First Garden of the Year

April 22nd 2010 / 2 minutes to read

Since I was 15yrs old, I’ve always lived in apartments.

Last year I was laid up on bedrest for practically an entire year (the pregnancy & cesarean section recovery), so I wasn’t really able to do much of anything.

This year Keith and I decided to work on the yard (it’s been neglected) and try our hands at a small herb/fruit/vegetable garden! He built a garden box with Daniel for me which is even more awesome!

boyfriend building box

boyfriend building box

danny helping with nail gun



I have a little basil patch and strawberry patch going on. I planted:

  • 4 – basil
  • 10 – strawberry
  • 1 – thyme
  • 1 – oregano
  • 2 – cilantro
  • 1 – lavender
  • 2 – red bell pepper
  • 1 – jalapeno pepper
  • 1 – pink brandywine tomato
  • 1 – cherry tomato
  • 1 – spring peas
  • 1 – zucchini

It’s hard too, I would LOVE to go crazy and take a HUGE part of the front AND back yards and turn them into a producing garden!





The only experience I have gardening is growing herbs in a pot, so this will be interesting to watch! Hopefully everything will produce abundantly! I would of course, appreciate ANY hints/tips/suggestions. As it is, I am fighting with my emotions towards the backyard which is 90% covered in confederate violets.

So here’s a bunch of random photos of what’s in our yard!






Lastly, I would appreciate any help in identifying this plant! Keith thinks it may be a wild raspberry plant.

Help Identify!

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I love this! I just bought some fruit & vegetable seeds to plant with my kids, and love the garden box idea. I didn’t even think about that when I bought them.

Reply to Caitlin

I’ve never tried growing from seed before so perhaps next year if THIS year works out, we will try from seed!


I’ve never tried with seeds either. I actually bought them because my 3 year old saw them in the store, and begged me to buy & plant them. I couldn’t deny her ;)

Plus, it’s something I always wanted to try. I figured why not go with it, since the kids are interested as well.

Hopefully we’ll both succeed this year, and for years after!

Reply to Caitlin

Oh wouldn’t that be awesome! You should blog about your seedling progress too!


That’s actually an awesome idea!! I think I’m going to have to (if this rain ever goes away & I can actually plant my seeds, LOL)!

Reply to Caitlin

I am thinking about talking to DH about building a box like that do I can plant some stuff that won’t grow in the soil we actually have in our yard (since we live in a valley with strange dirt LOL)
Now that I saw yours, I am even more motivated to get on my husband to make it!

Reply to Danielle

Isn’t it nice to have a handy partner? Our soil isn’t all that bad but over the years it’s a bit too rocky for our liking so we mixed our soil with bagged garden soil.


It’s either wild blackberry or wild raspberry, but you’ll have to wait for it to fruit to find out for sure. If you prune the plants back before they grow leaves next spring you can get them under control and they’ll start to bear bigger fruit.

To get the violets under control might be kind of pricey and usually involves chemicals… bad. The thing is, every time you mow the yard, you’ll be spreading violet seeds like crazy, and they have pretty super root systems too. Very hard to get rid of. If it’s really 90%, you might have to dig up the whole lawn and put down a hardy grass seeds.

As for your herbs: bugs LOVE basil. When you start to have bug infestetions let me know and I’ll try to help out, lol. For now to try to catch it early, every foot, dig a little hole, put a little cup of sugar water in the hole so the rim is at ground level, but the sugar water is about 2 inches below ground level so that crawlies go in for a drink and drown.

Reply to Samantha

The problem is the plant is growing on the side of the broken/rotted out deck we are going to get rid of so I can’t really ACCESS the plant, just some of the vines. It’s frustrating!

Yeah it’s literally the entire yard, on the one hand, I love violets and who wouldn’t want a flowering yard? On the other, my brain wants the “typical” grass yard.

I have FOUR basil plants so hopefully I don’t have much (if any) of a bug problem lol. I would probably freak out and weep. I go through a lot of basil lol.


They’ll also go nutts on your veggies, but fortunately most of what your growing veggie-wise is part of the nightshade family, which bugs tend not to be interested in because the leaves and stems are poisonous. Just watch everything closely. Because it’s new, it’s soft and chewy for them. Once they start to establish themselves the risk of losing entire plants to earwigs and aphids lessens a little bit.

Yeah, I watched a documentary on our obsession with having a nice lawn… it’s so unrealistic, nature doesn’t look like that, and there shouldn’t even be grass growing in places like LA, but we just have this obsession with it. It’s become a status symbol, when in truth, kids have more fun playing in violets and dandelions and clover than they do on grass. Grass also leaves soil depleted. So maybe the yard is weedy, but at least it’s interesting and healthy!

Reply to Samantha

See you know SO much more than I do! We have it planted in the front so we are checking 2-3 times daily. I do recall that if we do get aphids the best thing to do is order some ladybugs and let them feast lol.

