ramblings. I hope to make The Veg Patch Diaries a regular thing as I document this adventure. Feel free to drop any gardening advice you might have for a newbie, including what stretches to do, cause gosh, I am feeling it today! (In a good way!)

Credits:

  • Mom-in-law and husband for sneaky photos.
  • Other photos by myself.
  • Canva for helping me make the photos look pretty.
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 2 months ago  

This is awesome! So pleased you've taken the leap to grow your own. As a sufferer of anxiety myself I totally rely on the garden to keep me sane, so I'm always pleased when someone decides to leap in and it does really help!

May I suggest starting an organic fertiliser? I don't know what your soil is like but one of the recipes for success is making sure the plants are nourished. A worm farm can be a fun project and it doesn't need to cost anything, or you could try a compost tea (there's some recipes I think in the collections of @gardenhive if I remember right).

Keep up the good work - may the sun shine on you but NOT burn you in the process!

I definitely would like to get some form of compost going, so I will have a look at the recipes! Stress and anxiety are a pain and you have to manage them or they get worse. Case in point, mine started manifesting as migraines which lead to projectile vomiting. It was definitely time to take the leap!

Not to mention I am now eyeballing all the produce we use differently. As in can I salvage the seeds or parts and grow it, haha! As for the sun, it's quite the balancing act for me to get my Vit D dose without burning to a crisp. Ah, the blessings of an Irish grandmother's genetics. Definitely not adapted for South Africa's sun!

Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your awesome comment. I am going to go do a search now 😉

 2 months ago  


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There is nothing like growing your own veggies. It's a great way to exercise espically when you first start making the beds. Starting small is key as you don't want to be overwhelmed the first time around.
In the beginning there's so much to learn and that can be accomplished right here on #hivegarden. It's a great community, welcome aboard!

Oh, I am feeling that I did some physical work for sure! And it feels awesome! We have big ambitions for the long run, but as you said, better not to be overwhelmed out the gate. After all, it's meant to be fun. And so far it definitely has been.

Thank you for the warm welcome to the community. I am really looking forward to this little green adventure and learning is always a lot of fun for me!

Look into companion planting and trellising to get as much space as possible! Cucumbers, pea, beans, and melons are great for trellises.

We have big plans, but for now we are starting off small to see how it goes. Would definitely love some cucumbers and peas!

If you do cucumbers, make sure you have plenty of flowers to attract the bees.

Oh there are loads of bees around our garden. Remember, mom-in-law has roses and lavender bushes which they love.

Forgot about the lavender until you shared the pictures today.

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