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Advice for Guaranteed Garden Growth
Hey frenns! It has been about 2 months’ worth of gardening and I’m just now speaking to you (hold your daggers)! It has been a wonderful and fulfilling gardening season. And I have so many growth lessons and advice for your garden growth.
I always approach the gardening season with so much excitement. I have lessons that I have learned in previous years to use in the new year and I like to see the effect that the season has on my gardening plans.
This year I planted the following:
- Tomato (6 different varieties)
- Cucumbers (yes pickles are coming!)
- Kale Greens
- Collard Greens
- Mustard Greens
- Purple Cabbage
- Spring Lettuce
- Grapes (came back)
- Jalapeno (in pots)
- Green Peppers (In pots)
- Summer Squash
- Large and Small Pumpkin
- Sweet Peppers (in pots)
- Purple onions (in pots)
- White potatoes (in pots)
- Green beans
- Purple Basil
- Regular Basil
- Lemon Balm
You’ll know this is standard for me if you’ve been around. I usually plant a LOT of items. I often don’t even realize how much I have until they all grow large and I assess it. Yes, it is a lot- but that’s my business (Tabitha brown voice).
Despite this being my 6th year gardening, I am STILL learning. Even after all of this time there is so much that I did not know. And usually, in the garden, learning happens in the middle of the season.
So I’ll start sharing my lessons learned below:
- SUN IS GOOD! Ok, this seems like such an obvious thing to know. But this year, I’ve seen it in real-time. I have had 2 large trees in my garden for the past several years. I did not think they gave that much shade, but apparently- they did. My main bed got anywhere from 6-7 hours of sunlight daily. Now? With the trees gone, my vegetables are getting sunlight THE ENTIRE DAY. No shadows. My garden is growing at an exponential rate. I’m certain this is because they are getting full sun. This is not to discourage those of you who have gardens with shade- there can be growth. But full sun is good for a vegetable garden.
- Daily Watering is almost mandatory, and hand watering is best. In the past, I have been really lazy with my watering schedule. I didn’t find it as vital as I now realize it is. My garden got a lot of shade in previous years, so it did not dry out as quickly. Now with the shade gone, I have to water my garden daily. I use my hand sprinkler and directly give the roots water. Again, a little lazy me, but I used the sprinkler in the past. Judge your ma. For years, I knew this method wasn’t ideal, but it had worked. But really not as good. I would often get mildew on the leaves and there was so much inconsistent watering. But now that I water almost daily- by hand- precisely at the roots- my vegetables love it. I am incredibly thankful for the growth and even more so for the rain. When it rains- it gives me a break. Otherwise, I’m out there watering my plant babies.
- Okra is better in the pot. This is my least favorite lesson. Every year for the ancestors- I plant okra. Last year I had so much okra growth. Why? Because I potted it. This year, I completely forgot and put the okra in the main bed. Hardly any growth. So count this as my lesson and yours- pot the okra!
- Fertilize more often than once per week for some vegetables. My usual recommendation is once per week. I do self-care Sunday for myself, so I use the turn of the week as my reminder to fertilize my vegetable babies. This year was “my year” for watermelon. I am hyper-focused on making them successful. So I decided to fertilize them every three (3) days. I used blood meal (nitrogen- which watermelon love). Between the constant water, fertilizer, and sun, my watermelon fruit are growing like never before.
- Weeding is a constant task. Ok. I’ll fess up, lol; I knew this. But the more you fertilize your garden- the quicker the weeds grow. Once per week isn’t going to get it. The weeds have gotten away from me a bit this summer, but when I was on top of it- I was weeding on Wednesdays (W for weeding- yes, I’m a nerd).
You can reuse dirt. Maybe the rest of you know this but I buy dirt and other soil amendments yearly. I learned I could preserve my soil by covering it with leaf clippings. It maintains the ground underneath through the winter months. In my defense, I usually cover my bed with lawn cover to protect it from the harsh elements of Chicago winter. Now, I’m going to cover it with leaves. That will save me on dirt costs. I also plan to mulch. I haven’t mulched it because my gardening budget just doesn’t have the room for it. Now with the money I’ll be saving without buying dirt- I intend to buy mulch.
What are some lessons you have learned this gardening season?
Let me know below.
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And check out the video of The Harvey Garden 2022 so far.
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