Hidden Valley gets your garden started!

My Vegetable Garden (1)

My Garden

I’m writing this post under the best possible circumstances: in the early morning light, out in my newly-renovated back yard, gazing upon my new raised garden beds just waiting to be filled. (If any of my neighbors are looking my way, they’re not getting as good a deal – they’re gazing on me in my pajama pants and a ratty tank top.) In the two years since I started gardening very modestly with a Chia Herb Garden, I’ve come a long way. I’ve learned how to produce more tomatoes than I could ever eat in one container, and now I’m ready to graduate to the next step with lots more room for lots more veggies (and one fruit that Fiona begged for).

After consulting with the family, we decided on the following:

  • Tomatoes. They will always be my first choice for planting because after eating home-grown tomatoes, anything else tastes like a plastic red nothing.
  • Romanesco Broccoli. Because I’ve only seen it on TV and I really want to try it!
  • Orange Cauliflower. Because I go through a couple heads a week, mashing it and mixing it with potatoes and Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. So why not make it orange?
  • Purple and Orange Carrots. Because my son loves carrots sautéed with dill, and the purple ones will freak him out, and Fiona and I dip these in Hidden Valley Ranch dressing for a quick, colorful snack.
  • Zucchini. I go through these like crazy, sautéing them with dill for pasta, shredding them for zucchini pancakes, and making loaves of the most delicious zucchini bread ever.
  • Jabanero Peppers. Because my husband likes things HOT!
  • Watermelon. I have no idea if watermelon will grow in Brooklyn, but our backyard is super sunny, so it’s worth a try. This was Fiona’s first choice, so how could I say no?
  • Herbs. I haven’t decided which ones yet, although parsley, chives and basil are the ones I use the most so that’s probably what I’ll grow.

I actually wanted to get started almost two weeks ago, but almost as soon as the backyard renovation was done I threw my back out. But now I’m feeling great and ready to go, just in time for the long weekend!

My Vegetable Garden (2)

Because of our totally leaded soil here in Brooklyn we still have to grow our vegetables in containers (I prefer my children un-leaded). So I’ve got two big round containers, a long trough, and a giant bathtub, although now they’ll be buried and looking like they’re part of the raised beds.

The BIG Giveaway

I’m extraordinary lucky that I was able to have these planting beds built for me. But I’m even luckier that thanks to the wonderful people at Hidden Valley’s Love Your Veggies, as a mom panelist I get to help two of my readers start their own vegetable gardens in a very big way, and help them enjoy their veggies once they’re grown. Two winners will each get the following:

8'X8' Raised Garden Bed

Frame It All Raised Vegetable Garden, 8’X8’X12”. This amazing raised bed system can be put together quickly with a hammer and screwdriver, and the shape can be adapted for your space. Don’t have grass or even a yard? Just take out the stakes on the bottom, set it up on a patio or on cement, fill with dirt, and you’re ready to garden!

Gardening Set with Folding Seat

Vertex 7-Piece Garden Tool Set with Folding Seat, because I’m one of those people who believes having the right tools makes any project more fun.

Gardening Gloves

Magid Terra Women’s Gardening Gloves, so that you don’t have to get dirt under your nails (I hate that!).

Canning Set

Ball Home Canning Starter Kit, because trust me, you will grow more than you know what to do with.

Canning Jars

Twelve Ball Jars with Canning Lids

Home Depot logo

$35 Gift Certificate to Home Depot, to pick up seeds, soil, Miracle Grow, whatever else you need to get your garden started.

Hidden Valley logo

And of course, products from Hidden Valley to eat your veggies with!

The total prize value for each winner is just a few cents short of $500!

To enter to win, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me about where you are with gardening. Are you a seasoned pro who’s constantly delivering extra veggies to grateful neighbors? Do you have a window box full of lush herbs? Or are you a beginner eager to get started?

For a second entry, you may tweet about this contest with a link back to this page. Or, you can copy and tweet the following:

Hidden Valley & @SelfishMom are giving away 2 gardening packages worth $500 each, everything you need! http://bit.ly/ke1jt0 #LoveYourVeggies

Make sure to leave a second comment with a link to your tweet, or it won’t count (instructions on how to find and post the url of your tweet can be found here).

