Lessons from the Garden

My First Garden

If you’re a regular reader, you may remember the trouble I went through to create my first garden this spring. As stated in the mid-May column, I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. My sister was questioning me and the garden’s cost quickly quadrupled the allotted budget. Even the dog crushed my dreams by pummeling my pre-garden greenhouse.

Now, two months later, the garden has made amazing progress and I must say I’ve learned quite a bit.

12 things learned from my first year garden
1.) The garden continually evolves. One day a tiny pepper is noticed. Suddenly a tomato is huge! The next day a few squash have begun to flower. Enough beans and peas grow to provide a healthy snack each day. This little circle of heaven is far more exciting than I ever imagined. You’d think?I expected to wait all summer for a single bean to grow.

2.) Six tomato plants and two rows of seeded tomatoes might be too much for one person. These plants are going to take off in the next few weeks, producing buckets of tomatoes. I’ll be spending some vacation time making salsa and may need to try my hand at bartering.

3.) Gardening is a terrific reason to be outside. Surely there are hundreds of types of exercise a person can get outside. There are also a lot of places you can plop down, relax and indulge yourself. But spending an evening doing some upkeep on the garden is not only relaxing; it’s a true mood booster. You may not believe it to be true until you’re out there picking weeds, watering the ground and smiling as you watch your creation grow.

4.) Prioritizing is important, as is making sacrifices. I recently learned that by picking some buds or pulling some plants, bigger vegetables can be produced. Although I’m lessening my crop, it’s understandable that 30 big tomatoes are better than 65 dinky ones.

5.) Everything tastes so fresh! I could eat those crunchy peas all day long! My gardening teacher/boyfriend asked whether I expected to still enjoy beans and peas at the end of the summer. What a dumb question (although he has yet to be wrong).

6.) Don’t feel sorry for birds that can’t fly and take shelter in your strawberry patch. Maybe if he stopped eating so much of my garden, he’d be able to get off the ground!

7.) Day lilies will ruin you. Apparently the section planted in the middle is going to take over the garden, which is disheartening and I sort of wish?I knew this previous to planting.

8.) Plants need their space. Five squash in a three foot diameter is too close together.

9.) Be willing to try some new recipes. What am?I going to do with two thick rows of onions!? Get creative!

10.) Remember you don’t need to depend on the grocery store as much. Call me stupid, but when you’re used to buying vegetables, you’re used to buying vegetables! I’m ecstatic that purchasing produce will hardly be necessary for the rest of the summer.

11.) You can go organic. So far, I’ve used no chemicals and things are growing perfectly. Although there may have been added fertilizers in some of the soil I used, I don’t plan on adding anything of the sort in future gardening years. In fact, I began a compost early this spring that apparently is going to do wonders for the garden next year.

12.) They’re not lying. Composts really do have a foul smell. Really.

Shootin’ the Wit is a column about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.

7 thoughts on “Lessons from the Garden

  1. That is sure a nice looking garden you got there. I was wondering how big is it and what plants do you have?

    • The first year, NO! Getthing things set up — especially if you need to purchase your dirt or wish to have a nice set-up — can get rather expensive. In my case, I spent well over $300 in bricks, soil (I even had a friend bring a few truckloads from his farm), tressels, and of course the plants themselves. I do think the garden will pay for itself over time. If not, it has paid for itself in excitement and enjoyment!

  2. Very cute design! I have short white fencing just like that around my strawberry plant. Still all of my berries got eaten by something and now the plant is withering. I have a taller fence around my garden and those plants (tomatoes and peppers) have been fine. Have you had any trouble with animals jumping your white fence?

    • Tiffany -

      I was great meeting you yesterday. Happy to see you found the blog. Thanks for reading!

      Something is eating my strawberries too!! It has to be either birds or bugs, but I haven’t figured it out. Either way, it’s very irritating! I haven’t seen any animals jumping the fence — everything is growing just fine besides the strawberries. Let me know if you find a solution. I’ve heard suggestions of hanging a string of CD’s across the garden or putting a tin can on a stick to scare away birds. A chemical is likely necessary to halt the bugs (not a fan). How long have you been gardening?

      • I spotted several caterpillars around my strawberry plant a month ago. I’m not sure if the caterpillars would eat the strawberries; according to my sources, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” they might have eaten the berries. Otherwise they could have attracted birds to the area. I thought my plant died, but I spotted a flower on the plant yesterday for the first time in weeks. I haven’t figured out a solution for the eaten berries since my plant is so small that it’s not really worth the effort this year. Have you seen caterpillars around your plant?

        I have always been trapped in apartments and unable to garden. I had several container plants last summer that weren’t very productive. This is the first season I have had a place to put plants in the ground. I’m planning to build a raised garden bed next year.

  3. On number four… I’m slowing accepting the idea of cutting back to produce more. I still haven’t applied this lesson to my carrots, which come out of the ground in some incredibly interesting malformations. I pick my favorite to show off to my family… can you believe this thing?! I’d love to share with you my recent thoughts from the garden.
    although they don’t have much to do with gardening, your post makes me think it’s as therapeutic for you as it is for me http://mynewdirection.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/serenity-straight-from-the-hose/

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