OH details on the documentary PLEASE!!


I thought the unnamed plant was a strawberry… but if it’s vining I have NO idea!

It’s so sad to me that people have grown up garden-less. Gardening is THE LIFE of my parents. Vegetables for Dad, flowers for Mom. My whole life was spent listening to my mom woe over whether her plants would get watered and how they’ll do and etc etc. If you’ve got miracle grow you’re fine.

And I assume you know not to water plants in direct sun, even in the heat of summer. If they’re that dry wet the dirt but be careful of the leaves. This is the #1 thing I see. Plus if you water at morning and night the water actually goes to the plant roots and not the air.

Strawberries technically shouldn’t produce in their first year, but if you want them to, make sure to trim off their runners so they focus their energy toward the fruit.

Tomatoes are water HOGS. I think you mentioned planting them somewhere… Try to locate a tomato cage for them if you can. We put coffee cans around the bases of ours as well. Looks good to me!

Reply to Sara

Oh yes, I logically KNOW how to garden, I’ve just never had the home/area to DO so. I am so curious if anything, aside from the herbs, will produce and if so how WELL it would produce.

How will I know what a strawberry runner looks like?


It’d definitely help to ask other people in your area what grows well. I know for my current town tomatoes do. not. grow. without a greenhouse.

Strawberry runners are pretty easy to spot – they’re like an arm coming out of the normal plant. It looks like a second stem. If it *does* send out roots before you catch it, just snap the two apart and you’ll have a second plant. :D

Strawberries are the coolest.

Reply to Sara

I don’t know of ANYONE locally that gardens. Then again I don’t really know anyone locally lol.

OH cool so it’s making it’s own “baby” plants then!


Love gardening. I’m going to be doing some here soon too. I have a little patch of safe space out in front of the front porch (safe from all the dogs) that I’ll be putting flowers into next week. The little seedlings are ready for transplant! :)

Just be attentive. Pull weeds when their little so you dont have to worry about the strangling anything and just generally make sure they are getting enough water n nutrients.

Reply to Keeshia

I am hoping because it’s a raised box that I won’t have too many weed issues!


(Sorry to butt in on another person’s comment…) Raised box gardens have like 80% better yield or something. They do better than ground level plantings I know!

Reply to Audrey

OH that makes me feel even better!! So the odds are stacked in our favor lol, that’s great!


Looks like you guys had a good time. Best of luck with your greenthumb! It’s good you’ve started with some Strawberries and Tomatoes – if they’re anything like the ones we had at my mom’s house growing up they’ll grow like weeds!

Reply to Audrey

Thank you so much! OMG I would LOVE it if our tomato and strawberry plants acted like weeds lol.

Looks like raspberries, they used to grow wild in my parents’ backyard! There’s nothing like wild berries off the plant..

I can’t wait to have a garden next year… we need to cultivate a back yard first! Gives me plenty of time to plan, though.

VERY exciting, I wonder if they are related to roses somehow because the vines are a bit similar?

Oh yes, we have a TON of work to do on the yard still.

I love your garden! I live in an apartment and have just started my first veggie garden in our shared yard area. I hadn’t realised that gardening was this much fun!

Good luck with yours!
I’m stopping by from SITS, love your blog!

Thank you so much! Oh man, it’s fun AND nerve wracking isn’t it! I think once the hardcore summer months hit and we see our bounty, then I will feel more confident lol.

We have the first couple of shoots coming through today! So excited! I hope they’re not just weeds… I think they’re the carrots, lol

OH you must take photos!

Hi stopping by from SITS. Love your photos – what kind of camera do you use? i try to do a garden every year. we had a decent crop of tomatos last year and cilantro. i found i had to reseed the cilantro to get it to keep growing (it in a pot). we grew some jalapenos too. This year i’ve planted more pansies and roses and will try our hand at more veggies. i’d love to learn how to can them so they last through the winter (if i should get so lucky to have a great big crop of stuff!).

I currently use a Nikon D90 with a bunch of different lenses. I shoot in RAW and most times manual or aperture priority mode.

Oh I want to get some rose bushes SO bad but we have to fix the rest of the yard first.

the Grumbles

Your basil is looking much better than mine! Did you start any of those from seed? That’s what I’m testing out. I’m a terrible gardener but so far so good. My cilantro is growing like crazy!

Reply to the Grumbles

No we bought all the plants from Home Depot and bought all Bonnie branded plants. I am trying to not get over excited because I don’t want to be disappointed if everything dies lol.

the Grumbles

i’m loving this garden sharing. i’m hoping to to an update post on mine soon! until then, here:

Reply to the Grumbles

OHH your bed is so cute and it’s organized!! I would love to put more beds / window boxes around the house. I just wish there was a way to do it SUPERRR cheap.

Jinx! I blogged about gardening too – must be the right weather for it ;)

You should try doing runner beans too. Real easy & yummy to eat!

