Weeding (The Garden, That Is)

Last year was my very first attempt at gardening – of any kind. At all. My flower beds were in shambles. I’ve never been able to keep anything inside alive (I’m a houseplant serial killer). But I had gotten addicted to cooking with fresh herbs (basil & parsley), and was forking out 5 bucks for ’em every week at the grocery store. So I borrow a friend’s tiller, dug up my flower bed, and planted a few of our favorite herbs right outside my front door, right there in that would-be (probably should-be) flower & shrub bed. Have I mentioned that I can never keep anything alive? I was nervous. But I’m happy to report that my little mini herb garden did great! It was a huge success. (And by that, I mean- nothing died. Everything lived. Yay.) It was so nice to just walk out my front door and have fresh basil, parsley, rosemary, lavender, mint, thyme, and oregano. I was hooked.

This year, in addition to my herb garden, I am so excited to be adding another little garden for our favorite vegetables (and a few more herbs too!)

Last weekend my parents were here and they brought their big tiller to do the job. My mom and I got up at sunrise on Saturday morning and headed out to weed the herb garden and dig up the grass so my dad could till the new vegetable garden.

Vegetable & Herb Garden for Beginners

This is the front herb garden- after we got all the weeds out!

Vegetable & Herb Garden for Beginners

It sure has changed from last year– the little baby rosemary and lavender grew up!

Vegetable & Herb Garden for Beginners

My oregano came back! :)

Vegetable & Herb Garden for Beginners

And it spread! This is all new growth. The original oregano plant was right in the middle, but I pulled it up because I never trimmed it back last year like I was supposed to and it looked pretty rough.

My thyme came back too but I accidentally pulled it up – thought it was a weed. *sob*

Vegetable & Herb Garden for Beginners

This is the remains of my parsley plant from last year – will it come back this year? :\ Or do I need to just go ahead and pull this sucker up and plant a new one?

Vegetable & Herb Garden for Beginners

This is the right side of our house- just to the right of the herb garden. It’s 20′ x 5′ and going to be the perfect spot for our vegetable garden – it gets gorgeous morning sun.

But we had to dig up alllllllllll that grass (about 100 square feet!) before my dad could till it. He & Kevin were in Tennessee for the morning, so my mom and I went out there with a pickaxe and just started hacking away- so it’d be ready to till when they got back. Now let me just tell you, my mom can dig up grass with the best of ’em. She hacked circles around me! She put me to shame. I think I got about 1 square foot done. She did about 3/4ths of it. Eventually my dad got there and took pity on us – he finished the rest in like 5 mins and never broke a sweat. :P

Vegetable & Herb Garden for Beginners

Tilled & Edged – I can’t wait until I can get out there and plant! I know I want to do bell peppers- red, green, yellow, orange, any color I can get my hands on. I’m addicted to those things. And zucchini (love it any way you serve it- roasted, fried, and in lasagna) red onions, and green onions (love them on pizza). I’m giddy at the thought of just running out to the garden and picking some vegetables for dinner- and not having to get them from the grocery store! :) I’ll also have room for a few herbs- in the vegetable garden and in the herb garden up front too. I know I want to basil- sweet and genovese again this year, and last week I was at the Fresh Mark and I tasted thai basil- yum!! I totally want to do that too! I’m definitely thinking thyme again for the front bed, and possibly sage too? I just want to have parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme all in the same bed. :P Any other suggestions for me? :D

Vegetable & Herb Garden for Beginners

Oh yeah- I forgot to mention that Howie was a big help. He was the man of the house while Kevin was gone, and he made sure to help us womenfolk with the manual labor. He snoozed in the shade and supervised.


