Well, spring is in the air (or well, kind of in the air) and while it will be nearly another three months before we’ll safely be able to plant seedlings in our gardens I’m already beginning the thing about what we’ll be growing this year. Last year was the first time that we did raised bed square foot gardening and it was a learning experience for us.
Our humble little garden, mid growing season, last year.
This season after two years of growing vegetables at home, we need to make some changes. We haven’t saved a penny, yet, from our own gardening adventures and unfortunately we had a fair amount of waste as well. Here are some things I plan to be mindful of this year.
1. Grow things that grow well in the area. Well, according to everyone we spoke to, the things to stick to are root vegetables but we did not find this to be the case. We had more success with tomatoes, green peppers, and our greens. Beets did not grow at all and we only have very mediocre success with onions and carrots. Our first year with potatoes was very sad indeed. We will not try these vegetables again this year. We can easily get them locally at a fair price without using the space in our gardens on things that would grow better for us.Check your local farmers market and if you have limited space in your garden grow the things that grow best in your area and buy the the more finicky things from a local farmer.
2. Plant things early in the season that have a short growing season. We will grow bush beans again this year and will plant them in early June so that when they are done producing we can take out the plants and start another set. Last year we did this but we started the second set a little later in the year so they didn’t produce as much at they would have just a couple weeks earlier. We’ll also grow radishes. You can’t beat a 30 day growing period. If you have a long growing season take advantage of it by growing quick growing vegetables two or three times!
3. Grow things that you’ll eat. I had visions of the kids eating Tiny Tim tomatoes by the handful but that didn’t really happen. Tiny Tims aren’t as cute at little grape tomatoes and somewhat feel like eating a big tomato and the kids just weren’t into them. If we can get little cherry tomatoes I might give them a go but for the most part I thing we’ll stick with Scotia and Roma tomatoes. They were good in sandwiches and we’re easy to can for the winter. We also tried red cabbage but I couldn’t get over the cabbage worms sharing with us and found they had way too much of an earthy taste for my liking. We ate two and despite how long they can be stored, I recently tossed the others that were on their last legs. Cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers are all also favorites in the house and can all be canned for the winter so we’ll stick to these plants. I vow to actually use the green tomatoes that didn’t get a chance to ripen this year as well!
4. Don’t over estimate your needs. We did this we spinach and chard and I swear we had greens coming out of our ears all summer (and fall, we picked the last chard out of the snow in November). The spinach unfortunately went to seed because we just couldn’t keep up with it. We’ll plant about half as much as we did last year and still have more than plenty, I think. I also planted 16 squares of different herbs and only use about half on them on a regular basis. A lot will grow back this year but some will not. I’m think it may have been a good idea to have the herbs in an inside kitchen garden and this is something we may attempt this year.
5. Start plants with a long growing season inside (especially if you live in an area with a short growing season). You’ll maximize your yield this way. It’s a whole other learning process but it is really worth it when you eat the produce that you started right from seed. It’s even better once you start keeping you seeds from the previous year. A full cycle. Beautiful.
6. Try something new. You never know what might grow if you give it a chance. Last year we tried corn that we were given. It didn’t grow, but you never know. We were pleasantly surprised but how much our tomatoes ripened last year when we were told not to even attempt them in Cape Breton. This year we’ll be putting up some chicken wire for plants to grow on and we’ll try peas and other varieties of beans.
7. Have fun. It’s a learning experience. Don’t stress over your garden. Get the kids involved. Get messy. ENJOY!
This post was written for The Christian Home blog carnival. Be sure to visit to read this week’s edition and get inspiration from other Christian homemakers.