How's your garden growing this year? Please share below! I asked this question last year and learned so much from our Almanac community. Here are my 2011 update and a few tips.
Despite the current heat wave (I feel for so many fellow gardeners!), my patch of New Hampshire had a nice, wet spring followed by more sun than we usually receive.
The weather gave my small, raised-bed garden (10 x 10 feet) a great start. I bought only a small bag of compost to mix into the soil and supplemented from my own compost pile for the first time. I largely credit compost and soil preparation for the health of my garden plants.
I studied a couple of garden plot plans for ideas. I highly recommend the article, "Raised Garden Beds and Small Plots"—with 5 ways to grow more for less.
Lettuce: This year, I decided to grow more lettuce, as I love the light, buttery taste of garden-fresh salad. Once again, I didn't stagger the sowing of the lettuce enough, so I'll need to hand out baggies of lettuce to friends and colleagues. (Do the plants always catch up to each other?!)
I have to say that I LOVE my new salad spinner! TIP: Don't wash the lettuce until you're ready to eat. Then, swish lettuce gently in tepid water to remove the dirt and grit.
Broccoli: My broccoli didn't fare well this year; it seemed to bolt quite quickly: I pulled up the plants, composted them, and planted more beans. TIP: Before cooking broccoli, soak it in 1 gallon of water mixed with 1 teaspoon of salt to make that sure any bugs float out.
Zucchini: We just picked my very first zucchini yesterday! Last year, nothing happened because I planned the seeds WAY too close together. This year, I'm tickled to see all the yellow blossoms; I have a feeling that the extra zucchini will be shared with friends and colleagues, too! TIP: Patrol your zucchini patch daily and pick the squash when they're about 8 inches long. Feed your compost those baseball batsize zucchini and feel no guilt.
Beans: All the beans have blossoms and are almost ready. To think that in my first year of gardening, I didn't understand that flowers were "good" for beans, yet signaled that broccoli was bolting! TIP: Pick beans every 2 or 3 days to encourage continued production. They'll have the best flavor if you harvest them in the morning.
Beets: What happens if your beets have large, beautiful leaves, but tiny roots? Uh-oh. Now I remember that I didn't go back to thin my beets again, and the roots are too close together. TIP (to self): Don't be afraid to thin! Oh, well, I actually enjoy the leaves more than the root. One of my best garden discoveries was that beet leaves taste even better than spinach.
The tomatoes are still green, the basil's small, and the carrots will be in the ground for a while. Otherwise, I'm just watering a few minutes before work, adding organic fertilizer every few weeks, and spraying the leaves with soapy water every few evenings to keep the bugs off.
Janice, the editor of The Old Farmer's Almanac, gave me a bag of dried chicken manure which she claimed would make plants go crazy. I added it again a few weeks later—and have got to say that this has been my best garden yet. Could it be the poop?
Hope you enjoy my garden photos. It would be great to see your pics. Just load them here (and select "Gardening")!
Happy harvest. Remember, gardening is an ever-constant learning process! What did you plant in your garden this year? What worked and what didn't? Please share by posting below!
Catherine, our New Media Editor, joined The Old Farmer's Almanac in 2008. She edits content on both this Web site, Almanac.com, and the companion site to The Old Farmer's Almanac for Kids publication, Almanac4kids.com. She also pens the Almanac Companion enewsletters and keeps up with readers on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!