So, that’s a maximum of two entries per household please! This contest will close at noon-ish on Monday, June 13th. The two winners will be chosen by random.org. You must be at least 18 years of age to enter. Prizes may be shipped within the continental United States and Canada only. See my complete Giveaway Rules page for more information.

Good luck! I am so excited to be holding this contest and want to give a BIG shout out to the folks at Love Your Veggies, who have been a dream to work with. Now let’s get gardening!

Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has Compensation Levels of 9 & 14. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.


  1. says

    Wow – you are doing all of this in Brooklyn? That excites me since I will be spending more time there in the next year and hope I can still get my time in the dirt. Right now I have a community plot with lettuce, horseradish, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, kale, chard, carrots, peas, herbs, and fennel. I also have some herbs and tomatoes in my super-tiny and rather shady back yard for good measure. Perhaps our gardening paths will cross in NY!

  2. says

    Love this! We are attempting a veggie garden for the first time this year. I thought it would be a good project that my 5 year old daughter and I could do together this summer. We bought tomato plants…but that is about as far as we got!

  3. says

    I have a garden all dug but my thumbs are so not green and my toddler is not co-operative and I have no clue what to do.
    BUT… I have great intentions :-)

  4. says

    I am definitely a beginner. I’ve been a homeowner for 10 years and I have NEVER grown anything edible but weeds. I know, it’s bad. This would make my hubby so happy if I could grow our own veggies – esp since I’m a picky eater so I rarely eat veggies let alone buy them. lol Thanks for the opp.

  5. says

    I need a raised bed. My north garden isn’t sunny enough, and even a few inches will bring it closer to the sun!

  6. Emma says

    I’m not a seasoned pro, but I do understand your city soil difficulties. My parents and I have been working together to build a roof garden in the inner city of Chicago on their property, complete with a geodesic dome to grow vines crops and protect tomatoes! We don’t have much space here, so roof is all we use, and we grow all our starter plants indoors in my attic.
    This year we also grew plants for my aunt, who recently had foot surgery, and we’ll be planting them in her garden on actual land in Michigan. Helps us get a much bigger yield!

    Thanks for this opportunity!

    I also tweeted here:

  7. says

    I am a garden slacker. My husband keeps a community plot for us, and I LOVE all of the veggies, fruit, and herbs he grows for us. Still, he asks me to water about once a month for him and I whine, whine, whine about it. Maybe new stuff will help me to get a better garden attitude!

  8. shanon says

    I am attempting to garden in Florida, its awful, sandy soil, horrible insects and crazy heat! It was so much easier back home in Illinois!

  9. says

    Your yard looks great!

    Wow, would I love this gardening help! Our yard was a complete MESS when we bought our home. We’ve spent three years just trying to clean it up. My dream is a vegetable garden in raised beds. I am a total newbie so would love the help of these great items!

  10. says

    I’m a beginner. Just bought my first house with my soon-to-be hubby (9 days to go!). My parents have HUGE gardens (yes, gardens, plural) so it’s kind of expected that I take on the tradition.

  11. says

    We have a huge garden and we have just taken over my parents’ garden next door. My husband never gardened before he married me and now he’s practically a farmer. I still kill everything i’m in charge of. We have corn, tomatoes, cucumbers (making and preserving relish is one of my secret skills), squash, zucchini, butterbeans, green beans, an assortment of peppers, some onions, a few lettuces, and just for my dad, okra.

  12. says

    We went WAY overboard with our gardening last year!

    My husband killed all the grass (on purpose) the year before, so we could use the whole backyard (it’s not really big, but still!) for the garden. We planted everything. I can’t even list all of the things we planted.

    I ended up giving away most of the zucchini (they were over 2 feet long & I just couldn’t eat anymore!). The green onions lasted me until this January or February. We had a serious harvest.

    The squirrels ate the corn before they could grow. The deer ate lots of leaves off of everything. But overall, we had an abundance.

