Our Little Garden 2021
I know it’s January, but I’m dreaming of gardening right at this time in this frigid weather and I had typed up a lovely post about our Garden in 2021, but never quite finished it. This is a post that’s really for me so I can go back and see what I did, but if you are interested in gardening this post might be for you too. I’m a novice gardener, but researched the topic a great deal and learned a lot in my first year.
Flashback time: This year, 2021, is the year my garden will do well! I said it, I willed it, it will happen. Also, I watch an excessive amount of YouTube gardening videos so that has to help, right?
In this post I’m going to talk about the following:
- My Goals
- The garden structure we built
- What I planted & Where I planted it
- What pests I encountered
- What products I used in the garden
- What were my results
So come with me and take a tour of my garden. Don’t you love walking through other people’s gardens to see what they have planted? I do!
My Goals for the Garden
My goals for this year’s garden were pretty simple:
- Successfully grow a few things
- Keep out pests as much as possible and as natural as possible
- Increase pollination/attract pollinators
I will talk about each of these things in more detail throughout the post, but in previous years, I have had issues with pests, growing conditions, and not having enough pollination of the plants.
In short, to change this we built a new garden structure in full sun, I researched common pests in our area and how to find them and planted some flowers to increase pollination.
My husband helped me with building the garden structure. And by helping me, he did it all :)
What did we buy:
- Untreated Pine
- Zip Ties
I’m not going to go into great detail on the structure of the garden as you really can make a garden in so many ways. Plants can grow anywhere if you give them light and water. This is how we chose to make our garden and it works for us. We have many deer and rabbits so we had to build a structure that would keep them out otherwise the plants would be goners.
What I planted & Where I planted It
- I planted the following varieties Abu Rawan, Cherry, and Abe Lincoln. I planted all of them in full sun in the garden. I probably planted them a little too close, but they all did really well in that environment. A few were planted in pots on our deck, which is all full sun, but my ‘deer’ friends jumped up on our deck and ate most of them.
- Ok so this year I planted Japanese cucumbers and wow! Yes, this variety is straight fire! So big, never bitter, nice texture. I’m very impressed with them. I also planted some of my extra seeds from years prior that were a run-of-the-mill hybrid variety. Also very good, but I still prefer the Japanese cucumbers. I decided to plant my cucumbers at the sides of the garden and let them vine up the fencing. They did great that way except some leaves got eaten by deer and then by late August the succumbed to the cucumber beetles–boo. Other than that, really happy with the way they grew.
- I planted the cucumbers along the sides of my garden and allowed them to vine upwards. I’ve always thought upward growing cucumbers are just easier so that’s what I did.
- I planted 5 plants of a standard jalapeno. Here is my advice to you: unless you are pickling jalapeno or eating them for every meal or have your own farmer’s market stand, you DO not at all need 5 jalapeno plants. Like whoa, those babies give and give and give. I couldn’t go through all of our jalapenos or give enough away. Next gardening season I will plant 1 or 2 plants. I planted these guys in the space where they received the most light during the day.
- LOOOOVEE bell peppers! The did take quite a while to get to the point where I could enjoy them. I put them in the spot that got the most sun, but I’m thinking I need to start them earlier from seed as they were slow growers. Eventually, we got to enjoy many lovely peppers. So delicious!
Squash & Zucchini
- I’m lumping these two together because when they were seedlings, I could hardly tell them apart. Obviously, once they got to the point of developing a vegetable I could tell the difference, but their needs were really similar. I just adore zucchini. Squash not so much. I found it to be bitter and maybe I did something wrong, but I don’t see the value in growing it again. My dad loves them for stuffing, but that is not a dish I enjoy so I will not be growing them again. Also, I decided to grow like 8 plants in my garden. UMMMMMM no, that’s a terrible idea because these plants get huge!
- I do not remember where I read/heard this, but it was relayed to me that marigolds are helpful in keeping some garden pests away so I decided to plant a few around the garden. I’m not sure if this worked, but they did attract so many bees and my friend, the bee, was very helpful in pollinating my vegetables. Flowers in the garden are surprising, pretty, and also extremely helpful. I will always plant these from here on out!
