What Have I Learned in the Vegetable Garden This Year?


My first response is that growing vegetables is a crap shoot . . . but in reality, there are a lot of issues involved.  The weather, soil, critters, how much knowledge the gardener has, and who knows what else all comes into play to grow those veggies.

Well, I am still a newbie when it comes to growing vegetables.  Even expert gardeners continue to learn new methods.  Growing potatoes, onions, garlic, and now buckwheat are the newest vegetables for me.  But, I want to know why my zucchini grew like crazy and the butternut squash didn’t do as well as I thought it would.  Hmm . . . more to learn.

I continue to say one of the main solutions to the climate crisis and to ensure survival is to grow our own food.  And, the pandemic really pushed people in that direction.  With sheltering in place, people bought seeds and started gardening . . . and canning.  I needed a few more jars and couldn’t find them anywhere.  Well, I did find some at the Tractor Supply store in town because no one thought to go there.  My sister even canned tomatoes for the first time this year.

So, what did I learn this year in the vegetable garden?

I should have weeded the onions more because . . . they are gone.  All 120 of them!  They were so beautiful the first couple of weeks.  Oh, well.  I didn’t put any straw around them, and I had plenty of straw.  Just missed a beat there.  What was I doing?  Assembling Leopold benches . . . or socializing.  I don’t know.

Last year the cabbage was in a different location, and all 20 heads did great.  I was giving them away.  This year, the critters were feasting on all of them.  I didn’t make any sauerkraut.

Don’t use 10-year-old pole beans seeds because they won’t come up.  Fortunately, I had some new bean seeds, which came up, and, they are doing great.  It looks like there will be a decent harvest.

The potatoes did better than last year because I increased the space for them . . . and I did dig a trench . . .  but I really don’t know if I pushed that dirt up next the plant in time to actually do any good.  It is fun to dig them up . . . but not when it is 85 and in the middle of the afternoon.  A friend mentioned there is also a tool so the potatoes are gently pushed up instead of being pierced with the shovel.

Tomatoes love heat . . . and we had it!  Last year, I had 20 plants and didn’t can any.  This year, I had 20 plants and canned 41 pints.  Go figure.  Well, the location of last years tomatoes weren’t in the best soil either.

Why did the zucchini do so well?  Who knows.  I gave it away four times and have been eating it for a month.  It never does this well.

The butternut squash has arms everywhere from seven mounds . . . but I have only counted about 11 of them.  A friend said it was not the summer for squash.  Too dry.  But, a couple of them are 13 inches long . . . if that is any consolation.

The garlic did a little better because I cut the scapes off but they could be bigger.  Back to the drawing board with the garlic.

Forget celery.  I keep trying to grow it with no success.  Back to Google.

I needed to weed the cucumbers and green peppers better, too.  Didn’t harvest any.

My kale is so beautiful . . . if I do say so myself.  It is Russian kale, and it lasts really long into the fall so I planted a lot.  Last year there were nights that were well below freezing, and the kale didn’t mind at all.

I am finding strawberries and asparagus are not worth the effort.  Neither are producing much at all.

I wanted to grow a grain, and buckwheat is the first grain I have chosen to start with.  I don’t even eat it much.  Actually, I have only cooked it once or twice.  It is very difficult to find any equipment to dehull it.  I have just started to harvest it, and it is a bit of a science project.  Well, anything can be a science project if you haven’t done it before.  I may try another grain next year.  Quinoa would be nice.

So that is what I have learned this year in a nut shell.  There is always next year.  And, how long will I last on what I have grown?  Last year it was about a month.  This year?  It will depend on how many beans I harvest.  It has definitely been a better year.

I am learning, young Grasshopper!


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