Lessons from the veggie garden

tomatoes taking over
The tomato cages and stakes couldn’t contain them, and now a big wooden stick is trying to hold my mass of tomatoes back from the peppers in front. Marigolds and sage are hiding in the cinder blocks under my tomato monster, and I think they’ll have to accept that their time has passed —that corner will never see sun again. Rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano, zinnias and other marigolds that aren’t next to the tomatoes are just fine in their cinder blocks.

It’s time for an update on my first ever vegetable bed. I held off on posting an update and taking new photos of my cinder block raised bed because back in June, it didn’t look very exciting with just small seedlings in there. It needed to be more lush before it was ready for sharing! I must have missed the one day when it looked full but tidy, because it’s no longer a garden — it’s a jungle. A really wild jungle.

The tomato plants have taken over the vegetable bed, therefore shading and crowding the nearby peppers and beans, not to mention the marigolds and herbs growing in the openings of the cinder blocks that surround the garden. I’m thrilled that the raised beds worked so well, and all of the plants seemed to thrive, or at least survive, in the concrete holes…until the tomatoes took over.

The veggies in pots have been much more tame, but still successful, and lots of lettuce, kale, radishes and snap peas are making their way into my kitchen. (Actually, the peas are too tasty to resist, and never make it indoors.) Something is nibbling the broccoli, so I sprayed the leaves with a diluted soapy water. I don’t know if this will help, but I tried it anyway. Cucumbers, baby carrots, edamame and shelling peas are still busy, growing in their pots.

I’ve obviously made mistakes in my first vegetable garden, but I’m trying to learn from them. Here are my take-away lessons:

potted veggies
Large, deep window boxes hold  ‘Romeo’ and ‘Babette’ baby carrots, cucumber, broccoli, zinnias and edamame.

— My current raised vegetable bed can only hold one tomato, and nothing else. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but seriously— why didn’t I realize how big tomato plants would get?! It’s probably because I’ve only grown vegetables in containers in the past, so I’m used to plants staying a more diminutive size. Now I know better, and will provide much more room so all plants will get the sun and air circulation they need.

— I need to better consider the mature height of plants to ensure the tallest plants don’t block the sun for the smaller guys. I did okay with this except I forgot about the plants in the cinder blocks to the north of the tomatoes. Next year, I’ll need to better strategize where the tallest plants (like the monster tomatoes) get planted.

— Seed takes time to germinate. Some plants got an early enough start, like the tomatoes (I had my first ripe cherry tomatoes from the garden at the end of June!), but the ‘Kilimanjaro White’ marigolds and edamame were started too late. I’m afraid they won’t get around to blooming or producing before frost hits.

— Zucchini plants get really big.

tomatillo plant
Despite being planted next to the unruly tomatoes, my tomatillo plant is tall and healthy, with lots of blooms.
Why didn’t anyone tell me zucchini get this big? I fear that the neighbouring edamame has no hope of surviving with a companion like this.

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  1. Linda Rankin says

    Thanks for your veggie garden synopsis. I have been growing one for as long as I can remember and this is the first year that I lost most of it to carrot fly. (Who knew.) It is also the year that I discovered that rotation means plant families, not just plants. So my rotation plan has to be completely rethought to be able to plant carrots, parsnips, beets, swiss chard and celeriac. It seems the carrot fly likes them all. Oh well, next year.

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