2011 Garden

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Gardening isn't something that you just do.  It's actually a skill that you develop.  That's why it's so important when it comes to self-reliance that you try to plant a garden each year, whether a large plot or a few pots on a patio.  If you wait to develop those gardening skills, you risk a failed garden when it really matters.

Every year that we've planted a garden - which is most of the past 14 years - we've had new adventures.  Last year, we dealt with the encroaching shade from a quickly growing maple over the fence.  Now I know where *not* to plant my tomatoes.  We also tried "solarizing" a section of our garden to reduce the weeds last year.  We put clear plastic (edges buried) over a section of the garden.  Unfortunately, the plastic wasn't durable enough to make it through the heat of the summer. 

Some of our ongoing successes:  We have tomato volunteers every year.  It seems like such a fragile plant, so I'm always thrilled to find those new little plants.  I also have a fantastic rosemary plant that comes back year after year.  We're expanding our raspberry row because they are so popular that our kids sneak into the garden just to eat them.

This year, we're trying square foot gardening in addition to our regular garden.  It's been pretty expensive to set up two 3.5 x 7.5 beds.  The jury is still out on whether or not it's worth the extra cost. 

It's been a very wet spring.  I missed planting my spring crop of lettuce, peas, and spinach because I kept waiting for a dry Saturday.  I finally gave up and found a Monday afternoon late in May to get my summer crop of strawberries, beans, onions, carrots, watermelons, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers planted.  Almost three weeks have passed since dropping those seeds into the ground.  I was actually expecting that I'd have to replant, but this afternoon I discovered these late, but very welcomed, bean shoots finally emerging.  I can also see carrots and barely an onion or two.  No watermelon plants yet.

I'd like to learn how to collect my own seeds.  I've tried several years in a row now, but have only harvested Marigold seeds with success.  I suspect that eventually I'll get it - but see - another reason to practice gardening now. 

How is your garden doing?  What have you learned from past gardens?  Successes?  Failures?  What do you want to do in the future?  I'd love to hear all about it!


Diggity Dog said...

I've been trying square foot gardening for years and after last summer I've completely given up on the method. For someone with short arms like mine it's hard to get into the interior squares and I find that the plants almost always end up too crowded and the standard 2' rows they recommend are too narrow for me to haul in things I need. I learned a better method when I worked in a community garden last summer. They just dig down paths 3' wide and pile that soil up in the middle. Poof, instant raised garden bed. Then I get some free mulch from the power company that's a bit too chunky for gardening and put it down in the paths.

I actually just spent three hours harvesting my spinach, some radishes, and putting out 12 more bell and jalapeno peppers. I didn't plant enough spinach to get me through the winter, unfortunately but I still have kale and swiss chard coming up. I may try to substitute them in some recipes.


Wendy said...

Diggity -

I lamented that my beds weren't the standard 4x8 only to discover that 3.5x7.5 is as wide as I can go. I too have small arms and had to plant my beds from either side. Now I'm thrilled about the size and won't go any wider. I also lucked out in finding someone's recommendation that I keep my paths 3 feet wide. It seems to work great.

Thanks for sharing your experiences! Good luck with your garden.