Monday, July 4, 2011
Learning from Vegetable Garden Mistakes
This was our first year in the new house and I had to adjust the way that I grow my veggies to the new backyard. With that said, I made plenty of mistakes this year that I will be learning from for next year! I think that everything is starting to grow a bit better now that I have tried to correct these mistakes for the rest of the growing season, but some plants may not survive - time will only tell. Here is a wrap-up of the mistakes I made so you won't make the same errors that I did!
1. Make sure everything gets enough sunlight. I planted all of my tomato plants in a wonderful bed in the ground that ended up being shaded by the neighbour's giant cherry tree. I thought the tomatoes would have gotten more sun than they did. The plants themselves looked beautiful, but this resulted in very little fruit being produced on the plants. In an attempt to correct this mistake, I dug up all of my tomato plants after they had been in the ground for over a month and transplanted them to pots. It is hard to tell if the tomato plants will survive at this point. I may not get tomato plants this year, but I will know to just plant them in containers for next year where they will receive full sun. Lesson learned: Make sure your tomatoes (and peppers!) get at least 8+ hours of full sunlight, especially the hot afternoon sun.
With that said, I had my peppers in a spot where they did receive full sun, but I moved them to a spot where they get full sun for longer and they also seem like they are growing better.
2. Make sure you purchase the correct soil for your containers. I bought a cheap potting soil at Walmart thinking it would be okay and it wasn't. There was very little (if any) nutrients in the soil, and my peppers suffered in the beginning. I transplanted some of the peppers to a better potting soil with nutrients in the soil and they seem much happier now. Then, after talking to some really nice employees at a local garden centre, I found out that it is fine to plant your vegetable garden in containers using triple mix (peat moss, manure, soil mixture). This way, the soil has an adequate amount of drainage, the plants get the nutrients they need, plus the soil is a bit heavier than potting soil so you don't need to water nearly as often. Potting soil is good to use, but triple mix works as well, so I'm glad that I learned about that tidbit of information!
3. Make sure your peppers aren't in a windy location. Sometimes this is out of your control, but I think that my peppers were in a windier spot being up high on my deck as opposed to on a lower level. One of my pepper plants ended up dying due to a combination of poor potting soil (see above) and being a tall plant in a windy location. Try to shield your plants from the wind as much as possible, especially when the plants are still small and don't have as strong of a root support system.
With that said, I have learned from these mistakes for next year and I am starting to get some nice looking peppers at least! Not too sure about the tomatoes yet, but hopefully they survive and can at least produce some tomatoes this year. I love make a fresh salsa each year with tomatoes from the garden, so I'm hoping I can do that again. One more thing - if you are going to be planting in containers, make sure the plants are off the ground in some way so they can drain easier. Mine are lifted off the ground on some plastic shelves that have spaces in them for drainage.
Paul and I received a new camera for Christmas and I finally started to learn how to use it today! I don't know how to use all of the features yet (just figured out macro....after I took these photos, d'oh!) but this camera is so much nicer than our old point-and-click one! It is the Olympus Pen E-PL1 and it is awesome! So many different features within the camera itself and it comes with a great lens to get started (you can buy different lenses for it, too). I highly recommend this camera for the average person who wants to have a bit more control over the focus, zoom, white balance, etc. than with a regular point-and-shoot camera.