Skip to main content

Lessons in gardening

It is August of our first summer of gardening. I don't really count the occasional vegetable I was able to coax out of the clay-ey soil at our old rental house as real gardening. By this time in past years the plants would be next to dead, and the plot would be full of weeds. I always gave up somewhere around halfway through the summer, usually when I went out of town for a few days, then came back and was busy for a while, so neglected the plants for two or so weeks, and then it all looked like too much work to get things back to a manageable, healthy, state. So, it is a huge accomplishment to have made it to August with all of our plants (pretty much) still alive and producing. Being out of town for the past week could have been a big hardship for our garden, but it has come through nicely, in my opinion, with the aid of our lovely house-sitter.

The worst part of being gone from our garden is the over-sized unappetizing vegetables. You saw what happened with the zucchinis last time I didn't pick for just two days.... I believe our house-sitter did some picking, but maybe didn't know all the secret places the cucumbers and zucchinis like to hide. So tonight when I went out there to see what I could see, I found several GIANT sized pickling cucumbers, too big even for their own pint jar (pictured above), and a couple more humongous zucchinis. The zucchinis we are using, grating them up and freezing for future use in breads, but I haven't been able to find anything that you can do with too-big cucumbers. Any ideas? Some of the beans and snap peas were over-sized, but there were enough normal ripe ones to make a good side dish with dinner tonight, along with some young onion. The strawberries are doing well, and the corn is looking great! We see lots of tassels, some getting close to eating size. The peppers continue to produce a ton, so Average is making two more batches of pepper jelly tonight. Our three tomato plants are also doing well. Unfortunately, the lettuce has gone to seed, probably started even before we left on our trip.

All in all, this summer has provided a great gardening experience, with many lessons learned from the successes and mistakes along the way.

  • Good soil makes an enormous difference in how well the plants grow.

  • Actually following the directions on seed packets really helps.

  • A big square is a bad shape for a raised garden bed - how do you access the middle?

  • Pick often.

  • Mulching is helpful. Grass clippings work fine.

  • Fewer than 3 zucchini plants is more than enough. Do not plant more than 6 as we did, because zucchinis go crazy!

  • Buy a sprinkler that sprays the right size for your garden. We had a rectangle sprinkler most of the summer that would waste water by spraying where we didn't want, and get stuck in one position if the water pressure lowered, like when you take a shower or start some laundry.

  • Give ample space for each plant. I didn't really realize how much this should be until this year, when my plants actually grew to normal size. Now we have a jungle.

  • Some things are best planted in succession: lettuce, broccoli, onions, for example.

  • Others do fine all planted at the same time, like: corn, beans, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Choose which to succession plant depending on which are ever-bearing, and how many you plan to eat or preserve at one time.

  • Try not to plan any long summer vacations at the peak of your growing season. If you do, get someone to stay at your house who can water and pick for you, or ask your neighbors to help out in exchange for free produce.

Maybe most people already know these things, but, for me at least, there is a big difference between knowing what is recommended, and actually experiencing the effects yourself. Hopefully we will just build on our successes (the new soil in raised beds, transplanting starts from seeds, good watering), and be able to plan better with the yet-to-be-built rectangular beds next year. And maybe by then sweet pea will be able to help me water!

Wow, we really need to weed-whack around the beds. They are hidden by the tall grass! Can you believe how tall the corn is?! The Busch in the picture is for the slugs, not for us, in case you were wondering.

I have another big post to publish soon about our trip, flying with a baby, and the results of my packing list, so stay tuned!


  1. Amazing jungle and you can eat all the things!! Gardening is hard work, followed by yummy food!

  2. Wow, your garden looks great! We had a bit of a learning curve as well. I know I learned a few things (over seeding = good for lawns, not so good for gardens), and I am sure Erica did too. We did four raised beds (4'x4') this year at the new house (I don't remember if they were built when the three of you came to dinner a while back), and when I come home I want to have one long raised bed that runs along the fence line with our neighbors. Anyway your garden looks great guys, have a good harvest.



Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Woollybottoms Giveaway

I am hosting my first giveaway! I have been wanting to do this for a while, and I'm so pleased to have it finally planned. The item I chose to give is a new pair of Woollybottoms - wool pants for babies. The retail value of these is $29.00. I have been really into the wool pants thing lately, as you may have noticed from my recent posts (about Nifty Knickers , and my baby blue longies ) so this seems like a good fit. Wool pants can be used as a cloth diaper cover, or just as snuggly warm pants for the winter or for bedtime. These ones are "footies" so they should keep your baby toasty! The pair I am giving to one lucky winner is light blue with fish fabric for the footie part. Maybe a little more boyish than girlie, but Stella would definitely wear these if we got to keep them. They are size medium, and have the following measurements: 8" waist (elastic) 9" rise 18" length Here they are: To enter, simply comment below and let me know why you wan

Summer 2020 - Life in a Pandemic

I'm in my final week of summer before work as a middle school teacher begins again. This time of year I'm always in a reflective mood.  I look back and feel so lucky to have had this time with my kids. We went camping, biking, boating, golfing, and hiking. We celebrated my sister's wedding, we did projects together, watched movies, and just hung out at home. It really was everything that summer is meant to be. There were many events and plans that we canceled due to Covid, but we did all the most important things. We missed friends, but I also reveled in the togetherness with my little family unit. Today, I spent time registering for fall childcare and activities. It's less than usual, but still I can see the pace of our lives picking up. As we move into a season of more busy-ness, more work, and likely more stress, this poem sums up the feelings I'm experiencing.... Vacation End by Leslie Pinckney Hill From the charm of radiant faces, From the days we took to dream

Review: Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! There's a Party in My City!

Attending a live show is always a treat. The Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! There's a Party in My City! show last Monday was no exception. We arrived only about ten minutes early, and it felt a little weird to walk into a venue where I normally attend serious plays and musical performances, full of children, toddlers, and babies, many in costume. I had been to see The Color Purple there two days before, and it was quite a different atmosphere! Unsure how Sweet Pea would react to the show before we went, I was a bit overwhelmed at first and so was she, but after the first few acts she settled in to enjoy it and danced along to the music at times. Overall, it was a fun experience for us all and a happy memory to look back on as our first live performance as a family. The show producers, or planners, or whatever they are, included a few extras for the audience that really added to the experience for the kids. There was confetti that shot out over the crowd, a huge balloon d