Friday, September 24, 2010

Here's what I've learned:

Now that gardening season is done, I'm writing down what I learned about having a big garden so in the future, I will learn from this year's mistakes. 

Lesson #1:  No one needs 50 tomato plants.  Unless you're a farmer, or plan on making a living selling tomatoes, 50 tomato plants is just too many.  I had planned on canning lots of different versions of tomato products but that just didn't happen.  First of all, it was a bad year for tomatoes, and second, and probably more importantly,  I just didn't have time to can much anyway. 

The weather was hot and humid most of the summer, rather than just the one or two weeks we usually get.  Good beach weather, but apparently bad for tomatoes.  I really thought that I'd have enough tomatoes for the neighborhood but I got a relatively small harvest, considering that I had...say it with me...50 tomato plants. 

Lesson #2:  Planning is essential.  I had a master plan for my big garden and did a pretty good job of following it, but got enticed by some plants that weren't in the plan.  See Lesson #3.

Lesson #3:  There is no point in growing eggplant if no one in the family likes it. 

Lesson #4:  Mulch is also essential.  My idea of putting down newspaper an inch beneath the soil kept the weeds at bay...for about 2 weeks. 

Lesson #5:  Everything takes longer than you plan.  And by this I mean that it took twice as long to plant, weed, prune, and harvest than I had scheduled.  It also took twice as long, in some instances, for stuff to grow.  Seed packets give you the number of days from planting to harvest, but I guess these are just general guidelines.  Stuff just grows in its own good time.

Lesson #6: This is probably the most important thing I learned.  You have to have time to devote to taking care of your garden.  I was willing to overlook the fact that this garden is 20 minutes away, and thought it would be no big deal to run up there a couple of times a week to care for it.  But then, lesson #5 was quickly learned, and there were very few days that I had enough time to devote to doing the garden justice.  In the mean time, my own yard suffered because I just didn't have time to take care of it properly.  Maybe some day, when I'm retired, I'll have a big garden again, but for now I'm going to stick with my tiny little garden and grow stuff in pots on my deck.  I guess for now, I'll be a frequent flyer at the farmer's market! 

I don't mean to sound like gardening was a negative experience!  It was quite relaxing to go up to my garden and see the entire farm growing.  People planted some of the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen, and a lot of people personalized their gardens making it fun to wander around.  I also learned a lot by being up there and watching how people plant their stuff.  Much of the time, I was the only person there and I enjoyed being outside listening to the birds.  You can do a lot of thinking in a garden!

The reason I started this silly blog in the first place was to keep myself accountable for 2 goals I had set for the new year.  One was running a 5k, which I still haven't done, and the other was paying off a bill.  Well, I paid that bill off last week and was thrilled for about 5 minutes.  Then I realized that I still have other bills to pay (well...I didn't just realize that, but reality has a way of being a downer sometimes).  And it only took me 6 months longer to do than I had planned.  Sigh.  But hey, I'm making progress!

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