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It’s impossible not to be delighted by Kenny R’s backyard garden. He says, “Apparently I have a very green thumb yet I lived my whole life of 55 years and never knew it. If I can do this, anyone can!” See Kenny’s garden plot plan and many photos which shows the transformation.
Kenny R from Ohio used Almanac Garden Planner to plan his 2020, 2021, and 2022 gardens, which has helped him to implement crop rotation and companion planting for the best possible results. Here’s his wonderful review which take us through his inspiring gardening journey with what he learned along the way.
Kenny R’s Garden Story
I am 60 years old and my wife is 49 and we are both retired (I retired from my day job five years ago). My wife is from Thailand and she is pretty much a vegetarian, but does enjoy seafood. So as you can imagine, we can have some pretty large grocery bills, even though it’s just the two of us. She is an awesome cook and makes us delicious Thai food all the time!
It was early in 2020 that we decided to do our first vegetable garden to help ease the cost of groceries and to have fresh veggies!! Plus, I now had the time to do it since I’m retired! We always had a garden when I was growing up but my wife and I had never done one in the 20 years we’ve been married (I worked too much!). So I did tons of research online beforehand on what to do and how to do it. You’ll notice in all my garden pictures that I completely cover my garden with weed barrier. I don’t do weeds!!! It may be a lot of extra work to put it down in the spring, but after planting I have very little work to do pulling weeds throughout the summer—just the few that grow up through the holes around each vegetable plant. Then, in the fall, I roll each sheet up (yes, the whole garden!!) and label each one with masking tape as to which vegetable was grown in it or where it goes in the layout. I then store them all in my barn for the winter to be used again the next year.
There were a few things we decided right from the start. I am the outdoor person and she isn’t. I am very detailed and she isn’t. First, we decided together what to plant. Then, I decided the garden layout and implemented it. Everything. I tilled the ground, picked up the rocks, raked the dirt out smooth, layed out the weed barrier and pinned it down. I also planted all the seeds/plants and decided when the garden needs watered. My wife’s job is to harvest all vegetables, cook them for our meals and she does a lot of freezer storage of them too. She also made all the spaghetti sauce and helped me with canning everything. Then in the fall, I tear the whole garden down for the winter and put everything away until next year.
Next, I found your Garden Planner! It made things so easy to plan out a garden and to know how much space each vegetable would need! Without it, I didn’t have any idea about plant spacing and probably would have planted things too close together! Plus, it taught me about companion planting, which I had never heard of. That first year was just your basic vegetables. And I tried starting many of them early inside my heated workshop to try and get a jump on the season. I already have grow lights and they did well. However, after some plants had been hardened off and transplanted into the garden, we had a late frost and even though I used row covers to try and protect them, we lost all our green bean plants and some others to the cold and had to start them over.
We did some fun things! Like growing mini cantaloupe and watermelons on an overhead trellis!! Then as they grew, we hung each one in a mini stocking hammock!! It was very cool to walk through there and see them growing! (See attached pics). Most of our veggies did really well. Potatoes, tomatoes, corn, green beans, lettuce, beets and cucumbers all did very well. However, we did have some issues. We tried to grow strawberries in a raised garden bed and they did not do well at all. Seemed like slugs or something got in there and ate the roots and killed them dead!! But we had an awesome harvest and canned a bunch of spicy dill pickles, pickled beets and a bunch of spaghetti sauce from our tomatoes! We love eating them and giving some away to my parents and friends!
For 2021, we used the garden planner again and this time we included some specific Thai vegetables to try and grow (ordered seeds online). We grew Yard-long Green Beans, Thai Eggplant and of course, Thai Chili peppers! Again, everything did very well and we ate awesome fresh veggies all summer long!! For this year we did not start any seeds early inside. Only planted them outside according to the timing guide in the Garden Planner.
For 2022, I enlarged the plan/garden and tried to space things out better for more room between plants and rows with walkways through the garden so we could easily get to everything. After all, we do have the space and it’s less yard to mow! LOL!! Again for this year, we didn’t start any seeds early inside. We tried to implement more Thai vegetables into the garden but didn’t have as good results. We purchased some different Thai vegetable seeds and not sure it was a good source; our results showed. Our Yard Long Green Beans grew like crazy, with vines climbing 15-foot poles and into the air and all over the place! But, for some crazy reason… not one flower bloomed and not even one green bean grew! They grew like crazy all summer without even one single flower/bean!! Never seen anything like it and don’t know why! The long green beans we grew last year did great and we had lots of beans! But many of the other veggies we planted did really well. We had okra, watermelons, morning glory, Thai EggPlant and Thai Cucumbers coming out our ears!
For 2023, we have decided to plant almost exclusively Thai vegetables. Other than corn, okra and tomatoes, we will be planting all Thailand vegetable seeds this year. I have yet to lay out our garden with the Garden Planner (will do that next month), but we have already purchased a whole bunch of different Thai vegetable seeds to try and grow this year. And these seeds should be good since we got them from a much better source this time. We have three different kinds of Thai Eggplant, Thai cucumber, watermelon, yard long green beans, chili peppers and many others.
Also, I’ve included a link to last year’s garden plan. You’ll notice in the plan I have now included a section in my garden for my “bonsai trees”! Yes, I am a beginning bonsai artist and I plan to locate some of the trees that I am currently growing/developing in the ground next to my house, out to within my garden. I’m getting ready to transplant them out there this spring. They will someday be placed into bonsai pots when developed enough. I’ve included a couple pics of my bonsai tree garden for you, even though it’s off the subject of vegetable garden planning.
I started my Bonsai journey about five years ago and started my first garden four years ago. Apparently I have a very green thumb yet I lived my whole life of 55 years and never knew it! If I can do this, anyone can! The Garden Planner makes it easy!! I will be using The Garden Planner every year to plan my garden!