This year’s garden was a disaster. I started it too late, I started it too small, I had less than marginal soil, I used the wrong plants, and the beds were too wide to comfortably work. Sigh. Time to drop back and punt.
Mistake number one: Wrong soil. I’ve been unemployed since early spring, and couldn’t afford the good bagged stuff, so I started looking around for an alternate solution. Ouila! We have a wooded area at the back of our lot that had scads of good black dirt just waiting to grow some great veggies! Sounds great, right? Wrong. One word: roots. There were roots EVERYWHERE. Every shovelful I pulled out was a battle between myself and the surrounding trees. And, once I had it in the garden, you should have seen some of the strange weeds that came out of that soil, happy to see full sunlight!
Mistake number two: Wrong plants. My mother, who I consider one of the sweetest people to walk the Earth, called one day to tell me that she had lots of volunteer tomato plants in some compost that she had put around a couple of new trees she had planted and that there were WAY more plants than what she could use. Naturally, I headed over there and partook of the bounty of small healthy tomato plant wannabes! I got them home and into the garden where they thrived. The plants were growing like weeds, and super healthy looking and developed TONS of blooms. Those blooms then turned into small one-inch tomatoes. LOTS of one-inch tomatoes. Well, not what I was expecting, but surely they’d be good in a salad or something, right? Nope. Mary tried them and pronounced them bitter. The moral of the story? Buy heirloom tomato plants or grow them from seed that you know. It turns out that these had probably volunteered from the seeds of some hybridized tomato that she had bought at a store and didn’t reproduce like the original.
Mistake number three: Wrong sized beds and too few of them. When I was planning these beds, 3’x6′ sounded like a great size. Not so much. Three feet is a bit large for one row and a bit small for two rows. I realize now that I should have looked for eight-foot pickets to cut down to 4’x8′ beds. To top that off, I found an ad on Craigslist for free strawberry plants that someone was clearing out and pounced on it. One of those beds became an overstuffed strawberry bed, leaving only two for tomatoes and peppers. Oh, and remember me mentioning those strange weeds that hitchhiked along with the soil from the trees? There were LOTS of them. They LOVED being in the sun. They put down DEEP roots. To a person with bad knees (like myself) three feet was a bit of a stretch to pull them all.
Many other mistakes were made, but I think I’ll leave off with those. Lessons learned. And that is what life is all about, right? Lessons learned? 🙂