Top 5 Lessons Learned as a Novice Gardener

| 12/18/2013 3:08:00 PM

Amanda StoffelsLesson 1: You have to have sun.

Now I know that this sounds silly as most people would say, "You can’t grow anything without sun," but I never knew plants had to have so much sun. Full sun versus partial sun meant nothing to me. So when my husband said he would build me a garden box I said put it on the front side of the house where the dogs can't get to it and we will have some sun. Keyword: some. I never realized that the fence, house and neighbor’s house would shade it. So when I started reading about plants needing 6 to 8 hours of sun minimal, I was concerned. I began plotting the sun at different times of the day in mid-May (way too late to plant cool weather plants, but that will be in Lesson 3) and figured that I have one square foot of the entire 6 by 8 garden that gets full sun. A couple of the square foots get 8 to 10 hours due to the fence shading it and the rest barely gets 6 to 8 hours. This brings me to lesson No. 2.

Lesson 2: Plot out your garden BEFORE you buy all your plants from the local nursery.

I was super excited about buying plants for the garden. I went to three different stores buying plants that I thought would be fun to grow. Then I ran across the local farmer's market store that has a ton of plants come spring. I looked like a kid at a candy store trying to find the perfect piece of the most delicious piece of candy. As I was walking around looking at plants, a nice staff member asked if they could help me. I said, "I want to grow fruit." So she took me to the blueberry bushes, blackberry vines and grapevines. She then proceeded to ask me all the right questions such as "Where are you going to plant it?" and "How much sun is it going to get?" I realized at that moment a little forethought would have gone a long way. I couldn't answer those questions so I proceeded to describe my entire front and back yard with guessitimations of the amount of sunlight. In the end, my blueberry bushes did not make it, my blackberry bush died, and my grapevines were dug up by the dogs, not to mention that I didn’t have enough space for all the plants that I bought at the previous stores.  So I was giving away plants. Lesson learned.

spring garden
Happy Mother’s Day present, our first garden

Lesson 3: Timing is everything 

12/22/2013 9:58:12 AM

Amanda, you made me laugh. Welcome to the GRIT blogging community. I too always over buy. I even bought a bigger foreclosed piece of property in the inner city and still I over buy at planting time. Last year was my first successful seed starting year and well, I needed about 10 tomato plants and successfully grew about 100 plants. Of course in seed starting it's a good thing to over plant and take the strongest plants to the garden. ***** My garden plan is never quite finished until the plants or seed go into the ground. Every time I look a my plan, there's always just a little something to tweak here or there. ***** Have a great garden planning day.

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