Last Spring, I had a neighborhood garden with some friends at a friend’s house. Although just 10 minutes away, once planted, I didn’t visit it very often.
My husband and I wanted to plant more than herbs in our backyard garden, so last November we looked at the area around our pool. The soil was not good, the sun beat down on it during the summer, and tomatoes had never survived, even when protected by a shade cover.
I went on a memory and internet search. My grandparents had always had a garden; they had lived in Tarrytown, New York where the soil is black loam and hardy with the nutrients on which plants flourish. We had poor soil that barely grew annual flowers.
For our garden to work, we could build garden boxes or recreate the soil. We turned the soil over and over with bags of Happy Frog nutrient rich soil with worm casing. Then we consulted a local certified grower, Gabrielle Gaul, of Herbivore for starter plants.
She started our winter garden out slowly with two types of kale, Romaine lettuce, speckled lettuce, and beets. With their success, we added sweet peas (which did not do so well), strawberries (still looking at a better location for them), and jalapeno peppers and cabbage (which are still growing ).
Due to the extra nourishment of our soil, our herbs are doing better than ever: sage, thyme, rosemary, a variety of basils (lemon, Thai, and sweet), parsley, lemon grass and cilantro. We also have a few aloe plants for medicinal use, and my husband loves project plants, so he is growing white sage which we use for smudging and clearing.
We give our garden the standard care with a little extra love: we have covered the plants when frost came; hand watered areas to supplement sprinklers; prayed over it, and played music for the garden.
We planted little white flowers around the edge to keep the rabbits out, and we brush our Jack Russell around the perimeter to gently remind the rabbits there is a rabbit-loving hunting dog in the yard.
Our garden is doing so well that next season, we plan to use our flower beds to plant more vegetables. We love watching them grow, producing flowers and then fruit, and delight in the fact that we are nourishing our bodies with homegrown fare.
Dr. Audrey Reed can be reached at [email protected] For more information on growing a garden contact Gabrielle Gaul at [email protected] or visit the certified farmers markets in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and La Quinta.