The Garden Project

Bad news Bears. Something has happened to this page. I went to preview my post and then it wiped the last two entries, including the most recent one I was working on. And now I can't get it back. So I will try my best to recount the past three months in the garden for the second time. I'm just sad all the photos from the previous posts have been wiped out.

SO this spring and summer I set out on an ambitious project. Turning "the space behind the house" into an urban oasis, where we would be able to eat from the fruits (and vegetables) of my labor all summer long, all the while teaching Walter where produce comes from. I would give the project an overall C+.

The urban oasis that I envisioned was an utter failure. I didn't even get the table and chairs from IKEA that I was coveting, the same camping chairs are still out in the backyard. That said, oasis it is not, but useable, fun place to be on a summer day, it is. We have used the backyard a lot--fort building, rock collecting, bug finding, chalk drawing, bubble blowing, gardening, and of course grilling. So the fact we used it and had fun is a success in my book.

Gardening, my first foray into gardening was met with mixed results and outcomes, while expectations were so high. I did have peas, carrots, lettuce, cilantro, and chives, while the pumpkins, squash, onions and sunflowers didn't do too well. What I have learned about gardening:

  • Diligence, diligence, diligence--next year I will have to watch and tend to the garden every day rain or shine. I will be setting an alarm on my phone to make sure I am watering the plants every day when its not raining
  • The spacing of the seedlings really do matter, they are so small at first, it is tempting to plant them on top of each other, which is what I did--I think that's what the onion's undoing was.
  • And along the lines of the last point, make sure there is enough space for all the stuff you want to grow, and have the beds ready. I was constantly planting and replanting and replanting everything as they were growing.
  • There are things out of my control. This year our summer was so weird, the rain didn't stop and we didn't really get out of the 60's until early August. Yes I was having heat envy. 
  • I would have planned it out a bit more before diving in. However most of the lessons I have learned I learned through trial and error as well as talking to other gardeners.
As for Walter learning where food comes from, I think he absorbed as much as he could. He loved, loved, loved eating peas from the vine. Always asking for more, he still goes out to the vine to look for pea pods and asks please. I don't quite know how to explain to him that there won't be anymore until next year. The carrots were met with mixed reviews, Walter loved plucking them out of the soil but not eating them, I don't know why they were freaking delicious! 

All in all, I am proud of myself for starting this. I think it was an invaluable lesson for Walter to learn about where food comes from, and for me in how to maintain a garden. I am more passionate now than ever about the "urban farming" movement. I will never forget how protective and excited Walter was over the first sprouts. We now have a place to retire to outside and grill food. I can't wait for next year when I will have planned out a bit more, my alarm set every day to water, and hopefully, just hopefully there will be a better yield. What can I say? I am hooked, I can't wait for next spring!

So, its been almost a month since I've updated this page! Gasp! Fear not I haven't been as neglectful to the-space-behind-the-house. Lots has happened since I last updated this page. Lets see....

  • we had our first hot spell and went three days without rain and I managed to kill the young lettuce since I forgot to water the seedlings for two days....what can I say living in Seattle does have its perks when it comes to gardening.
  • I was at the farmer's market and asked a farmer (an expert) about my basil and he said that it probably is suffering from 'seed rot' if it hasn't sprouted yet so we ended up buying some potted basil
  • Speaking of when we bought the basil we also bought portable beds for all the other veggies and they are thriving in their new homes! Transplanting the veggies into their forever homes was a bit nerve-wracking but everyone seems to be enjoying their new digs! The onions, carrots, and peas are taking off like gangbusters! The cilantro and chives I am not sure what is going to happen with them. I hope they make it through but I fear they never fully recovered from my not watering them for two days that first hot spell. I talk to them and encourage them. I hope, I hope.
  • I need to also mention this for all the Seattlites who are reading, while we did go to Lowes (on S. Rainier Ave) and not a local nursery we had the best and most informative service from Chris in the garden center, he spent a half hour teaching us about best practices, keeping everything organic and best of all he didn't scoff at us or talk down to us with our very elementary questions. He is a wonderful resource to have and I can't wait to go back and ask him more questions. 
  • Chris also seemed to think that the basil, summer squash and pumpkins were suffering from seed rot if they hadn't sprouted yet, but he also encouraged me to gently poke around to see if I could see any sprouting action. I did so with the basil and the summer squash and there was nothing, so I put them into the compost pile, I figured it would be the same with the pumpkins so I was on my way to to compost when the tray kinda just fell apart and fell to the ground, exposing 7 sprouts!!!! So I immediately preformed emergency surgery and now I have two honest-to-goodness pumpkin sprouts above ground....waiting to see if the rest made it through. 
  • The carrots are getting big enough that I have to now dig them up and plant them apart from one another otherwise they will grow as one, big, interesting looking carrot. Another nerve-wracking experience in the garden!
Photos to follow!

