Thursday, January 20, 2011

2010 Garden Reflections

I am just giddy as I start to think about what my 2011 garden will look like! On these cold, winter days I like to sit and fantasize about all those fresh veggies and herbs growing just outside my door. But, as not to repeat gardening sins of the past, I first need to reflect on lessons learned from the 2010 garden.

Since I was on a blogging break in 2010, I never did share my 2010 garden plan. I was attempting Square Foot Gardening, and I found Microsoft Excel very helpful to plan out how I would plant. I found this to be very useful to manage my time and also this made it very easy to adjust as reality interfered with my original vision. 

Here is a view of the whole garden.  There are 6 smaller beds (2'x5' and 2'x6').  Then there is a larger berry patch (4'x10') and an additional bed (4'x9').  Each cell in Excel represents 1 4"x4" square in the garden.

This is the blow-up of what I consider the main garden beds.  This was the original size of the garden.

Here is the berry patch and the potato trash can.  I had anticipating getting the berry patch all set in 2010, but as it turned out, I didn't get the plants in until the fall.

Finally, this is the large bed.  In 2011, I use this for squashes and melons.

So, what did I learn in 2010?  So much!
  1. I need deer protection!  In the smaller garden area we didn't have a problem with deer - I think this might have been because the space was too small to jump into.  In our larger garden area this year, the deer just helped themselves on a daily basis.  They ate squash blossoms, whole tomato plants, lettuce, and parsley.  This year, I need to have a proactive solution for keeping the deer OUT!  Any suggestions?
  2. Aggressive de-bugging works.  I made finding aphids into a game for my boys.  They would come out there with me early in the season to gently look under the leaves playing "who can find the most aphids".  Then I could just smush them before they could do much damage.  This allowed my broccoli to mature beautifully for the first time providing both a spring and fall harvest!
  3. Garlic really needs to be planted in the fall to mature properly in my area.  So, this time, I have already planted tons of garlic.  I really hope it does well.
  4. I need to fungicide the pear tree.  We have a mature pear tree in our back yard.  We have seen some years with nothing and some years with a wonderful harvest.  I have noticed for the past 2 years how the leaves all get black dots underneath them and fall off.  With no more source of fuel, the immature fruits fall off.  After talking to some local farmers, I learned that my problem is fungus.  Apparently it is nearly impossible to grow pears in this humid mid-atlantic climate without using some fungicide.So, now I have to research the most eco-friendly fungicide.
  5. Prepare beds for the winter - it will make the spring much easier!  In 2010, it was a big pain to de-weed my beds in preparation for planting.  This year, I prepared (mostly) in the fall and covered the beds with a bunch of oak leaves.  I hope this will leave me in better shape come March.
OK, there are a lot more lessons learned, but this post is getting too long.  Dreaming of gardens past in present is definitely a finer thing in life. This post is a contribution to Finer Things Friday at Amy's The Finer Things in Life.

I would love to hear what you have learned in your 2010 gardening experience... 


Diana said...

Leave more space in between the plants!

Diana said...

I mean, that's what I learned. Not that you need to! Oops :) (I could hardly get between the tomato plants last year, and the squash all ran into each other, etc. etc.!! I'll follow the directions better this year :) )

Anonymous said...

@Diana - I hear you! I have done that in the past as well.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is an impressive plan, and a big garden! I am a little jealous.

I'm a little haphazard in my own gardening, which is probably not so great. I just kind of wing it, and don't really pause to reflect what I've learned. I suppose if I could pick one thing, though, it's that you really should respect the planting guidelines for last frost in your area, if you want your carefully nurtured seedlings to make it.

Anonymous said...

@Amber - I totally agree about those planting guidelines! I have been burned before!