Food, healthy living, That Crunchy Life

The Garden of a Green Thumb in Training (You Can Have A Green Thumb, Too)

Growing up the daughter of Jill Kassuba, you would think the skills of being a master gardener just naturally run through my veins. I mean c’mon, I spent Hours every summer in the field picking weeds, was always lending a hand to fill 40+ pints of raspberries, and helped run our family produce stand. So a couple of years ago when mom spent her entire spring break building me raised bed gardens, transplanting plants from Michigan, and spending God knows how much money at the nursery, I thought my job of watering was going to be easy. And then everything died in July.

So what gives? Turns out gardening is a lot more hard work then just watering EVERY morning and night. Virginia brings a whole new climate than the Michigan “cool summers” I was used to. In Virginia, I find planting around spring break is super successful: the lost frost has been and gone, nice weather is coming, and lots of warm rains will help reduce your watering chore. However, beware the week in July. The week after many hot days and little rain where it starts to feel like a burning desert for your plants. Be sure you’re watering these days and not vacationing, my mistake.

Hot off the heels of another spring break visit with my talented mom, here’s what we planted in our garden this year. We spent about $75 at the nursery on the plants and a couple of seeds. We used soil from my compost pile and one bag of topsoil from Home Depot. We also picked up some treasures: water can, planter stand, pots, homemade bird bath, bird feeders, and a bird house.

Here’s our sweet little helpers. It was all fun and games until Porter started “raking,” really throwing dirt all over the place and then threw his rake into the window in true superhero fashion.

I’m so lucky to have these raspberries. They are the only thing that survived that first summer. My mom brought these down in her car from her own garden so my kids could have “Grandma Jill’s Raspberries.” These were hardy, and can never get enough water. Trim back in the winter so they grow straight, and they will bud in the spring year after year!

Our first year planting, we made these raised garden beds and this one had pallets on each side with a trellis running down the middle (and some extra netting for the plants to attach to). I opted to not plant in the pallets again because my plants there have not had too much success in the past. This year: on the trellis we planted sugar snap peas and burpless cucumbers🥒; on the back side are strawberries🍓, green beans, and broccoli🥦; in the front are my green peppers, jalapeño peppers🌶, and cauliflower. We fenced it for the bunnies.

My second raised bed had tomatoes that were hit by the Virginia Beach rats, note taken. This year along the back we planted sunflowers🌻, purple asparagus (note: asparagus should not be harvested the first year, light harvesting the second, and have a good harvest the third year), zucchini, summer squash, and Brussels sprouts. Fenced for bunnies (and the kids and the dog, too).

I decided to add an herb garden this year. Previously we planted herbs in a cute pallet, but they dried out from direct sun. This year: basil, cilantro, parsley, sage, and thyme.

In front, our landscaping could use some work. Mom and I redid the layout so there was no more misshapen circle of mulch where two old trees (now stumps, lucky me) once stood. We raked the mulch to freshen it up. Then we added a planter stand and some decor pieces, my favorites being the windmill and the DIY birdbath made from a Hobby Lobby milk jug and a thrift store pot lid. The bushes were planted two years ago and still haven’t reached their potential, but it’s the idea that counts, right?!

I wanted a little planter stand for my lettuce since Virginia Beach has this bunny problem, and no matter how much Blue barks, they keep coming back. I painted the grey/teal pots and made a homemade sign since this is right at our entry. Up top is a Mesclun Salad Mix, Arugula, and Purple Kale. On bottom is rosemary and lavender. I have dreams of a huge Rosemary bush at the entrance of my home, but you know, were just starting out here, so #goals.

This chalkboard sits outside our door and I change it every season. I was totally feeling the sunny vibes from the past weekend, and couldn’t help but welcome spring with open arms!!

I can’t wait to spend all summer outside! Who says little boys are the only ones who can have fun in the dirt? Comment below! I’m curious to know what YOU are planting this year???

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