After my first garden post, my plants seemed to be growing very well. Then, a tree near the garden decided to fill out with leaves (guess that's what happens in spring time?) and began to cast shade on the garden for too many hours than I was comfortable with. I think we ended up with only about 3-4 hours per day of direct sunlight on the garden. So we decided to move it. Which, with a normal garden, would have been all but impossible. But with raised beds, it wasn't impossible; just difficult. Do you have any idea how heavy a 4ftX4ft box, 8 inches high, filled with soil, is? Very.
We got the boxes moved to a sunnier section of the yard, but a few of the leg posts were sacrificed in the process. Instead of replacing the posts that broke, we were so exhaustingly annoyed that we ended up just ripping off the rest of the leg posts. So now as you can see, my boxes are sitting on the ground (which is ok with me).
We had great success with cucumbers and ground cherries, but everything else was just so-so. We only got one zucchini. We had a few Peacevine Cherry tomatoes, but my 2yo ate them all before they made it into the house. I only got one Rowdy Red tomato, and it wasn't very tasty (don't know if that's because it didn't grow very big, or if that's just how that variety tastes). The sugar snap peas did great until it got hot, but I think we ate most of them while working in the garden. We got enough beans for one serving for my 2yo. We had no Delicious tomatoes, and just a few scarce Green Grape tomatoes.
We got one good bunch of turnip greens. No okra, until it turned cold and 3 pods showed up. I thought to myself, what do you do with 3 okra pods? My 2yo answered, by gnawing on them. Oh and the Watermelons, don't get me started. We had one that looked like it was going to be great, but it stalled growing and I thought maybe it was ready, because it was a baby variety. Got trigger happy, picked it, took it inside to cut it open and it was white/green inside. Was so disgusted with myself. Not long after that the plant scorched and died. So, no watermelon.
We got a few jalapenos, but no banana peppers or bell peppers. The cilantro wilted, scorched, then bolted.
Things that were beyond my control this year were:
1. The flooding rains that we had earlier in the summer
2. The scorching heat that we had mid to late summer
3. (sort-of beyond my control) The shade that appeared a few weeks after planting, that slowed the growth of my plants at a crucial stage.
Things that I learned this year:
1. The soil needs to be deeper. Whether I raise the sides of the beds a few inches, or remove the plywood floor from my boxes and dig into the ground, my plants needed more room to grow roots. Deeper soil should also help keep the plants from scorching, which I believe is what happened to many of them.
2. Use more compost, and continue with natural fertilizers (fish emulsion and blood meal is what I used this year, along with some UCG [used coffee grounds] on plants that thrive in nitrogen rich soil)
3. I need to use some kind of pest repellant on my zucchini. Squash borers ruined my zukes this year, and I didn't realize what was killing my plant until it was too late.
4. Don't try to grow so many different things. Pick a few things, and grow lots of them.
5. The most important thing I learned this year is that I still have a lot to learn :)
Here are the tomatoes. See the 2 green Delicious tomatoes? They never grew bigger than that. I think Lilly picked them before they turned red, and I don't think I had any more to grow. Lots of flowers, but the fruit did not come to 'fruition' lol.
Cucumbers (L), Beans (R):
Aunt Molly's Ground Cherries (We loved these, especially my Little Bug):