What Did You Learn This Year From Your Garden?



  • Beth
    Beth Posts: 4 ✭✭✭

    I identified all the weeds in my yard except three. All the ones I identified were edible and/or medicinal. This summer I ate salsify, harvested seeds from amaranth and lamb's quarters (Just ate the leave before), harvested all parts of common mallow for food and as a demulcent, ate young sow thistle leaves and the flower buds.

    I learned that cool season seeds will germinate in warmer weather that I thought. We had an unusual heat wave late in the season. The nights were cool though, and I'm sure that helped.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,613 admin

    I learned that I really really miss having a flock of chickens and good farms dogs... I've been living a life of transition for the past two years - without a flock, rabbitry, dogs, or good mousers.

    I've re-learned the tremendous value of friends who planted my garden for me so it was going when I arrived back in CO.

    I've learned that I can grow carrots (they had always been a problem for me). The secret is really loose rich soil in a raised bed and always keeping them moist.

    I learned the Chinese elm tree which is considered a serious weed tree and mostly hated out west, has the same medicinal properties as the endangerdd Slippery elm on the east coast. I'll be experiementing with harvesting and offering it for sale as a better alternative.

    I learned the power the taste of a homegrown tomato can have on someone who has never experienced it before - it converts them right away into the journey of growing food. It's another great reason to share your harvest.

  • brownjoelle
    brownjoelle Posts: 23 ✭✭✭

    This year I visited with family long enough to try a raised bed there. It was over a concrete slab that had a slight incline. I used a soaker hose, without a timer because I thought I would remember to shut it off. I'm not a professional gardener, but ive had some successes in the past with growing veggies and flowers in the ground.

    My first lesson was that the incline, even though it was slight, was enough to distribute more water on the end that was lower. Unfortunately, I had planted some plants that preferred less water on that side. If I ever have to garden like that again, I would put the water loving plants on the low end of the bed.

    My second lesson was to just get a timer and not rely on my memory to shut off the soaker hose. It doesn't show as obviously as a sprinkler that it's on, and sometimes I would get distracted, go in the house and forget to shut it off.

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,917 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @brownjoelle been there done that when watering!

  • julieart01
    julieart01 Posts: 6 ✭✭✭

    Love this Forum! Thank you for all of the fun, wise, advise!

    I read a lot about companion planting and tried that out this year. Some good successes. Planted buckwheat, chives and mint (in a pot) all near my broccoli patch to help keep the get aphids away. Usually I have to have sacrificial plants and let the aphids have those so that I can have the rest. This year the aphids only bothered the older bushes that were left to go to seed.

    I harvested the oregano to dry in brown bags for spice and the rest of the oregano was cut and stuffed into the broccoli and cauliflower plants to hide their scent from cabbage looper moths. I had to reapply but it seemed to help.

    I learned not to use crushed leaves as mulch because we had a wet winter and the snails were out of control in my strawberry patch! I learned that lasagna layering is not as good in our dry climate so will try to use a broad fork next year after layering. I learned while applying my worm castings as a top dressing to also add a layer of compost to keep it from drying out too fast.

    I learned more about growing potatoes from a great video on utube! Never knew that there were determinate and indeterminate potatoes before!

  • Cdjack
    Cdjack Posts: 3

    In January I inherited an incredible property of rich vegetable garden plots in the Pacific NW so I just had to get up to speed on what and when to plant. I learned the importance of planting at the optimal time and choosing the best varieties for the area. I was fortunate to find very local gardening blogs to help with that. I also learned so much about soil and mulch from Steve Solomon’s ‘Soil and Health’ blog. There is a small pond on the property and I learned that frogs (I think) do an amazing job of insect control. But they didn’t take care of the zillion slugs- for that I used scissors at dusk or dawn. I learned that planting the flower Alyssum will attract a wasp that kills unwanted pests. I learned to plant flowers not only for the joy and beauty they bring but to attract the bees and wasps we need as pollinators. I’ve learned so much this year and can’t wait to continue my lessons.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    I planted zucchini for the first time this year. I always thought that it was a joke about how much a zucchini plant can produce. I have had to figure out all sorts of creative ways to use and preserve zucchini!

  • KimMullen
    KimMullen Posts: 38 ✭✭✭

    I learned that you can cut back bush green beans after the first crop and they will regrow and produce a second crop about a month quicker than my second planting of beans produced.

