7 Lessons Learned My First Year of Gardening

Last year was my first official gardening season. As I journeyed through my first planting and harvests, I took some mental notes on lessons learned for this season. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. It really is so much fresher
It seems like a given, but I was amazed at just how fresh everything tasted. Not to mention the fact that the produce (including tender arugula leaves) would last three times as long in my fridge, since they had not been sitting on a grocery store shelf for a week before getting to me.

to the left, lots of arugula. Lots and lots.

2. I don’t need to plant so much arugula
And speaking of long lasting arugula, I really didn’t need a whole row of it. It was so prolific, I had more arugula than any family could need or want. But we ate it, by golly. This year, I planted half as much. I’ll probably still have too much.

3. Tomatoes do not work in a Grow Camp
Specifically, indeterminate tomatoes. I planted two cherry tomato plants and as I did, I thought to myself, “Self, you know these are going to get too big.” And sure enough, they took over the Grow Camp and turned it into a tomato laden jungle. Never again!

4. I don’t need so many hot peppers
Don’t get me wrong, we like the spice over here. My son, at the tender age of 11, is already the jalapeno king in our family. But even with all the spice loving taste buds in our home, three hot pepper plants were too many for us. They were big producers! I’m going for just one jalapeno plant this year.

5. Buying onion sets isn’t cheating
When my dad handed me a brown paper bag last year with a big smile on his face, declaring that I would LOVE this onion set and to take good care of them, I admit I was a little underwhelmed. I was a bit of a seed snob last year, and figured it was too much of a short cut to just plop some onion bulbs in the ground. But oh, the happy, instant gratification these little guys brought! Within no time, we were enjoying them and I was thanking Dad.

6. Plant more green beans!
Perhaps it was the jungle shade of the tomato plants. Maybe it was the hot pepper plants that were taking up valuable space. Whatever it was, we did not plant enough bush beans last year, and what we planted were not very good producers. It may be delightful to see that one long, tender bean ready for picking on your plant, but one long, tender bean does not a side dish make. This year, I’m devoting a whole section of my raised bed to nothing but bush beans.

7. Gardening draws attention
Our backyard is up on a hill, with no fence to speak of, so we’re kind of on display. As such, any time I walk out to the garden, someone is inevitably watching me. This results in a lot of well meaning questions regarding what I’m planting, how much I’m harvesting, and occasional jokes, like, “What, do you keep your kids in that little green house you open up every morning?” Ha ha. Ahh, No. But really, I don’t mind. Though sometimes I find that song from the 80′s running through my mind…I always feel like…somebody’s watching meeeee…and I got no privacy…woahwoah…

So that’s my list! And with this growing season well underway, I’m already compiling a new list for this season. It would seem with gardening, the lessons just keep on coming. Here’s to trial, error, and hands in the soil!

What are some of your gardening lessons learned?

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18 thoughts on “7 Lessons Learned My First Year of Gardening

  1. It wouldn’t be fun if we didn’t learn something from it.

    I wish I could plant arugula and things but there are too many animals up here to deal with and to put a fence it is too rocky to dig down for a fence low enough in the ground.

    Cynthia

    • I’m sorry the animals are cramping your veggie gardening efforts. I’m right there with ya. I have to keep all our flowers up high on our deck because otherwise the deer would come by and treat my yard like a salad bar.

  2. This made me chuckle – your experiences were so much like mine!
    I would also add, listen to your neighbors – when they say broccoli does not grow well in Iowa’s heat, do not go ahead and plant broccoli :)

    • Yes, I made sure to listen to my fellow gardeners’ advice – especially my dad and sister. But sometimes you just have to find out for yourself – even if they were right all along! LOL Thanks for coming by and commenting

  3. Never. Ever. Ever. Plant more than 2 zucchini plants. ‘Nuff said. We are STILL EATING zucchini from last season! And always plant more tomatoes than you think you need…they preserve well (drying, canning, freezing puree) and you can never have enough! Besides, unlike zucchini, your co-workers will always welcome extra tomatoes. :)

    And when they say peas and broccoli are cool season crops, they mean it. Plant early, even if you have to plant it with a scarf and hat on!

  4. I was going to post a zuchinni warning, but I see that’s been done. (I planted one last year, and it turned my mailbox into the Little Shop of Horrors. That doesn’t mean I won’t plant one again this year–I’ll just choose its location a little differently.)
    Thanks for educating us! We learn by growing, don’t we? :-)

  5. Funny, one of our lessons from our first year of gardening last summer was “grow LESS green beans.” We totally maxed out on the beans. And we had a lot of interest in our garden as well, including a city worker who kept wanting to buy my tomatoes and peppers, and couldn’t believe that us gringos really ate jalapenos and habaneros.

  6. Pingback: It’s about that time… | Clover and Thyme

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