What I Learned My First Year of Gardening

Even though I research things obsessively before trying, nature has its way of throwing curveballs.
  1. Don't Dig
    If you want to plant somewhere on your lawn, don't dig out the grass... That's organic material and a waste of effort. Instead lay cardboard or newspaper down, and dump in compost. Done.
  2. You Don't Need Edging Material
    Cut your lines with a spade shovel, then at an angle, and on the mulched side, remove the sod/lawn to form a natural edge. Then cover the remaining grass with cardboard/newspaper, and mulch. This is the result (and the best it ever looked). Each year you can clean the edge with a shovel and re-mulch.
  3. Stake Your Tomatoes WELL
    I messed up big time here, underestimating how tall they would grow. DO NOT use a tomato cage for tall tomato plants. You see the one I used? My plant grew so much it broke. Apparently those cages are ideal for pepper plants.
  4. Bugs Cause Problems
    This bed looked like it was doing well. Within two days, every leaf on my bean and cabbage plants was eaten to the stem by worms/bugs. I need to figure out a better method to deter them, or accept that some plants may not thrive in my yard.
  5. You Will Get A Lot of Tomatoes
    I had to make 4 big batches of sauce to use them and I'm sure I would have got more had I not trimmed them.
  6. Did I Mention Stake Them?
    What a bonehead mistake. There was no recovering.
  7. Hugelkultur For Raised Beds
    Google it, it's a German term. This is a technique I just read about, but it's using dead tree logs and branches to create a pile, then filling in with dirt/compost/etc. I'm trying it out to create a third bed. It's supposed to be great for two reasons 1) decomposing wood breaks down into fertile soil and 2) as it decomposes it acts like a sponge to hold water, which means you water less, even in drought conditions.