September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Gardening mistakes not to make
I've been a hobby gardener for about 19 years. It started with the first house we owned in Wauzeka, Wis. I inherited several beautiful flower beds from the elderly woman who had lived there before us. Wonderfully enough, her name was Violet.
This was the first time we planted a vegetable garden on our own. And it was huge. Insanely huge. About five tomato plants will feed a family of four; we were a family of two and we planted at least 20. I ended up giving bushel baskets of tomatoes away, even after canning and freezing. Ask the nice people at the greenhouse how many tomato plants you need instead of guessing.
It was at this sweet little house that I started my first herb garden. I planted a few flowers in along with the herbs. My brother-in-law came over one evening with a girlfriend, but we were not yet home. He decided to share what he knew about herbs with her, which was not much. They tasted the mint and basil, and then grabbed a leaf of a plant they were not sure of it's name. It was one of the flowers (I no longer remember which one) but it made their tongues feel funny. Luckily they didn't actually swallow it. Never mix herbs and inedible plants or visitors may meet their demise.
A friend of ours had a dad who was a seed corn dealer. He said he would give us sweet corn seed for free. We planted an insane amount of sweet corn in our insanely huge garden. About the second week of July I really started eyeing that corn. It was way too big and too dark green. Yep, our friend gave us field corn seed. The birds ate well that winter. Never trust seeds that are from someone who may not read the side of the feed sack.
When we moved to our present home in northeast Iowa, I didn't have much money so I put some of those orange lilies at the center of my flower bed. Turns out you can never really completely get rid of them. You can dig out all the rhizomes, you can spray them with chemicals and you can cuss at them until you are blue in the face and there will always be more. Never plant them somewhere you don't want to have them forever.
Ditto for chives. Oh, I thought it would be nice to have chives near the front door because then I could grab some while cooking dinner. They go to seed quickly and are nearly impossible to kill. Once again, plant them where you forever want them. (The same advice goes for mint, but at least I learned my lesson by the time I planted that).
What does work? Heavily mulching the vegetable garden with newspapers and straw significantly reduces your weeding. Marigolds do help keep insects away from the other plants. Collecting seeds from your marigolds, morning glories and pumpkins works great (dry them out well before you put them in plastic bags or they will mold, again I am speaking from experience).
My best advice? Find someone who knows what they are doing, help them in exchange for them sharing their knowledge, and set off on your own next year. Learn from someone else's mistakes![[In-content Ad]]
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