Like a lot of people, I grew up helping my grandma and my parents in their respective gardens. When I was young, I remember it being such a chore, but I also remember how amazing it was to pick all those strawberries right off the vine. As fast as I could pick the strawberries I was popping them in my mouth, there is something about the taste of a fresh strawberry warmed by the summer sun that is unforgettable! Then, like most families, we got busy, and life, well it got even busier. The family garden went by the wayside and the convenience of running to the store took over. It was what we needed to do as a family to keep everything going and sometimes what you have to do is simply, what you have to do.
Going to college I didn't quite know what I wanted to do, but after a few degree pivots, I ended up in a familiar place. Something kept pulling me to the College of Ag and to a degree program in Horticulture Therapy. Now, I know what you might be thinking, but it is not about encouraging plants to grow. Trust me, I have heard ALL the jokes! Horticulture Therapy, by definition, is the use of plants and plant-based activity for the purpose of human healing and rehabilitation. This was it for me, I found my major! For several years after graduation, I worked in various settings and applied my degree to a variety of patients at all age levels. After several years, life transitioned me away from healthcare. The need for a break from the constant stress of healthcare seemed to be the right decision at the time and now, I feel like life is transitioning me back to the garden.
My grandmother was a huge influence in my life and she was a total green thumb. The older I get the more I hear my grandmother's voice telling me to "go to the garden!" My grandmother believed that when people were in the soil and with plants it was a way to promote good health and even more so, improved mental health. Now, of course, we all know this to be true, but growing up this was not a widespread belief and something everyone was taught. Speed forward many, many, many years and here we are today!
Last year, my husband decided he wanted to try container gardening. What brought it up, I have no clue but I instantly said, yes! We started with three large round barrels and two tall planters. Our next stop was Kaw Valey Green House, we picked up a mix of cucumbers, peppers, and fresh herbs to get us started. Thankfully, my husband faithfully watered and fertilized everything daily. Watering has never been my strong suit when it comes to gardening, but we had so much we were frequently giving away produce and taking it to our work in hopes someone would take it home.
Now, this year! We decided to really up the ante and really lean into a large raised bed garden. Since we are both super busy we knew we could not take on a traditional garden inground and we wanted to do raised beds, but it seemed almost impossible to choose which ones. Then, thanks to my sister and a trip to Denver, I knew exactly which ones I wanted, enter, Backyard Boxes! These amazing raised garden boxes are engineered with precision, made from pressure-treated cedar, easy to assemble, stained with natural sealer, and the best part, they are so well made you can easily sit on the ledge!
Now that we knew which boxes, then we had to decide how many, what size, and where! The "where" had to come first! This part of the project was going to be way too much for us to take on so we hired a local landscaper and discussed our vision, well at the time, my vision! LOL, I knew I wanted a large area "rocked" and leaned on the landscaping company to help me decide the best place in our yard. Fortunately, where I initially wanted it they also thought would be a perfect spot.
After discussing the rest of the plans they let me know they would have a bid for me in a week or so. UGH, the dreaded words of any project, home improvement or otherwise, THE BID! I kept my cool and remembered, that most people do things in phases and if that is what we needed to do, that was ok! Fortunately, for us, the bid came back and was very doable and was within our budget so we quickly asked to be added to the company's schedule.
While we know we will be adding several more features, we will start with the rock areas and then as we can, go from there! Taking things step by step will also allow us to see what we really want and how we want to build out the yard as it evolves. Plus, it also allows us to form a relationship with the landscapers and their crew. Even though I know a good amount, I don't know nearly enough, and having resources is always super helpful!
While we are still in the beginning stages, I decided this little project/journey might be fun to document and look back on, plus it could be a great resource for those looking to set up their own raised beds. While I am sure there will be some epic failures, I am hopeful that there will be some huge successes. I look forward to picking those warm strawberries off the vine and just like when I was little, I hope the garden provides an outlet for me and another way to benefit our friends and family!
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