It’s the beginning of gardening season!
I would have never thought I would be one to get excited about gardening season, but alas, here I am! I’m so excited in fact that I’m writing a damn blog post about it! Although, this is something that has been on the to do list for….well, a year! But rather than fretting what I shoulda, coulda, woulda done, lets just be happy we’re here.
I’m pretty new at this whole gardening business. Last spring was the first time I ever truly got down and dirty with all the spiders, ants, worms and dirt. I’ve had my fair share of attempts at growing things over the years, but anything that was alive when I got it, quickly died. And anything that I attempted to start out as a seed…well, they all stayed seeds!
Last year was a huge success for me for a bunch of reasons, and I’m not one to skip out on self-celebration!
- Past failures didn’t determine my future (possible) successes (or failures)
- I tried something new
- Showed myself some empathy for all the things that went wrong
- But also managed to actually harvest some very real and actually edible food!
Watching my seeds sprout and grow last year sparked a flame under my bum! I decided I really wanted to focus in on this hobby and see where I could go with it. Over the fall and winter I managed to collect a bunch of house plants and became a crazy plant lady.
Going into this gardening season I had a lot more knowledge than the year previous. Like when the instructions for seeds say to only put 1 seed per hole and space them apart a certain amount of centimetres, that’s not a suggestion and just solid advice on how to get carrots that don’t look like baby toes as my good friend and gardening buddy called them yesterday. Or when they tell you to start your seeds in doors for the first 6 weeks, again, its not a suggestion but more of a warning that if you don’t your broccoli will grow more like weeds and sprout flowers rather than a head of broccoli.
I really am a newbie gardener, so if you came looking for some pro tips, this surely isn’t the place you should be. This is my disclaimer: all of my plant success has been due to complete flukes!
Okay, now that we’re done with the rambling, let’s get to some of the lessons I’ve learned this past year.
- Know how your vegetables grow! As sure as I am there are people that will think this is beyond obvious information, I also know there are just as many, if not more people who have no clue like myself. I knew how carrots and strawberries grew but I didn’t know how broccoli grew, or really the extent of how cucumbers grow. This made all the difference once everything started growing and certain things (like cucumber) took over a large portion of space invading in on the other vegetables.
- Follow what seedling instructions say 100% of the time. If you’re unsure of spacing, think about how the vegetable grows. Carrots don’t need a ton of space because they grow down where as cucumber grows on a vine and takes up a ton of space. Knowing this information can help you think about how you space your seeds.
- Layout! Based off of knowing how your vegetables grow you can then make an informed decision on the layout of your garden. Unfortunately last year I placed my strawberries and watermelon beside my sunflower and tomatoes and behind my broccoli. These are all very tall, leafy plants that created a ton of shade over my strawberries and watermelon. This caused us to only yield 2 strawberries and not even have our watermelon sprout.
- Coming right out of layout, we also want to know which way our garden faces to ensure every plant will get the most amount of sunlight without getting shaded by anything else. Keep your shorter plants at the front and taller at the back.
- If you have a plot similar to mine, where you’re going to have to walk through the garden, definitely think about creating a visible path for yourself. You will be in and out to clean up your garden and harvest your crop.
- Add flowers! Again, this might be a Hollie specific thing, but last year I got tunnel vision and thought I had to do all food. The reality is that its actually really helpful to have flowers in your garden as well. They attract butterflies, bees and all sorts of other insects that will nourish your garden. You also get to have a pretty bouquet of home grown flowers throughout the summer. Bonus!
- Another big question mark I was faced with was harvesting. How do you know when they are ready? I let a lot of my plants grow too big before harvesting them. I have to say, its as though all common sense and knowledge I hold regarding vegetables seemed to go out the window when I started growing them. Trust your gut! If they look ready, they probably are. Will they keep growing if you don’t harvest them? Of course! But one thing to remember is the bigger the vegetable the less flavour and nutrients it will hold. It’s really just expanding in water weight.
These were some of the most impactful lessons I learned last year. Laying out our garden this year was a bit different. Rather than relying on google and pro gardening websites, I was actually able to come up with my own layout. Let me add, we won’t know if this knew layout will be anymore specific, I only planted my seeds 2 days ago!
Comparing this year to last
This year I decided to switch up what I’m growing. Last year we planted:
Safe to say I may have gone a little overboard and really thought I was going to yield a plethora of delicious veggies to feed my entire townhouse complex. This year I decided to hone it in a bit and spice it up! So I planted these seeds for 2021 – and yes, I did start my broccoli and pumpkin inside, they have another 3 weeks until they can get planted in the garden. I also ensured I spaced out our carrots so we don’t get any baby toes this year!
I will do another post on how the 2021 gardening season is going for me. You can also follow along my journey in real time via instagram @lostblondesole where I share my updates straight from the garden. Feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me via insta for any questions or tips you have about gardening.