In honor of Earth Day today we are going to tell you a little bit about our garden that we started last year and absolutely love. We cannot think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than to make a garden box from re-used/Recycled materials and then grow your own fresh vegetables and herbs. We started this garden last year and since we have such a great climate here in Arizona we were able to keep some of the plants from last year alive still this year. We pretty much have pepper plants that are producing peppers year round and since the plants are now established well we are getting some very good sized peppers this year. It is a lot easier to do than you might think. Even if you are someone who usually kills plants (like I am), you can still have a garden like this. Here is what we did.
We started out with an old bed frame that a neighbor was just going to throw in the garbage. We took it off their hands for them and added five legs to the bottom (one for each corner plus one in the center for support) to raise it off the ground. The legs were made by repurposing lumber from an old rustic style solid wood headboard. It was basically logs that were used to make the headboard so it made for great support for the garden. To protect the wood from rotting from soil and water we used an old shower curtain liner to line the inside of the box. We just cleaned it off really well and stapled it in place. The box was now ready for soil and plants. You will want to make sure to drill holes through the bottoms of the liner and the box for proper drainage of excess water. We drilled about 10 evenly spaced holes in the bottom of the planter.
Where we live we have a Lowes nearby which has great plants so we always go there to get supplies for the garden. The best part is that Lowes has a guarantee on their plants so if any of them die quickly then you can take the dead plant, along with your receipt back to the store and they will replace the plant for you. So like I said, even if you think you will kill all the plants, this is still worth a try. I think we have taken one plant back and gotten it replaced, but other than that everything else has grown great. We used 1 bag of compost for every 2 bags of soil to fill up the box. The amount of soil you will need will depend on how big your box ends up being. As long as you have the length, width, and depth of your box you can talk to the associates at Lowes and they can help you determine how much to get. Make sure to mix the soil and compost together well and then fill the box once it is properly mixed. Then we select plants from Lowes. They have a great selection of herbs and vegetables that are in season for the time of year that you are starting your garden. Take them home and plant them, make sure to space out the plants so they have space to grow. The plants should have information with them that tells you how far to space them apart. Lastly, make sure to give the garden a good initial soaking.
Last year we planted tomatoes, red peppers, orange peppers, mexi bells, jalapenos, tomatillos, zucchini, cucumbers, basil, oregano, cilantro and rosemary. We learned that peppers grow very well and also stand up to our Arizona Summer as long as you add some shade during the hottest part of the year. You can see the umbrella we set up during the hottest months. It is best to plant zucchini and cucumbers in an area where they can spread out a lot and grow or in a place where they have a trellis to climb up. This year they will be planted that way. Our basil plant took off like crazy, but you have to make sure you do not let it flower. Be sure to pluck the flowers off the plant before they bloom or the flavor of the basil will change. We learned that you need two tomatillo plants in order for them to pollinate and produce tomatillos. One will grow well, but you won’t get anything but flowers from it. To make tomatoes grow the best you will want to pluck off the leaf at the end of each stem. I am new to gardening so I am not sure why this works, but it helps. Fresh tomatoes from the garden are my absolute favorite thing to eat all summer.
This year we have once again planted tomatoes, basil, and cilantro. We still have all our pepper plants from last year and they are producing great and the oregano and rosemary survived all year as well. We have also added mint, onions, onion chives, and strawberries.
Plant anything you love and will use. It is the best thing to be in your kitchen and be able to walk out to the garden to snip some fresh herbs for use when cooking. I make fresh rosemary bread for the house every 2 weeks and everyone loves it. We use our peppers and herbs to make fresh salsa as well. We already have some giant tomatoes growing that I cannot wait to eat. There are so many possibilities.
We would love for our followers to take some time to start their own garden this earth day. When you do we would love to see pictures, hear your stories of how it goes, and find out what yummy things you make with your harvest once you start getting vegetables and herbs to use. You will be surprised at how quickly your garden will grow once it is planted. Just make sure to keep it watered well (especially when the temperature climbs). We water ours morning and evening in the hottest summer months here in AZ. So good luck with it and keep us posted. We can share our tips and recipes this summer!