Gardening 2020: What I Learned

I have had many gardens in the past all in the ground as using containers in the past have been total losses. This year I got a late start to things as it was being that I was at a hospital from late February to middle of April with my youngest son. I didn’t have the time or really equipment I needed to get the ground ready to plant directly in for all the things that I planted; but this year was a good way to learn. Even being away I was trying my best to prepare by ordering seeds & things I needed to plant a food supply for the summer. I ordered online due to covid-19 and because in the area I was in was a big city. It was highly advised to not go to the stores and at the very end of being up there at the hospital they wouldn’t let you into the NICU if you had been out and about, plus why would I put my child’s life in danger by going to stores. Anyways back to the ordering; online shopping hadn’t quite gotten backed up but little did I know it was about to. Everything I bought or wanted to buy was either very low stock when I bought it or the things that were out were well out! Everyone went nuts, people who weren’t even thinking about planting a garden was now planting a garden; way back I decided my family & I were going to have a garden this year but I didn’t want to get things too early in the year since at that time it was wintery outside. Never will I think like that again, ever. I think my new motto will be always be prepared; even if you don’t need it now.
In the middle of April my son & I returned home; I needed to get things planted but had to wait a week until they came in the mail. I started my heirloom seeds out in ice cube trays, egg cartons, & any small containers I could find. While they grew from seeds to seedlings I got a section of my yard plowed by hand coming to the conclusion that I need the grass to be killed or I need a machine because I had just given birth not too long before so everything was still a little sore. Plus I felt weak still because I had been on bed rest prior to birth for a few weeks. I was able to get a plot of ground tilled up by hand for my corn; but then decided to give container gardening a try just to get the food in the dirt and growing. I wanted to do a variety of food I settled with these: Romaine Lettuce, Baby Spinach, Beefsteak Tomatoes, Roma Tomatoes, Watermelon(not sure on variety), pumpkins(just to see if I could get them to grow), broccoli, bell peppers, garlic, sweet peas, green onions (from grocery store scraps), & sweet corn.

This is a current picture of my garden today. My corn went through an apparent wind storm or what I have concluded that some animal jumped off of my fence down into the stalks luckily not damaging them too badly. I used an old shirt cut in strips and some stakes to tie them up until they get strong enough on their own again to stand freely. As of this morning they have put on silk and ears of corn are starting to grow.
Now for the rest of the garden its a rather sad site. I have decided I planted too many plants in my containers in some. I recently moved three tomato plants out of the bucket in hopes to save them put them in the ground. The ground where the buckets are setting on has a tarp under neath to keep the grass & weeds down as well as to make a plot ready for next year. I am going to be readying a new plot area for next years garden here in the future and will write about how I do that. When I planted the tomatoes into the ground all I had to do was easily dig because under the tarp the grass & weeds were non-existent. Now I know I have too much planted in other buckets as well; I am at a junction where I could transplant them to the ground but I just am so dissapointed in how my garden has turned out I don’t really think I care at this point. I just want to do what I can do this year then restart next year. I am also worried that the plants if transplanted will die rather than root in the ground. Seeing how it has been death heat outside lately it is near impossible to in turn do any kind of outside manual labor anyways with out heat stroke. I will say this the tomato plants I have planted in the ground have started to fruit versus the ones in the buckets which have not. I read/learned that if you prune off the lower leafs of your tomato plants that will help them grow better so I have done that the best I can.

For everything else I am just trying to wait & see what happens. I have a couple of watermelons starting to grow; I learned that as long as you have a plan to support the weight of the melons you can grow them in containers. My plan is a work in progress… My lettuce & spinach died the first week of planting. The broccoli is a failure, you see in my area we have those stupid Japanese beetles that eat everything and I am afraid after finding them in my garden recently they have gotten my broccoli for sure. Also my broccoli has started to flower which is not great if any of you have ever grown broccoli; when the broccoli plant starts to flower from what I have read and experienced the vegetable will almost never grow. It started to grow then in garden terms it bolted and has done so because of the extreme heat recently. I am hoping it can be saved and I am going to be reading and researching what can be done with the plant even if it has bolted.

If anyone has any suggestions for everything else please help me out. I think I will be planting the peppers in the ground directly as they seem to be thriving and I feel they are less likely to die during the transplant like a lot of other plants. In my conclusion for my growing season which is not yet over for some of my plants unlike others it is. I will be doing my in the ground planting next year and will be able to be more prepared. My plan is to placing tarps or heavy mats over the ground areas through the winter into spring so that the grass & weeds do not grow. And then I will be able to work the ground a little easier since I do not have a tiller of my own. I will be changing the location of the garden as well; it just isn’t a big enough space for a full sized garden and it isn’t very easily accessible. I kind of just threw this years together quickly as I didn’t plan on being put on bed rest as no one really ever does. That unexpected event changed my plans for sure then on top of that along came covid-19.
My advice for other people having similar issues with gardening is to plan it out. Make a set plan; plan ahead because everyone is going to want to grow their own food now and some may still continue to do it next year as well. Make a list of what you are going to do, what supplies you will need, and when/where everything is going to go. Gather supplies that go on clearance at the end of this season at your local stores to plan for next year. If you get seeds make sure you store them in an air tight water proof container out of the sun so they will last until next year. If you plan on taking seeds from this years harvests you will need to do that properly here is a video link that takes you through that process, via Roots and Refuge Farm. In the video she explains the process as well as some helpful tips on making sure your fruit/vegetables are pure when they put fruit on.

Things may have not gone the way I had planned but I will still make due with what I have been given for this years harvest to come. I still have some plants that will give a good bounty. I will take the knowledge I learned from this years planting/growing season and use it next year to hopefully have a better season with even more next time I plant. If you have had similar experiences with gardening don’t give up, its a learning experience that will help you get better at gardening for years to come. You just have to stick with it and keep on trying until you get it!

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