• Kalen Clark

My First Garden

When I was little, I stole away a small sunflower seed and placed it in a pot on our back porch at my dad's apartment. None of us expected it to sprout, so when it grew taller than me with huge yellow petals, we snapped a picture of me standing next to it with a huge, toothy grin. Dad told me that day that I had a green thumb, just like my mamaw.


Although I had also watched my other grandmother, Nanny, plant tulips and wildflowers around her house, I never really asked much about it. I just enjoyed their colors when they'd finally bloom.


As I got older, I never really grew a thing. I didn't know how to and didn't want to, either.


Then, in March 2018, my mother-in-law Kathy bought me two organic herbs - rosemary and mint.


I remember smelling the herbs and rubbing my fingers along their leaves and plopping them in the window. When Kathy would visit, she would gently remind me to water them when they were looking floppy. They really started to grow on me. Sorry not sorry. #momjoke




A few weeks later Billy and I spotted some raised gardening beds at Costco during a trip as well as organic soil meant for containers. I'd been doing a little reading by this time so we grabbed the goods and headed home. We figured we'd at least try!


I'd read it was easier to start gardens with small plants when you first start so we got some basil, cilantro, strawberries, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and lemon thyme.


My friend Kelli came over and helped me plant them all and we stood back and felt proud of our work.


April 2018

I really had no idea still about anything, like companion planting, pruning, mulching, harvesting, fertilizing - any of that. But luckily the plants we chose were very forgiving.


I made sure to water them every day, and it didn't take long for them to get bigger, which was so motivating and confidence-building. I was doing it! I was growing stuff and thangs!



May 2018

I'll never forget the day I walked out to check on the garden and saw my first strawberry, it's bright red fruit against the soil. I squeaked! Lord honey you'da thought I'd grown a million dollar bill.




A couple days later, birds would quickly come and devour the remaining ones because I didn't have any netting or protection. Woopsyyy!


I had learned one of my first lessons. Gardening is like parenting, you learn best through experience, I think.


As summer sweltered on, our tomatoes ripened! I texted Dad pictures, because he loved them as much as I did and he'd been sick for weeks at that point, in and out of the hospital. I vowed that I'd make him a tomato sandwich when he felt better, but I never got the chance.






My youngest son Forrest with a tomato he picked himself

The kids liked going out to the garden all summer and helping me water it. I loved leaning down to pull out a weed or trim off some basil and the aroma of everything growing together would hit me and there was nothing like it. The freshness of it all. Sometimes I'd sit on the back porch with soil and the scent still all over my hands and drink tea and feel like I was on a path I wanted to keep going down forever.


Beginning of season vs. End of season

On top of the backyard garden, I successfully grew some beautiful flowers by our front door. I learned about deadheading marigolds to force more blooms. I learned about invasive plants like morning glory and perennials vs. annuals.


Every time we came home, we were welcomed by this burst of color and life.


I was hooked...



Coming up next... Part 2: The arrival of the evil aphids and the vision of the homestead

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