Chad and I traded in our surfer sea legs for land legs last year, and dug head first into gardening on the homestead!
I mean, everyone on Instagram makes it look easy, so it can't be that hard, right?
Chad built 4 beautiful wooden garden beds and we went to town. I decided to write this post because our first garden was far from successful, but we learned so much that first year (mostly what not to do) that it was worth sharing here!
So...here goes, the four reasons our garden sucked, and how to avoid the same mistakes!
I headed out to our local gardening store, Green Thumb and got to work sourcing soil and starters. I knew I wasn't ready for seeds, so opted for the easier route for our first year.
Below is a list of things we planted, including a dedicated pepper garden (see items 19-22) per Chad's request.
Ok, so is this laundry list giving you a clue regarding #1 thing we did wrong with our first garden?!
Overly ambitious is my middle name, and despite all of the gardening blogs that made the gentle suggestion to start small with a few veggies, I didn't listen because I was too excited. As a result, I found myself constantly on google trying to solve for all the issues and not really enjoying the process, although I did thoroughly enjoy the Persian cucumbers, that was about the only thing that made it that year.
Right now our back lot is wiiiiiide open with constant sun exposure. I didn't take into account the plants that needed more sun exposure versus others, failed to implement any garden covers, and just let nature take it's course.
As a result many of our plants actually got burnt, and what I learned is it isn't even the top of the plant that gets burned by the sun, the sun cooks the soil and burns them from the roots up.
So for our spring / summer garden, we actually added some extra garden beds to the front of the house that are a little more shady, and we'll be implementing some sun shades for the back as well.
I really dropped the ball here and could have done a better job. I put in basic top soil and healthy mulch and thought that would be enough, but what I discovered is the basic soil lacks nutrients and I really needed to be thoughtful about amendments.
I spoke to several gardeners at the gardening store and they all told me 50/50 soil blend was the best, and no one mentioned amendments. I was so new to gardening and honestly a bit overwhelmed by all the research that I somehow totally missed the boat.
For our second round of gardening, we added the 4 amendments below, and I can proudly say we had a beautiful fall harvest!
My fourth fail was literally filling the entire bed, top to bottom with just SOIL!
I later learned about the German Hugelkultur style of raised bed filling, and this saved so much time and money! You can learn more about this method here!
This blog post is not intended to give you all of the answers and tell you how to prepare the perfect garden bed. I'm still very new to gardening and have so much to learn, but instead the purpose is to let you know that gardening is an art and a science, working with the plants and soil teach us many things, we're going to have successes and we're going to experience failures, and that's all part of the process!
I recently heard a quote that stuck with me...
This is not 'let me show you how to do it the right way," it's more along the lines of 'come along with me and let's figure it out together.'
I would love to hear what has worked for you, and if anything jumped out in this post. Please leave a comment on our instagram in this 'I got worms!' post, and let us know where you're at in your gardening journey!
Happy gardening and thanks for reading!
Stacie & Chad