But I will admit, in the ratio of "success!" to "oh whoops- probably shouldn't have done that..." the "oh whoops" won out this year. Thankfully, I told myself at the beginning of the season that this was my year to learn and make mistakes in the garden. Next year my goal will be actual food. ;-)
First, the successes:
- Stuff grew from little to big! Even though the goal was vegetables, just the fact that most of my plants didn't die in their infancy was a pretty big success for me.
A few weeks old.
Finally starting to fill out.
Last picture I took in the summer- almost at it's peak.
- Even more exciting: vegetables grew! And we ate them. Most successful were my green bean plants- not surprising since I've heard a three year old could grow these things. After that I got a lot of zucchini and way more basil than I knew what to do with. My cucumber vines grew a couple cucumbers, but I ended up having to pull them out b/c they got too big and overtook my garden. My banana pepper plant only gave me three peppers and same with my bell pepper plant.
1. Don't over-water. Everything I read online stressed the importance of watering a vegetable garden. So I watered. Every.day. When my tomato plants started wilting I talked to someone at our local farmer's market "help" booth and she suggested I had "wilt disease." A few weeks later I talked to a friend and she told me to stop watering. Low and behold! My plants came back to life. Well, except one zucchini plant that had been over-watered to the point of rotting. Yikes. I guess my area gets enough rain to sustain a garden on it's own!
2. Don't plant too close together! When I planted my little baby seedlings they seemed so tiny, so I planted closer than the packet instructed. Big mistake. I ended up pulling 2 zucchini plants and a cucumber vine because I didn't have enough space.
3. Label your plants! For the first 3-4 weeks after planting I did not know what was growing where because I failed to label properly. Those little white plastic things do not hold up to rain and critters. I went to a craft store to see if I could find little signs to use, but came back empty handed. I ended up buying wooden spoons (50 cents each) and then spray painting and labeling to use as signs.
4. Open the little seed starters better. I planted my seeds in little soil filled mesh pods, but failed to open the pods sufficiently. As a result, my radishes and carrots grew in very strange shapes!
Other than that, I think I did pretty good! I also had a problem with Japanese beetles eating my plants, but the only want to solve that is 1) use a pesticide (which I won't do for the sake of the earth) and 2) go out in the evening and flick the pests into a glass of soapy water and kill them. I don't have any desire to spend my evenings flicking bugs. My plants all survived the beetles this year so hopefully they will again next year.
I know many a writer has drawn comparisons between gardening and life or weeds and death/sin, so I won't repeat all those lessons other than to say: I get it now. Life is amazing, in both human and plant form. Growth seems miraculous. Disease and death are always frustrating and, at times, devastating. If you want to spend a summer not only enjoying fresh vegetables, but reflecting on the mystery of life, grow a garden. You'll be amazed, perplexed, frustrated, joyful, hungry, and satisfied, all within the boundaries of a few square feet of land.