Our “Better Than Nothing” Vegetable Garden

posted by Andrea | 08/10/2018

Over the last 2 months, our vegetable garden has gone from drab to fab… to the point where I’ve needed to cut back all of our squash, cucumber, and pickle plants to keep them from totally overtaking our driveway!

Here it is the 2nd week of June:

Here’s our garden the 2nd week in July:

And now, the 2nd week in August (after cutting back many of the plants):

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In all honesty, we almost didn’t even plant a vegetable garden this year. We had so much going on at the end of last school year with meetings for Dave, extra events for Nora, extra stuff at church, starting on house projects, all our spring yard work (25 yards of mulch!), setting up the pool, and 4 children who need to be fed, bathed, clothed, and entertained for large portions of the day!

A vegetable garden simply felt like “one more thing” we really didn’t NEED to do.

Then we were gifted a few herbs and I figured, why not just plant the herbs and a few more veggies for a small garden the kids can enjoy. I purchased 2 cucumbers, 2 tomatoes, 2 zucchini, and 1 spaghetti squash… but then were “gifted” a summer squash, another cucumber, and a patio tomato.

And then all the plants got HUMONGOUS!ย 

So much for our “small garden”!

We have more veggies than we know what to do with right now!

  • I’ve been canning small batches of refrigerator pickles twice a week.
  • We’ve been eating raw cucumbers and hummus at practically every meal and for every snack.
  • We’ve been grilling zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, peppers and onions for dinner several times a week.
  • I’ve made SO many zoodles!
  • We’re roasting zucchini and squash on a regular basis.
  • I’ve incorporated shredded zucchini and squash into our pasta sauces, eggs, taco meat, and of course, baked goods (seriously, it’s amazing how many shredded zucchinis and squash my kids have eaten over the past month!)
  • We’ve been eating 1-2 spaghetti squash every week (served up just like I would serve spaghetti).
  • I’ve tried so many new and interesting recipes — most of which have been a success.
  • We’ve been giving veggies away like crazy.
  • The kids tried selling veggies at our not-so-successful road-side stand last week.
  • We even enjoyed coloring and painting a few spaghetti squash! ๐Ÿ™‚

We did manage to keep the weeds down this year (we’ve struggled with that in the past) but our garden is still far from pretty!

The plants were just sort of thrown in the ground with no rhyme or reason. I didn’t properly space them out (obviously!) and we’ve sort of neglected that area of the yard (except for picking the produce every other morning).

That said, I’m still super glad we decided to plant our crazy overgrown garden because the kids just LOVE it!ย 

Our current routine is that one of the older 3 kiddos gets to wear our kiddie gardening gloves and help me pick the garden after breakfast. Then we clean the produce and pack it up in our extra fridge so we can easily access what we need at a later date.

The whole process only takes about 20 minutes, but it’s a little chunk of one-on-one time, and I honestly think they like that part the best.

They do all love each other… but the fact that they get to do something special without their siblings around is a big perk these days! ๐Ÿ™‚

We are FAR from gardening experts over here…

  • our garden doesn’t look pretty
  • our garden doesn’t grow all that much
  • our garden isn’t well-mantained
  • we really don’t even know that much about vegetable gardening (outside of the basics)

BUT, it’s the “perfect” vegetable garden for our family and the level of time we were willing to allocate to it this summer.

It might be too late for you to plant a vegetable garden this year (and that’s really not the point of this post at all)… if you are procrastinating on doing something because you fear you can’t do it perfectly or even as well as you’d ideally like to, I’d like to challenge you to simply DO SOMETHING!

  • Even if your organizing project isn’t glamorous with matching bins and labels — it’s still more organized than it was before.
  • Even if your menu plan isn’t gourmet — it still better than not having a plan and opting for fast food all week long.
  • Even if you don’t have time to purge your entire wardrobe — purging something is better than nothing.
  • Even if your family photo album doesn’t contain every great picture or detail every family event — it’s still better than no pictures at all.
  • Even if your party isn’t decked out with cutesy decorations and drool-worthy food — it’s still better than not having people over in the first place.
  • Even if your vegetable (or flower) garden isn’t pretty or perfect — it’s still most likely better than nothing.

