{Garden Life} Don’t be afraid to experiment

garden life link up

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The following post was written by the lovely Carrie, who I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know better over the past few years via NOH and her own blog. Carrie writes about books, finances, and personal growth at her blog, Carrie’s Busy Nothings. She’s a lifelong fan of Jane Austen and world travel, and has never been known to turn down a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts.

Hello readers of No Ordinary Homestead! I’m so honored that Tiffany is allowing me to share my gardening experience while she and her family prepare to depart for their new Berlin adventure. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what Tiffany will do with her new garden options in a city flat!

My husband and I spent several years as Expats, but upon our return to the Appalachian Mountains, we decided that it was time we tried gardening. Our first attempt was a rousing success: tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, peppers, cantaloupe, watermelon, and (my favorite) pumpkins. We didn’t have any idea what we were doing, but it was the perfect summer for gardening, with the perfect amount of rain vs. sunshine, and the plants thrived.

The following year, we assumed that everything would go as smoothly as our first season, so we glibly planted our patch of garden, including some containers, and then proceeded to watch as everything died. Every one of our vines was attacked by beetles, literally causing them to go from thriving plants to withered remains overnight. With a lack of rain, we were faced with dying plants, and although we managed to get a few small tomatoes, it could hardly be called a successful harvest.

Last year, we chose to give up on the larger plot, and went with container gardening on our back deck instead. After deciding upon lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers, we directly sowed the seeds and sat back to watch them grow. It only took a few weeks of container gardening to realize that I had found my style of growing things, and I began using Pinterest to collect ideas for the future.

This summer, I used old bricks to create a raised 5 X 5 garden bed in our backyard (filled with Brussels sprouts), added a container of raspberries and another of sweet potatoes (new experiment!), as well as a few pots on the deck with tomatoes, strawberries, basil, cilantro, lavender, and sage.

If you’re like me, and you’re not sure about how much time and effort you want to put into gardening, let me encourage you to give container gardening a try. You can start small, growing a pot of basil or some fresh herbs to use in cooking, and then add another pot or a new plant as you gain confidence. If you want to get adventuresome, you could add a pepper plant or a miniature tomato bush. There are a lot of great container-sized plants available, both online and in stores, that make growing in small spaces much easier.

I’d still define myself as a novice gardener, but I’ve learned a few things over the last four years:

#1: Make sure that you look closely at the type of environment each plant calls for (full-sun, part-sun, part-shade, full-shade), and then take into consideration the location of your container garden so that you don’t end up with unhappy, slow-growing plants due to being placed in the wrong spot.

#2: Water, water, water! Because the plants rely on the moisture that they receive from their soil, it’s up to you to make sure that they get watered on a regular basis. I’m particularly bad about remembering that, which is one of the reasons that I moved the pots to where I can see them from my kitchen sink. If I’m washing dishes and I notice that my plants are looking a little dry, I stop what I’m doing and water them right away. Making sure they have a tray under them (mine are built in) also helps in giving them an extra reservoir from which to drink – and gives me a little grace period when I do forget (or go on vacation).

#3: Don’t overlook old “junk” to repurpose as containers. We had two old washing machine tubs sitting in our backyard, waiting to be sold as scrap metal. While looking for something to plant our sweet potatoes in, we glanced at the tubs and realized that they would be perfect for growing food as they are well drained (all the holes), and deep enough to get roots going. People might look at them and laugh, but by repurposing what was junk, we saved ourselves money and gave new life to something old!

Most of all, don’t be afraid to experiment! There’s just something different about homegrown tomatoes and freshly picked herbs, but don’t take my word for it, try it yourself!

Want to join in the garden fun and link to your own blog or images online? You can share about anything related to gardening, old or new posts, from recipes to harvesting to grow reports to DIY projects or inspiration.

Here’s how this works:

PLEASE READ THESE GUIDELINESespecially if you have never linked up before!

  • You are free to join the Garden Life link up at any time. You can also skip a few weeks and then come back. It’s entirely up to you.
  • Please link directly to a post about your garden, a recipe, a tutorial for gardening, an inspirational idea, etc that relates to GARDENING — not your main blog URL.
  • Please only link to your own blog or photos hosted online.
  • You MUST link back to No Ordinary Homestead or a Garden Life link up post in your blog post. This way, if someone else wants to join the fun, they can. You can either link with text or using the Garden Life badge.
    Below is a code for the badge above. Just copy and paste this code into your post or save and upload the image to your blog:
    <a href=”http://www.noordinaryhomestead.com/garden-life-link-up/“><img title=”garden-life-300″ src=”http://www.noordinaryhomestead.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/garden-life-300.gif” alt=”garden link up” width=”301″ height=”301″ /></a>
  • I highly encourage you to visit other participants and leave comments. This is a great way to meet new friends and become inspired about your garden! I try to visit all the blogs participating as well :)

That’s it! Share your garden with us by linking up below!


  1. laura Williams says:

    I don’t see the link up.

  2. Amanda Krieger says:

    …me either.

  3. Hi! Stopping by from MBC. Great blog!
    Have a nice day!

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