Disclaimer: I received some pollinator plants from Homewood Nursery & Garden Center in Raleigh as part of this post. The review, thoughts, and observations in visiting Homewood Nursery and talking to their staff are honest and based on my own experience.
Looking back to the beginning of my vegetable garden journey post back in March, it’s crazy to see how far it has come. My garden is thriving!
I definitely picked the right spot for this setup… and good timing! I had a constant supply of lettuce at the start of the coronavirus quarantine when we weren’t even going out for groceries (to be honest, I’m still just doing delivery or curbside pickup). Having the garden while being ‘stuck’ at home has been a great form of therapy and exciting project to put my energy into.
I have had so many learning lessons and things that I now know to adjust to next year, so I’m just going to break them down into some bullet points for ease in reviewing (I’m going to reference this information as well as I plan my next round).
Overall garden setup
- Full sun location was perfect. Need to adjust the location of a few items within boxes as some plants blocked the sun from later bloomers as they matured.
- Square foot gardening was great for actual space planning, however will space out a little more going forward just to allow for height visibility of certain plants. Also so that I can continue to mix in more of the natural pest control plants such as the marigolds and petunias.
- Will add a third box. If I was short on space, I could definitely make-do with what I have, but given that I want an unobstructed view of certain plants to promote growth, and intermingle more of the pest control plants, a third box will help with my rotation cycle. I’m not counting my onion box obviously because that’s really just holding onions (and the carcass of my sad attempt at potatoes).
- If I try potatoes again, I’ll get a potato bag. My potatoes never progressed and rejoined the Earth from whence they came. A potato bag would also make it easier to harvest (assuming they actually grew in the first place).
- Drip irrigation system for the win. We had it set to once or twice a week watering at the beginning of the season and now every other day as the heat has intensified. Combined with summer showers, the garden is very happy.
Plants that did AMAZING
- Onions! Sleeper hit. Threw those bulbs in and they took off. Green onions for days and it’s been fun to watch them grow. They are close to harvest ready with the shoulders poking out and the greens starting to wilt.
- Tomatoes and basil have gone crazy. I need to prune my tomatoes a bit more at the beginning just to promote the faster growth, but so far my Roma tomato plant is full of tomatoes. I’ll probably add another tomato plant into the mix next year. Also, anyone want some pesto? My basil plant is as big as my tomato plant and that’s with constant trimming back. Basil was started from seed indoors but I had to get a small tomato plant to finally establish. None of my tomatoes from seeds survived the transfer from inside to out.
- My squash took a long time to actually fruit but between my green squash and pumpkins, my vines are going crazy and I have tons of flowers. I’ve finally harvested some zucchini and my yellow squash is just now starting to take off. Not sure what it will yield at this point… my yellow squash plants seemed to be more susceptible to issues from the start.
- Carrots, broccoli, and beets need to be at the back of my box. They all did great but the growth of their tops blocked the sun from plants directly behind them that were slower to establish (mainly my peppers and bush green beans).
- Green beans were so fun and satisfying, but I need to put them at the front of my box. I also want to plant a third bush (I did two) just to have enough to harvest for an actual full meal at a time.
- Spinach, lettuce, and kale… these were the first to show up and boy did they produce! I need to plant more in the future because they provided the most harvest while they were delivering and I thoroughly enjoyed devouring them. Maybe just two kale plants next time because I couldn’t keep up with that supply (a lot of friends were gifted kale).
- Get that cucumber a tower from the get-go! It took over and was quick to climb over everything and anything. I had a small setup to climb but ultimately had to transfer it to a larger tower that it has since taken over. Tons of flowers and I’ve already harvested cucumber… I can’t wait to see how much more I get out of it.
- Petunias and marigolds took off once the heat came. I do think they really contributed to the reduced number of pests. We have had some Japanese Beetles but we have tried to stay on top of them. Aside from that, diatomaceous earth, coffee grounds, and egg shells have been sprinkled in the garden fairly regularly.
- I think I planted my potatoes too late. While the potatoes had tons of established eyes, nothing happened. Local gardening groups suggested an earlier planting was more successful this year. My friend did plant from my same batch and had a nice harvest, but she did plant about a month before I did.
- My peppers need full access to that sun. Some of them have done great but a few were blocked by the carrots and cucumber. My future setup will keep that in mind.
- I don’t even know what’s going on with my watermelon. It’s traveling all over, and growing really well, but no melons. Some flowers but that’s it. Might have missed the feeding window to give it nutrients to take off. I’ll try again next year!
- I need to consider my cool season planting rotation when I do my Spring setup. Having to rearrange some of my garden box now to allow space for my Fall garden, but this was the first time I had attempted this so now I know.
- I need to feed my plants with more consistency. I put in some Plant-Tone early on but then forgot. I think it would have helped with some of my plants to progress from their flowering sooner.
- Pollinators! I need more of them. I have started a pollinator garden close to my garden boxes, but I think the netting I had over my plants at the beginning of the season might have kept out some of our buzzy friends that would have been tangled up in it. I’m excited to now work on this beautiful pollinator garden to encourage helpful pollinators into the mix.
Cool season goals
I’m starting to transition some of my plants out as I work on preparing for my next round of plants. I’ll probably wait to add my third box until next Spring, but I do want to get some more lettuce, spinach, and broccoli back in for another round. My peppers, tomatoes, squash and cucumber will continue to do their thing. I’ll start planting in the next few weeks to take advantage of the August-October months.
A lot of friends seemed to have tried their hand at gardening as well. Were you one of them? What did you try out and how did it go? Any favorites or things you’d do differently next year? I’d love to hear how it went for you!
Also, Raleigh locals, Homewood Nursery is doing their big Founder’s Day Sale next Saturday, July 18th! You can get 35% off almost everything in store. This would be a great time to grab those items for your Fall garden, or get some more pollinators, pottery, and house plants!