Thanks to one of my wonderful readers, I was reminded that I never did a re-cap on my first attempt at organic gardening! Also, despite the loads of fruit and veggies that I brought home with me over the summer (my garden was in a family member’s backyard), I also never took a good picture of some of the produce!
The not-so-lovely photo above just “happened” to get taken while testing out a new camera I received as a birthday present. Nevertheless, those are some of my cucumbers and zucchini (no, the camera didn’t add ten pounds to that big zucchini- it was huge!) that I was able to enjoy.
I’ll re-cap starting at the beginning. I planted lettuce, spinach, beans, dill, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, marigolds, and cucumbers. By far, my most successful vegetable was the cucumbers. I have never seen so many in my life- there were days when I picked at least 20 and had no idea what to do with them all (after making pickles and cucumber salads, of course!).
I gave as many away to friends and family as possible, and learned a valuable lesson to limit the number of cucumber plants (when I only had 5!) so as not to have any go to waste! Obviously, I used nothing besides seeds, water, dirt, and sunshine and these babies came out pretty much flawless. Only towards the end of summer (when this picture was taken) did they grow a bit mis-shapen as the plants were winding down.
My favorite item by far that I grew was leaf lettuce- I picked these delicate leaves all summer and felt SO lucky enjoying many tasty salads and BLTs. I found that the leaves do wilt quick (I always tried to get them in a crisper in my fridge ASAP), especially with my commute home, but I noticed that they would fare better if I picked them in the morning or evening- anytime but when they were warm from the sun.
Unfortunately, I never saw carrots or spinach come up in the garden and I’m not sure if I accidentally “weeded” them when they started growing or if the seeds just didn’t take. I planted seeds for everything except tomatoes and cucumbers (free leftover plants from my mom!) and these are the only ones that just didn’t show. I may try them in a different spot next year to see if that also may have been a factor.
The marigolds (good for natural pest control in the garden), grew amazingly well from the seeds. I had NEVER seen such a healthy, bushy row of them. I was really, really impressed. I also planted zinnias just to have for picking (which did unfortunately upset a few bees) and they were beautiful, too. I had heard and confirmed with experience that they are very sturdy flowers, you can almost completely ignore them and they will still grow. :)
Zucchini, beans, dill, and broccoli were another success in the garden. A good amount of broccoli made it into the freezer, but that was before some deer figured out where it was growing (despite my small fence). The zucchini grew great and that big one pictured was definitely an accident. It spent a good amount of time growing in some weeds before I realized it existed and was HUGE! The beans were also good, but next year I need to be a bit more prepared with what I’ll use them all for!
Last, but not least, I had some tasty tomatoes from my garden, but most of them weren’t too pretty. I don’t mind cutting off the bad parts and still using them, but I think next year I’ll have to try to prop them up better to not be growing so much on the ground. The cherry tomatoes looked better than the big ones and that is really the only produce that really didn’t look perfect considering the whole garden was organic.
Overall, it was a bit of work for my first try at organic gardening, but I think it was very worth it and proved a good learning experience. If you had advice or experiences to share, I’d love to hear them and will save any tips for next year!