This was the first year I had my own garden. I only had one raised bed plot but it was a wonderful experience. Already, in anticipation of next year, I have built the second one and am looking forward to getting started.
However, I thought I would take some time to write this post so I can build on all I learned and do even better next year. It is quite timely since today I packed everything up in the yard and will let it all fall into winter chaos until spring. Here are some key notes for me to look back on in 2016:
- Soil-I used a mix of mushroom manure and potting soil and it seemed to work well. I think quite a bit of organic matter is important. I started making compost which I can mix into the plots for next year. This also saves me quite a bit of money as I will have much less soil that I need to purchase.
- Compost-I started making this near the end of summer when I dug up a new plot. Compost is great and I will have to keep up with it. Will need a spot somewhere for this purpose.
- Seedlings-This year I did them April 1st but that was way too late! Next year I will start in February and grow them inside until April. I learned a friend works at a famous local seed company and she has offered to give me seeds for free.
- Tomatoes-tomato plants produce a heck of a lot of tomatoes per plant! This year I had way too much so next year I will only go for 4. Also, definitely need tomato cages to help them grow upwards. Will plant them in the new narrow garden bed. If possible I will go for 2 yellow tomato plants and 2 red ones.
- Cucumbers-This year they were out of control and took over way too much of the garden bed. Next year I will grow them upward. 3 plants should be good enough.
- Strawberries-I planted strawberries near the end of summer. They are a hardy version that should be okay over winter. If they are, I may get more and do a small row of them. Also, these ones need to be picked quickly when ripe before other things eat them!
- Plants for next year-Several of my plants were taken over by the cucumbers or just did not work out so the variety in my garden was limited. I also realize I just need to plant what we actually want to eat and not just whatever seemed liked a good idea (ie dill). Next year I want to plant the following: tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, green onions, and pumpkins.
Herbs-I had a lot of dill this year but realize I do not need all that much! The other things were okay though. Next year I will plant basil, cilantro, fenugreek, oregano, and chives
- Other stuff-Things I want to try out for next year will include planting sunflowers, making more compost, and deciding how else the overall space can be used. I have also been researching keeping ducks but not sure if this is the way to go.
- Flowers-I planted flowers along the sidewalk by my house this past year. These included many flowering perennials which attracted butterflies. However, some cement was added to expand the sidewalk and now it all looks a bit odd. I also had a rock border along the flowers but it seems as if it is not holding up very well and may have to be removed. Grass is also constantly needing to be weeded out which is a total pain. I have to decide what to do with this area. This autumn I also planted some hyacinth bulbs in this area which I hope will grow early in the spring. If so, the are one of my favorite flowers and I will plant many many more!
- Trees-Currently we have a pear tree, a cherry tree, and a plum tree. Only the pear tree produced fruit (a whole bunch!) but we will see how next year goes. My understanding is that some trees need a partner or they will never produce fruit. We will see. Anyway, I fertilized them in September and the plan may be to add an apple tree next year.
These are the things that come to mind so far but am sure there are many other things I will come up with. My gardening magazines are a big help and give me all kinds of new ideas. My backyard is very large and under-utilized so there is definitely quite a bit of room for new projects. I just do not want to make a mess of the space so am trying to take it slow and plan ahead. I also like doing most of the work myself (with some help from the husband).
It was great to look at all these bright vibrant photos from the spring and summer and am sure this post will come in handy in a few months! For now, winter can take over!