Heading into our second year of gardening, Mr. GI and I have been talking about some lessons we learned after our first year.
- Don't sow eight okra plants unless you have LOTS of friends and families who reeaaaalllllly love okra.
- Happy bees = happy squash. Our poor squash only put out a few tiny little fruit last year. It turns out that there's a short window each morning when the female flowers can be pollinated by male flowers, and if you don't have happy bees around to do that pollinating each morning, you don't end up with any squash! This year we're giving it another go, but planting some flowers close by to see if that attracts some bees. The last resort is to try hand pollinating. We also ended up with powdery mildew last year-- more about that in a bit.
- Mulch! Last year we only mulched around each plant to help with weed control and water retention, but this time around we're also mulching the aisles to clean up the whole look.
- Planting radish in the summer. Radish is definitely a cool weather plant, and if planted in the hot summer it will peace out. Last year we didn't do very well about planning a fall/winter garden, but I'm definitely wanting some carrots, lettuce, and other cool weather goodies.
- Our tomatoes last year went crazy. We got the plants from my sister, who threw a tomato in her backyard and ended up with plenty of volunteer seedlings to share. We sowed the plants underneath our clothesline so it would be easy to stake them up, and it worked pretty well last time. So far we've had at least three volunteer plants from last year's tomatoes. Looking forward to some tomato sandwiches again this summer!
So, with those things in mind, here's what we've planted this year:
- Tomatoes: so far Celebrity and Beefmaster, plus three volunteer plants from last year's tomatoes. The Celebrity came from a plant sale, and I lovingly raised the Beefmaster from seeds inside the house. [I doubt I'll do that again next year-- too much work for not enough pay off!]
- Bell peppers
We're growing everything from seed with the exception of the oregano and one tomato plant, which came from the same local plant sale.
Mr. GI and my step-dad tilling the garden in early April.
We had been working on our compost for well over a year, so this was our chance to use it! So far we've had a few volunteer plants sprout up from the compost, and I can't wait to see what they are (probably a lot of pumpkins from our pumpkin carving party last fall...).
Last year our squash was stricken with powdery mildew, probably because I didn't water correctly. This year we're trying soaker hoses instead, which we installed just before sowing our seeds. And it looks like we'll have to water a lot; we've only had one good rain since planting, and we're supposedly in another drought.
I'm taking a picture each week to track the progress of our garden. I'm surprised at how much everything has grown just in the first few weeks!
How does your garden grow? Do you have big plans this year for lots of veggies? Will you try canning or freezing the crop you get? We bought canning supplies last year but never got enough all at once to can.