Vegetable Garden

What my 1st veggie garden taught me

I know the growing season is long over, but I thought I would still share with you what I learned from growing veggies this year. I don’t want to rush fall and winter away, but I cannot wait till spring and I can plant again!

Broccoli is tricky

I was warned by a friend, and several websites, but I didn’t listen! Sure it grew, it took over the garden they were so giant, but they never produced anything edible! And it is very likely that they were the cause of other veggies not growing as well as they should have, since they were sucking all the water and nutrients out of the soil. We all love broccoli, and eat it a couple times each week, but it didn’t work so I think I will skip it next year.

Turnips take up TONS of space

Turnip is probably my favourite vegetable!  They are sweet and delicious, and just perfect when mashed with a little butter and brown sugar. These grew really well in my garden, but next year I will plant them further apart. I didn’t realize how big the greens would grow, and they took over and shaded my green onions and carrots a little too much, so next year they will get more space. I also planted 3 or 4 seeds per hole, and they all germinated, which is great, but the bulbs were crowded and didn’t grow as large as they could have. If you enjoy turnip, I really recommend growing it yourself, they smell amazing when you pull them out from the soil; they were easily the best turnips I have ever had!

Don’t pull out the lettuce, just keep cutting leaves

There are two methods of harvesting lettuce that I know of: 1. pull it right out of the ground or 2. cut the leaves. If you pull it out, that is it for that plant. But if you cut off the leaves from the outside, it keeps growing and producing! Talk about a bang for your buck! I had lettuce growing all spring and summer from only a few pennies worth of seeds! I would simply go out back and cut some leaves before dinner, or before making up a batch of salad jars, it was awesome! They did eventually get too big (the stalk was about 2 feet off the ground), and the lettuce went bitter, but at that point you can pulled the stalks and plant more seeds if you want more.

Bush beans are so easy

I didn’t even have to stake these! They were sturdy and grew really well in our hot dry backyard. Pole beans can be a lot of extra work, making sure they grow up a pole and stay tied on; I didn’t want that extra labour, so I planted a bush variety. The more you pick these guys, the more they grow! I would go out before dinner and pick a bunch, and a few days later the plants would be full again. My son loved helping me look for them, and he loved eating them even more!

Carrots and green onions did OK

My carrots took much longer to grow than the seed packet said they would. But when they did grow they were incredible! My son loved the surprise of pulling them from the garden! I think he might have eaten more carrots than green beans, and he went nuts over the green beans!  They were so sweet and perfect raw, I don’t think I cooked very many of them, we just snacked on them all day. The green onions also didn’t grow as quickly as I thought they should have, but they don’t take up very much space, so they will probably get planted again.

Never again red peppers!

My biggest fail was my red pepper plants. I bought plants (everything else was started in the ground with seeds), and they weren’t cheap either (3 or 4 bucks each…), they sure grew fast, but didn’t produce any peppers for the longest time. It wasn’t until the very end of the summer that peppers grew big enough to harvest, but by that point it had cooled off and they didn’t get enough heat to turn red! I think we might have only eaten one red pepper! The weather was really wonky in Ontario in September, with really hot days and really cool days all thrown around. Somehow the peppers kept growing, but never turned red. One morning we had frost, and the plants looked ok, so I knew I should get out and pick the green peppers that were there, but life got in the way, and a few days later we got hit with frost again and the plants were killed. My husband bagged them for curbside compost pickup, and said there were quite a few big peppers that might have been good…the funny thing is, I don’t even like green peppers! So I won’t be risking growing them again and not having them turn red. Big waste of money.

They grew! Beans, lettuce, carrots, green onions, more lettuce and our first turnip
The trouble makes: the little bunny, broccoli that never grew, and those darn green peppers!

Overall, I think it was a great success! I love that I fed my family fresh organic veggies, that my son learned about growing vegetables, and got to help with harvesting. My family and neighbours loved the bit of sharing that I did (I just grew enough for my family, the intent wasn’t to feed the entire neighbourhood, but I did share some because they would share theirs with me), and I loved chatting about what was growing well, and those darn bunnies that we would chase away each morning.

I would love to hear from any of you that had a vegetable garden this year; what worked what didn’t, what you hope to try next year.

  1. Your photos look awesome! How much time did it take you (hrs/week)? Did you eat the "turnip greens" too?
    • It really only took a like 10 minutes a day, and that is probably a high estimate! Watering didn't take long, and when using square foot gardening there is virtually no weeds to pull. No, we didn't eat the turnip greens. By the time I thought to do it, it was too late and they hard grown too much and would have been bitter.
  2. I can grow salad greens with no problems - and yes, I'm a plant-snipper too! The carrots and cilantro I grew this year were pitiful. Chard is another plant that just thrives on neglect and keeps growing after you snip. Not to worry - my neighbour always grows too much of everything, so I'm able to get tasty goodness from his garden, although I always wait until the point in the summer where he tells (never invites, it's a tell!) me to take what I need before he "tills the whole g-d lot, I grew too much again!"
  3. I tried broccoli last year and it was a fail. Sadly, so too were the carrots. I have a very fat bunny population in my neighbourhood. They ate all the greens as they grew out of the ground! The Swiss Chard was brilliant. I didn't even plant it this year and got 2 healthy plants! Thanks for the positive feedback for the bush beans - may try those next year. Love eating the fresh from the garden veggies!
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