We made memories, we ate lots of good veggies, my kids learned the process of growing something, and we enjoyed a little quality time together.

Definitelyย worth the $6 I spent on plants back in June!

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13 comments

  1. Jamie

    10/12/2018

    We have tried several years to have a garden but we have always started from seeds and it has never worked out. Sounds like you buy small plants. Where do you get them from? Our home improvement stores sell them but they are always about $5/plant. Where do you find them for $1/plant? Did you put any extra soil down or do anything to prepare the ground? Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    In my opinion, $5 for a small plant that actually produces vegetables would be preferable to less expensive seeds that never take.
    That said, we get all our vegetables from Countryside Greenhouse ๐Ÿ™‚

    [Reply]

  2. Jenny

    08/11/2018

    That must be great dirt you have, though! Nice!

    [Reply]

  3. Cindy

    08/11/2018

    Hooray for making strides toward “good enough”! I, too, am a first-born perfectionist and “good enough” continues to be a work-in-progress. I love the bounty of experience and produce your garden is providing for your family.

    Here’s a cool quote I found about perfection:

    “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” – Leo Tolstoy

    Take care!

    [Reply]

  4. Kim

    08/10/2018

    We live in the desert where temps are upwards of 117 during the summer. I have tried for many years to have some sort of garden……vegetable or flower. Every year I start out so optimistic, do my research, purchase and plant. And every year everything dies and I feel so defeated!!! This summer I decided I’m not a farmer or a gardener. Still wanting a nice clean and organized yard we hired a monthly lawn service. We’ve removed plants and trees, moved rocks and cleaned up. To stream line the look of the yard and the ease of care. It’s so much better!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow! That’s hot!
    sounds like you made a wise decision by changing up your landscaping to work works for you, your stage of life, and your area of the country! I’ll actually be talking about a similar topic next week (the idea of making your space work for you).

    [Reply]

  5. Kim

    08/10/2018

    Good advice you are giving here, as usual. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am a first-born perfectionist and it has taken me many years to learn to let go of some of my expectations of myself (I’m 51). But it is so freeing when that happens.

    I am still amazed by all you do! Thanks again for sharing your gifts and strengths via your blog!

    [Reply]

  6. Leslie

    08/10/2018

    Your kids are never going to remember what that garden LOOKed like – but they will remember all the love they felt when they were with you IN it and the fun they had harvesting its bounty! That picture of the giant zucchini made me remember some produce friends shared from their garden several years back. They gave us a GIANT zucchini and I thought it would be tough and tasteless. But we sliced it in thick slices, brushed olive oil on top, and grilled them like steaks. I can’t ever remember enjoying zucchini more!
    It’s amazing how much just a few plants yield. Great job!

    [Reply]

  7. Diana

    08/10/2018

    You must have magic dirt! Looks lovely ๐Ÿ™‚ Gardens are worth the time put into them, for sure, and you are saving a ton of money on pickles I know!

    Also, what is a pickle plant that you mentioned in the first paragraph?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I just meant a “pickling cucumber” plant. There are specific plants that are for pickling and others that are for eating. So we call ours the “cucumber plant” and the “pickle plant” so the kids know what plant I’m talking about!

    [Reply]

  8. Bridget

    08/10/2018

    Your โ€œgood enoughโ€ attitude is one of my favorite things about your blog. Just jump in and do something! You are making memories for your kids with a relatively low amount of effort. They will remember gardening as something their family did without realizing that it was small and unplanned.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Bridget! Good enough is always better than nothing in my opinion! Also, “done” is better than “perfect”! ๐Ÿ™‚

    [Reply]

    Stephanie Reply:

    “Good enough is better than nothing” and “Done is better than perfect.” Well said! I’m a perfectionist and so is my first born daughter. We are learning to let go a little bit at a time. :-). We both are making progress!

    [Reply]