With the start of Spring, I'm beginning to map out my garden plans for this year. I've grown some of our summer produce for the past few years, last year being my most extensive. I flirted with the idea of a "raised bed" style garden for a while and last year I finally had one. I'm lucky to have a husband who is always doing/building something around the house. I said I wanted a raised bed and a couple hours later, I had one.
5'x8' raised bed built mid-April of last year
Two week growth progress..
Last year I tried growing carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, peas, squash, zucchini, and onion in the raised bed. I put cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, and strawberries in a smaller bed on the opposite side of my yard. I also had green pepper and a regular sized tomato plant each in large pots.
Right off the bat, the cantaloupe died (bummer) and squirrels ate all of the onions. The peas and broccoli did really well at first, but then sort of fizzled out/stopped producing midway through the season. The cucumbers and zucchini were the opposite. They got off to a slow start and then produced once everything else was done. The squash and cherry tomatoes consistently produced all season long. My biggest flops were the carrots (only a few ever grew big enough to eat) and green peppers (my plant produced just one single pepper all season). Strawberries grew but pretty much immediately got eaten by those damn squirrels. I know this sounds a bit glum, but it was a really great learning experience for me and we did get several meals worth of home-grown veggies throughout the summer.
Plus, it was really soothing. I spent so many quiet mornings checking on/tending to my garden. I also spent many hot afternoons alternating between spraying the kids and the garden (and myself).
As we draw closer to April, I'm deciding just what to plant this year. Using my experience last season as well as crops I've had success with in years past (namely green beans), I've come up with a tentative plan.
In the raised bed I'll have- cantaloupe (really hoping to have better luck this year), peas, green beans, zucchini, and cucumbers... laid out like this:
In my smaller bed, I'm putting several strawberry plants. My plan is to put some sort of wire cage around them to deter the squirrels.
In both of my large pots, I'm going to plant cherry tomatoes. They have done so well for me, much better than the larger tomatoes. Plus, I can pluck them just before they are really "ready" and let them ripen on my windowsill, something else that keeps them from going to the squirrels.
My other ongoing issue last year was pesticide. I really didn't want to spray anything on my plants. I think I lost a lot of my yield to pests unnecessarily. Other people I knew to have successful gardens basically told me point blank- you have to use pesticide of some sort. So this year I'm going to look for something organic maybe.. or at least something as harmless as possible.
Anyone have any extra advice for me this year? Experience with gardening or tips? If you have a post about your garden, feel free to link it below! I'd love to read about your backyard harvest :)