Are you doing a garden this year? What crop are you most looking forward to harvesting? I wanted to do corn this year, but ran out of room. But maybe next year… I have a whole back yard to work with… :D

More Garden 2010 pics to come…. :)

P.S. If you were looking for the Easter Dinner recipes, for some reason they didn’t show up in the email that got sent out. Bummer. Sorry about that! :) But if you want them, you can find them right here, on the blog. :)

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51 Responses
  1. Gayellen

    Thanks for sharing your photos. I, too, am planting a veggie garden for the first time this year. We are doing zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers (on a trellis), red, yellow and green bell peppers, lettuce, green beans and sugar snap peas. I have 1 topsy turvy tomato hanger that is going CRAZY, 1 pot of cherry tomatoes that seem to be VERY happy, 1 pot of sweet basil, 1 pot of cilantro and 1 big pot of jalapenos. (I hope to have enough to pickle….never tried it!) Can’t wait to see pictures of your results!

  2. Hot Mama Kelly from Austin

    We’re big fans of Square Foot Gardening. We live in an apartment so we share yard privileges with our friends who have a house nearby and we have two beds. You mentioned all sorts of nice veggies, just be forewarned that they won’t be as big as what you get in the grocery store because you’re growing them organically. But the rewards, even if they’re small, are great and you will have so much fun gardening! Something else to know too…I noticed your plants are really close to your house. In case you didn’t know, if you have any pest control spraying done around the house foundation, you can’t and should not consume any of the produce or herbs you grow in those beds because then you’ll be consuming the chemicals. Good luck! I hope you have quite the bounty at harvest time!

  3. Suburban Sweetheart

    This is so cute & inspiring! I don’t have a yard, so I’m sans garden (also, I hate gardening), but this is lovely.

  4. Emily L.

    I have a brown thumb as well! I would love to have plants but everytime I get them.. well they end up in the garbage :( It doesn’t help that my dogs love to destroy them.
    One day when we own a house i’d LOVE to have a veggie garden!!

  5. Keers

    You will get totally hooked on the veggies! I love being able to step out into the yard and grab some lemon thyme and tomatoes! It looks so great. I totally recommend trying some Brandywine tomatoes. They are wonderful!

  6. Grace E.

    I’m so jealous, you have such a wonderful space for your garden. Every year, my dad and I do a container garden. We have containers of tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, bell peppers, and this year we are adding, mini carrots (my daughter picked those seeds out), they grow about 3 to 4″ only, and also green onions, and at the back fence we are going to plant sunflowers and wild flowers. I was thinking about growing some basil and cilantro…Can’t make salsa with those fresh tomatoes without the cilantro. That might be another fun one for you. And lavender…Smells so good!! I cannot wait!! I think I’m just as excited as you are! Get those tomatoes though…they are way too expensive in the stores. AND they taste so much more yummy when they are fresh. The big boy or beefsteak ones are the best, or you can do the grape tomatoes. Did those last year and my daughter ate them right off the plant!! Can’t wait to see more pics! Love your site, this is so much fun, enjoy yourself!!!

  7. Collections from my Heart

    Best Wishes on your garden! I love gardening, unfortunately my dad has the green thumb and not me. I will be harvesting my first butter lettuce this afternoon for a dinner party with some friends (Pajama theme party) Of course my dad planted it for me, but it feels so exciting and satisfying enjoying the ‘fruits of our labor’ :-)
    Thanks again for sharing and being an inspiration!!

  8. Geneva

    Love the picture of Howie, so sweet! Please do more pictures of the puppies they are priceless. Also, whatever happened with the redo for the hallway. Can’t wait see the end result.

  9. Lea

    Loved reading about your gardening! What energy! Your pictures are always fun to see! Can’t wait to hear about your next project!

  10. Laurel H.

    Everything is looking really good! I live in a townhouse, so although we own the house, we can’t put anything in the ground. So, I may have one large planter with a tomato plant, an herb or two, and a red bell pepper plant or two.

  11. Irene

    I am so proud of you! I have been gardening for years, but I lost faith last year when I didn’t manage to make any of the seedlings grow. I was SO disappointed.
    Your post provided me with great encouragement this morning.Thank you. I am printing it and posting me on my notice board.

  12. Ciera

    Nice work in your garden! The thought of going out and picking my own herbs and veggies makes me giddy too :) But I just dont have the energy to get out there and do all that! Kudos to you though, it looks great!

