One thing I have discovered in my first year of designing and growing a vegetable garden…..it is truly a science.
My summer garden has been very successful, surprisingly so, since I knew almost nothing going into this project. I grew from seed cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, bell pepper, lettuce and corn in my main garden beds.
In two oval tin barrels, I grew the herbs again from seed…basil, thyme, rosemary, chives, oregano, and parsley.
Some lessons learned this summer:
- Plant zucchini, in the south, as early as you can (after frost though) – you are almost guaranteed to get vine borer in early July and lose your plants. I almost cried when it happened as my zucchini were in full production and rocked!!! You can also replant late summer but there is still a chance you may loose this to.
- Don’t waste your home garden space with corn. Mine grew great but for the yield it takes up a lot of room.
- Bell peppers, due to the very hot weather here in North Carolina tend to be late summer. Due to the cooler temperatures and the rain this past month, my bell peppers are taking off (they like 86 degrees F or below). I gave them more room once the lettuces finished and I removed the corn.
- You don’t need to grow 40 plants of each vegetable :-). I had extremely high yield from my seeds especially the tomatoes and bell peppers – almost all the seeds produced and I was only expecting about 1/3 to grow….we had some happy friends who now also have plants.
Late in the summer, the other thing we started was our own compost pile. What a great way to reduce on waste, we were already recycling and now this is a perfect compliment and a great learning opportunity for the family.
For my fall garden, which I am hoping to plant this weekend (delayed since I am recovering from surgery) I was able to plan it out much better. For example, did you know that there are companion plants?? These are plants that should be planted with each other as they complement each other and can ward of viruses etc. There are also plants you should never plant with others in your garden. So my plans are to grow the following:
- Replacing the tomatoes with cabbage and spinach
- Replacing the zucchini with broccoli and swiss chard
- And once the bell peppers ripen and finish I will add cauliflower and carrots. The cauliflower I can grow in seed starter trays and then transplant.
I am also expanding the garden to include another small bed. I am thinking of adding more fruits to the garden for next year as my son prefers them to vegetables; strawberries and rhubarb are definite (rhubarb can remain for up to 5 years so I need more room).