I didn’t discover my passion for gardening until my teenage years, but looking back, the seed was planted in early childhood.
I grew up with a backyard full of citrus in the sunshine state of Florida. My childhood memories include the floral scents of magnolias, gardenias, and lemon blossoms. My friends and neighbors and I would spend hours riding bikes, climbing trees, and quite literally playing in the mud until the sun went down. And yes, I even tried my little hands at growing berries, but at the time I didn’t fully understand how long it took for things to grow.
It was a time before smart devices and cell phones. Fun was cheap. And I personally believe it still can be.
I started to become more passionate about gardening in my late teens. It started with sunflowers, but then grew into cucumbers and corn. I really had no idea what I was doing and learned quickly the importance of quality soil and growing during the appropriate seasons.
When I grew my first ear of corn, pigmy as it was, I was truly hooked. An actual ear of corn! I was so excited.
My garden started to grow after that. The St. Augustine Grass was pulled up in a corner of the backyard and I tilled through about a foot of soil, removing the clay rocks. It took a bit of time, but I was eager to grow more.
I was all set to start my new and improved garden, when a friend asked, “Have you ever heard of raised beds?” The only raised bed I knew of was the one I slept on. I did a lot of research on raised beds and realized how much of a game-changer it would be.
Since building that raised garden bed, I’ve tried to grow every vegetable, herb, and fruit that I’ve been able to get my hands on. I’ve learned there’s a season for everything and that there are varieties of vegetables best suited for my location in Florida. I’ve learned the importance of knowing your hardiness zone.
I know what a cutworm is. I know how to defend against it without spraying my food with harmful and toxic chemicals. I am in no way an expert, but I am continuing to learn every day what works and what doesn’t.
I’ve learned about canning and how to preserve my own pickles, beets, and banana peppers.
I’ve learned about where to plant a garden, and why placing my raised garden bed against the south-facing fence wasn’t the brightest idea. I had no idea half of my raised bed would be covered by a shadow during the winter months! I had no idea when a seed packet said warm season that it wasn’t joking.
I’ve learned how keeping track of your garden can help you record your progress and not keep making the same mistakes. I’ve learned to plan and I’ve learned that some things I can’t control and the less time I spend worrying the better.
I’ve learned patience. I’ve learned to embrace the process. I’ve come to understand that everything is learned, and no one starts out knowing everything.
I’ve learned to enjoy every season life has to offer.
I am excited about what I’ve learned so far, and I hope you’ll join me on this journey of continuous learning and improvement!
How did you get started gardening? Comment below!