Learning to garden
After I moved to Canada and got married I got introduced to growing a vegetable garden.
Prior to this my gardening experiences were very limited. My parents would grow flowers, and we had some grass to cut, but that was about is. Also our garden was not very big
I do not consider myself as having a very green thumb, but over the past 30 years I have gotten to love getting my hands dirty and you can often find me during the growing season, crawling around in the dirt, planting, weeding or harvesting.
It used to be that in early January the seed catalogues came in the mail, but that has gotten earlier and earlier; this year the catalogues came before Christmas! Not having much time then, I only taken a quick glans through it and then put it away for later.
Over the years I have tried to grow many different things, from flowers, vegetables, fruits and herbs. Not everything turned out, and some things I grew for a while and then stopped, because my interest changed, or the produce would not get eaten. My yearly staples include: potatoes, tomatoes, corn, peas, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, Swiss chard and beets. Usually one or more different type of vegetable is added, depending on the year and what I feel like trying. I also will have a row of flowers somewhere in the garden to serve as a trap crop and a divider of the garden.
Not every year is consistent, a lot of course will depend on the weather, often the garden starts out great, and everything starts to grow, and then the weeds come, or it starts to rain and you can’t get in the garden to do the weeding. For a few years I had a little garden tiller, but then it broke and I was back to hand weeding the garden. The husband or one of the sons would till the garden in the fall, sometimes in the spring, often this happened with the cultivator they used for the fields, it did the job and I was not to complain! Then we got a tiller for the tractor and this did a much better job. Now I have my own little tractor and can go and till the garden whenever I want!
Last year I mulched with straw and this made a big difference in the weed control, I hope I will have some straw again this year that I can use.
When planning a garden there are a few things I like to keep in mind. Crop rotation is very important for disease control. So every year a blueprint is made for the garden to determine on paper where things should go. Last year’s diagram will help to remember where everything was, so I can avoid putting the same crops in the same place. For many years I have used “The garden wheel” and love the easy to use companion planting guide. I don’t plant anything without consulting “The wheel” first. A big one to keep in mind is that tomatoes and potatoes are from the same family; they can carry the same diseases and often attract the same bugs. This can sometimes be a challenge when planning where to put them. Another of their tools I use is the vegetable planting guide. My plans are usually very simple and you can hardly call it a blueprint, but it does the job.
As you can see I usually don’t grow broccoli, or any of the cabbages. Over the years the cutworms have been too bad, and I have not found a satisfactory method of keeping the cabbage worms at bay. Maybe some year I will try again, but for now the above selection is what I grow mostly.
Any tips or hinds that you have that might be helpful? I love to hear them.
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