We are sharing a fun backyard gardening project!  I’ve been wanting to install a small vegetable garden, but we didn’t want all the excavation and soil preparation that goes with it.  So, my friends at Jabo’s Ace Hardware and Miracle-Gro partnered with  me to make it happen.  In part one of this two-part story we will cover soil and drainage.  It’s not sexy, but it’s the secret to making sure Martha Stewart envies your garden!

We had the perfect space — a section of our backyard by the fence where the grass was sparse.  It gets lots of sun during the day and relief of afternoon shade. Pro tip:  Vegetables love sun, but also need respite from the heat if you live in the south, hence the usefulness of late afternoon shade.

The two most important factors in a successful garden – healthy, rich soil and proper drainage.  For the soil, Miracle-Gro provided me with 20 bags of solid gold!  Seriously, their new Performance Organics™ all purpose container mix scores 100!  It features organic and natural ingredients, delivers up to two-times more bounty versus unfed plants, feeds all season for up to three months, it’s blended with natural compost and is compatible for indoor or outdoor container gardens. Here’s a quick video from the Miracle-Gro site.  And, another source is the Miracle-Gro YouTube channel with lots of helpful resources on gardening and their products.  Jabo’s Ace carries this product in stores.  A bag sells for $9.99. For reference we were able to use two full bags to fill one 17-gallon galvanized tub. We needed 10 bags total.

The next essential step in your garden prep is proper drainage.  Jabo’s provided me with five 17-gallon steel tubs from Behrens.  The tub is made of durable hot dipped steel, sealed to hold liquids and has a wire reinforced top rim. Stronger than plastic, this pail won’t absorb odors and is recyclable.  They sell for $39.99 each.  We drilled holes in the bottom of each tub to make sure our soil has proper drainage.  You can watch how we did this on my YouTube here (be sure to subscribe while you are there — it helps me earn my very own channel!)

Now, your tubs are ready, it’s time to add the second secret to proper drainage — expanded shale.  Here’s a great source on all the reasons you want to use expanded shale from Gardening Know How, but in summary shale is the most common sedimentary rock.  It is a fine-grained rock made up of mud comprised of flakes of clay and other minerals such as quartz and calcite.  The bottom line, shale helps the soil to stay light, aerated and retain water. A thin layer at the bottom of your container also helps to keep the soil inside the container instead of running out when you water. I purchased a bag of shale at Archie’s for $14.99 and one 40-lb bag worked for all five tubs.

The other step, which was Mr. Bee’s idea, was to elevate each tub off of the ground using pavers to make sure, again, that each tub had the proper drainage.  Watch this video here from my YouTube channel on how we did this as well as a review of the shale installation.

Okay. We will stop here so you can absorb all this important information.  Remember:  the two most important steps in putting in a garden of any kind — excellent soil and proper drainage.

Thank you to my friends at Jabo’s Ace and Miracle-Gro.  In the next installment we will show you how to install a GrowOya, the perfect system to make sure your garden stays hydrated all summer long.  And, you can see some before and current photos of how well our garden is growing.

Disclaimer:  I was provided with free product in return for my honest review.All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by my sponsors or its affiliates in any way.