Being a new suburbanite I decided this year was my year to rent a plot in the West Hartford community garden. I had always wanted to do this in Boston, but without a car it would have been pretty difficult (not to mention pretty expensive) to get a garden started. I have never been a gardener- read my parents hated leaving me home when they were on vacation because their plants would always be dead upon their return – but I figured I should give it a shot.
I rented my West Hartford garden plot back in March through the parks and rec department. I chose the Westmoor Park gardens because they were the closest to my house and I can ride my bike there. It was only $45 for the season (April-October), and the plot is 20′ x 20′ (you don’t realize how big that is until you try planting something, but 400 square feet is bigger than most Boston apartments, and definitely bigger than most apartments in New York). The Parks and Rec. department takes care of the soil before you get there, and you can start planting once the soil is done. I never knew that you had to prepare soil before planting, but I am learning something new all the time. I did a major shop at Lowe’s and ended up planting mostly everything about two weeks before memorial day weekend (we had a wedding in Florida over memorial day, which is when everyone tells you to plant, so that weekend wasn’t going to work out).
I bought tomato plants, pepper plants, tons of kale, spinach, lettuce, zucchini, herbs, onions, eggplant, strawberries, blueberries, potatoes, blackberries, two types of flowers, and carrots. My cousin also bought me some tomato, radish, carrot, pea, basil and thyme seeds that I planted inside. All of the plants looked great at the Lowe’s garden center in Bloomfield so I just wanted to buy them all!
It took a few hours to dig trenches (to be honest we had no clue what to do, so we copied this trench idea from my garden-neighbors) and plant everything. Here is the garden Day 1:
Like I said, 20×20 is BIG, and it looks pretty baron. I started out trying to water with a watering can, which was not working out- at all, then my mother in law gave me a hose and we were in business.
Week 2- things were finally looking up! With lots of suggestions from my garden-neighbors I was learning a lot (who knew you had to remove bugs from the back of zucchini leaves with scotch tape?!)
And here is the garden now! I am so excited–and shocked– that things are actually growing. I have learned a lot (like not to grow as much kale, and that “hybrid” peppers are almost inedibly spicy!) and plan on doing this again next year, it is surprisingly rewarding to grow your own food. I will post some delicious recipes using my garden vegetables as I go. I highly recommend renting some garden space in the future!