    This year, we are cutting back, but not too much. Potatoes, onions, tomatoes, corn, cucumber, watermelon, squash, pumpkin, carrots, radish, spearmint. I’m sure I’m missing something. Anyway, didn’t mean to write a book – love your new backyard & garden, and I would love to have a raised bed because the grass is growing in some places & I would love to kill it by putting the bed over it! thanks!

  13. says

    I don’t garden, but kinda always wanted to. My inlaws have small garden and I near died when I tasted the corn from it…

  14. danielle says

    It’s all happening this weekend – we’re going out to buy seeds and seedlings and get things going. This year we’re going to do patio tomatoes though because they take up too much room in our small little garden. Can’t wait!

  15. says

    Wow. Beginner. Not much experience at all. But today we found out today that we got our dream house in South Orange NJ. We move in mid-July. With my dream house, comes my dream garden, ready for me to test drive my green thumb. I never thought I would ever want something SO BAD. But alas. Here I am…WANTING this so bad…to complete the dream of a personal garden to grow with my kids! I guess we’ll learn together!

  16. says

    I am kind of a new gardener. I have made many attempts before, but the heat and weeds of Oklahoma defeated me. I’m doing better this year. We have managed to stay on top of the weeds, and haven’t had the heat we usually have. My tomatoes and peppers look wonderful this year! I would love to win this prize, more raised beds would make my day!

  17. Emily says

    We’re just buying our first house. We close tomorrow at 11 AM, in fact. It’s my first chance to have a yard and a garden and grow herbs! I haven’t had a good area of sun in any of our recent apartments, so I’ve been plant-deprived. Of course, buying a house means we’re BROKE (it’s a fixer-upper) so I could really use the help with gardening supplies.

  18. Denise Traynor says

    my garden is a few marigold plants (anemic looking) sharing a pot with two spindly green bean plants.

  19. says

    We are on our 4th year of gardening so getting better at it. This year we finally have a fence that should keep the deer from eating everything! We planted corn, lettuce, tomatoes, snap peas, green beans, beets, berry plants and herbs. I am looking forward to my next year when my kiddies want to help not just dig.

  20. Jessica says

    I am married to a gardener. My husband loves to grow tomatoes and herbs. This give-away would be great for him!!!

  21. says

    I’m an intermediate. I have 2 raised beds and I’m hoping this year our pumpkins will grow into big giant prize winners!

  22. says

    I have a lot of perennials but few veggies in our garden, with the exception of the raspberry plants that invaded from the neighbor next door. We’re starting this year with tomatoes. Great giveaway!

  23. Lizz, says

    I grew up with my parents ALWAYS have both veggie and flower gardens. Last year I started w/ just tomatoes. This year we have tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce and spinach. I wanted a bigger garden but since we don’t own the house we live in I really don’t want to spend the time. So I just have these as potted plants. This raised garden would be nice so I don’t tear up the owners lawn.

  24. Audrey says

    My husband and I just recently moved back to Michigan, and we are now living in the Upper Peninsula. The house that we bought has 5 little plots, one big plot, and a compost pile for gardening. The family who lived here before us had 9 children, so I can only imagine what her garden looked like! I was so excited to read your blog because just today we tilled all of our plots (we have to wait a little longer because we had frost last week)! Tomorrow we are going to transplant some of our seeds and buy some more plants from the garden center close to our house. I am so excited to have my first garden, but I am also fearful that we’ll do all this work and not get anything! My two-year-old son loves helping too, so I am looking forward to my first summer of, hopefully, having a green thumb and enjoying our own fruits and veggies with my family!

  25. Alyson says

    Only a small window box at this point but am hoping to become an avid gardener when we move to a house with land soon!

  26. Terry Knickerbocker says

    Wow! Great opportunity! My wife and I are very much beginners with our Bed-Stuy garden. We have lots of bulbs so far and a lovely peach tree that came from a cutting from the former owner’s mother’s house in Georgia. We’re also very interested in growing some edibles and nervous about lead – so the raised beds are definitely very appealing.
    Thanks for sharing your cool garden!

