I hope everyone is having a good week and if you’re up in the north, I hope you’re surviving this heat wave. I personally don’t like the heat at all. Like anything above 70 degrees is just way too hot for me. Ugh. I honestly think I am part polar bear because I need it to be cooler. Regardless of the heat though, we finally managed to get our vegetables planted in the ground. We’re only about 2.5 weeks late this year! Yikes! But I am sure that things will be ok… It just feels weird to just now getting things going, that’s all.
I blame the weather – we had frost right up until Memorial Day and long story short, but we lost almost all of our seedlings that planted back in March. So we needed to buy all new plants and that just sucked the fun right out of it all. However, everything is planted and so far looking great. They’re loving the heat and we got a good heavy rain on Tuesday, so they’re good to go.
Michael and I have had a vegetable garden for the last 19 years now and it’s something that we both enjoy greatly. (Lets be honest though… I am the one that does most of the work. lol) When we started, we both didn’t know an extreme amount about growing vegetables but we learned along the way. Growing up we both had gardens at times but never to this scale and nothing that “we” were responsible for. We’ve come a long way and we are able to cut down our produce bill by nearly 75% for the entire summer. (and trust me when I say that it saves us A LOT! We buy a lot of fresh produce every single week for cooking and snacking.)
Since we had to learn through experience about the ins and outs of gardening, I thought I would share some tips with you all. In case you were struggling already or if you had been wanting to grow some of your own veggies.
If there is one major vegetable that we grow, it’s tomatoes. (and don’t start on the whole – tomatoes are a fruit, Jules. It doesn’t belong in a fruit salad, and therefore it’s a vegetable in my book!). We use them in so many recipes from salads, to sauces, to helping amp up store bought sauce, to dinner recipes, to just eating them whole. We seriously can’t get enough of them!
When I was pregnant with Shawn I craved tomatoes so much that I was eating 2-3lbs of them a DAY! It was a good thing we were growing our own because I couldn’t imagine the tomato bill every week if I had to buy them. I actually ate so many of them for months on end that I was hurting my stomach with all the acid.
There are a lot of tips that I could share but I think one of the most beneficial tips would be to MULCH heavily around the plants. Tomatoes LOVE heat and if you get the ground nice and toasty, they will thrive. We have a thick layer of mulch on top of the soil and it helps to trap in all the heat.
They also love lots of water, so don’t forget to give them a good drink every day (and especially when they’ve been baking in the sun all day long!). We water our plants (veggies and flowers) in the evening hours after the sun is gone from our yard. This allows the plants to get the most out of the water without the sun evaporating it and it doesn’t burn the leaves too.
I love to eat cucumbers raw with nothing on them or in salads with a little bit of dressing. So good! However, there have been some years when they have tasted quite bitter or we barely even got any to grow! It’s so disappointing when this happens but here’s what we have learned about growing them.
Crop rotation is a big deal with most veggies but it’s super important with the cucumbers. We have learned that we need to not just rotate crops every few years but rather EVERY year. They need a nutrient rich soil (mix in some compost too!) and it also needs to be well drained too. While they like plenty of water, they don’t want to sit in it either.
It is also recommended that you grow (and train) them to climb up a trellis but honestly, we have had better luck just letting them vine out in the boxes.
I don’t personally eat these but the guys love them! Since I don’t care for them, I don’t really cook with them but there is always cut up peppers in the fridge for snacking.
Green Peppers like a good amount of water but they don’t care for soggy soil. So make sure that you water them enough but not too much. They also like a more sandy loam soil that drains well but honestly, they have grown and produced well regardless of where we have planted them.
Our biggest problem with the peppers is BUGS! One of the best ways we have found to get rid of the bugs is to spray them with soapy water. It’s recommended to not using dish washing soap (though we have in a pinch and it’s been fine). Castile liquid soap works the best. You mix 1 Tablespoon of soap per Quart of water and when you spray it on the plants, make sure you spray it directly on the bugs to kill them.
Since we moved our garden beds last year we no longer have a bed dedicated to just strawberries and we are moving them into hanging pots. Only time will tell how it goes for us. Fingers crossed! Strawberries are a perennial, so it will keep coming back year after year. Which is so nice because they don’t require a lot of work every year.
They need a lot of space to spread out. (Hence they used to have a box dedicated to just them). The runners come off the plants and that’s where the fruit grows from, so give them ample space for growing. Supposedly, growing them in the hanging pots allows for the runners to hang down and they grow like that. I really hope that they produce enough berries to keep us with a couple strawberry shortcakes for the summer months.
One of biggest problems (next to the birds stealing them!) is slugs. There is nothing more disappointing than finding a nice juice strawberry to pick and there is a slug munching away on it first. We have found that if we put out a pie plate with beer on it, the slugs are attracted to that and will leave our berries alone. It doesn’t stop them completely but it helps cut down on them.
This post is already so long, so I will leave it to these few veggies but if you have any questions about a particular one let me know! I have grown so many different things over for the years and probably have encountered the same problem.