Last year, I planted our family’s very first garden. We had just embarked on our real food journey, and it was really important to me to grow our own food. We don’t have a lot of space, but I did the best I could with what we had. It was amazing watching food grow from a little seed into our dinner, and the kids were in awe. I really enjoyed being closer to the earth, and I learned so much over just one short summer. For all of you newbie gardeners or even those who haven’t come across these problems before, here is what I have learned.
- Gardening is HARD- I don’t mean physically hard, but it is hard to get things to cooperate. The weather for one. Last year we had very little rain, and even with me watering twice per day, the plants grew at a much slower rate than they should have. My tomatoes weren’t mature until mid-September, so we didn’t have much of a harvest.
There are more bugs out there than you can possibly imagine- Seriously. I had never heard of squash borers, Lycaenid pod borers, or weevils. I also didn’t realize how damaging Japanese beetles and other “harmless” insects can be to plants. Also, who knew there were so many rabbits?! This little guy lives with his family under my deck and was wreaking havoc on the garden before anything even started to grow! I thought it was safe until I had seedlings, but I was wrong. I had to replant several things because they dug up the seeds.
- Fungus??- I know what a fungus is, but I had no idea that it could devastate my tomato plants when they were just seedlings. Fortunately, that one is an easier fix than some of the other issues I came across. A mixture of 1 cup of water, 1 tsp vegetable oil, and 1 tsp baking soda in a spray bottle seems to be helping!
- We NEED the bees- Before reading all about the evils of pesticides and herbicides, I had no idea that they were harmful to bees nor how important the bees are to our ecosystem. Don’t get me wrong, wasps are still #1 enemy in my house but the honey bees are welcome! Without them there would be no watermelon, zucchini, squash, etc.
Some things are best started from seeds, others not so much- Last year I started everything from seeds. Most things did well, but my tomatoes did not. I found that they just don’t grow fast enough indoors. This year I bought three tomato plants from the organic farm down the road that were started from seeds in their greenhouse. The plants are already starting to flower!
- Some things work in containers, others don’t- I have a small garden bed, and a whole bunch of containers on my deck. I read which plants were suitable for containers on a website I used last year (it’s no longer available), but not all worked out as I had hoped. Carrots don’t grow well in containers, even though the ones I had were incredibly deep. Onions are the same way. This year I switched out the carrots and tomatoes, and it seems to be working well. I have the tomato plants in large pots with cages on the deck and they are growing well. The carrots are developing much faster as well. Lettuce grows incredibly well in a container
I think those are the most important points that I’ve come across so far! Some other things I’ve found necessary are…
- Row Covers- These keep the bugs out! You can leave them on until the plants start to flower. I have them covering my squash, zucchini, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, and green beans.
Poles- If you have a small space, it works great to buy pole beans rather than bush beans. The wooden poles only cost around $1 at the hardware store!
3. A Fence- I didn’t think I’d need a fence for such a small garden, but the rabbits ate almost everything last year! I tried a million different natural deterrents, and found the only thing that worked was putting up a small fence. I just wrapped it around and secured it with garden staples. If you have a bigger garden you may need something a little fancier, but this worked great for us! Take that pests!:)
Overall, gardening has been a very rewarding experience and I’m looking forward to a plentiful harvest this year! Do you have any garden tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Until our next adventure,