With 8 cats roaming about, you’d think this wouldn’t happen…

but something is eating my seedlings. My smaller raised bed is ok, with the radishes and the arugula (and the fence), but the larger one (that doesn’t have a fence) where I planted spinach and kohlrabi has been decimated. I think that spot is just cursed, it’s where I put the ill-fated cucumbers. I think it’s too close to the border with the other, overgrown yard. Maybe next summer after we’ve been able to clear out a lot of the wisteria and other yucky stuff, that spot will do a little better.

Which brings me to a little post about first-REAL-year gardening mistakes. Now, this is certainly not my first attempt at planting a garden. I’ve had great success with container gardening in previous rental properties, but this IS the first year where I actually trucked in several cubic yards of dirt and actually raised anything other than herbs from seeds. I learned a LOT this year, and it makes me doubly glad I only started with two beds. For instance, June is a very bad month to leave for two weeks. When you return, your tomatoes will be 7 feet tall and spilling out of their supports into the grassy part of the yard. It will be too late to trellis your cucumbers (that were only about 6″ high when you left), and if you had no idea what a vine-borer is, you’ve undoubtedly learned by now, as half your squash wither and die before your eyes.

So I’ve learned that it’s really, really important to do your prep work BEFORE you plant. Put a trellis system in place and start the baby plants on it, even if their little tendrils can barely reach the first hook. Leave more room for your tomatoes, because they REALLY like bunny poop and will take over your yard if you let them.

Leave seedlings in their peat pots a little longer, or get some kind of covering to keep the bunnies you didn’t know you had from eating their tender little heads.

Get a taller fence so the cat doesn’t decide your spinach patch looks like a far better place to poop than the plastic box you bought for him.

Start site prep in March, so that when you are crazy busy during spring festival season, it doesn’t mean your potatoes and onions wind up never getting planted.

learn your bugs. learn your bugs. learn your bugs.

yeah. Like I said, I learned a LOT this year. But, despite all those mistakes, I got 8 quarts of pickles, a TON of herbs, I’m canning my second 6 quart batch of big tomatoes today, and I’ve made several gallons of salsa. All this on top of having enough veggies that I rarely had to buy anything (except onions… plant onions next year!) at the store. That’s been a really good feeling!

now if I could just conquer that no-knead bread thing…

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