Backyard vegetable garden, lessons learned

Life is like a garden..Dig it.. – Joe Dirt Great quote, from the movie Joe Dirt starring David Spade. The movie is completely unrelated to gardening and it’s absolutely stupid, but funny. Not something for the kiddies, but watch it if you get a chance. I promise you’ll get a few laughs.

Why plant a garden?? Maybe you’re tired of paying $3 a lb for mealy tomatoes with no flavor, or you want to grow some nice pesticide free organic vegetables for the family. Whatever the case, there’s an old saying that you should plant a garden at some point you life..I enjoy getting my hands dirty, so I’ve done some planting, but the results haven’t been great so far. My luck seems to be much better with fruit trees and shrubs. But as the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try again, and again and again…

To start I had to find a good location, actually this was the only location available to me. It’s on the side of the house where there is a good amount of sun, and it’s close to the rain barrels and the outdoor faucet so that made it easy to run the micro irrigation. Size was limited by the location, it’s about 17ft long and just a little over 6ft wide, so approximately 102 square feet. Digging out the sod was back breaking. When that was done, I tilled everything up and amended (added to it) some Black Cow and Miracle Grow soil with fertilizer.


This was actually my second try with this garden, and it might have helped if I had done a bit more reading before starting out, something like a Gardening for Dummies book..All I really went by was the instructions on the back of the seed packet and just started putting seeds in the ground.

Here is what I tried so far and the results..

  • Broccoli – FAIL, got nice green stalks but the heads never developed
  • Carrots – FAIL, 1st time was only able to produce a few measly little carrots but that was all, trying again
  • Corn – FAIL, got some decent stalks but the corn never developed
  • Cucumbers – FAIL, 1st time had some nice looking cucumbers then some sort of bug got to them, trying again
  • Lettuce – TBD Mixed Greens – SUCCESS, there grew really easily and were a nice addition to our salads
  • Onions – FAIL, didn’t see one onion
  • Pole beans – SUCCESS, got tons of beans we were able to eat. These are easy, growing again
  • Tomatoes – TBD, trying them from plants this go around after my failure to get them to grow from seed

The whole process has been a little discouraging, but I’ve tried to look at everything as a learning opportunity. Here is the garden now. The cucumbers and beans are looking good. Took this picture before I planted the new tomato plants, so we’ll see how they do this time.


Lessons Learned

  • Talk to people who know what they’re doing. Never realized my next door neighbor was an expert back yard gardener. He’s not doing it now, but he’s got tons of good advice, and it’s free.
  • Buy a good book on gardening. This one is on my list, How to Grow More Vegetables, Eighth Edition by John Jeavons .
  • Lay you garden on paper before planting and mark what’s in each row. I forgot what I planted in some spots.
  • Mark harvest dates in a notebook or something so you know when it’s time to pick.
  • When the seed packet says germinate indoors before planting in the garden do it.
  • Be patient, successful results won’t happen over night. There is definitely some trial and error involved.

Gardening is all about experimentation, but most importantly enjoy yourself, relax and have fun..


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