Beginning Gardener Residential
Clay Harris started as an inexperienced gardener with a busy schedule and limited light in his backyard gardening space.
Though the idea of growing some of our own food is becoming normal again in our culture, the path to feeling confident in our abilities is sometimes not. So many products, gadgets, time-saving miracles, containers, greenhouses, even hanging upside down pots. When these fail–as they sometimes do–the next best step is starting small, being thorough, and working in the ground.
Start small for continued success, perennial edibles, quarterly maintenance
Together with Clay, we prepared 75 sq. feet of vegetable garden beds, double dug and remineralized with organic amendments, compost and an enjoyable but not easy digging process. When we were through, we direct seeded together, transferring the simple knowledge of placing the seed, watering it, and allowing it to germinate, a wonderful feeling too many of us miss out on! In the first season alone, Clay continued to care for these beds and grew more vegetables than his family could eat, and continues to this day, 3 years later.
Limited light, unlimited rewards
There is nothing more rewarding when you are just starting out than early dividends and unexpected bounty from the garden. Half of most days Clay’s backyard is shady, a limitation that we turned into our advantage by placing reliably productive plants as anchors in the afternoon shade, including blueberries, strawberries, an Asian Persimmon and a fig. At maturity, these 5 gorgeous plants produce buckets of fruit from May through October. They are surrounded by support plants which attract pollinators and other beneficial insects, build soil, block weeds, and that add vibrant color throughout most of the year.
Clay wondered how he would remain engaged in the garden with such a busy work and social life. He found that success growing things provided the motivation. In addition to the overlapping benefits of support perennials for tea making and attracting pollinators, culinary herbs provide an immediate contribution to the kitchen. Why pay $5 for a small packet of herbs at the grocery store when you can grow them yourself at home? We built a spiral with river rocks, creating a warmer microclimate with excellent drainage for herbs that like it higher and drier, planting oregano, thyme, parsley and more. This 10 sq. foot spiral became a centerpiece for the rest of the garden, and provides Clay with all of the seasonings to elevate his cooking repertoire to a more lovable level.
Though Clay is out in the garden most days, our custom maintenance plan provides him with timely advice and instruction, seasonal reminders, appropriate fertilization, and extra boosts of labor to keep the garden (and Clay) growing. Every three months we visit for pruning, fertilizing, re-mulching and general maintenance, keeping him and his garden on a natural and easy course, reducing anxiety and facilitating continued success.
“It’s easier than we thought it would be. It just takes a couple hours a week to keep the garden really happy, and the timely advice and assistance I receive each maintenance visit has made a huge impact for us. It’s easily worth it – rewarding year-round, and it’s a hobby that puts food on the table!”