Every Garden Season is a Learning Season

Every garden season is different and I learn something every season just by chance.  I also try to learn something on purpose.  So every garden season, I try something new – a new plant or a new technique.  Last year, it was water bottle seed starters, a trellis and onions. 

I wanted to use the water bottle seed starters because the weather was so wishy washy and wanted to give my squash, cucumber, pumpkin and watermelon seeds enough warmth and time to get a good harvest.  I had seen other gardeners use them on Pinterest or somewhere else.  They looked simple enough to do.  Simply cut a water bottle in half.  In the bottom half, cut a whole to get water and air in as you can see in the picture.  I’m sad to say it didn’t work well for me.  All the seeds started out beautifully except the watermelon seeds, which I think were from a bad pack because they didn’t come up when I tried starting them inside.  However, the water bottle seed starters were a disaster when it came time to remove them.  I tried as gently as I could to lift them up but too much soil came up along with the tender little plants.  I believe I disturbed the root system too much.  Perhaps I pushed the water bottles into the soil too deep.  Perhaps I was too early or late to take the water bottles out.  Perhaps I should have used 2 liter bottles.  There could have been a number of reasons why only a few plants survived.  Fortunately, some did so it wasn’t a complete loss.  I might try this technique again but not for all my seeds.  Just in case.
I had been dreaming of a trellis and admiring my fellow gardeners’ trellises for awhile.  I had mentioned it to my boyfriend and showed him a picture that I copied out of a garden book.  As a surprise, he built it in two short hours that I was at Easter church service.  It worked beautifully.  Although this year, I will put the plants more in the center and in “W” formations instead of straight lines on the edges.  It was difficult getting the weeds under the center.  I will also move it to the center of my plot so I can get to both sides instead of having it by the fence.

This was my first time planting onions.  I decided to give them I try since I buy a lot at the grocery store.  A fellow Master Gardener was ordering bunches and the more you buy the bigger the discount.  I got in on the deal and got more than I knew what to do with.  I still hadn’t learned my lesson from my 2011 tomato plant purchase of 10 varieties for a garden space big enough for four plants max.  As you can see from the photo, I planted most of them in straight rows with seed company suggested spacing.  They came up nicely but the spacing wasn’t ideal.  It kept them from growing larger.  This year, I will plant my onions in “W” formation also.

And in case you’re wondering what I learned by chance, I have a list.  Here are just a few.
  • I will never use the circle tomato cages again.
  • Pick that beetle off your collard greens when you see it.  Don’t say “Oh, I’ll get it tomorrow.”
  • Keep a mason jar with lid nearby so you can scoop up those beetles fast.
  • Stock up on pumpkin recipes.  You only need 3 cups of pumpkin puree to make 2 pies and you get at least 8 cups from one pumpkin.
  • My boyfriend’s 3-year old granddaughter helped more in the garden than my 11-year old twins combined.

2 Comments on “Every Garden Season is a Learning Season

  1. Amen to the pumpkin thing. I still have lots of pureed squash in the freezer from various giant squash experiences.

    I always worry about any technique that covers plants with plastic to keep them warm, in case they get too hot instead. Though it sounds like disturbing the roots might have been a lot of your problem. Good luck this year!!


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