Currently sitting on my comfy couch, wrapped up in the softest blanket, with a hot cup of my favorite coffee admiring the fall weather this morning! Oh, and I can hear my rooster confirming that it is indeed, time to wake up. Seriously, it is still technically August, but it feels like fall already…and I LOVE IT! This also means that my gardening season will be coming to an end shortly…
This is our third year of gardening at our house and this year it was all on me while my husband was gone for training/state activation the majority of the summer. In just a couple years we have learned so much! We have had so much success and of course with every trial and error, we have had our failures. But that’s how we learn!
This year I planted our garden to follow the same layout as last year as it worked out perfectly and we had plenty of room for those insane vine plants. Plus having dill and tomatoes that come back every year, it helps to follow the same layout so they aren’t popping up somewhere you don’t want. For our layout we have a walking isle down the middle to have better access to all of the produce. In the front of the garden I plant our onions, potatoes, lettuce, jalapenos, peppers, and tomatoes. The dill comes back every year in the same spot in the front as well. Then I move back to the zucchini, green beans, and sugar snap peas. Then we get into the vine plants, ie. cucumbers, and squash! Then I end our garden with sweet corn to fill in! This year I also planted a little herb garden on our deck and I loved it! But that will be a topic for another day 🙂
- Fertilizing? Well, we did our first year…but we haven’t since then. And to be honest, we have amazing soil and haven’t had to worry about it. If you’re unsure if you should or not, get a soil sample done! It’s super easy and some places will even come out and do it for you.
- Wait to plant until the ground is warm, around 65 degree Fahrenheit. Some seeds are more hardier than others and can tolerate the cooler temperatures, but a safe bet is waiting. I figure if I have my garden planted and ready by the first week in June at the latest, we are good to go! Mid the late May is usually a good time in Minnesota.
- When planting zucchini, plant the recommended amount of seeds and then when the plants come up, cut back to just one plant per hill. Otherwise, you’ll have more zucchini then you know what to do with! Currently, we have only 1 producing zucchini plant and it provides plenty for us and enough to share as well!
- Along with zucchini, spaghetti squash is another one of those plants that will take over your garden and you’ll have enough squash to feed your neighborhood. I had one plant come up, and it still covers 1/4 of my garden!! And that’s still after I trimmed it back!
- Speaking of trimming, you can trim/cut back your vegetables without hurting them! I try to pull the vines out by hand so they break naturally at the weak points and that way the plant is put through less stress. I will use a set of hardy scissors too for the extra prickly plants. The rule of thumb is to never trim or prune back more than 25% of the foliage. This is the ensure you still receive produce.
- When the recommended amount of space between rows says 4-6 feet, do the 6 feet. I’ve learned this the hard way. Our first year gardening we were so excited that we planted so much! Since we had so many different seeds to plant, we didn’t have the amount of space we needed for the vine plants. So that caused some tangled mess.
- Weeds. Ugh, mother natures way of keeping us all grounded. Literally. I will get on my hands and knees in my garden and pulls weeds till my sweat runs from my brow down to the backs of my knees. I hate weeds. I wish there was an all natural way of killing them, without killing my garden as well that would actually work. But I have yet to find something that works really well. So if you know of anything, please share!! The beginning of the season my garden was great! I was able to keep up with the weeds and it looked amazing. Well to be honest, right now…it looks like I may be growing more weeds than sweet corn on the end of the garden. Hopefully after today it will look better! One thing that will make it easier is leaving enough room between the rows to get a garden tiller through them to help with those weeds that get out of control.
- Deer problems…I’ve heard all of the “remedies” but to be honest, I feel like a good ole fashioned 6 or 8 foot fence will need to be on the docket for a future project to keep them away (Sorry Brett). I have spent many mornings running out in my yard in my pajamas clapping my hands and yelling at them to get out of my garden while they stare at my like I am some crazy woman! I didn’t get any sugar snap peas this year thanks to the deer and their love of pulling them straight out of the ground. Raegan was not happy about that. Those tend to be her favorite garden snack.
- Harvest. Get out and check your garden at least once every other day. If you’re like me and have a busy schedule/life. Sometimes that doesn’t happen. Do the best you can! I’ve noticed that after a good rain and a decently warm day, overnight we have produce! So I try to keep an eye on it so we don’t end up with a lot of “wasted” vegetables. Over here we have goats and chickens that take care of the veggies we don’t want to necessarily eat or cook with. I feel like zucchini’s and cucumbers grow double overnight sometimes and you go from “oh lets leave it and check tomorrow” to “well that’s big enough to feed the next town over” and it gets tossed in the goat pen or tossed in our “composting” pile.
- Enjoy. I’m serious! Taking time to walk through the garden barefoot at the end of a long day really helps ground me and help me give more gratitude for what has been provided for us. I take that time to remind myself how lucky we are to have this garden to provide healthy and clean food for our family and even our friends. Let’s be real. If you know us, there is a chance I have sent some veggies home with you already or I’ve sent you a message asking to PLEASE come and take!
Obviously, I am not a pro…and never will be! But I love sharing what I’ve learned by my mistakes and my own research. I hope this helps people with their future garden endeavors! Thanks for reading, if you need me, I’ll be waist deep in weeds today!
ps check back later for some of our favorite recipes using veggies right in our very own garden!