Monday, May 16, 2011


    To say that I didn't know what I was doing in the garden last year would be an understatement. I didn't really garden growing up and had no real experience digging in the dirt. I didn't appreciate the importance of space for mature plants, watering schedules, and hot/cool spots in the yard and sun. I thought I could do no wrong and made all manner of transplanting mistakes that killed many innocent plants. I also suspected that it would be rewarding and delicious to eat food grown in our own garden, but I had no idea how satisfying it would be.

    Lessons from last year that I'm incorporating into this year's planning and gardening include:
    1. Plants are amazing. I love watching them grow. It's totally worth it to me to plant something just to watch it grow, but it's nice if it produces something delicious at the end of the season, too.
    2. Pumpkins, zucchini, squash, and tomatoes are enormous plants and must be given lots of space. Not just one square foot. Oops.
    3. Broccoli isn't really worth the trouble, even though the plants are pretty.
    4. You can never plant enough cucumber vines. Home-grown cukes are incredible.
    5. If the lettuce isn't in the ground by the beginning of March, forget about it.
    6. On the other hand, overwintering lettuce and spinach works really well -- the other day I pulled a delicious huge harvest from the garden that was planted last September. The greens woke right up with the longer days and warmer spring weather without me having to plant a thing.
    7. Overwintering carrots didn't work.
    8. Our kitchen garden space is great for early and late-season gardening, but it's so hot during the summer that I am only doing warm-weather vines in that space this year. If those don't work, that garden box is coming out and I'm planting a shade tree stat.
    9. Purchased seedlings need to go in the ground quickly, or they will die. Forget about tempering or hardening or whatever it's called. I will forget, and they will fry.
    10. Who needs flowers? I used the un-landscaped spots in our front yard for pumpkin vines last year and loved it. It was instant landscaping at almost no cost and lots of fun to watch. This year I'll do a variation of that happy accident with melon, pumpkin, and basil.

    Thus far this year I have planted seedlings for chives, tarragon, cilantro, strawberries, tomatoes, basil, peppers, shallots, cantaloupe, and watermelon. I've also put seeds in the ground for cucumber, rosemary, beans, peas, squash, another melon variety, and another cantaloupe variety. I have plans to plant seeds for a couple of pumpkin varieties, zucchini, more basil, and more cilantro once the weather is warm for good. Photos to follow, if/when these things survive.

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