Friday, October 12, 2012

3 Things I Learned from My Vegetable Garden This Year

Here in the north the vegetable gardening season has come to a close. In a way it's sad to see yet another season has gone by. On the other hand, it's nice to gain more expeience and knowledge from doing some hands-on gardening. Hopefully, after all the time spent in the garden, you walked away knowing a thing or two more than you did last year - I know I did.

Tomato Cages Don't Work for All Vegetable Plants

For starters, I know not to place tomato cages around my young broccoli plants in an attempt to provide them with support when they are big. After transplanting my seedlings, I dutifully provided them with tomato cages. The cages provided excellent support alright, but the inner leaves of my broccoli plants were forced awkwardly upwards.

This caused the outside of the main heads of broccoli to take longer to ripen than the centers. While patiently waiting for the outsides of the heads to ripen, the insides started to rot. What I learned? Next year I'll wait until my plants actually need support and then I'll stake them.

Check to See if Vegetables are of the Pole or Vining Variety Before Buying

I was excited to try a new type of bean in my vegetable garden this year, well new to  me anyway. They were called "yard long" beans and rightfully named because the beans grow up to a foot or more. After the drenching spring rains had passed by, which chose to fall after I had diligently planted my garden, I was delighted to see that a handful of my yard long bean plants had survived.

If only I had read the back of the seed packet a bit better before planting I would have realized they were vining beans. Next year I'll be growing this variety of bean again and I'll make sure to plant them along a trellis so I don't have to go searching for beans around and under other plants in the garden. What I learned? Slow down and take a minute to thouroughly read plant descriptions before ordering and especially before planting.

Make Sure the Manure I add to My Vegetable Gardens is Well-Composted

Hey, I already know this but the person spreading the manure in my vegetable gardens didn't. My father was nice enough to bring a bucket load of manure and dump it in my gardens and then, in the garden that was big enough to use the tractor, spread it for me. Little did I know the manure wasn't year-old, meaning it was still relatively fresh.

Fresh manure isn't good for all vegetable plants. It can burn the roots of some plants while causing others to focus on growing large and pushing out foliage rather than providing vegetables. Many of my cucumber plants didn't survive but my broccoli plants looked like they were on steroids. I'm happy to report my broccoli is still putting out side shoots, despite my caging, well into October. What I learned? Know exactly what I'm spreading in my vegetable gardens.

What did you learn from your vegetable garden this year?

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