  13. Shell

    Amanda you will loved fresh Bell peppers. I usally get them in green and red. Red peppers have a little bit more of a sweet taste. Warning they will need to be staked later on, they get heavy as they start getting bigger and peppers growing on them. You should plant you a tomato as well and try it. Home grown tomatos are so so yummy way better than store bought. You have me wanting to plant herbs I have never grown them but would love to try to.
    We bought our first home finally after a year and half of looking and the funny part is I love to garden and the home we bought has a garden area already there with a white fence around it and a arch way…lol I cant wait to get my garden planted and a real garden for the first time not container gardening. We are getting ready for the move but we are having to wait for the uncle sam check to pay for carpet. Dont want to move in and then have to move everything to get carpet in. So in while we have been waiting we have painted and done small repairs. But soon as we move the first thing I plan to do is get my garden up and growing…lol Hope you blog your progress with the garden love to see how it goes. Good luck.

  14. Megan

    We are going to try with raspberries for the first time this year if we can ever get them planted. But if not, my dad’s the king of gardening he has a bunch. I also want to replant tomatoes. But our big project is my daughter’s flower garden. We were given a lot of lilies for her (since her name is Lily) and we’ve bought rocks and bricks to add to her garden. It’ll eventually be the whole side yard of our house, surrounded by a picket fence and include a tree, her hydrangea and lily that were given to her at the hospital, and her other lilies and who knows what else. I’m definitely going for a fun, cottage garden with lots of plants, herbs for the smell (and food), color, textures, and hidden “treasures” like a toad house, rocks with sayings/words, her hand prints in a stepping stone, bird baths, etc. I can’t wait!!

  15. Becky

    Great pics. You may want to put out tarragon which is lovely on fish, chives is a must, and I forgot the last one I was going to say…mint maybe if you like it in your tea. Mint really spreads fast though so watch out. I always look forward to the cherry tomatoes out of my garden and the regular ones too. We put out a variety and I adore trying new tomato types from our local feed store around the corner from us. If you like zucchini and squash that is a must as well as cukes (cucumbers). Love cucumber salad. )) YUM (( [–drool–]…just mentioning cuke salad. Keep up the good work and don’t work Howie too hard. }}Snicker{{

  16. carolanne carter

    Hi Amanda, Dont forget the cherry tomatoes. The home grown ones are so tasty and just beautiful with basil. Sage is beautiful chopped up in your own home made seasoning for roast chicken. Honestly Sage is so easy to grow. I had some in a container that I thought had passed its use by date so I threw it in my garden bed and buried it and up shot this beautiful huge bunch of sage better than before. Good luck with your gardening!!!
    Cheers Carolanne

  17. Christy

    Oh my how the herbs have grown!! I can’t wait for more pictures of your veggie garden! I’m thinking of starting small with a few herbs. But I am horrible with plants! We shall see how it goes lol! Thanks for sharing :)

  18. Alicia

    Looks great! My husband and I built a raised garden just last weekend. I had just a tomato plant last year. This year we’re gonna have tomatoes, zuccini, squash, cucumbers, and I’d like some herbs too. Like someone else mentioned, I would recommend making your barrier higher and adding more dirt/manure. The loser your dirt is, the more productive your garden will be.


    How great that you are so excited about gardening! We are having a blast with veggies & herbs this year. We had our backyard landscaped last spring, covering most of the area with brick pavers but leaving lots of flower beds. We live in the desert so have to be careful about location of certain plants, but we are having some real successes. We have herbs (cilantro,basil,oregano,thyme,rosemary & parsley) right outside the patio door going into the backyard. I planted red leaf & romaine lettuces in one little row & they looked so pretty & have produced tons, but are almost finished (the heat, you know). We already have a couple of musk & watermelons to go into the lettuce spot. I planted Swiss Chard in a bed with pansies & alyssum – love the contrast. In another bed, we have some tomatoes (cherry & regular), yellow crookneck squash, peppers & cucs. We also have a pergola with grapes growing up either side, a fig tree, kumquat, Meyer lemon, Clementine, a sweet orange, & a banana. All the trees are dwarf. Also had a fun surprise — a plant I found last fall (no label) & liked because it was spiky & very textural has turned out to be an Artichoke. If you are thinking this is a large backyard, forget it. We live in a townhouse with a postage-stamp size backyard. We just planned it out to utilize every inch of space & we just love it!

