Gardening update: rookie turned kale professional?

by Melody on July 17, 2011

This has been our first year really attempting to grow some of our own produce and for serious rookies, I’d say we’ve been pretty successful.  We’ve learned a lot and done A LOT of things wrong, but we are keeping a journal to hopefully learn from our mistakes for next year.  We have also managed to do a few things right and are really enjoying the fruits (or vegetables) of our labor.

You can check out my initial gardening post here.

In our first bed, we planted snap peas, Walla Walla sweet onions and spinach.  The spinach took off like wild fire and we honestly had more than we could use so we gave it away like crazy.

My husband built a great trellis out of chicken wire for the snap peas, but the way I planted them turned into one big hot mess.  We had tons of peas, but most of them were impossible to get through.  I ended up ripping them out and replanting just along the back of the bed to hopefully avoid the pea jungle again.

The peas we did have were out of control delicious though, so I can’t wait for more.













Can I ever grow kale?  Apparently I was a professional kale farmer in a former life.  It could also be that it’s just very easy to grow.

In our second bed we planted kale, cilantro and cucumbers.  I have probably harvested the kale five or six times and it is coming back stronger than ever.  Honestly, I’d never cooked with it before so I’ve been forced to get a little creative.  I made a version of Olive Garden’s kale, sausage and potato soup and blended it raw into smoothies for my kids.  I also pureed a huge batch in the blender and threw it into the freezer to add to pasta sauces.

Our cucumbers are going strong as well.  I planted them along the sides of the bed so they can trail over.  My kids are getting a kick out of the tiny little prickly cucumbers that are starting to pop out.

I harvested the cilantro at least three full times before it went to seed, which is way more than I’ve been able to do in the past years.  I started it from seed this year instead of buying starts, so I’m not sure if this is why.  Either way, it’s mighty delicious.













For our third bed, I started tons of tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and pepperoncinis inside in a small greenhouse.  They did really well, I hardened them by putting them outside for a few hours a day for almost two weeks and then planted outside.  They all died except for three sad little plants.

I truly have no idea what I did wrong, but I nursed those babies back to health.  I’m a little protective of them now, ever since there brothers and sisters made such an abrupt farewell.  I felt so sad for them that I added some flowers to the corner of the bed so they wouldn’t feel lonely.







I wouldn’t say that we have come anywhere near supplementing our produce this year, but I feel like we have made some great strides.  My son has been helping me water every day and I think he has finally grasped the idea that all these vegetables grew from the seeds that we planted.

Gardening was so overwhelming to me in the beginning (and truthfully still is).  I felt like the only way I would ever feel comfortable was just to jump in feet first and figure out what works.  And what definitely doesn’t.

I would love to hear about your progress this year.  Please share any tips you have for me, I’m trying to turn into a gardening sponge!

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