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Thinking About Starting a Garden? Learn from My Mistakes and Successes!

By Carol Stanley July 14, 2023 Hobbies

Have you thought about growing your own garden? There are no excuses such as space or soil. If you have even a small patio, you can grow many veggies and herbs in pots.

Setting Up Our Garden

Last year, we started a very small garden with only a few pots of peppers, tomatoes and herbs. This year, we decided to have a big garden in our yard.

Growing your own produce is a spiritual experience. After much loving care with the proper nutrients and water, you have the tasteful experience of your hard work. Not to mention the great health benefits of fresh food.

Living in dry Arizona, our soil is not suitable for growing anything except cactus and citrus. So, we purchased four large beds 4 ft by 8 ft that were 12 inches deep and put them together after much ado. We were lucky to find these beds on sale.

Next, we searched out the best soil, top soil and a variety of different nutrients to add. We were lucky again as the usual cost of the primary soil we used is $8.00 a sack, and we needed about 50 sacks. But there was a big sale in town, and we were fortunate to pay only $2.00 a sack.

Choosing What to Grow

The produce we decided to grow included tomatoes, peppers, radishes, cucumbers, melons, berries, artichoke, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and okra.

We also have small pots for oregano, basil, tarragon, cilantro, thyme and even some arugula.

Though my husband has a thoroughly green thumb, we had no idea how these plants would fare. There are many variables that could influence their development, such as weather, varmints and bugs in general.

Our Mistakes

We made a bunch of mistakes that showed up a few months after planting.

  • We planted too early.
  • We put too many plants in one bed not taking regard for the spreading roots.
  • The radishes went crazy and crowded out many other vegetables.
  • The melons did not develop and were a complete loss.
  • The berries needed to be planted in a separate bed.

The Results

Some of our plants had a blast, including the tomatoes (beefsteak, grape and roma), peppers (sweet and hot), lemon cucumbers and okra. But we lost the melons, the berries didn’t thrive, the regular cucumbers just didn’t make it, and we’re still waiting on the cauliflower and brussels sprouts.

We have more tomatoes than we can eat though, so our neighbors are also enjoying them.

Next year, we will plant in May instead of March, and use seeds for many of the veggies and fruits. We will also plant less seeds or plants to give more room to grow and spread. And the best part: next year the expense will be far less.

Our Trees

We also planted a fig and apple tree, and believe it or not, we are already getting fresh figs. Next year the apples will be out.

In summary, I think growing our own produce is exciting. Does it save money? Well, the jury is out on that. Even if you have a small space and bad soil, watching the birth of fruits and vegetables is an amazing experience.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you ever wonder if you have enough space to grow a garden? What would you like to grow in your garden? Can you describe your first gardening experience? Please join the conversation below!

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Sandra Lee

I have been growing both flowers, and veggies for my whole married life. Over 45 years now. I loved growing plants so much, I took a Master Gardeners course and obtained my certificate. I worked in a Nursery and greenhouse, locally when my children were young, and in school. It was great fun!


The Author

Carol Stanley has many interests in life including writing, reading, cooking, biking and speaking. However, she feels most passionate about her painting which she says keeps her centered and content. Her art appears on Fine Art America at You can also visit Carol’s website at where her book, Feel Better Every Day, is available for sale.

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