Six Gardening Lessons Learned

This will be my last post about my garden for the year. I’m not planning on doing a fall or winter garden. Thanks for those of you who have stopped by and taken the time to read about my gardening adventures. I did this mostly for myself and to help others who were gardening virgins like me, but it was nice to know that others read the blog too.

I will start again in the spring, although I won’t be a veggie garden virgin anymore. A quick rundown of what I learned this summer:

1. Start early- You can start planting after the last frost of the spring, which in North Carolina is around mid-April. I figured I still had plenty of time after that because it didn’t start to get warm until mid-May. Due to procrastination, I didn’t really get started until the end of May. Next year, I will start a lot easier so I get more produce out of the garden.

2. Root vegetables are evil- I will stay away from root vegetables. I had long carrot tops in my garden and picked them figuring  the carrots would be several inches long. Wrong! The two carrots together probably added up to two inches. When I told someone about my underperforming carrots, she admitted that she had the same problems of being able to tell when root vegetables were ready.

3. Watermelons will take over the garden- I planted watermelon because I enjoy them and thought they would be great to eat throughout the summer. Unbeknownst to me, watermelons grow on very large vines that like to spread out and up, taking over everything in its path. Much like the blob. Fewer watermelon seeds next year.

4. Fertilize more- I fertilized very few times over the summer. I bought rich soil and thought that would be enough. This is probably the reason why my produce was rather anemic. I will fertilize more next summer and hopefully start a compost bin.

5. Beds need regular maintenance- I made sure to do regular weeding, watering and all the typical maintenance but once the heavy rains came over  a week to one and a half week period, I dropped the ball. The mini floods caused the garden mounds to flatten out. I didn’t rebuild them because I didn’t want to disturb the growth process. Now I realize that I should have rebuilt the mounts to improve drainage.

6. Take no prisoners when it comes to garden creatures- I knew I had a problem with creatures in my garden for several weeks before I took action. The fence proved to be very effective. Lesson learned is not to wait so long next time. Take decisive action and don’t put up with creatures eating your vegetables and pooping in your garden.

I’m sure there are many more lessons I’ve learned throughout the summer, but these six immediately came to mind.

Thanks for reading and see you in 2015!

Picking and Planting Seeds

So I picked out the garden box I wanted, built it and filled it with dirt. With a lot of the initial labor done, I needed to figure out what I want to grow. I thought the easiest thing would be to plant things I eat regularly. People who know me know that I love my carrots! (I usually have one Bugs Bunny style for lunch every day.) Carrots went on the list along with lettuce, cucumbers and watermelon. When I was looking at the rack of seed packets, those seemed pretty easy to grow. I also picked out green beans but  I didn’t realize until I got home that they needed to grow on a trellis or next to a fence. Another project for another time. I didn’t want to get overwhelmed, so I stuck with those basic four.

Digging hills for gardening rows

Digging hills for gardening rows

I asked SJ to help me plant because I’m still not entirely sure what I’m doing. The instructions said to build hills and plant seeds an inch or two down. I didn’t know how to get hills out of my flat soil, so I was just going to drop seeds in the dirt until SJ suggested building the dirt into mounds. The light bulb went off. That made perfect sense! And not too difficult either.

Out came the shovel to dig rows and create nice even rows. I was going to originally do four rows but went with three because the watermelons needed extra space. I took advantage of the smaller 4′ X 4′ box for the cucumbers.

By the time I was done digging and arranging rows, things were looking pretty good. SJ and I planted the seeds according to the instructions. There aren’t any pictures of him because he said his main jobs were to look good and take pictures. Thanks SJ!

After a couple of weeks of work, the seeds are in. The only thing left to do is wait for the veggies to start growing.

Finished garden with veggies planted

Finished garden with veggies planted

Planting the vegetables

Planting the vegetables