Halfway into the growing season and so far the garden has been a resounding success. Hard to believe that there is a vibrant garden providing plenty of food where just a couple months ago there was just grass. Some of the lessons learned so far are:
Don’t Plant More Than You Can Eat!
That pretty much says it all. This is the first year for a vegetable garden at Meadowwood so not a lot was known about the yields of the varieties that were planted. Reading about something in a seed catalog really doesn’t prepare you for what will actually grow when those seeds are planted. Some vegetables, like the cucumbers, have been WAY more prolific than anticipated. When the time comes to plan for next year the Daily Harvest Report will come in handy.
Space Plants Correctly
This is also something that can be chalked up to lack of experience. Who knew that a single Zucchini plant would grow to be over 3 feet across? Who knew that gourd vines are like the Kudzu of the garden? Experience has taught a lot with regard to plant spacing and next year things will be done differently.
Know Thy Bugs…
A month ago a Japanese Beetle infestation was caught late and was brought under control by luck. Now the garden is being decimated by the tag-team of Squash Bugs and Striped Cucumber Beetles. As of today 8 zucchini plants have been killed. The cucumbers are looking like they are on their last legs. And sadly the Hasta La Pasta Spaghetti Squash plants that were doing so awesome now look like they will be the next to go. So, for next year it will help to:
Know Thy Bug Controls
The bugs COULD probably be kept under control by using pesticides every week or so. And doing so probably WOULD result in less lost plants and a higher yield as a result. The problem with that is when this garden was envisioned over the past few years I wanted to try to adhere to as many organic practices as possible. Herbicides and pesticides are effective to be sure, but I feel that they are also a band-aid solution. And that doesn’t even take into account my reservations about introducing chemicals into my own food chain. An ongoing effort will be made to research and implement sustainable and non-chemical pest controls in Meadowwood Garden.
The Soil is the Key
The reason Meadowwood Garden has had such a successful first growing season thus far is due to the excellent soil that it was started with. As the soil is depleted of nutrients it will be extremely important to keep adding compost and other soil amendments to replace what the plants use. In my mind the most important thing for the future of the garden is to make sure the soil is as rich as possible.
Start Early and Succession Plant
The garden was constructed a little late this year so all plantings were about 2 weeks behind. The tomatoes are just now starting to be ready. Peppers still have a couple weeks to go. Next year a better job needs to be done regarding the timing of the initial plantings. Also some thought needs to be put into succession planting in order to stretch the harvest windows for certain varieties.