The recurring theme this growing season is “too much.” I sowed too many seeds and too close together. My organic garden is a jungle. The cucumber and squash won’t stop growing. They’ve overshadowed everything in their path.
Aside from aggressively growing squash and cucumber, my tomato plants are taking off also. Actually, all of my plants are growing except for those being overshadowed by the huge squash/cucumber leaves. From this I learned Lesson # 1:
Don’t sow so many seeds in such a small space
In addition to planting too much, I planted too late. My tomato plants are growing but they don’t have tomatoes as yet. I needed to have sowed the seeds at least 30 to 45 days earlier than I did. I truly believe the plants will have beautiful yield, but I think they’ll run out of summer this year so the plants won’t have a chance to prove me right.
The reason I planted so late this year was because it took time to create the raised garden beds. I didn’t start that project until mid to late May. I wasn’t quite sure of how to go about it and my lack of knowledge caused a delay. After setting up the garden beds I then had to allow the bokashi to settle in the dirt for about 2 weeks, which caused an additional delay. This brings me to Lesson # 2:
Sow seeds earlier in the growing season
In addition to planting earlier and fewer seeds, I’ve got to construct some type of trellis that will hold up the ever-growing cucumbers and squash. I also need something very tall for the tomato plants. They’ve outgrown the shorter trellises and rods that I used to support them. Today I went to Home Depot and purchased 8’ stakes. Hopefully, this will be enough to get me through this growing season. Next year I’ll build some sort of contraption to avoid this problem. So Lesson #3 is:
Create/purchase a tall and sturdy trellis
Maintaining a neat garden isn’t easy, especially the way that I put things together. The garden paths I made became overgrown when we had a week of pretty impressive rain. The combination of the aggressive vegetables and the fact that I didn’t lay a weed deterrent when adding the gravel was a recipe for creating a jungle out there. I’ve spent some time making things manageable, but I’ve still got a ways to go. I’m now re-graveling the area, but I’m putting a weed deterrent down first. And alas…another lesson – Lesson #4:
Place a weed deterrent underneath the gravel
In addition to my raised garden, I purchased a full share at my local organic farm’s CSA. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to pick up several bags of organic produce weekly. That being said, I still grow quite a bit of greens on my deck in my container garden. So in addition to the collards, kale, mustard greens, basil, cilantro, tarragon and tomatoes I’m growing on the deck, I get more of those very same vegetables/herbs in my weekly share (plus a bunch of other beautiful veggies).
The garden share is enough to feed a family of 4. Being empty nesters, we have more vegetables than we know what to do with (I’ve been juicing a fair share of them). Fortunately, my son and his family live close so I drop off bags of vegetables each week.
If I had planted my garden earlier and it was yielding, as I believe it would, I’d have way too many veggies for one family or even two families to eat. So here comes Lesson #5:
Purchase a half share next year
I still consider this year’s garden a success. The fact that the seeds germinated and vegetables actually grew (grew a little too much), is a good thing. Next year I’ll take this year’s growing lessons to heart to improve my vegetable garden. Each year I’ll learn a little more and grow a little better. I’m really enjoying my garden, mistakes and all. Can’t wait to see what happens next year!