So my first year of gardening is halfway done. I’ve had some successes and some absolute failures. I’ve learned a lot this year and it’s not over yet. Time for an update on how things are going…
First up, let’s talk about Tomatoes.
I planted both beefsteak and cherry tomatoes. Everyone I know here in New England has tomatoes in their garden. The thought of fresh tomatoes growing right on my deck makes my mouth water.
I planted beefsteak first and it seems to be doing well. The beefsteak tomatoes only have a few tomatoes, but we still have months of warm weather coming. I am actually sad I don’t have more tomatoes growing. I can see why these are a garcdener’s favorite.
I planted cherry tomatoes in conjunction with cucumbers. I read somewhere that they would get along. Something is growing in the pot, but I’m not confident it is tomatoes.
Next year I will definitely plant more tomatoes.
Broccoli, Cauliflower & Brussel Sprouts
Of all the vegetables, broccoli is my favorite. I planted seeds and waited but …. something went wrong.
The plant grew but then it got really leggy. I accidentally let it go to flower and didn’t prune it back enough. I’m not giving up broccoli, which is why I have another pot growing that I am keeping a closer eye on. I’ll let you know how it goes.
The brussel sprouts I planted are growing like crazy. I feel like maybe I have too much in the pot, but I am really hesitant to thin it out at this point. I really should have been paying this plant closer attention. If I’m honest, I am the only one in my house that enjoys these veggies, which may be why I ignored them.
The cauliflower I planted outside never is even sprouted. Next year I won’t even bother with it. I’ve heard it is fickle and although I love it, I have better things to do than waste resources on something that doesn’t even sprout.
Next year I’ll be more mindful of how broccoli grows and I’ll be planting more brussel sprouts.
Carrots, Onions, & LETTUCE
I got overconfident with my early success with sprouting onions. I mistakenly thought I would have onions for days with all the transplants and outside seeds I planted. I started off with growing onions in three different pots. Unfortunately, all my seedlings grew and didn’t produce a single bulb for me to harvest. I am now way past the harvest date with nothing to show for it.
My onions look so sad I am not even going to share a picture of them.
I still have some hope for my carrots. They aren’t “shouldering” yet, but they look healthy. I might only get some smaller-sized carrots out of this but I think it was worth the effort. We don’t cook with carrots that often so I’m not that upset about this. Any carrots would be good for me.
Lettuce sprouted early and the local squirrels and chipmunks cleared out the pot. This makes me so sad. I like salad a lot so lettuce made the most sense for me to grow and did so well. I’m going to work on setting up a cold frame for next spring so I can get an earlier start.
POtatoes, CORN, & WHEAT
The two crops I have the highest hope for are potatoes and corn.
I decided to use the mulch method for “hilling up” my potatoes and it is working out perfectly. The idea is to not have to dig once I go to harvest. I should be able to find all the potatoes for havest in the mulch, above the ground. I am hoping for a few pounds of potatoes from my little patch. They are tall and looking very healthy.
Corn also got it’s own plot of land. They are growing well and seem tall to me. I am starting to see the pollinators pop out of the tops but no silks yet to pollinate. Hopefully soon we’ll have some sweet corn. Corn is my husband’s absolute favorite so I’ve been extra careful with watering, weeding, and protecting the corn from invasion. Corn is also a chicken favorite so I’m extra grateful to have these in a raised bed.
I can see now that I should have planted more corn and closer together. Thinning them out was really simple and not as much work as I feared.
The wheat I planted is still growing well. I was a bit late fencing it off from my chickens and as a result, I have a nice chicken sized trail of flattened wheat in the bed. I can see now that I won’t get a lot of wheat from my little plot of land. The nice thing is that I can try again in fall on a bigger plot.
Gardening with chickens
The chickens seem to get into everything they aren’t suppose to. They made an easy meal of all the kale, spinach, and bok choy. Those plants had great growth but I didn’t move them onto my gated deck fast enough. They would probably kill my entire garden if I let them. I can’t tell you how many times I had to remove them from my potato piles. They are really just into foraging. I’m lucky that my deck has a gate so there is one seemingly safe place for my pots to sit, as long as people remember to close the gate.
One of the nice things about chickens is that their waste makes great compost. My compost bin is at a steady temp and growing nicely. I am hopeful that I will have come compost for late fall. There are a few things I am looking into starting late summer/fall this year. I have a good sized area covered with cardboard so hopefully the dirt will be easier to plant in.
Gardening has taught me a few hard lessons this year about animals. I’m looking into investing in a greenhouse to help keep chickens and other little thieves off my plants.
The best thing about gardening, other than the fact that it gets me out everyday, is that I have been able to transform my bland little backyard into something that is producing. I have a nice collection of herbs growing. It has been really satisfying to add fresh herbs to my cooking. I have been experimenting with drying and storage so I should have some of my favorite fresh herbs throughout the winter.
Between the chickens and the gardening, I go outside a few times a day to check, water, weed, clean out, collect eggs, and give treats. My only regret for my garden is not starting sooner!