Growing a beautiful garden has been a dream of mine since I don’t know when. We’ve grown little gardens here and there in the past, with very little success. I could say I have a black thumb- but the truth is I didn’t put enough time and planning into it. Even with a few plants, any kind of neglect can result in failure. Sometimes I let weeds take over or simply forgot to water.
I knew I was taking on a huge task with our garden we decided to grow here at our new home. I ordered more seeds than I should and we rented a rototiller. We spent all day tilling up a 80′ x 60′ plot (approximately). We’d had a very wet spring and we thought we’d had our last frost. Nope. It continued to freeze and rain. We had a big square of mud with way too much grass mixed in. The grass! We picked the plot because it looked like it had been a garden previously. Well if it had it was a long time ago- the grass roots run deep. A month later we still hadn’t planted our seedlings (except for the peas I put out that promptly died). The grass was taking over again. It was warming up and the ground was finally drying out. We decided to invest in our own rototiller. I wish we had just bought one to begin with but that’s hindsight for you.
Now it’s May and all of the seedlings we started are all but dead. We started over. We tilled up the garden again, brought in garden soil from the local nursery and mixed that in after the solid test showed low nutrients. (Originally we had added our composted cow manure but it wasn’t enough). I planted corn, carrots, beans, okra, squash (5 kinds), and melons.
Everything came up but the carrots. We put more seeds down. Once again it rained right after a washed the seeds away. The rain also washed away my dreams of beautiful multicolored carrots. I’m going to try again next year just need a solution to keep the seeds from washing or blowing away.
By July we had some good looking plants and a ton of grass. Weeds have not been a problem but the grass! I learned the hard way that being too aggressive with the grass could mean pulling up plants.
The zucchini started off with a bang and I had to keep a good eye on them lest they grow too big. Then I overwatered them and I had rotted veggies.
Next came cantaloupe, watermelons and spaghetti squash. I can’t tell you how gratifying it was to eat my first home grown watermelon. We were giving away melons to friends and coworkers.
I kept wondering why I hadn’t seen any cucumbers. Then one day I was out tending to the cantaloupes and saw I had tons of cucumbers- they were hiding under all of the leaves and grass! And they were mostly white and very light green. They weren’t getting enough sunlight.
The corn didn’t grow tall enough and we only had a couple of teeny ears- I gave them to the chickens.
But the okra- the okra grew beautifully and is still going! In addition to the okra we have tall beautiful sunflowers. I had planted quite a few different flowers from seed but the sunflowers are the only successes. Next year I’ll plant many more.
After a disastrous round one with tomato and pepper seedlings round two made it and I have several plants in the garden that I fenced off to keep the chickens and hopefully other critters out. The peppers keep getting attacked by something that is eating the leaves. I keep spraying them with insecticide soap but it doesn’t seem to help. I have yet to find the offending bugs. But my tomatoes are coming in y’all! Every day I inspect them for bugs and tend to them. I have many green little fruits. I’m excited and scared at the same time. Fresh tomatoes are so rewarding and delicious. And I know that other critters like them too- I’m scared I’ll go out one morning and find missing and or half eaten fruit. There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting for the tomatoes to ripen only to have them taken away before I get a chance to harvest them.
And now we are ready for round two- fall planting. The squashes and melons have been destroyed by squash bugs. Next year I’ll know the tell tale signs and stop them before they take over. Next year I’ll plant The zucchini on little hills so they can trail down. The melons and cucumbers will have cattle panels to climb. I’ll grow more beans and fertilize better. I’ll definitely plant okra again- maybe add a colorful red variety.
We got the rototiller out again and tilled up the old beds (well, just a portion) so I can plant the greens, broccolis, cauliflower and peas. My plan was to get the seeds planted for the greens and peas- but it’s raining. I’ve already learned to wait until it dries up to plant seeds. But I do have seedlings started in the house for the cabbage, broccolis abs cauliflower. Crossing my fingers we have some success this fall.