Last season was my first trial at gardening but even though growing your own produce is a life-long learning experience, it delivers some lessons pretty quickly. I thought that planting the seeds and hoping they’d sprout would be the toughest part but that was definitely the easiest part!
After sowing all my seeds in neat little rows like the packet instructed I made sure to keep the soil nice and moist for the seeds to germinate. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that after germinating I should have probably adjusted my watering schedule.
After battling some grasshoppers and crickets that ended up destroying several rows of seedlings, I woke up one morning to more disappointment – almost all of the seedlings that had survived were wilting to the ground. I ran to Google for help and quickly realized it was a simple enough fix. Most vegetables only need an inch of water a week so irrigate accordingly!
Thinking Too Small
While planning my garden I was constantly warned by experienced gardeners not to go overboard and overwhelm myself on my first try. Planting too much at first could make things too difficult and reduce the chances that a beginner would actually enjoy the activity instead of just thinking of it as a chore.
So I decided on a single 4×8 foot raised bed which was, needless to say, way too small to get enough of a harvest of anything. Although my Swiss chard and radishes came up well they really only yielded a couple of harvests and definitely not enough to lower my grocery costs.
Since I decided on a tiny garden bed to start with, I thought I could fit ALL of the different vegetables I wanted into it and get a giant basket full of veggies. Little did I know that plants actually enjoy enough space to breathe. Although I mostly stuck with the suggested spacings outlined in the seed packets, I definitely did some adjustment to fit everything in that may have turned out to
Although I mostly stuck with the suggested spacings outlined in the seed packets, I definitely did some adjustment to fit everything in that may have turned out to overcrowd some of the root vegetables like the carrots and beets that tend to like more space.
Although fertilizing isn’t always necessary in an organic garden, I never got a Ph test of my soil to see if it was actually balanced (and still haven’t, oops) so I’m not entirely sure what my vegetables may be suffering from a deficiency in (I’ll do it soon I promise). This year I’m planning on getting the soil tested and investing in some fertilizer, at least for my tomatoes since they’re heavy feeders.
Planting Too Early
This mistake was really due to some unseasonably hot weather we had at the end of the year, like many other states. Our average first frost usually falls in the middle of November but even by Christmas we still hadn’t hit the 30s. The extra long wave of heat probably stunted my cilantro and spinach, which both tend to prefer cool weather. My beets and turnips also developed a lot more greens than roots, which I’ve heard can be influenced by higher temperatures.
I’m sure I’ll make lots of mistakes this season too but I hope it’s not the same ones. It’s all about living and learning, especially when it comes to growing delicious food from seed!