I’m procrastinating indoor chores I should be accomplishing, so I thought I’d share some wisdom I’ve picked up through my (mis)adventures in July and August:
1. Plant Peas Earlier
I planted my peas in the end of June, when I finally found the time to hand till the earth in the pea row (see #2). I think I planted them properly but because it was late in their growing season, they just never really grew. First, the plants were being chomped by something, possibly the neighborhood woodchuck, so I tried sprinkling with pepper. Then I was away for a week and when I got home I found the row full of weeds. Interestingly, I also discovered that the plants were finally flowering. I let the weeds be thinking perhaps they were helping protect the pea plants from the woodchuck, but they never really grew into peas. I finally gave up, pulled the plants and the weeds and will plant some greens this weekend for a fall harvest.
2. Jury’s Out on Hand Tilling
Since I had to commit so many extra hours to prep the soil by hand before I was even ready to plant seeds, I ended up planting many of my veggies later than I “should” have. By the time I finally got a row prepped, I found I was EXHAUSTED and wasn’t really able to accomplish more than one row at a time. I think if I prep the soil with a tiller I will be able to get more plants in the ground earlier in the season and have a better chance of growing more of them.
3. Pick the Potato Bugs
I DID pick some potato bugs and got rid of their nasty orange eggs but I didn’t do it often enough this summer. If I’m more vigilant about it next year I think my potato plants will be much happier.
4. Space Out the Rows
I did a reasonable job planting rows far enough apart, but because I raised the beds a bit, when some of my plants started growing and overflowing their row boundaries, I had a tough time wiggling between the rows. Also, because I planted my summer squash and zucchini plants before my butternut squash (backwards, yes I know) the butternut plants were dwarfed by the other plants. I planned my rows, but not carefully enough 🙂
5. Plant Cukes Earlier
I planted my cukes a couple weeks ago, thinking I might have some luck as summer cools into fall. Some of my slicing cukes plants are still growing (though I have no idea if they will form any veggies) but the pickling cukes were a bust. Next year I’ll plant them for the beginning of the summer instead and hope for a better crop.
6. Plant Herbs in Pots
One of my coworkers grew her tomato plants in large pots on her deck and planted a huge pot of basil next to them – it smelled pretty amazing when everything started to ripen in late July. I’m very excited about the idea of growing my herbs in huge pots next summer – in particular so I don’t have to worry about them spreading throughout my entire garden plot (and beyond).
7. Better Tomato Supports
I hate the metal tomato cages (especially when it comes time to pull up the plants) so I decided to use some stakes and tie the tomato plants to them rather than using the cages. This worked great until my plants started forming tomatoes and then they were just too heavy for the stakes. I think if I still don’t want to use the cages next year I need to do a better job thinking outside the box for tomato supports.
8. Weed the Flowers
It’s hard to weed flowers, especially when you don’t know exactly what the flowers look like before they flower. I left more of the weeds as they were in my flower bed because I just wasn’t sure which plants were weeds and which were the growing flowers. They still did ok (some of my bulbs didn’t grow, but it might not have been hot enough for them this summer), but I think they would have been happier with more weeding.
9. Learn about House Plants
My house plants, particularly my aloe and spider plants, are very unhappy. I put them out on my porch where they could benefit from the sunshine and rain this summer and they’re still unhappy. I don’t know what I might have done wrong. My mom has an ENORMOUS aloe plant that is super happy – I’ll see what she does so I can make my plants happier.
10. Keep the Garlic Weeded
My garlic plants did very well this year considering I have never grown garlic before, but I think they would have done better if I had kept them weeded better. They were planted next to the asparagus bed so I was a little nervous about disrupting potential asparagus plants chilling under the soil, but next year I need to keep up with the weeding regardless!