I bought my house in 2004 and suddenly I was responsible for an 8′ x 16′ raised bed garden and a slew of landscaping plants out back. The first year my family helped rake, dig and mix compost and manure to turn my weedy area into a beautiful and thriving vegetable garden. The second year was all up to me and, though I didn’t completely botch it, it was definitely not up to par as the year before.
I didn’t have a plan. I ran around to many of the nurseries in my area, not really knowing what I was doing. I bought stuff that wasn’t useful (who needs aerator sandals?) and was scared to weed for pulling out a viable plant.
In 2007 I was struck with spring fever at the beginning of March, purchased $60 of seeds online and awaited their arrival. In the meantime I scoured the Internet, looking for tips and trying to glean inside information from all those gardeners to whom gardening seemed to come naturally. I bought “Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew and was inspired.
I’m a smart cookie, I could do square foot gardening too. The vertical gardening was really intriguing.
The more I read the more I was confused. Should I use vermiculite or perlite or not at all? Do I sow indoors or take my chance and sow outdoors only? Do heating pads really work? When’s my last frost free date for my zone? What is my zone?
In 2008 I had a better understanding of what I should and shouldn’t be doing. I saved some of my own seeds! I branched out into flowers, wintersowing and expanding my beds. I even sold some of my seedlings at the local start-up farmer’s market and at the end of my driveway. This was also the year that I started a raised bed satellite garden at the in-laws’ house. It was a major undertaking by all family members and the 16′ x 32′ garden was mostly a spill-over of extra seedlings and experimental crops.
2009 is the year that I try to understand the effect of crop rotation and companion planting. It’s also the year that I start herbs for a local restaurant’s backyard garden. Hopefully this the year that my dreams of a huge sweet potato payload will come true.
2010 made me scale back my tomato plant sale insanity so that I didn’t burn myself out for the rest of the season. I had a bumper crop of sweet potatoes. I swore myself off starting corn. I kept the dogs out of the small garden. I stopped blogging halfway through the season and left people hanging on my EMT experiment.
2011 sees me starting a whack of hot peppers that I probably won’t eat, starting my own slips from my own sweet potatoes and revising my list of things to grow in the satellite garden. Who can eat that many bush beans anyway? I’m hot for potatoes and lettuce. I bought a food dehydrator in 2010 and am looking forward to saving my own foodstuffs.
There was so much I didn’t know and still don’t. This blog is a public record of my trial and error.