For at least 11 years, I have attempted to grow a garden every summer.

They have been in yards, in pots and on rooftops. I’ve used what I”ve grown mostly in the meals I make for myself and my kids. My husband doesn’t trust anything that doesn’t come in a box or can or wrapped in the store shrink wrap.

Each garden has had varied success. Gardens tend to do better if I keep an eye on them, but let them do their own thing.

I do not intend for this to be a primer on how to grow vegetables. I’m still learning. I do hope to give you a few ideas and maybe make you smile.

Current garden

This year’s garden was created after noticing the 2018 garden didn’t do as well as I would like. Our yard floods, so I noted where it usually floods and built a raised bed on higher ground.

The 2019 garden.

For this garden, I nailed two pallets together that had rows already set up. I put newspaper in the bottom to prevent some of the grass from coming up. Another gardener says she prefers newspaper to the plastic that you put in garden. She wets the newspaper to weigh it down so it doesn’t blow away.

Another gardener noted that I should use banana peels and egg shells for my compose. The egg shells provide minerals that some potting soil doesn’t provide (learned that last year when my tomato plants were dying). I also add some coffee grounds because the soil is a little low in certain areas of my pallets.

So far, the garden is holding up well. We had a hail storm a week ago. It damaged some of broad-leaf plants such as squash and sunflowers. But everything is still growing.

2018 garden

This was the year of pots. Because I didn’t know about the flooding, the garden in our yard washed away a few weeks after I planted it. So I relied on pots.

Due to the size of some of the pots, some plants did better than others. The viney plants — cucumber and watermelon — need room to grow. My cherry tomato plants did better as they were in the bigger pots.

I also learned the importance of the growing season. Lettuces do well in cooler weather and wither in the heat.

I also had issues with the neighborhood cats coming up to our porch and eating my plants. I guess the dogs barking at them wasn’t enough to deter them.

2017 garden

This was my first garden in North Carolina. It was planted in farming country — a rural area known for its rich soil. While I had a planting guide from the local extension agency, I didn’t really follow the rules. I planted most of the things all at once and had some mixed results. Then, when some plants started dying off, I planted more seeds in the hopes that something different would come up.

Okra and figs from the garden.

The property we lived in had several pecan and fig trees. I just waited for those to ripen and tried to pick things before the bees or squirrels grabbed everything. I found many creative uses for figs.

I also learned that if you don’t pick okra early, it becomes too fibrous to eat. The big okra does make a nice addition to floral decorations though.

Also, we had an unusual amount of rain which caused some issues with my viney plants. Some kind of bug larvae started burrowing into the cucumber and watermelon vines and destroyed all the plants.

I also learned not to pick stuff too early. I think I threw away the only pumpkin I had because I thought it was a watermelon for some reason.

2016 garden

In May, we had a freak snow storm that killed all my vegetables. The flowers I planted came up well. But they were planted in an area that the dogs frequently ran across, so I had to come up with a fence to protect them.

2009 garden

The rooftop garden

This garden was in pots on a rooftop that was reachable by the stairs that led to our apartment. Cats again were an issue. Some plants didn’t do well because the pots I had them in were too small. We did get some good lettuces out of the garden though.

Also the potted plants tended to dry out faster than their counterparts in the ground.


I know I skipped a few years, but those are the years that really stick out for me. You can see other garden photos on my Instagram page, mtnmamaadventures.

Do you have any tips on gardening? If so, add it to the comments or send me an email.