Wise Planting Tip from an Organic Farmer, Our Garden in Pictures, and an Update on Back to Eden Gardening without Weeds

The other day I was talking garden with a few friends, and we were sharing our personal plans for this year’s vegetable gardens. The conversation included my friend Cheryl who formerly owned an organic farm with her husband and sold produce at farmer’s markets. She shared a wise tidbit that struck me, and I asked her if I could share it here.

Wise Tip From An Organic Farmer

Cheryl said a big mistake that people often make when they plant their gardens is they say, “I’ve planted my garden” implying that they just have to plant once. She said when selling at a farmer’s markets, they had to be ready to have a crop each week, so they would have to plant their seeds each week (except for carrots, which can be planted monthly). So plant weekly for awhile. Also, plant what you think you’ll eat in a week, and then plant again next week. So wise, Cheryl. Thank you for sharing with us and letting me share! So last year we tried the Back to Eden method where wood chips top the garden to keep in moisture and to keep out weeds. I used to weed sections at a time, and would weed and weed throughout the spring and summer because we have MANY large garden sections. By the time I would get to another section, weeds were already taking over where I had already weeded. Ugh! Now that we have had the wood chips for over a year, I am pleased to report that the weeds were SIGNIFICANTLY down. What I mean is, there’s been about a 95% decrease in weeds (Jonathan concurs). The only weeds that have appeared usually arise right next to a plant, where the base of an already established plant is most vulnerable since it was harder to spread the wood chips there.

As far as watering goes, we didn’t water our garden for MONTHS through the spring and summer even though we had the most beautiful, sunny, and dry summer that I can remember. And I have lived in Washington 30 years. We probably had to start watering around the end of July or early August. And we didn’t have to water as often, cutting back on the water bill since the wood chips held in the water so well.

Garden 2013

Jonathan and I agree that our established plants seemed to thrive with the wood chips, growing strong and mightily. The little seedlings, on the other hand, didn’t do so well (I did water the seedlings, by the way). I don’t know if this has anything to do with the wood chips or just me. Seeds and I don’t work well together even though I try…and try…and try.

Radio Flyer

Here is our 2013 garden in pictures. This is back last June when we were having fun experimenting with our new Canon Rebel T3i Camera. I still LOVE it!!

Crocosmias

Hydrangeas

Rose Campions

Lavender

Actually last year a few broccolis came up from seed and that didn’t happen when we planted the year before, so that was a mini success. Problem was we only had one or two pathetic looking heads as you can see below. No robust crop for us.

Broccoli

We also had a few tiny onions that came up from seed last year that didn’t come the year before, so another tiny success. How many people can share one onion this big??

Onion Harvest 2013

I had to plant carrots three times because they either didn’t grow or kept getting eaten by slugs despite our small tins of beer or grapefruit peels. We were so excited to have ONE carrot to harvest in the end. From overhead, the carrot looked promising, and plump. When we were finally ready to harvest, and the carrot was about 1 1/2 inches long. Seriously! I said the entire family could each could have a small piece of it on our salad. Sad. Sad. Wish I got a final pic of the harvested carrot, but there is a picture below of the lonely carrot before we harvested it.

Growing Carrots (or growing one carrot)

Last year I also planted lettuce seeds in a container and in the ground. I did start it outside at the very end of February because it’s a cool weather crop, but it grew pathetically. I had to plant the lettuce in the ground a few times because that kept getting eaten, too. The container lettuce did grow, but it was so tiny. I did transplant some container lettuce to the ground to thin it out, and that all got eaten, too. So this year I planted the lettuce outside in the ground and in a container the first week of April.

Growing Lettuce

I let some potatoes sprout and planted them in two containers. The mistake we made last year was not hilling them enough, so I just planted some this week and intend to hill as needed. You can see that our potatoes had grown, but some were tiny! We had fun guessing how many we would harvest. The numbers are fuzzy to me now, but I believe we harvested about 20 or so. Here is some more information from Organic Gardening.com where you can read about seven different ways for growing your own potatoes.

Growing Potatoes in a Container

For the past two years we have bought five small tomato plants each year and have had quite a harvest. We have loved making homemade marinara, blender tomato soup, raw salsa and cooked salsa, bruschetta spaghetti, eating them fresh on salads and more. This May I’d love to plant 8-10 plants if we can figure out a good space for them. Funny last year you could definitely see which tomato plants got a wee bit more sun.

Growing Tomato Plants

This is my first year planting garlic. I got them from a friend’s garden, and just planted the cloves in November 2013. I am REALLY excited for garlic this summer because this is what they look like right now.

Garlic April 2014

All around I am eagerly anticipating a better harvest this year because I am more determined sew seeds weekly. Do you have a garden? Do you grow vegetables? If so, have you planted yet? What are you planting? Blessings on a fruitful harvest this year!

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Comments

  1. Nancy says

    Hi, Sonja, We have a smaller garden, but potential space next door – so excited about that. This is a very helpful tip re the repeated sowing! I will try this. Also, I love it that you just stuck plants in the green bin. Very practical.

    Around here (in southern Alberta), which is very hot and dry in July and Aug, we don’t have a lot of slugs, but we do have some, and we use diatomaceous earth on the base of plants to kill them. It pokes into them and causes them to dehydrate. =( But it does save the plants you’ve worked to hard to grow for your family! =)

    Many blessings, Nancy.

    • says

      Hi Nancy. Awesome about your potential space. I agree about the sowing. I’ve never heard of diatomaceous earth. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks so much for sharing, and blessings on your garden!!

  2. says

    Thanks for the tip about using wood chips! I passed it on to my husband, the resident gardener. We love our large vegetable garden, and we freeze and can enough to last us most of the winter! :) Found you at Saturday Show and Tell

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