Confession: Moving to a homestead-in-making has made me feel like such a city kid, despite the fact that I grew up in the wilds of Minnesota and come from a long, proud line of bumpkins.
Most of the time I don’t know what I’m doing. Here are a few things we learned, mostly the hard way, our first year—
- We’re not in the suburbs anymore. We lost both Little Sal and Mr. Cinnamon to predators. I know—I never wrote about it when it happened. That’s because I was upset and angry for a long time. Mostly I still am.
- Hill your corn. Before it falls. We still got some, and oooh. Fresh sweet corn is heaven.
- Stake tomatoes and tie plants to stakes with soft cloth strips. This worked well!
- Plant “Jade” beans—the five plants that survived the slugs were incredible: hardy bushes loaded with long, straight fruit. We’re talking 7 inches and upward. I bet they gave me twice the yield of the variety I planted in their place (and sprayed liberally with Seven).
- Plant slow-growing perennials right away. We planted a long row of asparagus, and started four rhubarb plants—generous gift of my SIL Renita. We also gathered a few herbs from friends, to start our own patch.
- Peas are so not worth it. Not to me. All work and no fruit. My parents came to this conclusion long ago, but of course I had to try it for myself…
- Plant pumpkins far, far away–preferably on your neighbor’s land. They’re so lovely. They make super decorations and mouth-watering pies. But they spread tendrils literally all over the garden. And out of it.
- Plant marigolds about your garden. Probably everyone in the United States does this, but it helps reduce bugs and makes your garden pretty.
- Hang in there. Enjoy the fruit of your labor. Remember you win some, you lose some. It doesn’t all have to happen in one year.
What’s your best garden success or failure story of 2012?