Moving from California to Tennessee has been an adventure, to say the least.
What I’ve found to be the most challenging, is the difference in climates. For example, a Spring evening in (Northern) California consists of maybe an evening rain, an always-tempting glass of red wine, a cozy throw blanket and a good go-to movie and not having to water your plants because you know the consistent Spring weather pattern all too well. Here in Nashville, I’ve learned the late Spring weather resembles that of a mood ring, you never really know when to expect an evening rain or sprinkle, accompanied by scattered thunderstorms, wind, humidity (so no cozy throw blanket necessary), possibly a pesky mosquito or two buzzing around your ears, an always-tempting glass of rose, or white wine (because it’s too warm for red) and having to water your plants in the evening because the 80+ degree weather dried up the soil from your earlier morning watering.
I am lucky because I had last Summer to learn a bit about how herbs, flowers and plants grow here. During my job search, I had about three months to experiment with a variety of greens and flowers all thanks to my stepmom’s abundance of backyard space and raised garden beds that were a blank canvas for me to use. This was my third attempt at gardening and my first here in Tennessee. I am, by no means, a green thumb. I just enjoy it enough to want to perfect it, which of course, is the OCD in me coming out. I am envious of gardens that always look put together because you know how much work someone put into them (unless they have the funds for a landscaper to make things look pretty) but what fun is that if you don’t see the seeds, flowers and plants that you put down with your own hard work and dedication?
So last Summer, off I went to a local nursery here in town to ask what would work best for beginners (aside from the easy care of herbs). The gentleman that helped me was not bad on the ole eyes, so I was a bit distracted but I really did learn something from him (really, I did)! I walked out with four varieties of tomato plants, squash, cucumber, carrots, zucchini, swiss chard and onions.
After watching these babies grow from seeds and the tomatoes shoot up, I went back to plant flowers and created a little garden space that I discovered was shared by the squirrels, tree frogs and bunnies [insert eye roll].
The taste of growing your own herbs and veggies is vastly different from store bought, even farmers markets, which I also love to go to (shop local and support smaller businesses)! There is also that instant gratification when you can bring a little basket out to pick your own homegrown veggies and cut your own fresh herbs, plus the money you save is also a win-win.
I now have my own home, with a blank canvas…1/4 of an acre blank canvas. I know this year is merely experimental as I’ve been watching the sun patterns and as we approach the Summer months, I am fairly certain I’m not planting much more until the Fall (aka my absolute favorite season). I told myself this time next year, I’ll have it looking a little better than this year, just chipping away slowly at my garden masterpiece (eat your heart out Martha)! My stepmom bought me an awesome gardening book for Middle Tennessee and Kentucky, which is great as it goes through a year of gardening and guides you month-by-month.
Here are my tips for beginners, from what I’ve learned:
- Educate yourself on your climate and zone(s). Get books (Amazon, a used book store, research online, or borrow from a friend/family/neighbor). Chat with your neighbors who have gardens, go to a local nursery and engage in conversation with someone who knows about your area.
- Commit yourself to watering (unless you have a dedicated irrigation system or gardener). It’s not worth all the time and money to spend if you’re not going to commit to watering, weeding, thinning, etc., right?
- Experiment and have fun! Watching seeds grow, and flowers bloom is one of the joys of gardening. They won’t always grow, or bloom, so try to learn from it all and have fun doing it!
Here are some pics from my small patio garden in California to the raised garden beds I planted last Summer.
Have a great week!