Lessons of this growing season

Gardening is nothing if not a humbling experience! Even the most experienced gardeners and growers learn new lessons every year.

This is only my third year gardening. I’ve been more successful than the first two years, but I’ve also learned some big lessons:

Lesson one: optimizing space. Some vegetables, like broccoli, I had never grown before. I had no idea the plant grow that large; I crowded the row, and where I planted it, it threw a lot of shade on other plants. My rows of greens really did not need to be as spaced apart as I had them; I had loads of unused space. Next year I plan to do square-foot gardening for my greens bed, and give the broccoli more space. Also, cucumber plants are INSANE; loads of space required!

Lesson two: watch the sun and plan(t) accordingly. Some spaces in your garden will receive much more sunlight than others. It’s important to plan your planting around that; read up on what your plants need, and place them accordingly. I made the mistake of putting a pea trellis in a spot that blocked the sunlight from my carrots.

Lesson three: take notes. I keep a gardening journal where I record things like when I transplanted, what worked, what didn’t, what I want to try next year. I also try and “draw a map” of my garden to see how it changes.

Lesson four: give up on frustrating things. Some plants may just not work out! Maybe it’s the soil, maybe it’s the space, maybe it’s the type of seed, maybe it’s something else. For some reason, my spinach keeps failing. I have tried two different brands, so I will try something else because I’m not ready to give up on spinach. However, I am ready to give up on tomatoes! I’ve tried for several years, in pots, out of pots, in the ground, in the greenhouse. It’s. Not. Working.

Lesson five: just do you. As soon as I dropped the expectations, I started having fun with gardening. I don’t have much time to dedicate, so I need to find ways of simplifying my process, like mulching, and companion-planting.

What did you learn this year from your garden? What will you try next year?

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