I’m approaching my organic garden with a good deal of optimism this year! Last year I had several plants do very well. Specifically, the tomatoes and bell peppers and EVERY herb that I planted in our community garden plot.
We have two plots again this year: the community garden plot up at the elementary school where my children will attend and one in our backyard.
The community garden plot is small, probably 4 feet by 4 feet. Raised bed. The soil was put there by a master gardener who set up the community garden. It is MAGICAL soil. Everything I have planted there has grown huge quickly. No pesticides or non-organic fertilizers are allowed. It gets full sun and we take turns watering so that it is watered every other day in the summer months. I have had no problems with pests aside from some beetles that took out the lettuce at the end of it’s growing season last year. But they didn’t touch anything else, and those plants were finished producing anyway.
Our backyard plot is 4 feet by 8 feet. This is our third year to attempt to plant things in it. It is also a raised bed, the soil came from a local composting plant that uses city scraps for compost. Everything I put into this soil has done poorly, if not immediately died. We also have terrible infestations of squash bugs, caterpillars, and extremely aggressive roly polys. I did not even know roly polys were aggressive until I got this garden. Those roly polys eat ALL the baby plants from the ground up. They never make it to full grown plants. Those that do make it to medium size never get any bigger, and the tomatoes do not produce much. I spent all of last year amending the soil with a number of different soil additives (organic) and spraying with garrett juice (compost juice). The soil failed all soil tests, showing that it has basically no nutrients at all. Kale grows well consistently, but it’s pretty difficult to kill kale. I planted a lavender plant in the fall and it’s not dead either, but it hasn’t grown. The broccoli I planted over the winter produced a few times. I also trapped thousands of roly polys by setting traps of tuna cans full of (cheap) beer. Roly Polys LOVE beer! But they get drunk and drown in it. It’s pretty awesome.
I spoke with another friend who is a master gardener about my raised bed in the backyard and she suggested mushroom compost. I have added 3 bags to the backyard bed and attempted to mix it in. I will also continue to add the soil amendments I added before, as well as the garrett juice. Hopefully this will be enough to allow some things to grow.
This morning it was our turn to water the community garden, so we stopped by a local gardening store and bought some small plants. Another way I am attempting to improve our results is to buy from local gardening stores rather than Home Depot, as I have in the past. I am hoping that the quality will be better.
Today we bought:
tomatoes (I do not even understand the types of tomatoes, who knows what I bought? My 4 year old daughter picked it out)
We already had seeds for:
marigolds (to repel harmful insects)
green leaf lettuce
an onion from my pantry sprouted and I have planted it in the community garden plot, it’s already huge!
a “volunteer” squash from last year has started re-growing in the community garden plot
I have a lovely little herb garden going at the community garden now! I am hoping that soon I won’t have to buy fresh herbs at all. The thyme and oregano from last year made it through the winter and are already so large that I had to trim them back. I even dug up some offshoots of the thyme and am going to try to plant them in our backyard garden.
I think the only thing I might be missing is basil. Not sure why I forgot to buy that!
What are you planting? Do you have any recommendations for soil improvement?