It’s spring, finally! Traditionally, this is the time of year when we want to make changes in our life, start afresh, clean out closets, get organized! For me, this year was different. I decided that I wanted to create a garden with mostly native plants. I know next to nothing about gardening and even less about native plants. But there you go…

My husband and I have recently made extensive changes to our 30-year old neglected yard and garden. The project is just about at the point when we need to decide on the greenery. As it happened, we went to an open house at a local songbird rehabilitation center, and attended a brief but inspiring presentation about the benefits of native plantings.

The image shows a monarch butterfly resting on native milkweed, as described in this post about native plants on CALMERme.com

For instance, we learned that just one native Live Oak tree can support over 300 species of caterpillar whereas an ornamental non-native tree (the name of which I forget) can support a measly four… By planting native shrubs and flowers, not only will we be able to encourage birds, butterflies, and other wildlife into our garden, but we’ll be creating a space that supports bugs, the environment, and ourselves. We were sold on the idea! 

So, armed with the decision, we celebrated the first day of spring with a visit to a native plant nursery. It was raining hard. There was no one else in the nursery except for a couple of workers and the owner’s 10 year old dog, Georgia. My husband stayed in the car (it was really teeming). I traipsed up and down the aisles taking photos of plants that looked interesting. No decisions yet but lots of inspiration!

About those vegetables…

Meanwhile, as the result of an earlier decision, I have to get smarter about growing vegetables. My new “kitchen garden” (the first in my entire life!) will consist of three 6ft horse troughs. You know the kind – galvanized steel, oval, about 2 feet high. They’re my version of raised beds! The place they’ll be located isn’t quite ready for them yet, so I’m taking the opportunity to read about kitchen gardening in small spaces.

The image shows red and golden beet plants, as described in this post on CALMERme.comI’m excited at the prospect of being able to grow my own chard, kale, spinach, beets, tomatoes, salad greens. Herbs. And some flowers too… My three six-feet troughs are approximately 18 inches wide and will give me less than 30 square feet of growing space… I’ll keep you posted!

 Realizing a dream

It is exciting though, to realize a dream I’ve had for a long time. Organic, home-grown food, fresh and straight from the garden to the table in a matter of minutes. 

The closest I’ve come to growing food has been the few times I’ve tried to grow tomatoes in grow bags (never successfully), hot Thai chilis (I don’t eat them, but grew them in abundance), and a couple of citrus trees in big pots (they’ve done well too). But the notion of going outside to pick some kale to toss into my smoothie is exciting! I know it sounds a bit small for a dream to consist of having a vegetable patch, but that’s how it’s been for me. I didn’t have enough time, enough space, or enough energy. But I think it’s different now. Here’s my hope – that I’ll grow enough food in my no-need-to-bend-over vegetable troughs that I’ll be one of those people who begs neighbors to take some off their hands!

The image shows a clarkia flower, native to California as described in this post on CALMERme.comSo this spring, do whatever it is that will make you happy. Whether that’s cleaning out your closets, or trying to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet, or being more active in your community, it’s all good. Or maybe it involves sitting on the couch reading about how to create the vegetable garden of your dreams…

Stay tuned. Somehow I managed to not buy a single plant during my visits to two native plant nurseries. (It was a bit overwhelming to be honest.) That said, I have four packets of seeds that I’m just itching to get started with…

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