  20. paula.thequilter

    Leave the parsley as it will come back. In fact, if you find little caterpillars on it that’s ok too, since those caterpillars will become a Black Swallowtail butterfly. Plant more time. Be careful with tarragon because it can spread and take over, ask me how I know this.

  21. Lori

    Great Job! We do a garden every year, growing the standard…tomatoes (lots of them for sauce), peppers, green onions, lettuce, etc. We LOVE it! And last year I put cloves of garlic all around the garden to keep the bunnies away and they are almost all read to be harvested!! WooHoo!! I just can’t wait til the frosts stop! For now, the farmer’s market will just have to do!

  22. hooviedoovie

    I would put a higher edge on your new veggie area and ad in some potting soil to make is a raised garden bed. Your plants will do much better!

  23. Danis

    Hi Amanda – love your herb garden! I think it is a good idea to start small and you can always make it bigger next year. The weeds are a little hard to keep up with, so only do as much as you can commit to! We have a HUGE vegetable garden and it is alot of work. My mom helps alot which is so great! We just planted the sugar snap peas last night! You could grow those up a trelles! They are so yummy! We plant tomatoes, green beans, lots of different peppers, zuchini (I agree with Cec), potatoes, pumpkins, more! I love summer and eating fresh food that we have grown ourselves!! I am going to try some herbs this year too! Have fun!

  24. Cori

    Having fresh chives is nice to have and are super easy to grow (at least where I am which is Zone 5). Did you only plant one variety of parsley last year? Consider a few different ones in addition to what you had last year.

    Whatever you do do not plant mint! It will take over the whole bed in a few years. Keep that one confined to a planter.

  25. Culinaria Libris

    Your gardening photos have cheered me up. We are still wearing winter coats and have the heat on here in London. Brrrrrrrrr. Your delightful garden photos have sent some sunshine my way today. Many thanks!

  26. Wendy

    I love to have fresh basil, cilantro, green onions and chives in the garden. Chives are so pretty in bloom and come back with a vengence, and there is nothing like having fresh salsa made entirely with vegetables you just walked out the back door to get! Oh, sweet peas too-my kids are crazy for peas off the vine!

  27. mamajax

    You may or may not know this but, herbs spread like wildfire—my neighbors grows herbs for the whole cul-de-sac and hers have gone crazy, and she clips them back. The local gardener said to tr container planting to keep them from taking over and to be careful planting them with a regular garden. Jave you though about square foot gardening? Check out his website.

  28. HeatherB

    Thank you for sharing Amanda! Nice work in your garden – I really enjoyed your photos showing progress!! It makes me want to get out there and start digging up my lawn. I would love to have your climate where herbs like rosemary and lavender (and oregano) would be perennial!

    Hmmm…looks like I need a trip to the garden center after all! :)

  29. Nikki

    Thanks for the motivation! We have an overpopulation of rabbits in our neighborhood so we’ve done container gardens of herbs and peppers in the past. My allergies have been kicking my butt this spring so I’ve been putting it off … but seeing your beautiful pictures has kicked me into gear!

    By the way, I just recently found your blog (searching for rag quilts – gonna try to make my first one soon!) and was hooked! Now I get an email anytime you post anything and I really look forward to reading them. Your weight loss posts motivated me to keep my calories at 1200 and post them daily to Sparkpeople (something I let drop off – which was when the pounds crept back up). Now I’m losing again and I have you to thank! MUAH!

