This was a big year for me- huge projects, huge goals, fun new plants… But I know I made some mistakes. Careless mistakes that I’m hardly proud of. I think it’s important to look back on the mistakes, figure out why they happened, and learn from them.
My first mistake was using unfinished manure. It was hard not to make this mistake, though, as I was offered all the free composted horse manure I wanted. Free soil-Score! I built two more raised beds (that I had no intention of building prior) and loaded the truck twice to fill the beds. I knew it wasn’t finished, but I couldn’t pass up the offer.
The plants, which were haphazardly picked out, suffered in the beginning. Slow, weak growth for the first month. I think after that, the soil cooled off enough to allow the plants to start growing properly. By the end of the year, the zucchini and eggplants were doing great. The sweet potato had a lot of nice growth, but only a few potatoes. I dove into an offer I was unprepared for. Between the “compost”, the raised beds, and the plants, it just was a sore spot in the garden that, thankfully, did end up working out. Avoid the excitement of “free”. I’ll be a bit more picky about compost and soil. None of those beds were planned, and I really needed a plan.
Speaking of plans- Make a plan for the entire garden! Some spots were planned out, but others were neglected. Plants grew larger than expected. Plants were stuck into areas that really didn’t work out. I specifically remember a nasturtium that became lost in a sea of tomato vines. Pepper plants were swallowed in the waves, as well. I really need to make a list of what I want to grow and how many- AND STICK TO IT. It’s so hard with so many things to grow and a finite amount of space. I have one bed fully planned, but I feel myself becoming bored with trying to design the others. I NEED to focus. I have months to worry about it. Make a plan. Stick to the plan. Understand the plants and their needs and habits.
One of the main tenets of square foot gardening is to constantly replace plants that have stopped producing with new plants. Spring beans should be replaced with a new crop of something when the beans are spent. I didn’t do a great job of this. I had no plan (there it is again!) of replacing plants that died or finished cropping. When a tomato plant was taken out, I never replanted the spot with broccoli raab or kale. I did manage to replant some spots, but nothing like I should have. Part of this was, again, due to planning. I had such a random planting that I never had a decent area to replant. One spot might open up with a massive tomato in the way.
It seems my main problem is I don’t have a strong enough plan. This year, a well thought out plan. Plants cannot be scattered here and there, I need them sectioned in a way that makes replanting spots easier. I need to have plants ready to transplant into open spots. And, no adding additional gardens! I’ve got enough as it is! Make a plan and stick with it. Think of every angle, every outcome. Understand the vegetables you’re growing. This will be an even better year.