I am a city girl. I’ve lived in apartments almost all of my life and I had never considered growing a garden. I was not a fan of the outdoors, sweating, dealing with bugs…nope it was not for me. 

In 2020 we got locked down and my daughter was BORED. I was trying to find educational things to do with her since school had been cancelled as well. I was still living in an apartment but this time there was at least a deck, so I decided to try container gardening. I bought a bunch of flower pots, dirt and seeds that said they grew well in containers. It was a flop. I didn’t get enough sun, and I didn’t know what I was doing, so I got maybe 3 tiny cucumbers and a handful of cherry tomatoes. 

I got married, and moved into my husband’s house. With the lockdowns and supply issues in the grocery store, I took a real look at what I could do to move towards supplementing my own food, and work on family health issues with fresh, organic produce. I did hours of research about raised beds and compost. I was posting about it in a Facebook group and someone sent me the BIU application. I didn’t get in at first and was bummed, but got a message soon after that there was a spot for my family after all. We were SO excited to see what my black thumb could grow. 

I only had experience with the sad small harvest of my apartment deck, so I thought that was an average harvest. I planted my front yard with all the tomatoes, squash and peas among other things. I was SHOCKED by what started to grow! I was getting so much salad I had to give away several gallon Ziplock bags to friends. I don’t know where I’ll put more pickles! And I’m so excited to start making sauce and salsas to keep for the winter months.  My family realized that broccoli is delicious after all and my husband and daughter asked me to plant more in the fall. 

I had some failures too, I took this year to just learn what works and what doesn’t. The zucchini I planted in a pot quickly died. I put bell peppers in a raised bed and they are healthy looking but stunted. I learned that my spacing is way off and I need to reconfigure my garden plan for next year. The good news is my husband said I can have the other side of the yard for planting too. I have no idea why grass became the standard for front yards. I have learned so much about bugs, dirt, how and when to plant and it has made my first garden an amazing success! I am really grateful for the materials, the expertise, and the friendships I have made since becoming a part of this program. 

Plus, florida weaving 16 tomato plants was a very valuable team building exercise for my husband and I hahaha!