  • Christine
    Christine Posts: 3 ✭✭✭

    My garden taught me a lot this summer. Wild plants, such as stinging nettles, do not like the comfort of the garden, even if it is to protect them from my husband's mower and the deer. Everything that grows has a purpose but it is up to me to "listen" to the plant. My dwarf fig tree taught me that with a lot of TLC it will re-grow it's roots after the gophers ate off all of it's roots.....from inside the planter. I was happy to get the one fig after all that. This year I concentrated on herbs and medicinal plants. OK, the heat here in the Central Valley of California was brutal to anything eatable but next year I will try different varieties. My Parkinson's has put me behind on my five year plan for my garden by about two years but it is progressing. My garden taught me that to avoid the heat, I hit the garden chores as soon as I can see the hose is not a snake and that my chocolate mint is great in my cup of coffee. We came close to having to evacuate the Creek Fire and I had my "seed box" ready to load up with the cats and dog. If I was to lose my garden, I was not willing to lose the seeds I have harvested from the plants that grow so well in my garden. It has been a busy summer. Now on to Fall.

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,917 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Another lesson I have learned is that the bees that have taken up residence in one of my garden stools become very protective in late summer which has made it a challenge to get some work done around them. I am hoping as it cools off I will be able to get more done.

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    I hear you! I'd call my raspberries, blackberries, and chives "survivors," like they are gonna grow no matter what gets thrown at them. I will admit to keeping an eye out for survivors in my garden and encouraging them to keep at it. Any high-maintenance "divas" that need too much TLC ... well, my garden just isn't the place for them. :D

  • Granny Marie
    Granny Marie Posts: 53 ✭✭✭

    I learned that okra grows pretty good in red clay. Just keep it a bit damp so the clay doesn't harden. I also learned that I still haven't learned how to defeat bermuda grass. However, don't ask the dogs to mow. Mow and dig mean the same thing, at least to my mutts. And, speaking of dogs, putting the grape tomatoes in a knee-high raised bed gave me a much bigger harvest. I discovered last year the dogs were eating all the small tomatos from about two feet down.

  • Janelle Keith
    Janelle Keith Posts: 6 ✭✭✭

    I learned that really hot temps and a severe drought (no matter if you are watering), will impact gourd and squash flowering and fruiting.

    I learned that Japanese beetles really like asparagus (after they grow out and get ferny) and milkweed. Over the course of several weeks, I drowned thousands of beetles in buckets of soapy water. Having a big patch of asparagus and milkweed probably kept them out of my garden beds.

    I expanded my seed saving capabilities.

    I trained my cherry tomato up a cattle panel trellis that arches between two raised beds. Looks pretty and saves a lot of space and mess – will do that every year.

    I had a couple of mint plants in pots last year that did so-so. Last fall, we took a couple of empty cattle lick tubs and cut the bottoms out. We planted the tubs in the ground, then planted a mint plant inside each tub. The tubs kept the mint contained – and the plants did better this year in the ground than in pots.

    Unfortunately, I know what a vine borer beetle looks like in real life. I was also able to save some pumpkin plants by removing vine borers.

    Chives spread like crazy.

  • Sydarta
    Sydarta Posts: 45 ✭✭✭

    @marjstratton if you let the zucchini get overgrown and hard, baseball bat sized- or thereabouts, it can be shredded and lacto-fermented! Zuke kraut has a distinct taste, a bit tangier than cabbage kraut- you might love it!

    I use 1 Tablespoon of sea salt for every quart of shredded vegetable, using the lactic fermentation recipe from the book "Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Ellix Katz. You can add diced or shredded roots like beets, carrots, ginger &c. and spices like celery and/or dill and/or caraway seed or any spice you like! Definitely scoop the seeds and guts before shredding and they can be cooked up just like young zucchini, or if the seeds are large and hard, you can roast em or save em for planting next year!

    We call all our lactic ferments BLOOP instead of kraut, as we always have a 3 gallon crock fermenting, with a water seal around the lid that likes to bloop a bubble into all our conversations... she has a wicked sense of humor!!!😆

    PS Yellow squarshes, hard and overgrown, will also shred and hold up nicely to krauting. I haven't tried unripe winter squarsh that had to be harvested before hard frost, but I think those would work, too!