  30. V!ck!

    Hi Amanda,
    Weeds! Don’t you wish you could eat em? LOL … They’re the easiest plant to grow!! Thought I’d share a tip on fighting the weed battle. It’s called “Preen”, also “Preen & Green”. Have you heard of it?
    This product is a pre emergent weed killer, meaning it will keep the weed seeds in the soil from growing. You just sprinkle it on the dirt. Of course it will keep any seeds from growing, so you can only use it once desired seedlings have sprouted. It doesn’t kill growing weeds, so since you just weeded, now would be the perfect time for application. I started using it on my flower beds and in my herb garden. Now my hubby uses it in his huge garden. He is also one of those people that feeds the whole neighborhood with his garden bounty. We live in Michigan and can only grow herbs in the summer. I dry herbs for use in the winter but it doesn’t replace fresh. I do have some perennial herbs like chives, greek oregano,sage & thyme. As I write I can see my chives need to be cut already, they’re a foot tall! I grow annuals in pots around the pool. Also, a good rule of thumb is to only cut one third of the plant for harvest at one time. This is especially true of thyme. Yes, I could blab on and on about herbs.

    I’ve been lovin’ your site since I found it while looking for fonts. And I keep wanting to send you a sample of my handwriting, but so far I just have not found the time. Now I read Billie’s comment about a weight loss story that I’ll have to search out for some encouragement! I am a member of Spark People, but don’t visit enough.

    Keep up the great work on your site and Happy Gardening ;)

  31. Shawna

    Gardening! Good for you!!! Can’t beat home-grown herbs. This year I want to plant MORE tomatoes. Nothing like a fresh ‘mater! Chives, yes —- but watch out. They spread seed far and wide so be sure and dead head regularly if you try to grow chives. Love your blog. Hugs to you and the pups.

  32. Carolee

    We love corn. And tomotoes. And zucchini. I can’t WAIT for tomato gravy made from fresh, right out of the garden tomatoes.
    If you ever plant corn, remember it doesn’t need as much water other veggies.

  33. Julie

    I Love herbs too! I agree with cec on the zucchini. I love it myself but one plant is definately enough. Especially if you like the smaller young ones. You can pick one every day. Your parsely looks just fine. Mine dies out to nothing every year but comes back again and again. I too would be careful with the mint. It can take over the whole area. Chives are also really easy to grow and come back every year. Too bad you’re not close to me. I have a few starts right now I need to share with someone. But my favorite is to plant tomatoes and basil. We love to pick a basil leaf and a grape tomato and eat them together right there in the yard.
    Good luck with gaining a green thumb. It ooks like you’re on your way!

  34. Niki

    Where I used to live before, I had a HUGE garden 60’x60′ where I planted vegetables and herbs plus I had fruit trees and bushes. It was lovely. Now I have a small suburban yard and I miss the fresh vegies, but not the work. Now my herbs are in a pot. Perhaps I should specify, my SUMMER herbs are in a pot. I have one of those dirtless growing machines that I use in winter (an Aerogarden). I could use it year round, but there is just something about growing herbs in dirt, outside, when it is sunny and warm that feels RIGHT. In winter, however, I, like you, do not like paying so much for fresh herbs – and I NEED my fresh herbs!

  35. Cec

    Like you I love fresh herbs but don’t have space for them so I tuck a few herbs in my flower gardens and they do well. Years ago we had a vegetable garden and nothing is like freshly picked vegetables.

    However, if I can give you any advice though it is that you should not, I repeat NOT, plant any more than one zucchini (or cucumber)plant because they take off and they are extremely prolific. There comes a point when you can’t pick them fast enough and the next thing you know you have vegetables the size of baseball bats (which don’t have a nice interior texture) and you are leaving them on the neighbour’s doorstep, ringing the bell and running away. If you want to plant more than that, let them grow vertically up strings or poles. Green beans are great done that way too.

    Have fun!

  36. Dorothy

    Is that new growth I see on your parsley? If it is, then leave it there. It should do just fine!

    I’ve always loved vegetable gardening…tomatoes are my favorite! But we have moved into a new house with a gorgeous back yard that slopes down into the woods. So NOW….I deal with deer! They are fun to see, but they also love to eat just about anything that people eat…meaning vegetables! (We won’t even talk about the flowers!) I was encouraged, however, that they didn’t bother the tomatoes last summer (my first one here). I’ll try again and see if I’m as lucky!

    Have fun with your garden!

