What did you learn this year?

Karyn Pennington
Karyn Pennington Posts: 71 ✭✭✭

For some of us the gardening season is starting to slow down. Yet, I realize others still have many months to go. I find that every year there's 1-2 things that stick out for me that I learned. Something I did this year that I didn't do last year or something someone shared that I tried.

This year I tried burying some compost -- I dug a trench and planted sweet potatoes on either side of it. I don't know (yet) how the sweet potatoes underground are doing, but the vines are EVERYWHERE! I think it was successful. Time will tell. Praying for a late frost so they can continue in my short season climate.

However, I also dug a pit and then planted winter squash directly on top of it -- I'm thinking that may have been too soon and/or too close (the trench was about 8-10 inches away from the sweet potato slips). I literally, dug, dumped, threw the dirt back and planted winter squash. The vine spread like crazy but every fruit grew to about softball size and fell off the vine. I've never had this happen before and I'm thinking maybe too much nitrogen and the plants just kept spreading but the fruit couldn't sustain itself. I will plant in the same spot next year and see what happens.

Finally, I experimented with bio-char -- I collected and then charged with compost tea and then mixed with compost. Yesterday, I spread it all on the front lawn (which has been quite neglected as I've focused on gardens and beds). As soon as I was done we got a light rain, so I'm hoping in a few weeks my lawn will revive.


  • VickiP
    VickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    My husband and I have very different gardening styles and I either discovered or decided that I need to assert myself a bit more. I planted pole beans for the first time in my life ( I always met resistance before) along a fence and they were the star of the garden. Beautiful, productive and easy to harvest. Now that it has cooled off they are ramping up for another crop, I am excited! Just for reference it was Noodle beans and Red Runner beans. Just a short row of each. I still have a good six to eight weeks of frost free weather and possibly more but we put pigs in the garden the end of October to clean it up and it is fenced for them, so I need other arrangements for the fall garden, this year I am going to try fifteen gallon grow bags, I'll see how that goes. You are right, always learning, always an experiment.

  • birderrose
    birderrose Posts: 9 ✭✭✭

    We moved here to SE Arizona last fall. The ground is very rocky so I made raised beds and containers for my garden. Some things did real good and others died off. The late summer has brought loads of grasshoppers so I am now fighting with them to save my garden. One of my main problems has been my squash. I've planted several differnt kinds, including zucchini, and have not got 1 piece of fruit from them. We have loads of bees to pollinate and I have even used a tool made for pollinating, but can't seem to get anything. I do have 1 watermelon coming on and I hope it makes it. Anyone have any suggestions?

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @birderrose When I gardened in Las Vegas I had to pollinate my squashes myself by grabbing a male flower and moving it around the female flowers. Bees were not active enough in the heat and sun to take care of it.

    I planted a birdhouse gourd once. All I wanted was one successful gourd and I would have been happy, so I just put the seeds in a wierd area of my backyard. Amazing! I got a plant in a fairly shaded part of the yard and ended up with at least a dozen of the gourds because the bees were able to do the pollinating for me.

    Once I planted tomato plants between my roses which were against the south block wall of my property. You would expect the area to be hot with the sun heating the other side of the block wall, but was shaded by afternoon. I got my best tomato crop ever in that location: the fruits were large with few skin cracks and the plants didn't get crispy during the worst of summer. That only worked once though because the roses were too big the following year.

    Maybe my Las Vegas experiences will give you clues to help your situation.

  • ines871
    ines871 Posts: 1,283 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2019

    All so well said @Obiora E

    And especially re 'Abundance is Far more than material'. This is a blessing I was 1st. shown as a tiny tot, & it has made all the difference.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,318 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I tried the vermiculture trenches this year in 2 of my beds. My plants grew so well that I'm going to try it again next year. One thing I learned though is not to put extra scobys (from my kombucha making) in my trenches. I had ants like crazy!! I'm sure it was the scobys b/c I've given pieces of them to my house plants before and had a huge ant farm in one of my plants.

    I've also learned that no matter how hard I try with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and neem oil blight in the end won. My tomato plants lasted a lot longer this year that in the past but not as long as I'd like since we could have warm weather here until October.

    I also learned never to grow any type of greens here in the summer. Winter is the best!

  • Jannajo
    Jannajo Posts: 173 ✭✭✭

    Compost can mean, all kitchen scraps, covering w dirt...no plant root must touch such compost, it will wither (as did my carrotts this year- h peroxide w water 1:1 I believe, will clean up the root.

  • pamelamackenzie
    pamelamackenzie Posts: 143 ✭✭✭

    I am learning a lot about backyard chickens thanks to the excellent Backyard Chickens for egg production course here. So much easier to watch videos and read one chapter at a time than reading just my books.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,585 admin

    This may be TMI. Well, actually I am SURE this is TMI...

    But hey, I love experimenting with all kinds of stuff.