- I also heard that nasturtium helps keep away garden pests, but I couldn’t find any plants in my area. This year, however, I bought seeds so I should have some in my garden!
- Vine Borers
Have you ever seen a vine borer? They are this very interesting black and orange bug. I kid you not, at the start of this garden season I had no idea what they looked like. I called my son over and said look at this incredible bug! Wow! Then I did a Google image search and saw it was a vine borer (SCREAM!!!) We chased it away right then!
This is what the vine borer does…it lays its lovely eggs and then the larvae squirms its way into your squash and zucchini vines and cuts off the plant from its root system. Then the plant dies. I did lose a couple of plants from the vine borers this year, but I also saved 6 of them that were all infested with their larvae. Disgusting I tell ya! This is how you know you have a vine borer problem–Your leaves will be perky and full of life one day and then the next day, they are drooping like they need water. It isn’t a water issue! It’s a vine borer.
How did I remedy my vine borer issue you ask? I keep a sharp knife outside with my garden and I used this knife to start poking the vine of the suffering plant. You will ultimately find a soft spot and this is where the larvae has started working its way into the vine. You can cut a small slit along the length of the vine and then start to open up the vine carefully. If the vine borer has just started its journey then you should be able to find it easily and remove/kill it. It’s an absolutely repulsive process, I have warned you. Once the vine borer larvae have been removed, you wash the stem with cool water, pack nice clean dirt in the wound and then bury the stem in new dirt. Water thoroughly.
This all might sound easy, but I spent about 2 hours doing this on a hot summer day. Phew! Hard work, but it paid off because I saved my plants. 2 plants I completely cut off from their root system and they survived! If you bury the stem, it will reroot. Amazing! You will know your plant has made it because it will perk right back up. How rewarding!
Why does every bug in the garden have to be a disgusting worm creature? Hornworms are creepy little dudes. Like bright green, with circles that look like eyes on their body and then an actual horn on their head. Ew. I really despise worms, can you tell?
Hornworms can decimate your tomato plants. They eat and poop and eat and poop and will take down your tomato plant in a few days. My first hornworm I found because I found its droppings. This is how you can find them most of the time as they blend in so well into your tomato plants and are hard to see. I did buy a black light flashlight and my son liked to go out with me early in the morning to look for them, but it still wasn’t easy to locate them even with the flashlight. I guess they are supposed to glow bright green with the blacklight. They are not normal!
If you can find them, they are very easy to remove and dispose of. Watch for those droppings and you should find one nearby. Get a friend to remove it for you if you don’t like creepy crawlies…they are just about the most creepy and most crawly thing out there!
- Squash Bugs
I kept these little stinks at bay for most of the summer, but at the end of the season I saw them more and more. The trick, check the undersides of your squash and zucchini plants for their eggs. They are in a cluster towards the base and they are an orangish color. I cut those leaves off and put them in the yard waste bin.
- Cucumber Beetles
Ok, cucumber beetles really destroyed my cucumbers, but not until September. So I figured out a method of getting rid of them as naturally as I could. I used about 2 Tablespoons of Dr. Bronners Castile Soap and put it in a spray bottle. If you sprayed the beetles directly, they died within 10 seconds. Highly effective if you ask me and I didn’t feel bad about using a chemical in my garden. I’m sure there’s something ick in Dr. Bronners, but it can’t be as bad as pesticides can it.
Products I Used
As I mentioned above, I don’t like a lot of chemicals so I didn’t use many at all. I did try to use some natural remedies and I feel they worked effectively in most cases.
- Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap
- Diatomaceous Earth (food grade)
- A sharp knife
- A spray bottle
- Extra Dirt
- Fish Fertilizer
We had amazing results in the garden. It was so much work, but I love that kind of work. We had so many vegetables that we couldn’t give enough away. I even contacted a local food bank for a donation. As you can see, you don’t need a lot of space to grow your own food. It is a great way to encourage kids to be outside, to marvel at the wonder of plant growth from a tiny seed, and to enjoy the actual fruits of their labor. I can’t think of a better summer learning experience.
Your blog makes me want to garden! Which, I usually have no desire to do.