I love to garden.  I love fresh vegetables through the summer and fall.  My garden takes me back to my Grandma & Grandpa Baker's home and Grandpa's garden that seemed to go on forever.  I try every year to create the garden from my childhood.  I try to make Grandpa proud. 

I grew up in Nebraska where you just planted the seed, added water and voila a beautiful and plentiful garden grew.  I quickly learned that Colorado gardening is not the same as Nebraska gardening and I'm pretty sure Grandpa is chuckling at me and saying, "oh, Misty AMEND THE SOIL." Amend what?  And since we're now chatting Grandpa, "did weeds never ever grow in your garden or has my memory simply erased the weeds?" Sigh.

When I first moved into our house I carved out a small patch in the backyard that received the most amount of sun.  There was only one area that was convenient and sunny.  The back of the house faces the north and is filled with trees: an apple tree, a crab apple tree, two different evergreen trees and a cotton tree.  (I'm sure the cotton tree is the unwanted child of the large cotton tree from my neighbors yard, but it's not in my heart to cut it down.)  So the main part of the sun is right off the patio where a garden would be in the way.  So off to the side of the yard between an evergreen and the cotton tree I carved out my little garden spot.  I tilled the land and added compost and planted my seeds.  Then the weeds took over and so did the zucchini!  But every year I planted a garden and each year the results were completely different.  I'll never understand why one year the tomatoes will rock out and the next barely produce.

It's eight summers later and I've given up on battling the weeds and the diminishing sun as the trees have grown creating more shade.  Also now I have two growing stepsons who throw balls and run everywhere and an 11-yr old yellow lab/golden retriever mix who seems as much puppy as ever when she's outside chasing squirrels.  I gave into the trees, the boys and the dog and seeded the garden plot last summer with grass.  I told myself I could have a container garden in the front yard that gets so much sun grass simply won't grow.  I'd already turned that part of the yard into a xeriscape flower garden.  I figured adding a container garden would fill in the flower garden until the flowers and ground cover took hold and spread.  Container gardening just wasn't fun.  I missed working in the land.  (Although I gotta admit I didn't miss the weeds!)

So this year I decided to build two garden boxes so I could still "work the land" and have my garden with soil that wasn't filled with clay or sand.  One box is 7' X 12' and the other is 4' X 12', both are 2' deep.  I bought my supplies at Home Depot and had the lumber cut to size there.  Employees then tied the lumber down in the truck and I drove home.  I'm not big and strong by any means, but I have no problems working with my hands and with power tools.  I struggled with the lumber but I did all I could to put the box together before asking my husband to help me put them in place and attach each side.

(My two garden boxes)

For the soil I used Craigslist to find free top soil and compost.  I filled the truck full on a few trips and, with my husbands help, got a good mixture in each box.  That's when I realized I'd made the boxes too deep.  I think 16" deep would have been more than sufficient. Lesson learned and duly noted for the next garden box adventure.

I fully admit I went overboard on tomato and pepper plants.  I bought a total of 28 starter plants of various tomatoes and peppers because I love them so much! 

(Garden box filled with peppers, tomatoes and corn)

None will go to waste; I promise!
  I will share with family and friends.  Plus I want a large crop because I inherited both of my grandmother's canning supplies.  I'm not sure how that happened since neither of them ever taught me to can!  So I taught myself and am planning on stewing and roasting and canning.  Also I'll dehydrate and crush some of the peppers.  I'd love to be set for the winter!

Everything is now planted and growing well.  By seed I planted cucumber, sweet corn, carrots, onions, sugar snap peas, Kentucky blue green beans, watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkin.  I did not go overboard on the watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkin.  I planted only one hill of each.  The boys love watermelon and cantaloupe and love harvesting their own pumpkins for Halloween.  It's the least I can do for my boys!  (UPDATE June 22nd, 2009: NONE of the seeds I planted grew - sadness. I'm going to plant seedlings instead.)

I've decided to also try container herb & lettuce gardens for the first time.  I have so many containers left over from last year I wanted to use them somehow!

Now, we'll just see how it goes!