Marie Kondo-ing My Container Garden – the one where we chat about my foray into container gardening, why/how I’m changing it up this year, and a few gardening favorites to check out!
I feel the need to share this with you right off the bat: if you came to this post to see a gloriously photographed before and after garden situation, you came to the wrong place. This post is more about how my container garden has evolved to a smaller, but more joy-filled, place and where I tell you exactly what I do. Another note? I’m not a professional gardener…not even a little bit. I DO know some amazing people you can follow, though, who I’ll be linking to at the bottom of this post. One of the perks of blogging here in Arkansas has been the opportunity to be part of a few amazing garden and home events where I hang out with people much more talented than I am. That’s basically my life goal, is to always be the dumbest person in the room…that way I can keep learning!
I have very vivid memories of being forced (more like “told sternly”) to go outside and help my mom in the garden when I was younger, and in those moments I made a solemn vow to never have a garden of my own. You “force” a 10-year-old avid Babysitter Club reader to do that enough and she’ll turn on you! Except I knew that it was good to help, so I did it anyway.
When Nate and I got married I had no intentions of ever gardening. I told my loving husband that I wouldn’t mow the lawn, rake leaves, tend a garden, or worry about landscaping. In fact, I figured for the best it would be good to fill the yard in with concrete, minus a patch so the dog would have a place to go. I think he bought it, which is why he was shocked beyond belief when a mere 7 years later I was asking him to sell our house, buy some acreage, and help me plant a massive garden from which we would obtain all of our sustenance.
How does a gal go from dreams of concrete back yards to Farmer Sally in 7 years? Beats me, but I think the idea of fresh herbs and not paying farmer’s market prices was a fairly large driving force.
So I started off with a thyme plant, a basil plant, and a tomato plant in some cheap plastic buckets in a yard that yielded 1 hour of sunlight a day. I had no idea that wasn’t nearly enough sun for any of it, that the basil needed to be pruned, that the tomatoes needed more water, and that I would only have a sprig of thyme to work with that year. It was sad, but I was determined to do something about it. When we moved I purchased a few larger planters and had Nate build a raised bed for me to have a dreamy little garden down in our backyard.
That first year that I great tomatoes I decided to do Arkansas Travelers, and HOLY MOLY did I ever think I was the best gardener alive! The plants were about 6 feet tall and put off so many tomatoes that I was convinced I was about to turn into one myself. Outside of that first thyme plant, which I still have by the way, this was the only successful thing I had grown and boy did I let it get to me!
The next year we had a newborn on our hands, and while I wanted a garden I just wasn’t committed to the work it would actually take. I had cherry tomatoes, jalapenos, eggplant, bell peppers, herbs, blueberries, and cucumbers. While it was lovely, it was just too much for a frazzled mom to keep up with. The following two years I slowly cut back to just tomatoes and herbs, and then last year I decided to grow sunflowers for the first time.
And that, my friends, leads us to this year.
I’ve come to grips with the fact that while I have a container garden that is 2 floors up from the only decent water source it’s just not going to be the time to really go all out. Oh sure, I would LOVE to have my dream garden (and I actually have mental capability to keep up with it now), but it’s just not the best situation. We live on a large hill, the yard isn’t flat enough in any area to really do anything, and I had to figure out what would really bring joy to our house rather than feeling like a burden.
This year I’ll be doing 3 things: zinnias, sunflowers, and tomatoes. Done. The flowers so that we’ll have some pretty things to cut and have in our house, and the tomatoes because there’s just something inherently FUN about growing your own food. Some day I’ll grow it all. This year…I’ll bring the tomatoes.
I’m not working with a lot, and I’ll link to all the stuff I like to use below (not sponsored at all), but I have 3 large planters, a bunch of dirt, a couple packs of seeds, and a seed starter kit. It’s basically the easiest thing in the world, which is great because I can’t do super complicated right now. Right now we have our seeds in the little starter kit (pictured below), and once they grow to a few inches then I’ll plant them in my containers. That’s when the fun really starts, though, because you can bet I’ll be obsessing over every bit until I have some flowers to cut and tomatoes to eat!
I have several people each year ask me about my container garden because they’re wondering if they should start one too. And honestly? My answer is always yes! It doesn’t have to be complicated – just think about what brings you joy. If you love fresh cut flowers, then make that the focus. If you’re obsessed with tomatoes or want to make salsa from your garden? You can do that too. Then just be willing to figure it all out along the way!
If y’all have any questions please don’t hesitate to comment here – I’m always happy to share!
My favorite seed and plant companies:
Some great resources for inspiration and learning:
My favorite planters + tools: