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Looking for some gardening tips? Here are 4 tips that are playing a big roll in how I’m gardening this year.
I love this time of year when everything is starting to turn green; at least here in California, and the earth is ready to be worked.
This year is going to be the year I figure out all this garden stuff! The year I finally garden like a grown up! When I stop flying by the seat of my pants and actually make some real adult garden plans! Who’s with me?
I say that partly in jest, because really, a gardener is always learning. With this growing season I feel I have gained new confidence, but I don’t actually think we ever get to the end of learning.
Gardening tips – #1 don’t let failure stop you!
Gardening in the early years
When my husband and I got married, we decided to make our first garden. I don’t think either of us had ever really gardened, never read a gardening book for that matter.
We went to our local garden store and got bit by the gardening bug. We bought every thing in site. Which was mostly tomatoes. 26 tomatoes to be exact!
They were such small plants, so we disregarded the instructions to plant them 18-26 inches apart, and planted them closer so we could fit them into the small garden area we had tilled up. It was perfectly good reasoning at the time.
However, a few months later we discovered why tomatoes need 18-26 inches of space between them! We had a tomato jungle! And so many tomatoes we didn’t know what to do with them all!
Fried green tomatoes anyone? That’s actually what we did! Our friends had us over for dinner one night and we had fried green tomatoes! It was pretty good actually! But, sadly many tomatoes went to waste.
Learning from my gardening mistakes
So even though we made a really bad judgment call way back then, it taught me a couple of gardening lessons:
- Obey the planting directions, especially when it comes to tomatoes.
- Unless you are planning to can, dry, and/or freeze your tomatoes, don’t buy 26 plants! haha
However, messing up and making mistakes is part of life, and a big part of gardening too.
So how’s it going now?
Last year we made these raised beds and added wire mesh under the soil to keep out the gophers. It helped, but they still found their way in!
So I’m still trying to figure things out! Or I should say, my mom and I are trying to figure things out! Since we live near each other, we are doing a garden together.
- To mulch or not to mulch
- When should we start planting and what?
- How do we get rid of these gophers?
- Why haven’t we had much success planting tomatoes in our currant location?
- How can we organize this mess of seeds we’ve collected over the years?
And the list goes on! Every year it seems like I have new questions and I either have to solve it myself, or just figure it out on the way down.
Gardening tips – #2 When to start planting
Next on the gardening tips list is to figure out what zone you are in and when your date of last frost is.
Living in California has it’s drawbacks, but it has some nice benefits when it comes to gardening! We can pretty much grow year round outdoors.
This is something I wish I had figured out much sooner! You’d think as a somewhat experienced gardner I would have known that I could grow food year round.
It wasn’t till this year as I was reading my new favorite gardening book The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook that it suddenly dawned on me! Our last possible frost date is some time around the end of February! I still need to work out exactly when it is since this is my first year to actually track it.
Generally we get very little frost even where we live in the mountains, and the temperatures rarely drop below 35 F, with a high in the low to mid 50’s!
This is perfect weather for all the winter veggies:
- Cabbage (I’d love to be able to make sauerkraut from my own homegrown cabbage)
Having said that, it doesn’t mean I’ll get it right! This is my first year starting a garden in February, so there’s still so much to learn!
Gardening tips – #3 Mulching
Next on my gardening tips list is a big YES, to mulching your garden beds!
This has been a huge water saver for us here in California. We buy a couple bails of straw and put it on every bed! Not only does it help to hold in the moisture when the California heat waves hit, but it also adds nutrients back into the soil as it decomposes.
Gardening tips – #4 What to do with gophers
This problem hasn’t yet been solved, but we are working on it! We have a couple of these amazing GopherHawk Trapping Sets. We set them in the gopher holes and it will spring when a gopher comes in contact with it, killing it instantly. It seems to be the most humane and safest way to reduce the population of gophers.
Gardening tips – #5 How to organize my seeds
Last, but not least! One of my top gardening tips is to get organized!
After years of digging through ziplock baggies, and tubs of random seeds, we have finally gotten our seeds organized like a grownup gardeners! Check out these amazing Seed storage and organization containers! If you’d like to see a fun video showing off these containers, check out this Elliot Homestead youtube video.
Wow!! How did we ever take ourselves seriously in the garden before this?! These have truly made a huge difference in how we are gardening this year. We can now see exactly what we have, and what we need! Please do yourself a huge favor and get your seeds organized.
Now lets grow some veggies!
What are your top gardening tips that are making a difference for you this year? Share in the comments below!