Today was a glorious day! We spent the whole afternoon in "the-space-behind-the-house". I was weeding, Jose was fixing the fence and Walter was playing. It was a glorious afternoon. Mother Nature had decided to actually give us three days of sunshine and temps above 60! I am so happy that we were able to celebrate that fact by spending that time outside, right in our own little "space-behind-the-house".


We went away for five days and almost everything has sprouted! And this time you can see the sprouts normally, I don't have to point them out with a magnifying glass. The best part was seeing Walter's reaction, he saw the sprouts and squealed. He seemed to understand that because we had been watering the sprouts came. 

In the photo to the left in the far upper left corner there is the lettuce, next to that there is the cilantro, below the cilantro are the chives, below the chives are the sunflowers and below the sunflowers are the carrots.

In the photo to the right from the bottom the summer squash (which has not made an appearance), the peas are on top of the squash, the pumpkins (which also has not made an appearance) are on top of the peas, the onions are on top of the pumpkins, and then the carrots, ect....

So there are only three items (basil, pumpkins and summer squash) that we've planted that haven't come up. The pumpkins and the squash are from the same family and I am hoping that they will make it through. The poor basil on the other hand I think is done for. The seedling starter was accidentally kicked about a month ago about three days after the seeds were planted and I don't think it ever recovered. But being the eternal optimist I am I will keep the basil around until we plant the others in the ground. Maybe it is just a late bloomer--no pun intended.

There are sprouts! They are little, but mighty. So far the lettuce, sunflowers and the peas have spouted. When you look at the photos you can barely see them, but they are there. I swear! I am actually growing plants and have not just been watering soil for the past two and a half weeks!

Look at the lettuce!                                                            Look at the peas!                                                              Look at the sunflower!
Like I said, small but mighty. Now I really need to work on the beds! Yikes! We are going to have fresh, organic, homegrown produce in no time!

Today we finished pulling weeds and looked at our seedlings. No sprouts yet. Tomorrow will be 14 days since I planted the seeds and I am afraid that our wildly fluctuating weather has prevented anything from growing. There were a few nights the past two weeks where it got down to 34. But then there have been some days where it has gotten up to 65. So we will see if I need to reseed. I am giving these guys another two weeks. I guess its good too since I am not done making the beds that the seedlings will eventually be in....Grow, grow, grow!

This spring I have started an ambitious project. I decided to clear out the space behind the house--notice I didn't say "backyard" A backyard to me has grass, you don't have to put shoes on to go there, and is a destination spot in the house-- the space has gravel and some dirt. So up until two weeks ago the space behind the house was used as an overfill for recyling goods. With the promise of spring being here and wanting to get Walter a wading pool for the summer,  it was a good excuse to clean up the recyled stuff and finally have an outdoor refuge other than the park. So my long term project this spring is transforming the space-behind-the-house into a backyard garden. With three main goals in mind:

1. Teaching Walter about how food grows, and environmental stewardship
2. Making the space-behind-the-house into a useable place for us
3. Eventually cutting down on the food bill...if all goes to plan we will have 8 pumpkins this fall!

I envision the project as this:
1. Getting a workable environment, ie getting rid of the recycling and pulling the weeds DONE
2. Begin the seedlings--which include summer squash, onion, peas, carrots, pumpkins, red peppers,  chives, basil, lettuce, cilantro, and sunflowers DONE
3. Create organic, fertile soil in which to plant seedlings once they sprout
4. Figure out exactly where all the veggies will be going depending on sunlight needs
5. Find a nice patio set (we saw one this weekend at Ikea for only $69)
6. Get a nice wadding pool for Walter
7. Enjoy the transformation of the space-behind-the-garden to backyard garden oasis.

I still don't know what to do with all the gravel, nothing says disaster as an almost 2 year-old toddler and a back yard filled with gravel.


  1. i love, love, love the garden project! it's SO nice to know that other newbies are blundering through and somehow still getting results. i love that nature is so forgiving :)

  2. it's definitely a learning experience :) my first garden was less than spectacular but i definitely learned a lot and can't wait for next year!