  37. Ellen

    Amanda, my daughter Emily lives just a mile from me and in a neighborhood that does great, communal gardening. Most of the vegetables are grown behind one neighbor’s house; whenever he needs help with weeding, planting or watering, he posts a sign at his driveway calling for help. When the veggies come in, another “FREE VEGGIES FOR NEIGHBORS” sign pops up. He’s rewarded with neighborliness and joy, as well as fresh breads and casseroles made from the group garden. What a nice idea that feels as American as Apple Pie!!

    As for recommendations, if I could, I’d grow tarragon. I love it with chicken, especially Chicken Kiev (chicken wrapped around garlic-tarragon butter, breaded and fried, YUM!!). I’d also grow blueberries.

    Do you have any fruit trees, e.g. apples hardy enough for your winters? Have you tried the upside-down (“Topsy Turvy”) hanging baskets for growing cherry tomatoes or strawberries?

    I live in “planned community” where patio gardening is the most I can muster — no grass/garden to till. However, like you, I am leery because I am a “serial killer” of plants too. There’s a WANTED poster for me in all of the area nurseries, I swear! Even my silk plants wilt and turn yellow.

    GOOD LUCK with your garden!

  38. Billie

    Love your site. Love herbs, too! The fonts got me to you, the weight loss story hooked me. I’m now taking the two kinds of vitamins you talked about and signed up for Spark People and have been copying and pasting recipes into the calorie counter (I had no idea anyone had a site with that capability. LOVE IT!)
    Love your hiking photos too.
    You’re finally getting nice weather as we are up here in East Tennessee. Enjoy the garden. Ever made grilled pizza? Great with fresh tomatoes and basil on homemade whole wheat pizza dough with fresh mozzarella.
    thanks for all the inspiration

  39. Debe Hukill

    Excited about your garden. My honey took me to Lowes this past Saturday and we bought tomatoes and a bell pepper for our whiskey barrel garden. I bought a basil and a mint for my kitchen. Do you put your mint in your garden with everything else? I hear it will take over a bed and should be contained. I too am a serial plant killer and about the only thing I can really grow is dust! ( If only there were a market for that)Infact, one time my husband said-” If the state board of nursing knew how easily you killed plants they wouldn’t let you work on poeple”.(glare) Happy planting!

  40. Kerry

    Thyme is so forgiving and strong. I live in Arizona and thyme is my only herb that survived all year. Try it again. How does the Lavender do? I want to plant some, you have inspired me. I hope it works in Phoenix!

  41. Melissa in MI

    Actually I am planning to start a garden this year. I haven’t had a garden since I was a kid, but now I have my own kids and am looking forward to letting them experience a little of the nostalgia. I am nervous about the upkeep, but have a plan. My neighbor across the street would like her own garden as well, but doesn’t have the sunshine in her backyard like I do. So we’re doing it together! I think it will be great fun! I am most looking forward to the green beans! It is very hard to find good organic green beans where I live and my kids just love them. You make a great point about the herbs though, so will definitely be adding parsley and cilantro, and maybe thyme, oregano, and tarragon. I use all of those a lot. Thanks for sharing your garden and giving me some great ideas!

  42. Lena Beth

    Sister, we have landscaped ALL weekend and afternoons this week, but doesn’t it feel great to see how beautiful it looks when you are done! The kids and I started a little garden with a few veggies but more to come this weekend.

  43. Jo

    Oh – your photos are beautiful especially the first one. ALMOST makes me want to garden but I am still nursing a gardening hangover from when I was a kid. I despise weeding. I do however have a maintenance free rhubarb patch that I enjoy every year!

  44. Rebecca

    Your little garden needs 6 – 8 hours of sunshine to do it’s best, so hopefully, it will get more than just the morning sun. :) Good luck. It looks great!

    We’re doing Square Foot Gardening ( for the second year in a row. Had great success with it. The thing I’m most looking forward to growing (and eating!) is corn. It was so delicious and sweet last year!!

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Kevin and Amanda

We love to travel and to eat! Here we share our favorite quick and easy recipes, plus travel tips and guides for our favorite places around the world. If you have any questions about what camera I use or how I edit my photos, check out my photography tutorials.


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