September 24, 2012

Lessons from a First Year Organic Gardener

Although the endless tomato harvest is still happening (seriously, what haven't I put tomatoes in this summer?!) and the red peppers are still reddening (zzzzz....),  the cooler weather is beginning to wrap up my first organic gardening season.

Overall, the effort was a success- especially at proving how AMAZING compost is as an organic plant food/fertilizer. My left/right yield/size observations showed that all the worm work was worth it. Vermicompost really DOES make a huge difference in organic gardening!
organic pepper plants
Time to take stock of what I did right and what needs switched up for next season!

What I did right and would suggest to other first-timers:
  • Starting 3 months prior to planting- working vermicompost into the soil, continuing to turn it over with the harder clay soil, and weeding every few weeks
  • Installing a rain barrel close by to make watering easy
  • Using compost tea bags to infuse the water and provide an extra organic boost to the plants
  • Staking tomato plants early on and having larger standby stakes ready to go
  • Putting cucumbers on the outside edge so they could grow out and about freely
  • Continually weeding and gently tilling
What I plan to change up for next year:
  • Plan for fewer tomato plants! I planted eight, and really could have gotten by with three. 
  • Grow less spinach! No matter how many smoothies, salads, dips, or toppings I make, two full rows of spinach is too much. One should be plenty.
  • Find better onions- I ended up with these small, white, uber-strong type. I'd prefer the larger, less intense white type.
  • Dedicate more space to strawberries. I eat them every day in my cereal, so they are a priority moving forward. The berry fence is in storage, but will be out in full force for next year!
  • Propagate blackberries correctly. Cutting a stray stem and replanting doesn't work. Blackberry stems can take root when they lean into the ground. I'll be trying this to create two other bushes.
  • Add red raspberry bushes. 
What organic gardening lessons or tips can you share? 

Related Posts & Links:

My Rain Barrel is Full...Now What?
Red Pepper Update and Pesticides in Produce
Vermicompost Experiment and the Tomato Six-Pack
Fruits and Vegetables of My Labor

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