I never thought I’d see the day I became a gardener, let alone a passionate one. Caring for plants really took off for me considering I’ve never done this before, like ever. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on my first vegetable garden and I have some helpful (and funny) lessons to share. I’m sure there’s more, but for now, I’ve narrowed it down to 5 things I learned from my first vegetable garden.
1. Herbs grow crazy big.
I did not know this.
I’m a garden crowder for sure! I planted them close not realizing I can’t even see my thyme anymore because I have four mint plants growing over the top of it. Although it’s pretty from a far, but hard to care for.
Next time I’m leaving them amble space, because they grow tall and wide.
Garden Tip: Raised beds are great for herbs, especially if they can get sun during the day and some shade in the afternoon. Herbs like cilantro, parsley and dill seem to do better in their own pot versus a raised bed.
2. Always go practical over pretty.
A wise man once told me, “All lessons are expensive.”
I had to have the $70 (each) gorgeous teal pots to match my patio furniture. I was convinced my tomato plants needed to be chic for some reason. This turned out to be a terrible idea for my plants. They barely had enough soil for how big they ended up growing and were constantly struggling to stay moist.
Sometimes it’s just best to admit defeat and get the large twenty-dollar plastic pots. Plants need soil and room over looking fabulous. If it’s cheaper in the long run, then all the more reason to listen to what the plants want and need.
I ended up relocating the beautiful teal pots to hold beautiful flowers and they’re perfectly happy. Problem solved! And besides, it’s not like tomato plants are easy on the eyes. They to serve a purpose, they don’t need to look cute doing it. Lesson learned.
3. How many plants is too many plants?
10 tomato plants is too many plants.
I was “that person” at Home Depot buying every plant in sight. They’re so little at first and I wanted one of everything! It took me spending an entire Sunday bent over planting followed by a Monday with a sore back to figure out I was in over my head. I had 7 basil plants, 4 kinds of mint, 8 pepper plants, 12 lettuces and other a bunch of other herbs that lost their tag and are unidentifiable. Like, pineapple mint, what do I even use that for?
It reminded me of going to the grocery store hungry. It’s never a good idea. I think I’ll be much more humble in my winter plant shopping.
4. Pruning is fun!
It’s not just for big time farmers. Pruning can happen at home! Take it from a girl who ended up with 7 basil plants and still enjoys pruning.
Certain herbs like basil and cilantro need this maintenance when they flower. Cilantro flowers rapidly, but basil tends to flower about every other week. I’ve turned the pruning process into my Zen time. I put some music on and confuse the bees while they try to pollinate. I’m basically counterproductive to their work.
The picture above is a close up of where to prune basil exactly. Just in case you’re considering a garden… (it’s like I’m trying to sell you on the idea 😉
5. Don’t give up on a struggling plant.
Lets get a little sentimental about being a gardener. And it’s my favorite 1 of 5 things I learned from my first vegetable garden. The plants themselves make and continue to make am impact on my heart.
If you get the gardening bug you’ll know that it’s hard to watch a plant die on your watch. At times a plant might look like it’s not going to make it. I learned to hang in there and give them an honest chance. Even if they don’t look so good and especially when they’re just starting out. If your patient and willing to make some adjustments, you can probably save it.
I have two plants that are near to my heart that I almost lost. My basil plant named “Walle” (for the little plant that saved the world) was down to just a few little leaves and wasn’t looking too good. I got him into deeper soil, gave him time and now he’s the real deal.
Can you see the resemblance?
My second little guy was a Serrano pepper plant that really didn’t handle the cooler nights well at all. He almost didn’t make it and now, in the middle of August, he’s produced his first two chilis. I never thought it would be so exciting to see them make it, but it really is a beautiful thing.
I’m emotionally invested at this point in the gardening game!
What’s the Chili’s name you ask? Pepé!
5 things I learned from my first vegetable garden.
Despite poking fun at myself for my amateur mistakes, I really did fall in love with gardening over the summer. I learned from the plants, they relied on me to survive and we formed a bond. There’s definitely way more than 5 things I learned from my first vegetable garden, but these few little realizations were my favorites. Hopefully it’s enough to interest you into giving it a shot. I’d recommend gardening at home to anyone at any capacity. Even if it’s just a producing indoor plant! It’ll change your life in ways you never thought possible.
If you’re not sure where to start with your own garden, Seeds of Change is a great place to buy organic seeds and will ship direct. Another option, Burpee will send you beautiful organic baby plants. For all your fertilizer and pest control needs through organic products, try Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply.
Feel free to contact me with questions or to collaborate.