  27. amy b nyc says

    oh man oh man – this just makes me want to take tomorrow off and get a raised bed garden together! We have a few planters with tomatoes, brocoli, and more tomatoes…but we held off this year even though we finally have a yard because our daughters lead levels are very high and we don’t even want her near the yard until we change the soil…horrible. This would be a major gift – how awesome that they donated! Whoever wins is very lucky! :)

  28. mike says

    I am a gardener/green roofer by trade, but like the saying about the cobbler’s kids always needing shoes, my house is the one needing the garden. Thanks for reminding me it doesn’t have to be hard or even perfect – it can still be enjoyable.

  29. angela c says

    We will finally have a backyard space in July. Looking forward to planting herbs and a fig tree! With Brooklyn soil though, we definitely need raised beds. We have very little experience gardening, but are excited to start!

  30. Marisa says

    We just bought our home in BK and have a yard for the first time. Of course it’s a disaster- full of glass and probably heavy metals. We will most likely spend the first year just trying to clean it and deciding how to set it up. Goal is to have room to grill, room to play, and room to grow flowers and veggies. We’re going to give it our best shot before simply paying someone to beautify it for us. Not an option this year anyway. Great giveaway, and great blog!

  31. Elizabeth Roberts says

    Last year, in containers on our deck, I grew two tomato plants. Just as the few tomatoes produced reached the peak of ripeness on the vine, some critter pulled them down and ate part of them overnight. Is this a common occurrence in Brooklyn? I now have an eggplant and cherry tomato plant in the backyard in containers. I’m hoping for better results this summer. My 5-year-old son adores digging in the dirt with me. I’m hoping that he’ll develop more of a taste for veggies. How do you go from harvesting a few tomatoes to a wealth of fresh produce? I’m looking forward to trying!

  32. Jessamyn says

    I garden on my Brooklyn rooftop. Over the past 3 years, we’ve built boxes, schlepped hundreds of pounds of dirt up four flights of stairs, and done our best to create our own little Garden of Eden. I grow veggies, berries, herbs, flowers, shrubs, and have a couple of trees. It has become an addiction! I’m hoping to build another set of planter boxes and get a wall of flowering vines growing on some trellis attached to the neighboring brownstone. I love being an urban gardner!

  33. Jessamyn says

    I garden on my Brooklyn rooftop. Over the past 3 years, we’ve built boxes, schlepped hundreds of pounds of dirt up four flights of stairs, and done our best to create our own little Garden of Eden. I grow veggies, berries, herbs, flowers, shrubs, and have a couple of trees. It has become an addiction! I’m hoping to build another set of planter boxes and get a wall of flowering vines growing on some trellis attached to the neighboring brownstone. I love being an urban gardener!

  34. says

    Well, we just moved into a house, and the backyard is gorgeous already! I still need to dig our vegetable patch in the one sunny spot.

  35. Erin says

    I live on the 8th floor in my Brooklyn home, so I’m only able to put herbs in my windows. Oh how I wish I had a backyard to play in! The non-profit children’s organization that I work for has a large balcony and I’ve gotten permission to put a garden on it. It would be amazing to win this and help us start it. And I just said the other day that I wanted to start canning the fruits and vegetables I get in my CSA.

  36. Stephanie says

    Gardening is something I always hope to do …..when I get the time, money and resources. Need to find an app for that!

  37. says

    I’m in Austin, Texas in a suburban neighborhood and I have a very shady backyard. I’ve tried to fill in a few herbs and vegetables in the spaces that get the most light and today I saw my first yellow squash – hooray!

