Monday, July 2, 2012
I have been meaning to write this post for a month, but I'm just now getting around to it. Oops.
Back when we still lived in our condo, one of the things I looked forward to most about moving to a house was the opportunity to try my hand at growing my own vegetables in the summer months. This winter, as we got closer and closer to spring, I began thinking about a veggie garden. But I had no idea what I was doing.
And honestly, I still don't really know what I'm doing. But I'm experimenting, I suppose. Experimenting with guidance, because I did do SOME research, after all.
I had heard a lot of good things about raised garden beds and the method of square foot gardening. I had good intentions to buy Mel Bartholomew's book on the subject, but uh... I never got around to it. Instead, I asked a lot of questions of friends and did a LOT of Googling.
We bought a raised garden bed kit (4' x 4') at Home Depot for around $30. Then I used Mel's soil mix "recipe"--1/3 part peat moss, 1/3 part vermiculite, 1/3 part compost. I got all of my soil supplies at a local gardening store. To fill our garden bed, I think I ended up with about 10 cu. ft. of material. I mixed up the soil (eyeballing the amounts) in batches in our wheelbarrow, then filled the garden bed. Not before debating for weeks about where to put the garden bed, though.
We have a very shady yard. Our house faces south, so our "side yards" (which we don't really have very much of) would get the most sun, except that the light tends to be blocked by neighbors' houses. Our front and backyards have a lot of trees (which we love), so it's just... shady. For best results, veggie plants need approximately 6 hours of sunlight a day, so we needed to figure out where in our yard that was possible. We debated between 2-3 locations, and observed the sunlight different times of day, trying to determine which area was best. It was sort of hard, as we were doing this in May, when the trees out back were starting to fill in with leaves again, but certainly weren't as full as they are now!
We finally settled on an area behind our garage, and got busy. We laid scrap cardboard out to block weeds/kill the grass, and put our garden bed kit on top of it. Once filled with soil, I sectioned off each square foot of the garden with string so that I would have a guide for planting.
Then, I just needed plants.
I decided from the beginning that I had no interest in growing anything from seed. Call me lazy, but I would rather leave the seedlings up to somebody else. So, I set out to pick up a variety of veggie plants--from our farmer's market, from our local gardening stores, and I even picked up one from Home Depot. Then, I needed a plan for planting--so I mapped out the locations of each of the plants in the bed on a piece of paper.
Anyway, I'm sure you want pictures, yes? Unfortunately, I didn't take many, but here's what my little garden looked like at the beginning:
At first, I watered daily. Then, I read that it's best to do a deep watering, but less often, so now I've been watering every 2-3 days (mostly every other day, since it has been hot and dry here).
Five weeks later, I've got this:
ANYWAY. Here's a closer look at each plant.
Side note: Funny story about my inexperience as a gardener. At one point during my Google adventures, I read something about how you're supposed to prune the flowers off of the plants so that all of the plant's "energy" is focused on growing the fruit, not the flowers. So, when this pepper plant started flowering (it was the first to do so), I actually almost cut off the flowers! I was too chicken to do it, though, and it's a good thing--since I now know that THE FLOWERS TURN INTO THE VEGETABLES.
The zucchini plants are currently flowering like crazy--the flowers are really pretty when they're open during the day! I noticed tonight that one of the plant's flowers are starting to shrivel up and fall off so I'm hoping to get some zucchini babies soon!
Oh, you can also see the little yellow spots forming on my zucchini plant leaves in this pic. All of them have it, but I have no idea what it is. Thoughts?
I forgot to take a photo of my strawberry plant, but it's pretty boring because I swear it has not changed AT ALL. I am not holding out very much hope that we'll be seeing any strawberries this year. Boo.
So that is my gardening experience so far. I've gotten a pretty big kick out of it and am pleased with our success so far. Assuming things continue going well, I want to expand the veggie garden next year--by at least one, if not two more garden beds. Imagine the possibilities! Wheeee!
What are you growing this year? What has been successful? Any failures? Any inexperienced gardeners out there with funny stories like mine (almost cutting off the flowers)? Do you have any comments or tips based on what you're seeing in my little ol' garden here?