These are some things I learned from gardening:
It's a lot harder than it looks.
Gardening is not something that you can just throw some seeds into the dirt and you'll magically have beautiful plants form. Gardening is a process that takes lots of work and patience.
If you do not use pesticides ( I did not cause they honestly freak me out. ), be prepared to check your plants everyday or every other day.
You can garden without pesticides, you just have to be on top of it. I was lazy and only checked my plants on the weekends and learned the following below.
If you do not use pesticides, pests will use your garden as a buffet.
Again, you can garden without pesticides, you just have to be on top of it. I started to notice that some of my tomatoes were going missing. Yes, plucked from my plants. I then learned that squirrels were stealing my tomatoes, yes squirrels. I tried everything naturally from cayenne pepper, dog hair, tin foil (my plants looked like they were getting highlights!) and nothing helped. I refused to use fox pee because well, that's just nasty. A co-worker suggested that I buy a bird net and I was so happy that Earthbox had these Insect nets. I put on these nets and a few days later I had healthy tomatoes and I went back to making sure they had water and watching them grow.
If you use netting, be sure to check your plants before you place a net over them especially if they are infested with hornworms.
One day I noticed a few of my plants leaves were turning yellow and drying out. I also noticed some little dark spots on some fruits and leaves that looked like droppings... EW! Then I saw this three inch green and red caterpillar and it was so pretty. They reminded me of The Very Hungry Caterpillar book but change out the apple for my tomatoes.
Come to find out they were hornworms, and apparently they are the worst pest for tomatoes. Yay me! I learned that handpicking them off of the plants was the best for removal so I took my time finding these beautiful caterpillars on my plants and taking them off one at a time. I also plucked off the tomatoes they had eaten. The more tomatoes I plucked off of my plants the angrier I became. Who do these caterpillars think they are? These aren't for you! I researched how to get rid of hornworms and found this so one by one I dropped them into the soapy water and said goodbye. Whew!
Luckily my peppers were not infested with these hornworms. I harvested a lot of thai and cayenne peppers which are now drying in my home.
Start with 1 or 2 plants.
I definitely think I got overexcited about gardening for the first time with eight varieties of tomatoes, 3 pepper plants, a brussels plant and five herbs. I should have started with a couple of plants and then gone from there.
Harvest more often.
Since I checked my plants once a week I would have large harvests (if my plants weren't ruined from pests) and most of my harvest would go bad because I didn't plan well. Next time around I will check my plants more and be able to enjoy my harvests more frequently.
It's okay if plants die.
Oh goodness when I found the hornworms, that was the point that I realized maybe I'm not supposed to garden. I would be so devastated if a plant died or tomatoes were eaten/stolen by pests. Then I thought about my sweet grandparents and how they garden each year and truly enjoy the process and that maybe I should enjoy it as well. It's okay if a plant dies, you learn from your experiences and you change your gardening habits. Plant a new plant and watch it grow.
Here are some photos from my first year of gardening.
Next year I will start a fresh container garden and learn new lessons.
Thanks for reading. - Linds