Lessons Learned in the Bed: A Post about Gardening

My husband is fully responsible for the off-color title of this post. He implores you to “get your mind out of the dirt”.

I married a comedian…I really did.

Last weekend, Sean and I got to work on our vegetable garden. This is the second summer in a row that we have had a community garden plot. Thankfully, vegetable gardens are extremely forgiving and we had lots of success last summer. Despite this, we certainly had some things we wanted to improve on from last year…

Lesson One: Start Early

Last summer, we found out that our neighborhood had a community garden and decided to rent a plot a bit late in the season. This ended up resulting in three drawbacks that we sought to remedy this year:

  1. We received one of the only remaining beds: a half-shaded plot on the other side of the world from the water hose.
  2. We adopted an extended family of weeds that had already taken up permanent residence in our plot:
  3. And many of the veggies we wanted to grow advised planting in late Spring – a mark that had long since passed by the time we were ready to start.

This year, because we got in touch with the organization early enough, we were able to secure a bed with full sunshine, close proximity to the hose, and only a few mild-mannered weeds:

Lesson Two: Plan Ahead

This year, Sean and I spent a full afternoon pulling weeds and preparing the soil. Whereas last year we tried to fit everything into one full day, this year we were able to enjoy the process a bit more and go through all the steps to get the soil in good condition.

I promise I helped out a bit!

We then made a list of all the vegetables we would like to grow this summer before we headed to the store. I found this easy-to–use (and free!) online garden planning tool so that we had an idea about where we’d like to plant things. This year, we thought more about planting shortest to tallest so that shorties like lettuce could get as much sun as the tomatoes.Lesson Three: Buy from a Local Nursery

Last year, Sean and I went to a big-box garden supply center for everything we needed. This summer, we decided to try a local nursery we had heard about from one of the other members of the community garden. This ended up being great advice! They had everything that we needed and the woman who worked there was extremely helpful and a great tutor for new gardeners like us! She let us pick out what we wanted to grow, but gave us lots of helpful advice about how and when to start our seeds. We currently have half of our vegetables in the ground and half at home in pots, saving their strength for a bit warmer weather!

We are really excited to be starting everything from seed this year! There is something completely fascinating to me about seeds – I act like I’m still growing green beans along the window of my second grade classroom! For the past couple of days, as tiny seedlings have started to appear in the pots in our house, I’ve started calling Sean over multiple times a day to “LOOK!” He is just as excited as I am. I know it.

Yesterday, we took a trip to our garden to check on the progress, and our lettuce had sprouted in two nice, neat lines! We currently have about 300 lettuce plants growing which leads me to our 4th and final “lesson” – you can probably take or leave this one:

Lesson Four: Plant as Many Seeds as You Can

Last year, we tried to plant lettuce per the package instructions – evenly spaced and all of that…We ended up completely unable to differentiate the seedlings from the weeds and I’m pretty sure we had accidentally uprooted all of them by the end of the summer.

To that end, this summer, we went a little overboard on the seeds. We planted in clearly marked rows and basically dumped the entire package of seeds down into our shallow trenches. We went a little nuts – and are planning to scale back later. More is more.

This may cause a slight problem when we want to plant more seeds for lettuce later in the season, but for now, I’m enjoying my overgrown little seedlings.

In the event of disaster, there is always more to learn for next year!


6 thoughts on “Lessons Learned in the Bed: A Post about Gardening

  1. Robin

    You are both so organized–that’s great!! It will all be sooo worth it when you harvest and eat! Makes me want to plant a vegetable garden too. Good luck.

  2. Katie Troup

    This is going to be so helpful, we have a lot of work to do too! PS I thought the title and first the note about “getting your mind out of the DIRT” were pretty clever. You don’t really need to tell Sean I said that if you’d rather not encourage him. Hehe.

  3. Stacey

    Thank you for popping by my blog!! And your garden looks so exciting. Would love to try one someday….I SO do NOT have a green thumb! But maybe someday!! 😉

  4. Pingback: Best of 2011 « Our Something New

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