Gardening is one of those hobbies that can benefit from some reading and learning, but mostly there is only one way to become a better gardener. Don’t think just grow. Each yard is different. Each growing season is different. Trying to learn all the variables and plan for them before you start won’t be possible. You have to put the seeds in the ground, trust nature, and learn from your mistakes.
We moved into our house almost 3 summers ago and from the beginning, I wanted a garden. With a lot of things, I am a meticulous planner and I guess in some ways I still was with this, but largely I have been winging it for three summers. Luckily, it has been enough successes to keep me going. My stubbornness might also be helping me in this pursuit.
Our first summer
I spent an entire day photographing all areas of the yard roughly every hour. I had to know what was a sunny spot and what was more shade and for how many hours. Simple research that if not done would have made growing exponentially harder. After that, I had a plan concocted about where everything would eventually go. A few days later it was drawn roughly on graph paper! The planning and progress on the garden kind of stopped after that. Then came fall and we piled a bunch of leaves and dirt in the area and waited over the winter for mother nature to do her thing and make great soil
Our second summer
We dug up the area turned it over and planted some leftover zucchini seeds. Those seeds were the extent of my research. I could have tested the soil but figured lets put in some seeds and just see if they grow. Grow they did. The big lesson that summer is squash plants thrive just about anywhere. I also couldn’t keep the weeds at bay, not that the squash seemed to really mind. The plants didn’t even mind when Olive ripped off full leaves. Turns out my dog enjoys picking flowers and destroying plants. In the fall we added more leaves and counted on some more nature.
Our third summer
We gave it a little more this summer even got a little compost to mix into the soil and built a little fence to keep Olive out. I started my own tomato plants, drew everything on graph paper and once it was in the ground watched to see what would happen. I still have a horrible case of weeds! Those weeds need a much better solution for next year. I didn’t water enough and the size of my fruit suffered a little. Not the zucchini of course. That was and continues to be prolific. My little tomato starts produced all kinds of fruit and the squirrels seemed to enjoy their share as well. I enjoyed looking at the scarlet runner beans. Still have no idea how to cook them, but they look beautiful and the hummingbirds visited frequently.
I have big plans for next year! We are going to start by laying cardboard over the entire garden area, including the expansion we are planning. This should kill the weeds. Hopefully once and for all or at the very least to a manageable level. The cardboard should also break down quite a bit and create a very friendly place for earthworms which will improve the soil even more. Depending on the budget I would love to use some good compost soil to the garden to give it an even better nutrient boost. Maybe I will even finally test the soil. We are also hoping to add a second garden in the front of the house. We have a lot of shade so I take the sunny spots wherever I can get them. Big plans are how I roll. I usually get put in my place with time and money constraints, but I dream a good game. We will have to wait until next spring to see how far I get.