Discover more from Toiles to the Wall
The Home Edit: My $10 Garden
We’ve been enjoying some cooler weather this week. Ohio likes to tantalize us at the end of August with a brisk nip of pumpkin spice weather before cranking the heat back up for the foreseeable future.
We at least haven’t had a repeat of last year’s heat wave. Perhaps that’s the reason why the most low-effort garden of my life has been such a pleasant surprise.
My expectations going into spring and summer were very low. As some of you might remember, I had surgery two weeks before peak planting time. This rendered me not allowed to do anything strenuous until the end of May.
Before it transpired that I needed surgery (it was ear surgery and went very well!), I had bought a handful of seed packets. My grand plans for the garden usually involve color-coded grids and $$$ trunkfuls of plants, and then none of these things actually come to literal fruition.
One thing I’ve learned from the flowerbeds in my city lot is patience. A garden won’t look like an Instagram garden in a year or even in two years. There’s no real rushing this process without wasting a lot of time, money, energy, and plants.
The previous homeowner left a massive jungle for us to tame, but the bright side was that I was able to transplant a few perennials to the front bed for $0. I salvaged quite a few Asiatic lilies and one solitary Black-Eyed Susan, which has since flourished. A hardy geranium and a Coreopsis are also leftover from the previous owner.
Cheating on my post-op orders, I did plant the seeds in late May. Is planting seeds strenuous? The child was actually very helpful here. We planted zinnias, Bachelor’s Buttons, larkspur, and hollyhocks. I figured if something sprouted, great. If not, oh well.
The total cost of all these seed packets was around $10. Thank you, Ace Hardware. We also have a snapdragon that has self-seeded into immortality. I usually thin the snap seedlings, but let them go wild this year.
Shockingly, three months later, the garden looks like the picture above. It doesn’t always take a grid and a trunkful of money. The only thing that didn’t really take off was the larkspur, and even it finally produced a solitary blossom. See below, shining through thicket of weeds we have since removed. (The blog isn’t the only thing that fell by the wayside during the work and family events crush.)
My plans for seeds had always involved starting them indoors in February and a lot of unnecessary equipment. Another idea that was too much work to ever get off the ground. I made massive and ultimately unused to-grow lists when we moved here almost six years ago.
The one thing I will say is that we didn’t just grab these seed packets at random and dump the seeds into the ground. Do take the time to monitor how much light your garden receives and assess how healthy the soil is. We’re lucky to have good, useable, well-draining soil here when most of this area has awful clay soil. The weeds certainly love it here, which, though annoying, is also a good sign.
It’s also critical to read the directions on the seed packet to determine how far to space the plants, how deep to plant the seeds, and the ideal time to plant them. That said, I planted the Bachelor’s Buttons well after the last frost, and they’re doing swimmingly. They did bloom very late, but they bloomed.
The garden was a low-effort startup this year, but certainly not a no-effort space to maintain. A lot of watering, weeding, thinning, and deadheading has gone into this. Especially if you’re new to gardening or if you’re busy with work/kids/life, it’s important to limit the varieties of plants. Each plant type has different needs, and it’s much easier to learn the needs of a few.
My effort and my $10 have certainly paid off. The flowers are now coming indoors as cut flowers, which means they’ve paid for themselves. In the backyard, the herbs and flowers are also having an excellent year. It’s the time of year when the weird hornet things stake out the mint blossoms, and I cede that space to them. This is their time. No reason to go within ten feet of the scary insects, right? The much more prepossessing bumblebees, butterflies, and hummingbirds have been flocking to the front garden. They’re much friendlier and have cross-pollinated the snapdragons.
Although I’m not opposed to loading up the trunk with garden center plants, this year’s success has driven home the fact that it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive to enjoy a beautiful garden. Time and patience are the greater assets here.
Did you plant a garden this year? How did everything turn out?
Thanks for reading Toiles to the Wall! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.