This Spring will be my third year into what I still consider a very new hobby for me. When I finally decided to roll up my sleeves and dig in the dirt I did so with zest and zeal. I remember my first outing to a local garden center. I was like a kid in a candy store. I picked out three beautiful metal rimmed window boxes with cocoa liner that would be a permanent addition to my house. After that, I took my two tiered flatbed shopping cart and started picking a variety of plants and flowers to fill my boxes. It was fun choosing color, shape, and texture that would complement one another. And oh how satisfying it was to assemble what would be the focal point of the front of my house. I was beaming with pride at my designs and they looked great; at least for a few days.
Here’s the problem. I spent so much time on the aesthetic beauty, I did not pay any attention to the needs of each plant. Some of them bask in full sun. Others, like me, enjoy time in the sun and shade. And then there are the plants that simply thrive in shade. Needless to say, I invested time and money in some beautiful plants that in a very short time died because they didn’t get the sun they so desperately needed. Note to self: read the tags placed in the plants when you buy them. They are there for a reason! How did my garden grow that first season?
This brings me to mistake number two. My tomatoes produced a banner crop. The bell peppers, banana peppers, and cucumbers that were dwarfed by the towering tomatoes did not fare as well. I placed my plants in the ground without consideration to the growth pattern of each plant. Consequently, the tomatoes overshadowed the other plants.
Another mistake that didn’t help was planting everything too close. Again, not taking growth into consideration, I planted everything at what seemed to be an appropriate distance when they were little, but as they grew overcrowding became an issue. Fortunately, when it comes to herbs I was tipped off about the penchant for growing (and more importantly SPREADING) that mint has.
A friend of mine was very excited last summer when she told me she planted mint for the first time. I shared in her excitement telling her how she will love to add fresh mint to tea and water. That was short-lived and turned into a jaw dropping “Oh, no!” when she told me she placed fifteen mint plants in her yard! Needless to say, her neighbors up and down her side of the street will be getting the unexpected surprise of mint sprouting in their yards this year. Consider yourself warned, Fairway neighborhood.
While I am on the subject of herbs, I will stop short of calling my last beginners adventure a mere mistake. Instead, I will admit I have thrown in the towel when it comes to growing herbs in pots. With the exception of chives, I am a failure in this regard. This past summer I stuck my herbs in the ground and they did great. That said; if anyone has mastered what I can only assume is an art to growing herbs in pots, I welcome the advice. I would prefer to enjoy their beauty, fragrance and easy access right outside my back door instead of taking up precious space in my small garden plot. There is so much to learn that I have a hunch even twenty years from now I may make some mistakes that will still make me feel like a beginner. That’s okay—it simply means there is always something to learn. I embrace a hobby that I can nurture and— GROW!

Posted on 2014-03-01 by Michelle Rauch