  • dmthennessy
    dmthennessy Posts: 29 ✭✭✭

    This year I learned to wait for the beneficial insects instead of using an organic pesticide like Neem. As usual, the squash bugs came in brigades to attack. I purchased some Neem, but due to COVID, the delivery took a long time. I continued to pick off as many squash bugs as possible and destroy egg masses on the undersides of leaves. One day I noticed a yellow fuzzy larva that reminded me of ladybug larva. I did some research to find it actually was a squash lady beetle larva. My problems ended with the arrival of these creatures. No more squash bugs! Now I'm hoping that next year the squash bugs won’t have a foothold in my garden. By the way, there was no need for the Neem. https://www.insectidentification.org/insect-description.asp?identification=Squash-Lady-Beetle

  • dmthennessy
    dmthennessy Posts: 29 ✭✭✭

    Another learning experience for me is that birds weren’t eating my strawberries, but slugs were! I netted the strawberries early and thought all those flowers were indicators of a great harvest! Ha! The slugs harvested them way before I could get to them, without leaving any sign. Next year, I’ll get out before them with as many 🐌 preventatives as I can find.

  • Sharie
    Sharie Posts: 276 ✭✭✭

    I've been learning about growing with the moon cycles. I was always wondering why things wouldn't grow and then suddenly months later plants appeared seemingly out of the blue. Year round gardening is new to me too so a big learning curve is taking place all the time and being close to the equator (without the heat) makes the daylight hours a new challenge. Planting according to the local almanac is absolutely life-altering.

  • dmthennessy
    dmthennessy Posts: 29 ✭✭✭

    Here's a picture I took of a squash lady beetle larva or as I think of them, a squash ladybug larva. You can see where it has eaten squash bug eggs. The ladybug is yellow in color and like all ladybugs, it has a voracious appetite. I now know to allow some pests to be in my garden to attract these natural predators.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    @Sydarta Thanks for the suggestions. I have "Wild Fermentation" and am definitely going to try zucchini kraut. I definitely have some big zucchinis. I have been slicing and drying some of my smaller ones.

  • KimWilson
    KimWilson Posts: 197 ✭✭✭

    I have a favorite winter sqhuash that I have had a dickens of a time getting to thrive in this area. This year I had one planting spot that was kind of an extra spot (so to speak). I threw some spaghetti squash seed in there and other than drip irrigation, I totally ignored it all summer. Low and behold, the biggest most healthy squash I have ever grown are growing in that very hill.

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,917 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As an avid learner I believe that there is always something new to learn no matter how long you have been growing something  and the other day I was watching a Craftsy class on growing roses which is something both my dad and I have done for years (some may even say I have an obsession with them). We have both always pruned back between December and January since that was what the experts had always said. But the instructor Paul Zimmerman said that for hot areas roses go dormant in the heat of summer and should be pruned back in August – September so that when fall comes they will bloom again. In cold areas (places that get a lot of frost and/or snow) should continue to prune them in December – January timeframe.  So guess what I am going to be doing in the yard this week!

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    Ooooh, @Janelle Keith -- do you happen to have a picture of your cherry tomato setup? I like the sound of that....

  • DurwardPless
    DurwardPless Posts: 162 ✭✭✭

    I learned that a garden planted close to the water faucet is much easier to take care of than one planted far away from a water faucet.


  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    You're so right! And plants that you keep in oft-visited places tend to be easier to keep alive. :D I knew this, but proved it was true by keeping starts and herbs in my kitchen this year. Let me tell you, things stayed much healthier!

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,917 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I learned that putting partial shade loving plants under a deciduous tree is not a good thing at least in So. Calif. The Ash tree starting losing it's leaves in August and in September & October were the sunniest and hottest days.

  • happy-trails
    happy-trails Posts: 170 ✭✭✭

    Lisa K Awesome! I learned the same lesson as you did with basil. I learned this by accident because I wanted fresh basil, but I was tired of running out to the garden every meal (we love it with everything)... so I cut and kept the basil in a jar of water on my kitchen counter. It lasted 2 weeks still vibrant and fresh! I could clip and eat as I cooked. It was so convenient and lovely to have on the counter. It was my first time growing jarrahdale pumpkins in our new home - upstate NY, and I faced problem after problem growing them here! I learned about injecting the stems with live bacteria - bacillus thuringeinsis (BT) to prevent the major problem with worms. I learned to savor the therapeutic benefits so much more this year - crazy 2020 - it was an extra peaceful santuary to be out in the garden, escaping all the negativity and chaos. Nature is truly one of the only pure things left. =)

  • burekcrew86
    burekcrew86 Posts: 248 ✭✭✭

    I learned to really take a good hard look at what crops we eat and how much to plant of each. Over planted some crops and didn’t plant enough of others.

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,917 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @happy-trails nature is truly pure!

    @burekcrew86 That is a lesson I am still trying to learn, I like to try something new every year and end up trying several things some which are good and do well and others not so much.