Bri Manning

Lessons from the First Summer Gardening

August 20, 2018

We’re most of the way through our first summer gardening and it’s time to start sharing the things we’ve learned.

  1. Zucchini is insane. It grows quickly and prolifically.
  2. Start canning and pickling early. Things don’t keep very long and squash, zucchini, and cucumbers can get overwhelming fast.
  3. Don’t make hops do work. Give your hop plants something obvious and easy to climb up and train it aggressively.
  4. Square foot gardening doesn’t apply to non-dwarf tomato plants. We have four tomato plants that have just taken over the raised bed filled with other herbs, lettuces, and peppers that are staying in their place.
  5. Deer apparently love broccoli and bean sprouts. Most of a row of each was taken down. The beans before we added a fence and the broccoli after.
  6. Cover sunflower seeds in capsaicin before planting. A whole row was quickly lost to the birds.
  7. Weeds are intense. We quickly gave up on the weeds between rows of plantings. We weed whack them occasionally, but it became apparent the real weeding would only happen on the rows themselves. We have two options we’re considering for next year: filling in-between the rows with wood chips or packing rows together and making the in-between sections wide enough for the lawn mower.
  8. Take a week off for planting and setting up the garden. Trying to do it on the weekends or before/after work was tough, especially as it got hotter. I would’ve liked to have the rows and everything set up just after plowing, and then moving onto staggered planting.
  9. Stagger planting more. We’d mostly plant a packet of things all at once. For things like zucchini, this meant we had more zucchini than we needed. We did some staggering, but that was things like doing a packet of lettuce at first and then another a few weeks later. Zucchini, summer squash, and beets could have been done in half-packets.
  10. Don’t worry about thinning rows. We have the extra space and didn’t thin as much as we needed. As a result, some plants were all over each other when we could’ve just started the planting at the thinned density.
  11. Raising rows isn’t quite worth the time. It’s good because it marks where the rows are, but it’s a lot of work that could go into planting and weeding.
  12. Pumpkins seriously spread out.
  13. Caterpillars find blueberry leaves delicious. They devoured them early in the season and only one bush recovered enough to bear some fruit.

Additionally, I think that next year, we’ll try¬†three sisters planting. It’s supposed to be a good and healthy practice and since we plant all three anyway, it’ll be interesting to try it.