(Editor's Note: this article was originally published on March 3, 2007)
Do you remember your first garden? Was it one you started yourself as an adult? Or was it Grandmother's garden you remember from your childhood? It may have been one you strolled through with your beau or significant other. My paternal Grandparents used wood heat and had their garden next to a woodpile. I remember walking barefoot through the rows and how cool (hot at first) the dirt felt between my 10 year-old toes.
First gardens should be ones that hold everlasting memories, and gardens that follow after can add even more. Make the most of those memories by starting a photograph album. As I write this I'm looking at a picture of my 10 year-old daughter kneeling in my wife's herb garden with a wicker basket in her hand. She is pondering on whether to pick a small pansy (those "monkey-faced" Johnny-jump-ups) or a bloom from a mini rose. She wasn't aware I was camera stalking and it will always be one of my favorite pictures from her childhood.
Memories are also made, and kept alive, by writing them in a journal or diary. Why not keep a daily or weekly log of the time you started your very first garden? "I don't think I've ever seen so many rocks in my entire life!!!" That's an entry from a journal I kept in 1997, during the time my wife and I started our first garden here. Notice the three exclamation marks? They were heartfelt at the time I wrote that entry. I still cringe remembering the blisters I got on my hands from raking that quarry of a first garden.
First garden memories are most special when I think about seeing the very first seedling poking its way up and out of the soil. Beans are highly recommended to this day for being one of the easiest vegetables to grow. One shouldn't wonder why I suggest 'Kentucky Wonder' pole beans for instant first gratifications in the garden. Have you ever made a tee pee? If not, it's a requirement when I tell folks what they need for their pole beans to clamber up. Making your first tee pee from "weed trees" is as easy as tying five 10 foot longs sticks together. Separate them at the bottom and plant two or three beans at the base of each pole.
Experienced gardeners know the special significance of starting a garden for the first time. They've walked a few garden paths in their day, and are always looking for the opportunity to tell others about gardening, and how they might start their own very first garden, memories included.