Last Saturday was the ultimate Badger Girl Triathlon.

I went to the Dane County Farmer’s Market.

I packed up my goods and went directly to Jung’s Garden Center.

After I finished potting my plants, I picked up my CSA.

Farmer’s market, gardening, and picking up my local CSA share, can it get any better?

The 2012 Badger Girl Garden

Some people are not meant to grow tomato plants from seed.

I am one of them.


dying tomato plant

I am however kicking butt at growing spinach and lettuce from seed.

Fresh spinach in a bowl

With my limitations and strengths in mind, I began to plan my garden.

Knowing that we will be getting a lot of produce from our CSA, I only wanted to grow what I knew we would eat quickly and enthusiastically.

This year garden will consist of:

tomatoes
basil
eggplants
strawberries
spinach
lettuce
herbs
spaghetti squash

Why Containers?

I was going back and forth over whether or not to do an in-ground garden, a raised bed garden, or use my trusty containers. I have decided to go with containers. Let’s look at the facts together and I think you will see why I made my choice.

1- We have an extended family of rabbits living under our deck. We have looked out of our window to find not one, not two, but SIX rabbits lined up in our yard. Then we have watched them run one by one under our deck. Right now I think rabbits are cute and I want to continue that way of thinking. From past experience, they have not figured out a way to jump into the containers. Let’s hope they have not spent the winter plotting against me.

2- We love our house and we plan to be here for awhile, but we don’t plan to live in our house forever. Despite my enthusiasm for gardening, Manatee has assured me that not everyone would love to have half the yard dug up as a garden.

3- I hate weeding.

4- Given my past history with plants, I need to limit the variables as much as possible when it comes to gardening. I have read about people studying the pH of their soil. I have enough anxiety without staying up half the night fretting about the acidity of our soil.

Money Saving Tips

We garden to save money and eat healthy food. But if you don’t watch out, this can be a very expensive hobby. For example, on one of my first trips to the gardening center I was seduced by the colored tomato cages.

At $9 a pop, it’s a luxury and it’s one thing if you are growing one tomato plant.  But when you get carried away and buy a dozen tomato plants? Well, it’s a bit of a problem. The boring grey cages are 1.99 each. They may not be as pretty but once the plants get big, will it really matter?

Containers are also deceptively expensive. Clay pots can cost anywhere from $12-$18 a piece. Again, it if you are growing one or two plants, that’s fine. I realized that I was going to end up with over 30 pots and I didn’t really want to have to tell Manatee that I spent $600 on containers. So what to do?

I asked the garden centers if there any old used pots that they would be willing to sell or give to me. Lo and behold, they did. One garden center let me raid their recycle bin and get free plastic pots. The other center sold me used pots for 50 cents to a dollar depending on the size. Score!

Seeds are cheaper than seedlings (small plants). If you think you can grow it from a seed, give it a try. I have found that lettuce and spinach are really easy to grow and I am going to try my hand with spaghetti squash.

The Badger Girl 2012 Garden Lineup

Potted strawberry, basil and lettuce plants.

Because these pots are a little smaller, they get prime real estate on the deck. Here we have: strawberry plants, basil, and one small container of lettuce.

row of potted tomato plants

This is the front row of tomato plants. The varieties include: Rose de Beurre, Brandywine, Green Zebra, Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple, Sweet Millz, San Marzano, Grape, Sweet Million Cherry, Black Cherry, and Tomatillos.

Talking with some of the farmers at the market, they said that it would be okay to plant a ring of herbs or lettuce around the tomato plants to cut down on containers. Around all of the tomato plants, I planted either small Basil plants (Genovese Basil, Purple Basil, and Lime Basil) or lettuce seeds.

We’ll see how it works!

Back row of potted plants (tomatoes, eggplants, basil, and lettuce)

This is the back row of plants. We have the rest of the tomato plants and three eggplant plants.


Tomato and eggplants in containers

And finally, the PRIZE of the Badger Girl Garden:

The Salad Corner. 

We are growing four types of lettuce: Spinach, Buttercrunch, New Red Fire, and Salad Bowl. 

Normally lettuce is only good in the spring and fall, but I found two varieties that do well in hot weather. Both New Red Fire and Salad Bowl will not turn bitter in the warm weather. I am super excited! Once the weather gets hot, I will pull out the Spinach and Buttercrunch and plant more New Red Fire and Salad Bowl.

What’s Left?

I am still planning to plant some spaghetti squash and more herbs that I will receive from the CSA (Rosemary, Thyme, Savory, Oregano, Sage, Parsley, Curly Parsley, and more Basil). And given my past tendencies, I would not be surprised if a few other plants popped up in the garden throughout the summer.

I will keep you updated with all of the progress and I would love to hear your feedback and advice. I need all of the help I can get!

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Anything else I should add to the Badger Girl garden? What are you planting this summer?

© Badger Girl Learns to Cook, 2012

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