This is a post I have been thinking about for a long time. Something I've been wanting to put into writing but don't. I don't want to forget these things, but at the same time I don't want to forget to put something here and remember later that I didn't. I'm still not sure how to handle that part, but maybe just a Part 2 later. So for now I'll invite everyone to join in and add their 2 cents. I'll add those in on part 2 later. But for now - these are just some of the things I wish someone would have told me about sooner than they did, or that I didn't have to learnt he hard way.
Pearls Of Wisdom.
1.) Always plant more than you need. You'll need more later if you don't.
2.) If you think its a weed, pull it. See number 1. If you plant more than you needed you'll be just fine if you are wrong. If you are right you have just prevent that little bitty ragweed from turning into a 6 foot monster. ;-)
3.) When in doubt ask. Most gardeners are more than willing to share their knowledge with you. Just be aware that they may not always know what they are talking about so take it with a grain of salt and try it out on something small first.
4.) Learn by trial and error. You will retain more of what you do learn this way, I guarantee!
5.) If you think it's ripe, it might be. It might not, but what's the worst that can happen? If you leave it past it prime will it be any good? Refer to #4 and to #6.
6.) There is always next time. Next harvest, next season, next year. Another opportunity awaits you. The endless cycle of life. That's the best news there is. So you screwed up and put broad spectrum plant killer on everything? *ahem* wait a while and replant - you get a do over!
7.) Fertilizer is good, but there is too much of a good thing. Try organic and often.
8.) Compost (when cold) is the bomb. This stuff rocks.
9.) When the plant has tiny little fruits or veggies that drop to the ground - PUT IT IN A POT! All those fruits that fall and don't get found will make baby plants. This may seem desirable at the time but trust me no on needs 1,000+ pepper plants or cherry tomato plants or....
10.) Speaking of tomato plants spray early, spray often but don't spray during the day.
11.) While we are talking tomatoes, go ahead and drop some ground egg shells into the hole when you plant them to help with calcium deficiencies most plants get as they age, and plant those babies DEEP. Don't be scared to take off the branches at the bottom as new roots will form and make your plant stronger. Only leave the top 1/3 above ground.
12.) We are still on tomatoes, right? If you think there might be a frost coming it's better to get the green ones in than to leave them outside. If they freeze out there they serve no purpose, but if you bring them in there is a good chance in a few weeks they will ripen enough to eat.
13.) Harvesting peppers - this is a trick I wish someone would have told me years ago. It took me 3 years to figure out if you go right to the base of the attachment (where the pepper stem attaches to the plant) and twist and lift simultaneously the pepper will pop right off the plant like it wants to be with you! And it will leave a clean break 90% of the time to boot. I can't tell you how many times I cursed the shape of the pepper for making it hard to get in there with the clippers to harvest them. UGH... to think! Oh and pepper plants like egg shells in their hole when you plant them, too.
14.) Peppers are a perennial. Did ya know that? Now you know. Most pepper plants will live 2-3 years before dying off, if brought inside during a freeze.
15.) Mulch is wonderful especially when it comes to water conservations, but make sure you pay attention to what you are using it for. If you reuse it too much you could be spreading spores or like #9 reseeding nuisance plants. If you use straw or shredded paper it can be added into the copost pile or turned in for next year.
16.) If you think you want to start your seed on February 15th you'd better put in on your calendar for February 10th. Inevitably something will be missing or you will get busy. Better to try to get them in ahead of schedule than to be behind by 2 weeks.
17.) Think reusable. As each thing runs it's time in the garden it's going to free something up in the garden. The same tomato trellis can be used for cucumbers, squash, cowpeas, or any other vining plant. Nearly everything in your garden has more than one use.
18.) For small gardens remember that spacing is paramount. The lettuce you plant can be used as thinnings when young for baby green salads then as cuttings as it matures. This eliminates the need for exact spacing and allows for more food in less space. The same can be said for under stories. There is no reason that low growers can't be planted under tall trees!
19.) Plants need fed in lots of ways. Not only do they need their roots fed, but their leaves need fed, too. Foliar feeding does more to perk up a plant than many people give it credit for.
20.) Bugs are bugs. Yup. I said it and it's true. They are bugs. We don't want to hurt our pollinators and while we would LOVE to have a great good/bad ratio it's not always that easy. Sometimes it's better to squish first, ask later. Get friendly with your local good bugs and learn to like them but when in doubt it's often better to get rid of them rather than risk an infestation.
21.) If you don't eat it, don't plant it. I mean really. Why care for a plant for 2 months only to end up throwing away the food it has provided for you?
22.) Objects in mirror are larger than they appear. When you plant out those seedlings it's so hard to imagine that little cabbage plant is really going to need 24" of space, but trust me - it will! By spacing wisely when you plant you'll avoid potential disasters later. If you really MUST FILL THAT SPACE, find something that grows quickly like radish to fill it in until your larger plants take shape.
23.) Yes, indeed there is a thing as TOO MANY types of seeds. Too much selection leads to too many decisions and then to a memory loss. 'Did I like that bean, or this bean. Which bean was fuzzy and which one was squeaky when I bit it?', etc... I am notorious for this so just take my advice. I try only to trial 4 or less of any one thing a year. If it is something that will cross like corn I stick to one variety at a time. It's a waste if I can't remember which ones I like and don't like!
24.) If you don't get out there and do it no one will. Better titled. If you don't weed they will take over your garden. You have to care for your garden. If you don't it won't do it for ya. Plants can't take care of themselves. They need us to feed and water them, to pat the on their little heads and tell them they are good and to pick eye boogers off. Along those lines if you don't get out into your garden you won't know until it's too late when something is wrong. You have to listen to your plants you know.
25.) Watermelon usually are ripe about a week after the tendril closest to the melon has turned brown and shriveled.
26.) Oil your hand shovel after using it to keep it from rusting. I happen to be partial to lemon and orange oil but only cause it smells so good. Only problem with that is the ants like it too. I keep mine under the kitchen sink but if I kept it outside I'd use something like WD-40 or other all purpose oil. Keeps it looking nice, too. By wiping it down the oil inhibits oxidation and lengthens the life of your tool. Also good for your pruning shears, etc. Any metal cutting surface. You don't want oil beading on it, use it like furniture polish.
Tell me your pearls of wisdom so I can add them to the list. Have a tip or trick about garlic or onions? How about the best time to plant? I have no idea how to organize these but wouldn't it be neat to add in every ones hints and get a great big collection of these?
'Till next time!