I will have to pop over and read your post! I don’t think I’ve ever had runner beans before! I am hoping that if the garden starts to flourish that we can plant another one within the next month or so. I would love to try just a bunch of different veggies. I also want to get the yard in shape so this fall I can plant all the spring bulbs and garlic and such.

The viney thing looks EXACTLY like my wild raspberry bush, especially if it tries to stab you every time you attempt to prune it back. I managed to cut mine almost to the ground last season and it’s climbed back to person-height already. But the berries are delicious and require no effort so I can’t complain!

I’ve never EVER had any luck growing from seed, except for herbs. I’m not a great gardener but with a couple tomato plants, the blueberry bushes I planted last year and the neighbor’s overabundant cucumber plants I always get a nice crop :)

My only gardening tip is you can solve a slug problem with a cup of beer. They’ll crawl in and drown.

Oh yes, it’s an angry bush LOL.

I hopefully will be able to avoid bug issues because of the raised bed and the location, but that is an AWESOME tip. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a slug in my area actually!!

oh and P.S. Those Johnny Jump-Ups (violets) won’t flower all summer. Just mow them and you’re lawn will look green. Sure it’s not grass but it’s a lot softer than the horrible crab-grass our yard grows!

Thanks for the suggestion! I know once the rain (for the next 4! days) ends, the boyfriend is going to mow the lawn otherwise it gets out of control lol.


First of all, amazing pictures of the garden! Also, I am so jealous that you have a garden. I don’t have room in such a tiny studio apartment to have a garden and I’m jealous of everyone’s lovely gardens this year. I can’t wait until I move somewhere and have the space to have one. I would love to have great herbs and veggies to cook with!

Reply to Caity

Thank you so much! Are you able to install window boxes or have a patio/balcony that gets any sun? I also want to do INSIDE plants, but not sure how/what/etc.


Love the post, love the garden! The same friend’s dad I twittered you about the other day used to have a huge vegetable garden he’d obsess over. It was awesome, and involved, he even had a rototiller to till the soil in the spring and fall. We were pretty sure it would one day take over the whole back yard.

Sadly without a yard I’m reduced to gardening out of pots, but I managed to do quite well with tomatoes last year. Whenever I saw flowers, I’d tickle them all a bit to pollinate them. Also last year I had a crash course in cilantro, and learned that once the temps get into the 70’s regularly the leaves change, the stems shoot up like rockets and go to seed. Good news is that is what coriander seeds are, and if you let them carry on until they mature and dry out, you can replant for more cilantro. But don’t hesitate using the cilantro, especially when it starts getting warmer.

Reply to Melissa

Thank you so much!

I know Keith totally wants a tiller. I believe they are expensive though lol.

OH that is a great idea with the flowers! Thank you for the tip about the cilantro, I worry since the plants are so new if I can harvest any of the herbs yet.


Yay for growing your own veg, I do the same thing :) Looks like everyone has been in there gardens this weekend :)

Reply to Damita

You should post about your garden!

Happy SITS Sharefest! Love your blog. It’s fun! Cheers!!

Thank you!

My seeds are sprouting..I cannot wait until it is warm enough to put them outside!

That is so exciting! What are you growing?

Came here from SITS. Happy Sharefest

How big is the bed? I’ve been contemplating a garden but I don’t have much space. Your bed doesn’t seem too big and pretty managable for the first go. I’m interested in knowin more :)

I believe it is 10inches deep and 8×3 feet. I would love a TON more in the front and back yard but we need to repair those areas first.

Beautiful pictures. Good luck with your garden. The only one I did years ago totally bombed. I decided visiting a farmers market regularly was a lot less work and definitely more fiscally responsible. I would love to get one to produce all the same. It’s fun tow work together with your kids.

Thank you so much! Oh I am ALL about the farmers market. I am going INSANE waiting another almost TWO MONTHS before they open back up around here!


WOW great jobs you guys! That looks like such a fun project for the whole family. Wish we can do that here.

Happy SITS Sunday :)

Reply to Maureen

Thank you so much! It really was fun, I only wish we could afford to redo everything though lol.

Haven’t read all the previous comments, but sure looks like a raspberry plant to me. We had one existing when we moved into our house that looked very similar!

Garden looks great and I love the bed you built! I do a lot of gardening as well…we have two huge gardens and planting about everything this year! One for pumpkins, gourds, squash and the other for tomatoes, peppers, herbs, beans, etc. I will have to keep up and see how yours is coming along!

I wish the plant was in a better area, right now it’s in the WORST place for access and such.

Thank you! Keith did an amazing job on the bed, I’m so freaking lucky that I ended up with a “handy” person!

OH I would LOVE to grow pumpkins, as it is this is our first foray into “real” gardening so it will be interesting how it plays out.

Good morning! I loved the botanical garden pix, especially the tulips! Mine is a “bathroom” thing — oh the humor we can find in the ladies’ room! Have a great day.

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