Earlier this year, Greg and I decided to plant our first vegetable garden as a couple. As you would expect, we were super-duper pumped. We don’t eat meat and we eat a ton of vegetables, so we hoped that planting a garden would yield a huge bounty of delicious food and reduce our grocery bill. It’s still too early in the season to say we’ve been successful on that front, but I do believe we’ll harvest some delicious food at some point. However, we made many (many!!) mistakes that I wanted to share with anyone else who might be considering starting a vegetable garden for the first time.
How to Fail at Gardening
We started our garden experience by sectioning off part of the yard and borrowing a rototiller to prepare the soil. Then we bought some gardening soil to freshen things up a bit and headed to Lowe’s to buy our plants. Our strategy involved buying plants for anything that sounded yummy. Sweet potatoes? Sure. Squash? Why the hell not? Strawberries? Well, duh.
We came home and planted all of our veggies according to the little tags that came with them. Then we put up an adorable white picket fence to keep the critters out. The problem was, our fence didn’t actually keep anyone out and many of our vegetables were eaten down to the stubs within a week. I blame this guy (see picture to the left). He’s absolutely adorable but pretty rude and unappreciative of the habitat we provide him. He chews on my deck too. Asshole.
After losing about half of our vegetables, we went back to Lowe’s to buy more plants and pick out a sturdier fence. We ended up buying a sturdy chain-link netting and zip-tying it to the little fence and our privacy fence. Then we put some dirt around the inside of the fence to make sure that none of our furry friends could burrow underneath. That was a success. After that, we planted some new vegetables next to the veggies that were eaten down to the stubs.
Then this happened. Basically, all the vegetables we thought were dead grew back with a vengeance on top of all the new veggies we planted. What you’re looking at is a broccoli plant, some squash, and some cabbage all within inches of one another. What are you supposed to do in this situation? Greg thinks we should just let them work it out amongst themselves. Hell, maybe they’ll morph into one super food.
Like Squabrocabbage or something.
Here is a wider shot of that area. We’re also starting to wonder if some veggies that we didn’t plant are sprouting where they’ve grown before. Is that even possible? I seriously don’t remember planting that many plants in such a small area. Can you tell we have no idea what we’re doing?
Gardening: What Not To Do
Our garden is still thriving despite our unbelievable incompetence. However, there are many things we could’ve done differently. A few gardening “Don’ts:”
- Don’t randomly buy fruits and vegetables without knowing anything about them. It’s pretty sad when you have to google things like “Does squash grow above ground?” and “What is a cucumber plant supposed to look like?” A little bit of research ahead of time would’ve done us a lot of good!
- Don’t think a picket fence will keep the critters out. Small animals don’t yield to fences simply because they are there.
- Don’t let giant weeds grow because you think they are a vegetable. Yes, this happened, and it all goes back to doing research ahead of time. We let several giant weeds grow for weeks before realizing that they were not vegetables. We were even watering them! Sad.
- Don’t lose all the little tags. We meant to stick the little tags in the ground next to each vegetable but failed to do so. Now we have no idea what several of our plants are. Hopefully they aren’t weeds.
One of my tomato plants provides a beacon of hope among my garden of misfits. Since it already has a few tomatoes on it, I feel fairly confident that I cannot mess this up. My potted banana pepper plant is doing good as well. It already has 4 or 5 peppers sprouting and I cannot wait to eat those suckers!
Hopefully we will learn a lot this year and apply those lessons to next year’s garden. Gardening isn’t hard, but I’m guessing it is a lot easier if you do some research ahead of time and go into it with a plan.
I’ll make sure to update everyone on our harvest later this year. Hopefully we won’t be eating weeds for dinner.
What gardening mistakes have you learned from over the years? Do you have a garden this year?