Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Garden Update - Lessons Learned

We finally have ripe tomatoes!!  This is so exciting.  It's been torturous for them to walk around the garden waiting patiently for them to turn red.  The funny part is that I plant so many kinds of heirloom tomatoes (that I started from seed from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds),  I don't remember now what is what.  Yes, I was an organized gardener and labeled each plant as they were put in.  However, I learned a very important lesson.  Wooden Popsicle sticks written on with a Sharpie do not endure the weather for long.  None of the wonderful tomato variety names are legible now, neither are the pepper's or the cucumber's or anything else.  So, our harvests will be total guessing games.  I know I planted other colors of tomatoes, so that will be interesting.

Look at these beauties.  I think these are Anaheim peppers, but I'm not positive.  Doesn't matter, they are delicious.

Overall, I think my first EVER in the ground garden has been a total success!  I no longer have to hear my husband point to other people's gardens and say, "Their garden is kicking your garden's butt!"

Now, mine is kicking butt and he is very proud of me.  The kids and I have had a blast nurturing this little patch of land and helping it go from weeds to food.  Here are some lessons I've learned along the way.

Lesson #1 - Label plants on something weather proof.  I read somewhere about cutting up an old mini blind and using that to write on.  I wonder if the Sharpie would stay on them.

Lesson #2- Corn gets really tall.  I'm really glad I planted it on the northern edge.

Lesson #3 - Do not underestimate the recommended space between paths.  Oh, and my trellises for the cucumbers and beans are nowhere near tall enough.  They have climbed to the top and now have nowhere to go.

I have no idea how I'm going to get in there to reap the benefits of my harvest.

Lesson #4 - Tomato plants get really big.  I'm really glad I used the sturdy wire fencing between T-posts and twine to trellis the tomatoes instead of the flimsy nylon trellis. 

Lesson #5 - I hate squash bugs.  Picking them off did not work.  Neem oil did not work.  I finally caved and bought some Seven dust, but I think it was too late.  This zucchini plant is not going to survive.

Lesson #6 - Teeny tiny baby okra are the cutest thing ever.  Oh, and the flowers that come before the baby okra are beautiful.  Too bad it was closed when I took this picture.  I can't wait to pickle some okra.

Lesson #7 - Nope, I was wrong.  Teeny tiny watermelons are the cutest thing ever!

Lesson #8 - Winter squash grow really, really, really fast and invades EVERY thing.  It needs much more space than I gave it.

Lesson # 9 - Basil is yummy eaten straight off the plant.

Lesson #10 - The three layers of newspaper covered with straw is totally worth the effort.  I completed one half of the garden (where my daughter is standing above) and the paths are beautiful and weed free (except for occasional stragglers that pop up on the sides, but they are easy to pull).  Next year, I'll do the entire garden that way. 

If you have any other tips for a newbie gardener, please leave me a comment and share them!


  1. Awesome job! Your garden looks amazing and I'm sure is indeed 'kicking butt' all around the neighborhood, lol!

    Don't worry about linking up last week feel free to link this (and if you have another) to this upcoming Thursday's kinderGARDENS post!

    Great garden! kim

  2. How exciting for you! I've had trouble with squash bugs too. :*( But your garden looks great and I know you must be having a blast!

  3. LOVE the new header...couldn't be sweeter! Kim

  4. You have an awesome garden! It definitely kicks my container garden's butt! We have the squash bug problems also, evil little things. I have plastic markers I wrote the names on in Sharpie and within days the sun bleached them into almost non existence. So I rewrote on them and turned them so that they were facing the pot, shielded from the sun. Even with that protection, they are bleached out to non existence again. I think it's kindof fun just being able to be surprised, now. :)

  5. Wow! Great garden! We have learned lessons 3 through 5 as well. I'll have to try the newspaper trick - definitely better than weed whacking!

  6. Thanks everybody! I highly recomend the newspaper and straw. It's time consuming, but it really works.

  7. The squash bugs were awful in Missouri this year, so don't worry. Last year they weren't so bad and hopefully next year will be better again. I have learned that to grow them organically on the ground, they need to be kept covered with a row cover until they bloom. It'll help, but not solve the problem completely. I plan to grow the squash up trellis' next season in hopes that the bugs will remain on the ground and easier to kill without so much damage to the leaves up in the air. I found your blog through the local homeschool network emails, nice to find a neighbor! Also, something I tried this year that worked wonderfully was winding a soaker hose between rows, covering it with a small amount of dirt, then black plastic. It has saved me much sweat and time this summer!