Last week, The Crunchy Chicken blogged about her Top 5 Biggest Food Gardening Mistakes. Usually I just comment on the blog, but I thought my comments from this year warranted a post of it’s own, instead of taking up a page on Deanna’s blog.
This year was the first year that I was quite successful with getting my early spring crops in the ground in a timely manner. This led to great lettuce and spinach and peas! Hooray! I am a garden champion! Look at me! And then the lettuce lingered and instead of calling spring gardening done, I let the early crops limp along delaying my main summer planting. And, as a result I learned some valuable lessons…
1. Don’t plan on planting summer crops in the same place as your spring crops. I actually thought this would work. But the spring crops will inevitably take too long and if you don’t plant your zucchini until July, expect to be the crazy woman who asks her neighbors for zucchini (who actually ASKS for zucchini?). My neighbors were shocked when I came a knockin’. Really. Instead, next year, plan to plant fall crops right behind the spring crops. Keep the summer garden area sacred… a few extra early peas are not worth my beets and tomatoes!
2. Don’t water by hand. Normally, we run a drip system in the garden. It saves water and it saves on weeding. This year, we kind of rearranged the garden beds and Rick needed to make a new drip configuration to match. This spring was really rainy so making the system was delayed. By the time it got hot, we were in baby-prep mode and it never happened. We watered by hand. This means, sometimes we watered and sometimes I forgot, and we had an awful lot of weeds. We still have an awful lot of weeds. Tomatoes dried out and then were soaked. What, are we amateurs here? Get a drip system. They save water. they save on weeding. They save your plants.
3. Don’t plant your tomatoes in the same place every year. Again with the amateur mistakes. I KNOW these things. I really do. But for whatever reason, I just didn’t pay attention. The 13 varieties of heirloom tomatoes I carefully planted (on time!) have produced exactly squat this year, and they’ve been dying of some mystery disease starting on the West side of the garden and moving East. Yi. I know better. So does Rick. But we did it anyway. Boo hoo.
4. Plant more garlic. This one actually came from a success! We planted garlic last fall for the first time. Garlic is like a miracle! One clove of garlic becomes this gorgeous full head by late spring. Amazing. Delicious! Victory! Plant more! And along these lines, get your neighbor gardening too. Our neighbor’s garden was wonderful this year. He enjoyed it, we enjoyed it, and we worked together on it. now he’s already plotting and planning for next year. I see a giant pumpkin in my future yet!
5. Cut yourself some slack. This is gardening, not nuclear fission or some other super crazy hard sciencey thing. It’s supposed to be fun. And it is, no matter what. So what if we didn’t have any zucchini this year – every one always has extras of those lying around. Boo hoo that my tomato plants bit the dust. Instead I was able to find a local farm that will sell me a perfect box of organic Romas that I didn’t have to pick myself. And they were really perfect. Oh yeah, and I had a baby in July! Seriously – it’s ok to rely on the CSA produce some years. The great thing about gardening is that you get to try again next season. These mistakes are not permanent!
How about you? How did your gardens do this year? What have you learned?