winter balcony garden

The Path To Our First Garden

Gardening has been a sort of bucket list type item for me since moving out of my parents house a little over seven years ago. My family always had a garden while I was growing up and I knew I would want one of my own too. I’ve moved a lot since then and just recently I was finally able to put down roots (literally) and make gardening a reality.

Minnesota

My first place was a little condo/apartment that rented furnished while my (now ex-) husband was away for military basic training and I lived there with our newborn son. I didn’t have a car and I moved in over the winter and out again in the spring. There wasn’t space or time for a garden, although if I had lived there longer I probably could’ve worked out some sort of small gardening agreement with my landlady, because she was pretty awesome.

baby apple picking
My son, circa August 2010, picking apples with us in Nebraska

Mississippi & Nebraska

My second home was an apartment I lived in for two months in Mississippi when J was stationed at the Air Force Base in Biloxi prior to moving to our first duty station in Nebraska, Offutt Air Force Base. I could’ve grown a garden there, I suppose. And I think that was the first place I made plans to set one up. I just had one small issue and it was mostly all in my head. See when we got there, I was sure I couldn’t start a garden in July, so I didn’t. Then I got pregnant with our second child and when she was born in March we were sure they’d have us moved out of our tiny 2-bed into a bigger home.

They eventually did, in November of that year. I wasted the entire summer being frustrated about the living situation (and of course, taking care of an infant and a toddler) when I could’ve had him build me a planter box and help me tend a small garden. I really regretted not planting a garden that summer.

winter balcony garden
My apartment balcony in Iowa and the only real estate for an outdoor garden.

Iowa

We moved in November and our already extremely strained marriage fell apart when he left us in January. Soon I became an apartment renter in Des Moines, IA and tabled my dream of a luscious garden. The kids & I lived in Des Moines for a year and when a financial disaster took over my life (I won’t get into details, but I will note that I unfortunately was unable to control the situation – I recommend to anyone who reads this – get an emergency fund started NOW!)

I became for the most part, homeless, for the better part of five months. Sure, we had places to live, couches to sleep on, and during that time I met Nick and he did everything in his power and through a network of graduate student friends to make sure we always had a place to sleep. We finally got into somewhere more permanent in October of that year (2013, by the way) and then moved again at the end of May 2014.

wollersheim winery 2014
This isn’t my home or my vineyard, but it is my picture and it fits right here in the timeline – when we got engaged!

Texas (and FINALLY some garden action!)

This move was expected and one I looked forward to because Nick had finished grad school and we all moved to Houston, TX where he started his first big, adult career. We rented a house without ever seeing it and it was grand and beautiful and had an extremely landscaped backyard.

I set up a compost bin by drilling a bunch of holes in a large black trash can (affiliate* link is to the one I have, but I’ll be honest and say you can buy it cheaper at Walmart) and I planted some sort of flowers in a little plastic gardening box. I made small steps to my gardening dreams until I realized how much rain comes down in SE Texas. In fact, as I’m writing this, we’ve had 6 inches of rain in the last 24 hours and we have more still expected for the next week. So my big, overly landscaped back yard that I couldn’t put a garden in anyway, flooded. And I was crushed.

garden landscaping
My overly landscaped (and rented) backyard at our first Houston home.

In October 2015, we moved again. We weren’t expecting it this time, as Nick was laid off from his very well paying job due to industry-wide cutbacks and a tanking economy for his particular career field. Since our leasing company let us move into another one of their, less expensive, properties without paying a huge fee (a transfer fee was involved, for much less than the cost of breaking the lease) we were able to stay in the same area and that’s where we live now.

Last summer, in 2016, I built two 8′ x 4′ raised garden beds and this was my first real garden. I waited until after the spring floods and planted cucumbers and beans in one and zucchini in the other. Side note: it floods WORSE at our new house because we live right by Addicks Reservoir. (These are affiliate* links to my favorite veggie seed supplier.)

zucchini plants garden raised beds
One of my first garden beds, (2016) these were my zucchini plants.

The zucchini eventually bolted because of the heat. (Lesson: Don’t plant cool-loving crops in the hottest part of the summer.) And the cucumbers took over my entire lawn. I didn’t know anything about culling the plants (picking off most of the blossoms so the baby cucumbers could grow.) I also had no idea when to pick them, so they eventually over ripened and my sad little beans never stood a chance with the cucumbers choking them out.

Let’s just say I learned a lot last summer and I’ve been planning my 2017 garden for months. Just last week when my parents were in town they helped me make these plans a reality. But that’s a different story – which you won’t have to wait long for because you can click here to read it!

Tell me, what’s the story of your first gardening experience as an adult?

*Affiliate links are used in various places on my blog. They're just like normal links but the website will track that I referred you and will send me a check from time to time for referring you. It costs no extra to you for using my links and it helps us pay for this blog and household needs.

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