My first garden was like a Shakespearean tragedy. It was exciting and wonderful.. for a week or two. The ground was not prepared. The space was open and accessible to any and all pests. Not to mention I started way too late in the season.
I filled up a square in my parents back yard, weeded, and uprooted anything that would cause an issue with my precious little seeds. I placed a very low garden fence around the whole thing and planted my seeds. Right in the ground. Mistake number 1.
Why is this mistake number one? Lots of reasons.
- It was too late in the season for anything to produce.
- Birds exist. And they’re watching you put the seeds in the ground. They will mistake your garden for a breakfast buffet.
- The rain will wash away half of your seeds.
- Rabbits can hop that little fence. So can squirrels and groundhogs.
By the time the seeds germinated, I was down to 3 corn stalks from 5, 2 cucumbers,1 tomato, and 2 squash. And a bean plant. I planted about 5 or 6 of each. And forget my sunflowers.. those seeds were the first to go completely!
I was devastated but nurtured what was left.
Aside from some miracle grow plant food, I didn’t use much to help the seedlings along. Mistake number 2. Had I not made mistake number 1.. I probably could have avoided this all together.
- Seedlings need help against the elements and pests.
- Apparently bugs find squash leaves delicious
- Weeds grow back… quickly
- Animals can still hop that fence…
- Fertilizer is a good thing
- Pouring rain can uproot small, weak plants
So my squash leaves got eaten by bugs and the remainder of the plants were burned by the sun from lack of protection, the corn stalks got eaten, weeds consumed much of what was left but I was still chugging along! After all, I still had a bean plant, cucumbers, and a tomato plant.
Now I had learned to use some sevin spray to ward off the pests and fed the few remaining plants, the final few started to flourish. At this point it’s August and getting far past harvest time. While the beans did pretty well, I only yielded a few small cucumbers and tomatoes. As for the tomatoes, I planted beefsteak tomatoes, the big guys.. they only grew to roughly the size of a cherry tomato.. with a very tough exterior! They didn’t have enough nutrients or water to grow properly.
Moral of the story?
- Follow directions on seed packs for planting schedules
- Absolutely start seeds indoors if it says to
- Till and treat the soul properly before planting
- Follow a watering schedule
- Use at least a 3 foot tall chicken wire enclosure.
- Keep an eye on the weeds, daily. If you can’t weed fast enough, find a safe spray or organic alternative
- Keep bugs out! I use sevin dust and spray, but there’s tons of options! Including organic repellents instead of chemical pesticides.
- Use a rabbit and deer repellent spray or powder.
I hope this helps you avoid some of my mistakes, and create a big, beautiful garden from the start!