    I learned that my household creates a good ratio ⚖️of greens and browns for compost when I:

    • have a bucket by the toilet to collect only the used paper (instead of flushing the paper down the toilet), that is the 'browns' 🧻
    • and combine it with the vegetable scraps from preparing meals, these are the 'greens'. 🥬

    This ratio seems to hold out pretty well with the ebb and flow of people I've been having over. The toilet paper seems to match the amount of vegetable scraps from 1 person up to 6 (I haven't had more than that yet).

    I am working to reduce my household waste stream - direct as much as possible away from the landfill (and in this case, the sewer).

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I learned this year that I have a lot of food sensitivities. I went on the Gundry diet first and noticed that I had a lot less headaches, allergic episodes and my skin cleared up. (It really sucks to have pimples AND wrinkles!)

    I then watched a bunch of health summits and realized that I need to eat some lectins because plants have so many other healthy chemicals to help keep me healthy.

    Sourdough bread is my primary bread source now, although I eat other breads at restaurants and the homes of others.

    Bad news for me: my beloved tomatoes cause my arthritis to flare up terribly. No more tomato plants for me -- all nightshades are now on my limited list. I only eat small amounts of them at a time. I consume chili peppers the most.

    I was raised in Wisconsin; I love my cheese. Cheese is also an arthritis trigger, so I don't go crazy anymore.

    I don't miss my diet soda at all. I can't believe that I took the "medical" reassurances for diet sweeteners as the truth. Stevia sweetens the gallons of tea that I drink.

    Sigh. I am enjoying the addition of many more vegetables and herbs to my diet, so overall I am ahead of the game.

  • Leslie Carl
    Leslie Carl Posts: 255 ✭✭✭✭

    I now live on the eastern coast where it is hot and humid, so I have to battle not just lots of insects but fungal and bacterial disease as well. Totally different from when I was living out west where it was cooler and drier. Huge learning curve, so definitely learning a lot in the 2 years we've been here. Each year has added new challenges and I'm having to learn what works and what doesn't.

    I have learned that if I catch problems in the garden early enough, before they get too bad, I can usually overcome them. The challenge has been being able to recognize the warning signs in time. So, I'm also learning what signs to watch out for and when I know what I am looking for, it makes a big difference. Experience has been a good teacher.

    So far, neem oil has helped conquer bacterial disease (blight) if I catch it early and has seemed to have diminished the squash bugs. Not sure if it is affecting the grasshoppers, there's just so many of them, so I'm going to try NOLO in the spring, which I learned about here in the Forum. Surround WP (kaolin clay) has worked nicely on my fruit trees, grapes, and kiwis, keeping bugs off and mitigating disease. It even camouflaged my grapes so the birds didn't eat them! 😊 Nematodes that I applied last year seem to have greatly reduced the japanese beetle population. Woo Hoo!

    So, I'm slowly creating a list of "Organic Things that Work" and putting them into a survival kit for the garden and creating a schedule for when to apply them.

  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    I learned that I need to stop trying grow so many varieties of veggies and really get to know one or two at a time. With all the fertilizer and water differences I don’t keep up properly and get only mediocre results.

    Im really good at flowers and herbs but I need to have a better relationship with the veggie. I’m starting perennials, this way we have some time together.

    Now if I can just stay out of the seed catalog come December!

  • Karyn Pennington
    Karyn Pennington Posts: 71 ✭✭✭

    @herbantherapy Oh, I agree -- I've tried for 3 years to be successful with broccoli, cabbage and such and I have not succeeded. But, onions, garlic, tomatoes and herbs, Bam! got those down. I already know that next year's garden needs to be scaled down because of some schooling, so I plan to focus on what I know I can do -- my perennial fruit (strawberries, blueberries, grapes, nectarine, pear and apple trees) and my garlic, onions, carrots and herbs and probably just paste tomatoes with maybe 1-2 Tommy Toes or a nice slicer. I'll get my cabbage and spaghetti squash (and other squash) from the Farmer's Market. But those seed catalogs -- sitting on the couch with a blankie ❄️☃️❄️ -- Ya, they're hard to resist and the mind can be SO optimistic!

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This is the year that I learned to see herbs as medicine. I took all three TGN herb classes and enjoyed them. Now I am "practicing" on myself and my husband to reinforce the knowledge.

  • csinclair461
    csinclair461 Posts: 159 ✭✭✭

    This year I learned that my yard, left to its own devices, provides me with a nice variety of greens and medicinal herbs, without me putting any effort into it other than to gather it. I have let my ‘weeds’ grow for several years now, studying them, watching them, identifying and getting to know them. Six years ago, I only could barely identify a dandelion (I say barely because I erroneously would call lump dandelion lookalikes in as well).

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,500 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I learned that I can plant and grow a dwarf fruit tree to produce fruit in 3 years!

    I learned that I run out of steam in the heat of the summer here in Idaho! I will have to start early on my new ideas in the spring, and know when to quit the heavy work until fall.

    I learned that I can grow herbs pretty well, but could not get rhubarb to grow - I planted 2 starts from Stark Brothers, but neither one came up. Others grow wonderful rhubarb here, so may try begging for a start of an established plant from a neighbor.