5 Things I Have Learned (So Far) In My Garden
This has been my first year with a vegetable garden, so I am still quite a novice. But Like most things I do, especially when they have to do with plants, herbs, nutrition and being outside, I approached it with great curiosity, spend lots of hands on time with it, and done a lot of reading and asking questions. I also follow my own gut instincts and intuition an awful lot. So far it is going very well and I have learned a lot. One of the things I have learned about gardening is you are never finished learning about gardening. I have talked to people who have grown up on farms who admit they don’t know and are still learning. That’s good, because when you think you know everything, you are officially stuck for life!
Here are some of the things I have learned so far:
1) Plant garlic in a few places around the perimeter of your garden. Onions are good as part of your border, too. The reason is, garlic naturally repel rabbits, raccoons and other animals that may want to check out what goodies you have in your garden. The bonus is you get garlic (and onions, if you plant those). Just take a clove of garlic and plant it about an inch down.
2) Plant some flowers and herbs. Even if you think you don’t have enough room, or you don’t care about flowers or herbs. It’s not for you. It’s for the beneficial insects and the multitude of ways they can help make your gardening so much easier. Also, plant a variety of veggies. Planting your garden like this draws a diversity of beneficial bugs so that if the harmful bugs show up, they are there to defend your plants by eating them. Did you know that plants send out a pheromone signal that is specific to the bug that can rescue them from the bug that is eating them? But that signal only carries so far. Having a diversity of plants and flowers helps insure that they are more likely to reach the right bugs to help. Not to mention you draw multiple pollinators! And truly, having fresh flowers in the house and fresh herbs to cook with is pretty amazing, too!
3) Don’t be afraid of fertilizer! Fertilizer is your garden’s friend. And yours, too. It nourishes your plants and it builds the fruits and vegetables into healthy, large and tasty pickings. Not only will they not be very big or taste very good without fertilizer, if your plants produce much at all, but your fruits and veggies won’t have nearly as many nutrient. The plants transfer the nutrients the get from the soil into the produce they make, so depleted, malnourished soil mans you are undernourishing yourself as well. Choose a good fertilizer that is not made from chemicals as these leach into the plant and what they produce. There are various types of compost that can be bought very inexpensively or even obtained for free. You can also find compost mixed with manure for a very low price. Some folks are fearful of using manure as fertilizer, but I think the worries of E. coli are out of context with home gardening. Wash your hands after gardening. Soak your veggies in a tub or sink of warm water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, then rinse to disinfect and to remove bugs. These steps, along with the regular small exposures to your own soil will reduce any likelihood of getting sick from fertilizer. If you feel more comfortable, choose a compost with no manure or a vermiculture compost, but do fertilize!
4) Cucumbers and tomatoes need a trellis or cage! Seriously, don’t wait. Especially with cucumbers. They kind of go crazy, fast! And they wrap around everything in an effort to find something to support them. As soon as they come up, provide them with a sturdy trellis. It needn’t be anything fancy. I made mine out of strong sticks I found in the yard after a storm blew some branches down, and a little twine. I threw a trellis net over that and they are happy campers now. The same with the tomato plant. Strong sticks and twine and I built a very tall tomato cage. I have had to add a new line of twine once, but the cage has held, even with strong storms.
5) There is more than one planting season. You can plant several times and keep your garden producing throughout the season, if you choose to. I planted my first crop in the spring of broccoli, cauliflower, onions, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes , carrots, and herbs. Now my onions are harvested and I just planted okra where they were. I am in the process of slowly harvesting my potatoes and I will plant something else there. As I harvest lettuce, I plant more so I continue to have more all year. There are other crops that are fine to plant even at the end of the summer to harvest in the fall.
Share with me, if you have tips! As I learn more, I will gladly share what I learn along the way. Happy growing!