There’s a ton I could say about today’s guest-blogger, Josh…but I’m going to limit it to these few words or phrases: husband and daddy; outdoorsman; home gardener; and friend. What sets him apart, though, is the infectious fervor with which he approaches each of these areas of his life . He’s that guy who makes you want to either be a part of whatever he’s doing or sit back and watch whatever he’s doing because it’s just so dang entertaining. You’ll hear more from Josh on future posts, but today he’s writing about how he became a home gardener. I think you’ll find this post on his family vegetable garden both entertaining and helpful. I know I did.
I still remember my dad loading up his old F150 with shovels, rakes, a hoe, and some fertilizer…it was time to do work. It is funny how gardening with my dad used to feel like work when I was younger. Now I find myself counting down the workdays in the week to get to the weekend when I can go get my hands dirty. There was a switch that went off in me as I got older that caused me to suddenly have a deep appreciation and joy for gardening. My dad and I get a kick out of the fact that now it’s one of our favorite things to do together and the more labor-intensive the project, the more I enjoy it. It could be anything from creating a trellis for grapes, which is both aesthetic and practical, to building up vegetable beds with a retaining wall, it really doesn’t matter. I love it all.
Gardening Became Personal
I think that switch from viewing home gardening as work to play came with the purchase of my first home. I, like so many other Atlanta suburbanites, purchased my first home just outside the perimeter with all the conveniences of close access to the city, yet just enough feel of personal space to call my domain. That basically translates to a ½ acre lot in, for lack of better term, a “cookie cutter neighborhood.” This is something that I share in common with hundreds of thousands of fellow suburban homeowners. What I have found is that my small back yard has supplied my family and neighbors with bountiful fruits and veggies, not to mention my wife, daughter, and me with hours of fun memories and rewarding hard work and play in our yard.
My passion for our family vegetable garden all started when my dad suggested I plant some sugar snap peas in a strip of my back yard that wasn’t really being used for anything. This was shortly after I moved in and I was trying to figure out how to improve the look of my back yard. My first couple of rows of peas (from which I had huge success, mostly as a result of my dad’s help) got the ball rolling for me or should I say “planted the seed.” Later that spring, I was planting tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, and okra. Then I got excited and realized just how great it was to be getting so many fresh veggies. I then moved to fruit trees. Fruit trees, when properly maintained and pruned, are some of the most beautiful additions to a yard in the springtime.
There are benefits and disadvantages to getting a vegetable garden started in your typical cookie cutter neighborhood. One of the greatest benefits is that many of these yards have a lot of sunlight, which is key to having a healthy vegetable garden. However, one of the biggest obstacles you will likely face is the soil quality. Most builders scrape off every bit of nutrient rich topsoil and sell it off. This leaves most new developments sitting on nothing more than compacted subsoil that is basically drained of all nutrients.
Don’t be discouraged by this! Your soil can always be amended by bringing in organic matter. Over the past 3 years I have brought in manure, leaves, and top soil. I have found that the more white oak leaves I have put in my garden to compost, the more earthworms I get, which creates wonderful nutrients to the soil through their castings.
Start Your Own Vegetable Garden at Home…No Matter How Small
I now encourage all my friends to get started on some level with a vegetable garden at home. It doesn’t matter how much or how little space you have. Even if it’s a pot on your back porch, don’t miss out on the opportunity to grow delicious food for yourself and your family. Not to mention the value in quality time spent with family and friends when you grow it together. I now have a rich appreciation for the time I spent with my dad when I was younger in our home garden, even if it felt like manual labor at the time. He told me that one day I would probably have a garden of my own; little did I know at the time just how much of a hobby and passion it would become. Here’s to first time gardens!
I’ve learned a ton from Josh and have had the benefit of leaning on both his passion and knowledge when it comes to home gardening. That aside, I have to say that what I appreciate most about him is how he has intentionally woven his love for his family and home gardening together as part of his story. Because of that…although his story may have started out “like father like son”, Josh is seeing to it that it continues as “like daddy like daughter”…keep scrolling and you’ll see what I mean. Love it!