Last growing season was our first in our new home. It was basically an experimental year as far as gardening goes. I read lots of articles and gardening blogs and every single one encouraged to start small and simple when you are a beginner gardener. Did I take that advice? Well, no. Did I learn a lot anyway? Yes!
First thing you need to know before reading any further… I am NOT an expert!! I am still in the “figuring gardening out” stage.
Things I learned during my first growing season:
1. Your garden needs constant care and attention or WEEDS WILL TAKE OVER!
2. Watch out for snakes!
3. Harvest broccoli before the cabbage worms attack!
4. Garden organization is key!
5. Spend the extra money on a tomato cage.
6. Jalapeno and cherry tomato plants PRODUCE LIKE CRAZY!
7. Expect to share lots of yummy veggies with your neighbors.
A couple stories behind what we learned:
We were lucky to purchase a home with a size-able lot and a plot ready for gardening. It also has 3 raised beds closer to the house. AMAZING! We planted tomatoes, peppers, and herbs in our three raised beds. We planted corn, carrots, okra, melons, squash, cucumbers, and broccoli in the large tilled area. We quickly learned that raised beds were MUCH more manageable! It was easy to keep weeds under control and provide the proper care for our veggies. We also quickly learned that our plot was infested with weeds and it was really hard (at first) determining what was weed and what was an actual veggie plant. Overall, we learned that raised beds help keep your garden organized and make weeds a lot more manageable.
My husband and I are pretty frugal people. We try to save money whenever possible. So last year we decided to forego purchasing 8-$5 tomato cages and purchased bamboo sticks and zip-ties instead. MISTAKE! The tomatoes were not adequately supported, and, therefore, our poor tomato plants lived a shorter life than was expected. Needless to say, we have already purchased our tomato cages for this year.
It is important to reflect on your previous years crop. Take notes. Jot down things that worked well and ways you can improve in the future.