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Lessons Learned From Gardening This Year

I am by no means of the imagination a master gardener. For me it’s a fun hobby to supplement our groceries during Spring and Summer (maybe a little bit of Fall). As much as I watch the YouTube videos and read the blog posts to prepare each year, once I’m actually in the practice of gardening all of that information flies right out the window. In an attempt to actually learn from my mistakes this year I’ve decided to write them down.

  • You always need fewer tomato plants than you think you do. I will say I definitely bought fewer plants than I have in the past but it was still too many. Realistically for just the two of us (Austin and myself) 1 cherry tomato plant and 1 standard sized tomato plant are more than enough.
  • I am terrible at growing peppers. Seriously, I need to give up this venture and just buy my peppers from the farmer’s market. Peppers don’t thrive in my yard.
  • Mo cucumbers, mo better. Why is it so darn hard to grow cucumbers? This is the first year we’ve been able to get our cucumber plants to thrive and we now we have so many! We’ve made pickles, cucumber salad, and even ate them raw at times. Home grown cucumbers are so much better than store bought. This year we gave the cucumbers old tomato cages to climb up and they seemed to love that, but I think we can do better. The plan is to use lattice next year.
  • Buy summer squash, try growing fall squash. My pattypan squash plant did not seem to be very happy in our garden and I’m pretty sure its just about dead at this point. We were only able to harvest 4 squash from it. The vendors at our local farmer’s market sell so many beautiful summer squash so I think we should try a fall variety instead next year. Fall varieties of squash tend to store well and last a long time, which is perfect since our farmer’s market closes in November. We can grow ourselves squash to last through fall and maybe part of winter.
  • Green beans are on the to-grow list for next year. We bought so many green beans from the market this year that it just makes more sense for us to try growing them ourselves.
  • I don’t need to grow a diverse selection of herbs, just lots of basil. I hardly used any of my other herbs, but I do use a boatload of basil. It’s. Just. So. Good!
  • You can never leave enough room between plants, ever. Try as I may they are always too close together. I need to space them out even more next year.
  • Lettuce, Lettuce, Lettuce. I loved growing a few heads of lettuce on the deck this year. It was so nice to be able to grab fresh greens right off the plant and eat them minutes later. I want to grow more salad greens next year. I use so many of them so it’s worth an attempt.
  • Weed the garden bed everyday when the plants are still small. This is something I did this year and it made such a huge difference. Once the plants take off and get large that tends to block out the growth of new weeds.

Next year, if we are still in this home, we plan to build our small garden area up into a boxed-in bed. The garden backs up to our deck stairs so we plan to place new lattice on the stairs to help the plants vine up. We have a grape vine that we’ve consistently neglected so I want to make sure we encourage its vining. We also have a blueberry bush that is planted in an awkward place so I hope to replant that in a more accessible part of the yard and give it a bit more love. I also want to plant lavender and citronella around the garden because the mosquitos have been terrible this year.

Did any of you plant a garden this year? I would love to hear about what you plan to do differently next year.