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Today, Growing a Garden is Easy

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Colonial Williamsburg features maintained vegetable and herb gardens that were used in Colonial days.
Sophia is pictured here in Colonial Williamsburg just outside the kitchen where the vegetable, herb, and fruit beds are still maintained.

By Renee Adam

Spring 2012 came in this year with a BANG!! Seems like EVERYTHING bloomed a bit early this year…and the trees are full of leaves in all shades of green. It’s like a flowering orchestra around our home…lovely!

With spring comes the time to replant our summer garden. Last year was a bit of a challenge regarding “when” to put my garden in as we experienced quite a cold winter for Birmingham, Alabama. That wasn’t the case at all this year (it would be a shocker to have a frost in April this year).

Tilling up the soil yesterday and prepping the beds for new plantings, I was reminded of a trip I took last month with my daughter, Sophia, to Washington, D.C. We journeyed there with her entire fifth-grade class (there was a parent with every child) to visit our nation’s capital, monuments of our forefathers, and national treasures.

Mom and daughter visiting gardens at Jamestowne.
Sophia and I visited the gardens at Historic Jamestowne, too. It's fascinating to imagine the lives of these settlers and how different their gardening experience was from mine today.

I’ve been to D.C. many times over the years, but this was my first opportunity to visit Historic Jamestowne, Virginia (first settlement of the United States, May 13,1607). As I stood among the monuments and plaques describing the history of the buildings and relics, I looked around the manicured property and could only imagine what it really looked like for the settlers coming there the very first time from England. A video in the visitor’s center told that when historians researched the trees in the area years later, they discovered that Old Jamestowne had experienced a long-lasting drought, which they believe contributed to the deaths of many of the first settlers because they didn’t have enough fresh water to drink or water to irrigate whatever crops they were trying to grow. A t-shirt a friend purchased reads “Jamestowne Virginia 1607….When surviving wasn’t a game”.

A little further down the road, we visited Colonial Williamsburg. The homes and buildings date back to early 1700’s and it is recognized as the first true settlement of America. I was taken back by the lovely kitchen, stock room, and vegetable, herb and fruit gardens they have maintained and still use today. I’ve included a photo of Sophia at Colonial Williamsburg. She is pictured here just outside the kitchen where the vegetable, herb, and fruit beds are still maintained.

My raised beds are prepped and ready for planting.
My raised beds aren't that different from the ones at Jamestowne and Williamsburg, but I have a lot more resources at my fingertips than they did! These beds are prepped and ready for planting. I'm thankful for the drip irrigation.

So here I am back in Birmingham, Alabama, in the year 2012, where today growing a garden is easy—a far cry from those first American gardeners of Jamestowne or Williamsburg. At my local store, I bought my soil tester and purchased fertilizer and peat to balance the pH levels of my soil. For any questions I have, I refer to the Bonnie website and all the information I need—on what to grow for the region I live in and how to grow it—is there or on the plant tag beside the plant itself. I have a drip system to water it regularly and experts available through Bonnie to answer questions should a pest come my way. And in the end, if all else fails, I have grocery stores and local growers who will provide whatever I need for a fair price.

I’ve prepped my beds and plan to plant my garden this week. But, something has changed this year…I am looking at my garden with a new challenge. As the economy continues to shift and people are deciding to grow their own food, I’m going to do my best to harvest the best crops I’ve ever had the privilege to grow and continue to share my trials and successes along the way. I hope you join me, and we can journey together!