  38. says

    I’m such a beginner gardener and was actually googling how to start a vegetable garden and came across your blog! Anyhow, I feel I’m a little too late maybe since it’s the beginning of June and I’m totally intimidated. Still going to try though :-)

  39. says

    Amy, your garden looks amazing! And this is a wonderful giveaway. I rarely enter any, but am so impressed by this one, I’m happy to. (Also, big fan of Hidden Valley Ranch dressings!) Here’s where I am with gardening: Every summer, my husband plants a veggie garden in back. And then proceeds to forget about it. I’ll get out back once in a while and weed/water, but not that often. And then, miraculously, things will just come up on their own…assuming the squirrels don’t get to them. This year, we have a groundhog living back there, to boot. But already we have a tomato and some peppers. I’d love some motivation to do more gardening, it’s totally relaxing and so satisfying to eat stuff that grew in your own backyard.

  40. says

    What an amazing giveaway!!! I grew up gardening with my grandparents and my Dad. They focus on orchids and asian landscaping. I like to grow stuff I can eat and can. This is my perfect giveaway!!! Thank you for offering this. I’m amazed you are doing all of that in Brooklyn but some of the most impressive small space vegetable gardens I’ve seen were in Queens.

  41. says

    I am an avid flower gardener and a beginning vegetable gardener. I did start a berry patch last year which I love and it is prolific. Canning is on my new things to try list this year so this contest is exciting to me. Thanks for the offering. Jana

  42. Sara says

    I’m a novice gardener. We’ve planted a container garden before but one day forgetting to water in this AZ heat creates more of a sun-dried veggie garden. My daughter keeps asking for a square-foot type garden and had checked out books and begs to go to Home Depot.

    Thank you for offering this terrific giveaway! I know we can grown veggies and herbs, because I’ve seen other people do it.

  43. says

    We always have the best intentions with our garden – making it bigger and better. For the 3rd year in a row, though, it’s still the same size. We have three tomato plants, two basil plants, and a jalapeno plant. It working for us, though. Maybe next year we can get our act together and take over the entire backyard! ;)

  44. Olivia Richardson says

    I am a newbie, having only grown strawberries – they were delicious!! Need to do this for financial & health reasons. Facing more salary cuts in future. You make it sound possible & rewarding in many ways. This is a super give-away. Thanks for allowing me to participate.

  45. says

    Oh, perfect for the new yard. We haven’t had the soil tested, but since we just took possession, are sticking with a couple of containers for this year.

    I’m intrigued by the bathtub. So that’s a legit way to keep the lead out? That would make me feel less guilty about removing one or two the old bath tubs if we had a way to repurpose them, but hmmm still seems a bit…odd.

    • says

      @kim/reluctant renovator: Oh yeah, totally odd. But it won’t look like a bathtub once it’s filled with dirt up to the top and stuff is growing. If you do it, though, make sure to cut holes into the sides for drainage – the one drain hole on the bottom isn’t going to be enough. And if it’s an old ceramic tub, I’m not sure how you would do that. This was actually a new tub with a defect, so Home Depot had sent us a new one without taking the old one back.

  46. says

    I’m sort of a in-the-middle gardener. The last two summers I’ve tried, did pretty well with flowers, and managed to grow some sugar snap peas. Totally failed on the tomatoes and green peppers though but I was trying to grow them upside down in hanging pots. I really want to give it another shot, maybe this time upright, LOL.

  47. Janice says

    I’m definitely a beginner… don’t really have that green thumb gene. Right now, more of just assisting with my parents’ garden since they have the green thumb, but I always love the whole fresh veggies and fruits idea…. just if only that could be ME. :)

  48. says

    This is great – I’ve always wanted to do a raised bed veggie garden. Our soil here is so bad that you can’t really grow vegetables unless they are in this kind of bed or are potted. I’ve grown tomatoes before in pots but haven’t had much luck with other things.

  49. says

    I planted two whole tomato plants this year and even though that were nearly beat to death in a hail storm, they are now producing real live tomatoes! It’s so exciting!

  50. says

    We recently moved to Savannah from Seattle where it is cold & rainy most of the time. We have never had any luck with growing a garden and we are very eager to start one now that we live in a beautiful climate where a vegetable garden would surely do well!

  51. Ginny M says

    I have yet to garden, although I am trying tomatoes in a pot on my deck this year. I am a but nervous, but so far so good. I very much would love the the opportunity to make a bigger garden and expand. :)