I planted my very first vegetable garden this year. It’s not the first time I’ve grown vegetables, but it is the first time I’ve been responsible for the entire process of planning, planting, and feeding my own small vegetable garden. I’m having so much fun with it!

small cucumber on vine

Every morning I walk outside in pajama pants with bed head to water my gardens. And then two hours later I go out and stare at them. And then a few hours later I go out AGAIN and stare at them some more. I’m a bit obsessed, you can say.

cucumber blossom

I’ve really enjoyed not just the planning and planting, but watching how each flower turns into a tiny little baby vegetable that grows each day. Vegetable gardening can be a bit intimidating, but I’ve found myself learning so much just by trial and error. And the best part is popping a tomato into your mouth that is warm from the sun and bursting with fresh flavor. No store bought tomato will be better!

cherry tomatoes in hand

I picked my first cucumber this morning, and we’ve already had a few cherry tomatoes come in. We bought both of these as plants at Lowe’s. I didn’t want to start from seed for my first batch because I’m so impatient to see results. But I have a few more seedlings that I’m growing right now to plant for our fall season. Yes, zone 9 has multiple grow seasons. It’s amazing.

growing bell pepper

The bell peppers and jalapeno peppers are also coming in! They’re very small right now because both plants are slow growers compared to the cucumber and tomato. The bell is about half the size it needs to be, and the jalapeno are tiny little 1″ peppers right now.

If you’re interested in planting your own small vegetable garden, here are the details of mine:

I used a 4×4 raised garden bed kit of plastic boards from Lowe’s because wood rots so quickly here. I’m not a fan of it, but it will do for this first season until I decide where I want permanent beds. My husband and brother helped set it up, but it really could be done with one person. We just like hanging out in the dirt together.

I used a layering system to fill the bed, with cardboard as the bottom layer, enriched garden soil nearly to the top of the bed, and mulch as a top layer to retain moisture. The cardboard acts as a weed block, and it composts well as it ages. I chose vegetables that I use frequently, and I planted in a grid system of three squares in three rows.

Back row: Because the sun is south of the bed, I planted the tallest plants in the back. They are a Husky Cherry Red tomato, Bradley tomato (a gift from my dad), and a bell pepper.

Middle Row: In the middle row, I have a banana pepper, sweet basil, and then another bell pepper (planted a few weeks after the first to stagger the crop). I’m moving the basil into the front row this week because the tomato plant is growing over it and blocking the sun.

Front Row: In the front row, I have a jalapeno pepper, romaine (just harvested so I’ll put the basil here), and a watermelon vine. The watermelon vine won’t stay in the container. It will spill out into our yard for several feet, but the roots will be in the enriched soil and given a lot of water.

I wanted to try growing the cucumber on a trellis, so I planted my Bush Hybrid cucumber in my flower garden, against a trellis that also contains plumbago. But next time, I think I’ll plant it in my small vegetable garden and trellis it up the back. I also don’t have a lot of room between my trellis and fence, which makes it a bit difficult to squeeze back there and harvest or weed.

  1. Pete says:

    Great post, I’m growing my own for the first time as well, I’ve picked up so many great hints and tips from the web! Your stuff looks like it’s all coming on amazingly. I’ve done a similar thing to you in terms of layout but I’m growing in hanging baskets too after picking up some of these and not knowing what to do with them http://www.qdstores.co.uk/products/garden-outdoors/grow-your-own/hanging-baskets-/page-1.html. They’ve made for a practical yet decorative feature in my grow my own section of garden!

  2. Luke says:

    It looks like you have done a great job with your garden, Rebekah. Using layering is a really good idea, especially when you have limited space and access to sunlight. When I set up my permanent garden beds, I used a brick at each corner to rest the wood on, which helps to minimize wood rot. I hope you get a wonderful crop and enjoy tucking in to all that fresh produce!

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