The root of the matter.

We've had our raised garden beds for a little over a year now, and gardening ranks pretty high up there in the what-we-do-in-our-free-time category... yet you would never know that by reading this blog.  Other than a few random mentions here and there, the posts have been few and far between.

Sure- it takes extra time to photograph... and edit... and formulate details to write about...  But, in truth, our "pursuit of simplicity" has been anything but simple.  Let's just say, our "raised gardening adventure" has given new meaning to the phrase, LEARNING CURVE.

One obstacle after another.  A constant challenge to overcome.  Never-ending Google searches.  Desperate pleas for advice from our newly befriended Armstrong employee gardening guru.  Thankfully, Ryan's taken the lead, and is determined to lead us into Garden Prosperity.

Despite the many failures, there's been quite a few successes too.  And after a string of bad seeds - success tastes that much sweeter.

{let's start with the losses}
  • a dog that consumed all of our initial sprouts & an entire crop of newly ripened tomatoes- all at once
  • poor timing
  • over-planting
  • crowding
  • "wide & shallow" (as opposed to narrow & deep) approach
  • critters (thieves) eating away the fruits of our labor
  • slow- or no- growth, discolored leaves, rotting (not enough magnesium, calcium, nitrogen...)
  • improper placement (not enough/too much sunlight)
  • white flies, fungi, aphids
  • over/under watering
  • cheap soil
{now for the wins}
First and foremost, we started a compost bin a couple of months ago, and are on our way to excellent soil.  Composting has been such a simple and satisfying process, I can't believe we didn't start sooner.  With the exception of a few tomatoes & lots of peppers & herbs, we've cleared our summer beds away and planted for fall.

{on the menu for fall (so far):  beets, radishes, carrots, parsnips, Italian red onion, red onion}

If you're considering starting your own garden- or switching from a container to a raised bed garden (like we did)- do not let this post deter youAlthough I listed many, the main issue was our soil.  We had to purchase A LOT all at one time, and were too quick to take the advice of a Home Depot employee's referral of "excellent yet inexpensive" soil (inexpensive- yes; excellent- no).  Also, we let our confidence get the best of us, and set our sights a bit too high (too many seeds, too close together).  Our current approach:  Start small (more of one type of plant instead of a few of many- or in our case... a lot of many) and attain better garden soil.

An ongoing learning process for sure.  Now that I've shared this much, I'll definitely keep you updated... (& more often :)).  If you have any tips or stories to share, I'd [really, really] love to hear!   


  1. This is awesome, Torrie! I wish I had the space to do something like this. For me, anyway, gardening is always on a learning curve, looks like you learned quick and go so much out of it! Fun. I'd love a fall update when it's time... Beets, yum!

  2. In my experience, just when you think you have things figured out in gardening -- it all changes! This past season was probably my least successful of all. But I took a lot of risks, tried new things and/or experimented with letting things go just to see what would happen. It didn't result well, but I learned a lot!

  3. We have a couple of areas in our backyard that I think would be good for gardening - definitely want to try next year!

  4. We started composting this year too and I can't believe it took us this long. Our only failures this year was eggplant and tomatillos - it JUST started fruiting which means there's no ways they'll make it to maturity before frost. I'm pretty disappointed. The nice thing is we're getting the list of veggies that we can grow (and that we use) to a science.


  5. I love gardens but have never made my own work out. Maybe one day. These pics are amazing!

  6. Wow, I'm impressed! I have to say that we are pretty lucky that we have some great soil at my house... my mom keeps saying that she's going to haul some of it home with her! Now, I just need to start the gardening... haha.

  7. Oh man! I hardly gardened this year but can totally relate...I am a chronic over planter and have a hard time getting rid of seedlings...but I have always had great luck with tomatoes, peas, strawberries, lettuce, carrots and herbs...never been able to grow squash (they always get some weird fungus) and have hopefully learned to plant things I actually like to eat as opposed to things that I think are "cool" to grow ;) and yes, good soil makes all the difference!

  8. I can't you how many times I have had trouble with my garden but like you I never think to mention it on my blog but I should because maybe it would give others hope and support that they too aren't the only ones:) Over the years I have learned it just takes time and patience. You would have thought I wouldn't have had to learn this since my dad is a farmer and all but yet again I didn't pick up that gene so I have had to cultivate it so to speak! Love the peppers- they look beautiful!

  9. I SO would love to have our own garden! Those peppers look amazing!

  10. This looks great Torrie. I'm so inspired to go do a little work on my boxes. Also inspired to compost, that has been on my lifelist for way too long.

  11. Oh my gosh, you must be so proud every time you pick something that you grew! Heck, I'm proud for you! ;)

  12. You have not shared nearly enough. I want to hear all about the ups and downs. More, more, more. Those peppers are absolutely beautiful and they look delicious. So, I'm scared of composting but I really want to start. I'd love to hear about how you got started.

  13. you know, you're right - i didn't realize you all were this into gardening. i am in love with your peppers - is that weird?? we eat sooo many of those, and i would love to save the money by planting them ourselves. gardening is on my list of things to learn, but it just hasn't happened yet. can't wait to see your fall results!! keep up the good work!!


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