Truth be told, I am still somewhat of a novice at this whole gardening and landscaping thing. Like a big novice actually! Until last summer, I thought annuals where the plant/flower that came back every year and perennials died off after each season. I quickly learned that was not the case.
As we were planting some seeds last night for our own starts I was thinking about how much I have actually learned over the past year. I also realized I need to stop being so dang hard on myself and just let this part of my life grow organically. Opps! No pun intended!
You see, I grew up with a mom who just taught herself everything she knows today. Really! She’s pretty incredible and has a beautiful green thumb, sewing thumb, decorating thumb, cooking thumb and really any kind of good thumb you can have. She also has a whole lot more patience then I do but I suppose that probably came with having three little children running around while she was discovering these parts of herself.
As I was sitting there last night separating tiny little seeds with tweezers, I started composing a list of my Top 5 Garden Lessons Learned Last Year and I’d love to share them with you in hopes that it if you are new to gardening like I am, it just may spare you some of the frustration and help shed some light on how fun it actually is!
1. Start small and grow each year.
This was our garden last year. We also had a few things planted in the flat bed garden to the left but we started small. Just two 3 x 14 raised beds and it was perfect. This year we are expanding by quite a bit but by how big is still TBD. However, wWe do know we wanted to grow our garden significantly this year. One thing we are changing though is the length and depth of our beds. These guys weren’t exactly cheap to build so we are going to make them one foot high and a little shorter.
I also planted a few planter boxes made out of old wine barrels cut in half. We live on a vineyard so hey, why not play off of that a bit!
I took some advice from my mom and mixed annuals and perennials and had varying heights.
Overall, I learned it’s best to start small so you can really observe what’s going on, get to know a little bit about what you planted and decided if you even like the final outcome. There is always next year to change it up.
2. Get organized.
List and Charts. Two of my favorite things. I wouldn’t say I’m exactly type A but I am a Virgo and I LOVE my lists and fortunately for me, so does D! This was my initial list of some of the vegetables I wanted to plant this year. I also have been jotting down various flowers I see or hear about that I think would add some interest to our yard and I have been taking note of what is needed in the various beds around our house.
For example, we have two beds in the front of our house that are thin and boring. Since this is one of the first impressions when people come by, I think it should be more interesting and set a kind of tone of the house yet be functional and have a purpose all year long. To do this we are going to add more evergreens so it is not so bare in the winter and then some perennial and annual flowers so that it really comes to life in the spring, summer, and early fall.
By having a list it’s easy to pick up a few things here and there when possible because trust me, it all adds up and rather quickly at that!
You can also organize your spray cycles by creating a spreadsheet of some sorts identifying the date of when you sprayed. If you garden organically, there are still organic ways to be preventative!
3. Map it out
I don’t have a picture of this because we haven’t made our map yet. We just planted the first round of our starts and need to build and place our other raised beds but as soon as we do, you better believe I will be sketching out where I want things to go! It’s also important to remember and something I learned last year, certain vegetables grow better planted next to others or with certain flowers that attract beneficial insects planted near by. It can feel a bit like a complex science and this is something we didn’t do last year but are going to try it out this year. Beneficial insects are important for controlling the bad bugs you don’t want in your garden such as aphids also known as plant lice. D and I purchased a couple hundred ladybugs last year and set them free in our garden as an attempt to eat those little guys. That was another experience in and of itself!
Overall, by mapping things out you can try to plant in a way that is preventative in controlling pest and other things that may affect your plants negatively.
4. Ask questions…lots of them!
My mom got A LOT of phone calls when I was planting my planter boxes or trying to decide what to plant in our flower beds and the internet has so much information pertaining to vegetable growing. Use your resources! Go up to employees at nurseries and ask them lots of questions. We found out last year that the man who helped us was very eager to talk to us about all things plant related. There is a reason he is working there after all
Look up questions you have on the internet in forums. D even went to YouTube for help with our starts this year.
Don’t be shy! If people love gardening, they most likely will love talking about it too!
5. Just do it! Get your hands dirty
You will never know unless you try, right? Last year when we started planting out garden I would barely even put my hands in the dirt while D was over in there with dirt up to his elbows. You gotta just dive in and do it by literally getting your hands dirty AND by just having fun. If you see something you want to try, plant it!
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by it but seriously, just make it fun and it takes a lot of the pressure out of having to have the perfect garden!
Do you have any must know tips about gardening? We’d love to hear them! Please leave a comment sharing your green thumb secrets!
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