My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view.
~ H. Fred Ale
Since I started my garden the third week of May, I was sure that everything would die. Every flower or plant that I’ve tried to grow in the past has always bit the dust early on. I heard all kinds of advice imaginable and I started to think if I didn’t follow everything, my garden would be a sure failure.
But what I’ve learned over the past 6 weeks is that the process is unique for every gardener and the best tips and tricks are those learned from personal trial and error. There is no better teacher than experience and the lessons that I’ve learned will stay with me always!
Here are some lessons I’ve learned over the past 6 weeks…
1. Plants aren’t always better than seeds.
Case in point- my pea plants! The pea plants that I started from seed have grown three times the size as compared to the plants I bought in the store. Next season, I will plant more seeds now that I have more gardening confidence.
Pea plant planted from seed…huge!
2. Greens are great for beginners!
Next season, I will likely plant more varieties of greens as I’ve seen how easy they are to grow. Very low maintenance! Umm, except for that spinach failure…
3. Keep your garden within arm’s reach.
This year, I decided to put my potted tomato plants on the opposite side of the house because that’s where the most sunlight is, but honestly it’s a huge pain in the butt to water them so far away. I might move them to the other side of the house and just make sure they are in direct sunlight! When your garden is in arm’s reach, you are much more likely to water them on a regular basis. Try to keep everything as close as you can.
4. Raised garden beds are amazing!
We used this raised bed tutorial and I’m so glad we spent the extra time, money, and effort to build raised beds. Raised bed gardening is beneficial for several reasons, including better drainage, more aeration in the soil, less bending over, more control over the soil, closer plant spacing, and an earlier start to the season and later end (due to the raised bed being warmer than the ground).
5. Don’t be afraid to crowd a few plants
I followed plant spacing guidelines to a tee when I planted everything (I even measured with a ruler!!), but now that I see the growth, I know I could have spaced things closer together and still had success. Next season, I won’t be so afraid of a little crowding here and there! Also, with a raised bed, you can plant closer.
6. Chicken wire is great for keeping small animals out, but annoying when gardening.
We haven’t had any major issues with small animals eating our plants thanks to the chicken wire. However, occasionally I will see a bunny eating my KALE through the chicken wire! The bunnies are too cute to get mad at…and can you blame him? That’s good kale! I laugh when I see a leaf nibbled on next to the wire, but again, it has only happened a couple times.
With that being said, the chicken wire is really annoying when it comes to gardening because it’s always in the way. Unhooking it eats up time, so I usually just bend it down when I’m weeding and picking.
7. Before picking herbs, give them a rinse with the hose.
This way, you won’t have to fuss with washing them once you bring them inside!
8. There are no mistakes in gardening, only learning experiences!
The best part about gardening is that you are in the trenches learning every single day. There is no better teacher than experience! I’ve learned much more by actually doing it, than from reading a book. I will never forget about my bolted spinach and if I plant it again, I will try another variety more resistant to bolting and I will plant it earlier in the season!
9. When picking kale and lettuce leaves, pick the outer leaves and leave the inner ones
Seems logical, but I had to Google this before I did it!
10. Plant only the produce that you LOVE to eat.
Only plant produce that you get excited about. Kale is one of my favourite vegetables, so I planted the most of it- 20 plants. I’m not worried about having too much because I can always freeze it and enjoy it all winter long!
11. Nothing is better than tasting fresh peas.
Sweetest peas ever.
12. Seeing a bell pepper sprout is like Christmas morning :)
Happiest moment of gardening to date!
More progress pictures…
The tomatoes have surfaced :)
The tomato plants didn’t want to wrap around the pole and one of the plants actually fell over!! I don’t know if it was from another animal or from the wind, but I loosely wrapped a twist tie around the upper stem to support them. Seems fine now. :)
Peppers are growing!
This is our banana pepper plant. Long and slender. :)
Cucumbers! Which have little pricklies on them…..cuteness.
Our two cucumber plants have grown the most out of any of the plants in the garden.
Here they are May 28, 2011:
July 7, 2011:
BEETS! Grown from seeds (which I’m especially proud of)
Carrots sprouting ever so slowly, also grown from seeds. :) And a few weeds to pull out!
The peas love to hook onto things for support.
Another pea plant which was planted from seed is doing well. It managed to hook around a stick for support.
I laughed when I saw that the plant has grabbed onto this long piece of grass (below) and strangled it!
I also read that I should put string across the pea plants horizontally so they can spread out more…I’m hoping to do that this weekend.
And the best lesson of all?
13. Mother Nature knows best!
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that nature is pretty darn good at working things out for itself! While it’s important to take care of a garden, it’s equally important not to smother the plants. Like a mother sending her child off to their first day of school, sometimes you just have to let them
go grow. :)
Initially, I was watering too much and the plants began to yellow and die. Once I backed off a bit and let it do its thing, the plants just took off with growth!
Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans. ~Marcelene Cox