What We Would Do Different with Gardening- and what we did right

What We Would Do Different with Gardening- and what we did right

What we would do different with gardening an what we did right. Learn from our mistakes and tell us yours so we can help each other in the gardening journey

There are many different types of gardening, and gardening strategies.  It’s hard to know which one is best for you.  I’m not going to tell you what the best and ONLY way to garden is.  Each family situation is different.  But, I CAN tell you what we would do different with gardening next year.  If you missed, last week I covered top 10 mistakes to NOT make as a beginning gardener.

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What we would do different with gardening

Extend our gardening box to 12 inches.  This year, we built gardening boxes 6 inches deep, per Mel’s Square Foot Gardening.  We felt that the 6 inch deep soil, didn’t allow our roots to grow deep.  Our carrots, weren’t more than 3 inches tall either.  The roots did grow, and we grew plenty of produce, but I feel we would have saved more money by going 12 in deep, and doing this next step.

We would not use Mel’s Mix Soil (1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 compost).  This soil was very expensive and was frustrating running around to many places to get what we needed.  We spent over $80 on just the soil for 2 4 x 4 foot square gardens.  Next year with the deeper 12 inch boxes, we want to try the basic potting soil mix, and put some peat moss and compost into it.  We feel this will still allow us to have a garden with limited weeds, but still allow depth for growth and good water retention in the soil.  The compost will also keep fertilizing the soil.

When planting cilantro, we are going to plant one plant every 2 weeks or so.  This will allow us to continue harvesting throughout the season.  Read about our cilantro mistakes HERE.

We are NOT going to be planting bell peppers.  We’ve planted 6 different plants in 2 years, and all 5 plants have only produced 2 small 2 inch bell peppers.  The other 2 bell peppers we had growing molded right on the plant! (If you know a trick to growing bell peppers, comment and let us know)  This year, out of 3 plants we have gotten zero!  In our opinion, it is definitely not worth the soil, space, and frustrations.

Also, we will NOT be planting carrots.  I feel like they are such a waste.  For us, they have never gotten big.  The few edible sized ones we picked, ended up soft and squishy in a day.  Also, one seed gives you one carrot. Whereas one tomato seed gives you 30+ tomatoes!  Save the space and frustration and buy carrots for 50 cents a pound at the store.

What we did right, and will continue doing

We loved using string to divide up the garden, an example from Mel’s Square Foot Gardening book.  It was easy to see where to plant, and how to space everything.  I like the idea of instead of planting lots of seeds, then pruning and pulling the extra ones out to allow for 12 in space (or whatever you need); just plant a few in one hole in one square foot.

Also, we will defiantly be starting our seeds inside under the growing light again.  This allowed our garden to be a good 1-2 months ahead of those just starting seeds outside.  It was fun to be able to get produce so early.  Also, when our huge hail storm came, our plants were large enough to take the hits and keep on producing (thankfully!).  And, if the frost comes early, we won’t loose all of our produce.

We only planted one tomato plant.  Last year we had 6… I was going crazy with tomatoes!  I gave so many away I was so sick of canning, cutting, and blanching them.  One tomato plant was perfect for our family.  If you are a family that enjoys many tomatoes, then I suggest planting 2.  One large tomato and one cherry or grape tomato for salads and snacking.

We built a green house/cover for our garden for the first month of the season.  This was nice and allowed us to keep the downpour of rain from drowning our little plants.  Also, it blocked it from the various weather extremes we got in the spring/early summer.  Our temperature went from a low of 45 one day to a high of 92 the next!  This allowed us to keep the plants in a contained temperature and allowed them to grow great.  Once our plants got too large, we lifted the cover off and they were big enough to handle the weather conditions

Setting up misters allowed for easy one time watering each morning.  This was nice for be being a busy mom of 3.  There wasn’t wasted water, and I didn’t have to drag a hose around (although that’s therapeutic to some, my 1 year old just loved the mud and it was a disaster for us).

We also loved using ONLY soil.  It was nice to not have to till the ground and mix in soil.  Having pure soil saved us from getting a lot of weeds, and I feel like our plants grew healthier and better with the full nutrients rather than playing it “cheap” and only using dirt and half soil (like we used in our bucket garden).  We felt like it saved us time and energy.  But like I said, next year we’ll be doing a combination of Mels mix and potting soil

In conclusion

There are many lessons we learned and things we would do different with gardening next year.  The best part, is that even though we didn’t like some things, we still got a great harvest.  Growing your own food to use and store is a great way to live frugally and improve your healthy eating strategies.

What did you do right with your garden this year?  Comment below so we can help each other out!

Further Reading:

What to do with FREE or Inexpensive produce

Don’t Make These Gardening Mistakes

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