A. When starting seeds indoors (I started them in the greenhouse) use a decent potting soil or seed starter. I figured I might get away with starting seeds in the soil from the yard- nope. Our soil is fine for established plants but it does not provide good enough drainage while also maintaining moisture for fragile seeds. Some seeds came up, most did not. What did come up we put out into the raised beds or left in pots, and for the most part I planted seeds straight into the raised beds. Some stuff grew just fine, some never came up.
B. Pay attention to WHEN things should be planted. I should have planted romaine lettuce, spring mix, and spinach much earlier for example. If planted too late, or in enough heat, it tends to go to seed and taste bitter. I planted other stuff at the right time, but since I wasn't working with established seedlings or plants, not everything worked out.
C. Pick fruit in the morning before the sun can hit it. It will retain more sweetness. (Chris told me this, I didn't know beforehand.) Our blueberry bushes are producing well- we have three varieties that produce ripe fruit at different times during the summer. Yum! From the reading I have done, I know blueberries enjoy acidic soil (living next to a pine tree might be helping us, then.) We also netted our bushes once the flowers had been pollinated and we saw fruit forming, to keep the birds from eating all our fruit.
D. Accept that you may have an abundance of some things, and none of other things. My Russian kale, dinosaur kale, zucchini, arugula and sugar snap peas are thriving. I can't even keep up with them. My tomatoes on the other hand, have been taking a beating with the constant rain we had for a while, and now the heat and humidity. From the looks of my puny plants, I might not get much fruit from them. My zucchini pretty much took over the raised bed it is in, and I doubt I will get the eggplant or cucumber I had planted there. I planted carrots, and the greens are getting tall, so the carrots underneath the soil must be doing ok. And pretty much none of the herbs I planted worked out. Bummer- I really wanted a good basil crop to make and store pesto.
E. Stay on top of the weeding, and mulch where possible. It will keep weeds down. (This is the main reason there are no pictures of the raised beds right now. I need to get out there and work on it!)
So, yea I learned some lessons and will definitely be changing my approach on certain things next year. But I am still happy with the garden- I am getting SOME stuff and it cuts down on having to buy those things at the store.
And now for some pictures!
We typically get about a pint of blueberries at a time, once a week. So I am still going to be picking my own at nearby farms, because we can eat WAY more than that.
Our first zucchini, and it is mammoth. As is the plant that it was hiding under, which is why it got so big. I had no idea it was there, and Chris brought it in, like, "uhhh, looks like you need to start making zucchini bread."
A recent harvest. We get so much kale, I can barely keep up. It goes into all my green smoothies. Left to right, back to front: Swiss chard, dinosaur kale, russian kale, romaine, zucchini flowers, arugula, garlic scapes, rosemary, sugar snap peas (this was the beginning for them so there was not much) and chives.