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    My First Ever Garden with My Parents

    Published June 8, 2022. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    I moved into my new studio in October of 2021 and never got the chance to get a garden going in the backyard. Well, that all changed this spring when I finally had the time and the “right season” to get a garden built and seeds in the ground. Little did I know it would be as challenging as it was, so I knew I had to call in the experts for professional help from my parents.

    Garden Video


    My Parent’s Gardening Story

    My mom and dad, Pam and Bill Parisi, have been gardening for decades. In fact, for every house we moved to, one of the first things they did was build a garden in the backyard. They enjoy every aspect of it, from building the garden to tilling the soil to harvesting the fruits, literally, of all their labor.

    Even though they’ve been gardening for longer than I’ve been alive, they didn’t just naturally inherit the knowledge to do so. No, they worked alongside others and learned the necessary skills to make and cultivate a successful garden year after year.

    My mom worked on a farm for several weeks every summer when she was growing up. Pam certainly has a green thumb and is beyond creative when it comes to styling and horticulture, and is a master at improvisation. I would say I certainly get most of my creativity from my mom.

    Grandpa Parisi taught my dad the ins and outs of gardening. He insisted on saving and drying out tomato seeds and then starting them in small pots in the late winter months so that they’re ready to be planted in the spring for a plentiful harvest come late summer. My grandpa was a character. He went as far as collecting old windows by digging through people’s trash on garbage day to make a homemade hothouse to keep his garden doing all year long. It’s fair to say my passion for food and cooking comes from my dad and his side of the family.

    Making the Garden

    With the knowledge both my parents have acquired, it only makes sense for them to show me the ropes. Plus, if I mess up or get stinky with them, they must still love me anyways because I’m their son. We first decided on the location and size of the garden, which was dead center in my backyard and 16’ feet by 12’ feet.

    Making the actual garden was the most difficult procedure of the entire process. My backyard was all grass, so we needed to remove the 16’ x 12’ section right out of the gate. Our first attempt using shovels and elbow grease was no good, so we opted for a sod cutter which cut the time significantly. I was even able to give the sod away for free to a guy who needed it, which was a great way to get rid of it.

    using a sod cutter

    The next part was tilling the ground. Wow, was this difficult! If you don’t know, Indiana soil is rock hard, so an incredibly powerful rototiller is the only option to start to break it up. I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult this is and how sore I was the next day. My hats off to you, farmers.

    tilling a garden

    Adding Nutrients to the Garden

    Once the ground broke up, I started to incorporate some other things, like soil, manure, and perlite. I did a standard volume combination of 40% soil, 40% compost, and 20 percent perlite. The soil is there as a supplement to the rock-hard ground, while the compost provides nitrogen and loads of nutrients to the ground. The perlite is there to help aerate the ground and help with drainage when it rains or is watered. My dad stressed to me just how important the soil is, and he’s right.

    compost mixtures

    To get all these different soils and composts into the garden, I rototilled them directly into the ground to help get things started.

    tilling soil

    Boxing in the Garden

    Next up was building a box around the garden and then dividing it into 4 equal sections using wood. This is really to help me know what vegetables and fruit are in what section and to give me a little platform to walk down when I want to see what’s going on in the middle of the garden without stepping directly onto the soil.

    framing a garden


    Once all this was in place, it was then deciding on what to plant. Honestly, this part is completely subjective and based on what I enjoy eating and cooking. If you’re doing a similar garden, it’s best to know which plant hardiness zone you live in. My mom simply carved out a shallow trough and then sprinkled seeds in and covered them up. Her reasoning is you don’t know what’s going to stick, and if everything comes up, you just pull the extras to allow room for the plants to grow and fruit.

    plating seeds

    Now that everything is planted, I gave the garden a good soak using soaker hoses, and then the waiting game begins. With all the help I got from my mom and dad and their wisdom transferring to actual gardening, I am 100% confident the harvest is going to be awesome.

    watering a garden

    Finishing Up

    It was an honor to do my first-ever garden with them, and the amount of wisdom I received from them was priceless. They are such hard workers, and I could not do any of this without them. Thank you, Mom and Dad. I love you both dearly.