In all of the posts that I’ve shared about our house, I have never shared the best part: we live next to our best friends. In all honesty, it’s just as epic as it sounds and I’m dreading the day that we don’t live 15 steps from front door to front door.

Earlier this year when we were talking about all things outdoor landscaping and gardening, their empty raised beds came up. I jokingly mentioned using them if they weren’t, and next thing I knew, we were huddled over their kitchen table with a ruler and a plan.

We went to a garden store within a couple days and got lots of veggies and flowers – tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeños, zucchini, basil, mint, and lots of marigolds. We did a lot of research on companion plants ahead of time and we read that Marigolds are really helpful to have around vegetables to prevent bugs and other pests.

We got lucky that the beds were already filled with some pretty amazing soil and each spent time tilling one of the beds. We didn’t get to plant right away because we had a torrential down-pouring for a week straight. All of the plants we purchased, aside from the zucchini and half the marigolds, were “starters” or baby plants, so we keep those under an awning to prevent them from getting washed away in the rain. In the meantime, I did a little black-hole style pinterest browsing about garden journals and of course had to make one of my own.

When it was finally time to plant, we quickly learned that we either 1) needed more marigolds or 2) needed to invest some time in shooing the animals away. Within the first week or so, we lost a couple tomato plants and felt very weary about the zucchini seeds, which landed us back at the store. We decided then to expand our garden to another area of their backyard. This allowed us some extra room, which was a good call in retrospect.

I’ve only ever grown vegetables in pots, and even then, they didn’t ever turn out very good. During my last attempt, the landlord at my old duplex sprayed something inside of the pots around the plants. I wasn’t sure what it was and when I asked, he had already thrown the the packaging away, so I was afraid to eat or offer the veggies to anyone. During that summer, the plants never got very tall or wide and stopped producing veggies early in the season.

Because of that failed attempt, I think I was even more excited when we started to see new growth and flowers, because I knew vegetables would eventually follow. From the beginning, we agreed that I was going to water on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings and then she was going to check on them and water as needed on the other days.

Probably my favorite part of the whole experience was when she was telling her sister how much joy she was finding in garden, only to learn that she loved playing in the garden when she was a little girl. I don’t remember gardening growing up, but I’m the same way, I can’t deny how much I love being out there (as long as I have bug spray on) so much that even pulling weeds doesn’t phase me. I’d much prefer that to getting ready for work every other morning.

I’ve shared by heart on producing fruit here once before, but I couldn’t help but include something similar in my journal. The whole process from tiny little seeds to food that I get to use to nourish my body is such a good reminder of our growth as Christians and the importance of being pruned and watered regularly to continue to bear fruit. 

It’s been about four months since we started our garden and yesterday was our biggest harvest yet. Based on the number of green tomatoes and almost ripe peppers, I have a feeling it won’t be our biggest by the time the season is over. I can already tell that growing veggies is something I really want to continue to do. There is so much to learn and perfect that I don’t think this will stop being challenging and exciting. I got to have a lot of fun conversations with co-workers (some who convinced us to try pollinating our zucchinis by hand) and giving veggies away just tends to make people happy.

I’m off to start planning next years garden – what are your favorite things to grow?