We discovered Cristin (CC) Hurley on Instagram and she is living all of our gardening dreams. CC lives with her family (twins, a sweet little baby on the way and her husband) in California - in her late grandmother's house - the house her mother was raised in! Keep reading to learn more about where CC's garden inspiration comes from and some super helpful tips for starting your own garden! xo, Allyson/Pleni Naturals
Spring, it’s finally here! The time of year that all gardeners long for. The time to dig out your seed packets and start planning on what you want to grow in your summer garden. The time of big harvest dreams, ripe juicy tomatoes, crispy cucumbers, spicy radishes, sugary sweet figs and and the scent of fresh cut flowers straight from the garden.
As a child I could always find my mom in the backyard planting or harvesting something for dinner that night. The earliest memory I have from my childhood garden is when I was four years old. I would pick handfuls of my moms' blackberries right from the thorny vine. I was supposed to be collecting them for the jam she was going to make, but I could never help but taste test a few. They were the sweetest, juiciest blackberries I have ever tasted. When I would pick them they would still be warm from the hot summer sun and burst with sweet juice in my mouth. My mom definitely passed down her love of gardening to me as well as the passion for growing my own nutrient rich organic produce to feed my family. When I grew up and moved out of the house and into my own place, I always had some sort of garden growing even on my apartment patio’s. Whether it was just herbs or a couple of container tomatoes, I always made sure to be growing something. After buying and selling our first home, we decided to move into my late grandmother’s home that my mom grew up in. It has a lovely backyard that we are slowing turning into a little food forest of our own. I was so excited to share the love of gardening with my twin daughters in our new yard, so we began to plant. Every season that passed we tried a new variety of vegetable. We currently have the following growing in our garden; lettuce, scarlet runner beans, purple bush beans, two types of kale, sugar snap peas, golden fall raspberries, potatoes, celery, herbs, squash, pumpkins, beets, swiss chard, tomatoes, a volunteer passionfruit vine, broad beans, garlic, cabbage and dragon fruit. We also have a little patch dedicated to wildflowers and milkweed for our beloved monarchs. The wildflower patch gives our garden a nice bright and refreshing pop of color. We have planted several fruit trees as well. We currently have a tangerine, weeping mulberry, red baron peach, sundowner apple, Santa Rosa plum and my favorite tree of them all is our mystery fig tree. Let me tell you why...
About 15 years ago when my grandmother was still alive, she was showing me around the backyard. I stopped and asked her about a tiny fig tree sprout I saw growing along her back fence. She began to tell me all about how one of the birds that she feeds came and dropped a fig in the yard and it ended up sprouting. That day we decided to leave the tiny fig tree in its place and not remove it. Every summer, this massive tree gives us hundreds of beautiful juicy green figs with bright pink centers. My daughters love to pick and eat them straight from the tree. They also enjoy helping me make fig preserves that we give away to friends and enjoy eating ourselves all winter long. See, having a garden and growing your own food not only gives you fresh and healthy organic produce, but it gets people connected to their food while learning where it comes from and how it grows.
When planting your first garden you have a few options in getting started. One option would be to use plant starts which you would buy at a nursery. Me being impatient, I have done this many times! Its a great way to get something growing right away in your garden. There are however some downsides to that as well. Sometimes the plants are not always the healthiest since they have been shipped in from all over the country. Also, most of the time the nursery's just offer generic fruits and veggies that you would typically see at your local grocery store. So, if you are wanting to try and grow some unique varieties your best option would be to grow some plants from seed. There are many great places to buy seeds, here are my top three favorite seed companies. Baker creek seed company has a plethora of seeds to choose from. They have some very rare seeds that have been sourced all over the globe. You can buy their seeds on their website
. Second, Luke and Sindy from Migardener who have an incredible youtube channel
where they have loads of information on how to grow pretty much anything! They also have a fabulous seed store
with tons of varieties for only $.99 a packet! They offer by far the least expensive seeds that I have ever found. Also, I have never once had a germination issue with any of their seeds! Botanical interests is a company that sell their seeds in many nursery's and online
. They have many great seeds options, and I also like that if I happen to be at the nursery picking up a bag of dirt I can check out their seeds as well.
That leads me into what soil I have had success using in my garden. Our family does make our own homemade compost, but unfortunately we do not make enough to fill the size of our garden space. The best store bought compost that we use to supplement our own compost is Eb Stones Organic compost. I like to use compost along with store bought worm castings for added minerals and nutrients to the soil. Without using various soils and amendments, these two components offer a great and simple start for your first garden. This Spring get in the garden and start planting! It doesn’t have to be anything big, just start off small and you will see how rewarding it is when you are enjoying your first harvest!