This was the first season for a vegetable garden and I'd say it was an overall success. I've learned a lot and I hope to have an even better garden next year. I thought I'd share some of the things I'd do the same and some of the things I'd do differently next year.
1. Mulch, mulch, mulch. This was the one thing I'd recommend to every gardener I know. The thicker the better. When I planted a garden this past spring I just thought I'd be watering it at least every couple of days. This wasn't appealing to me but I just thought that was how it was done. Then I read a book about mulching (The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book) and my view on watering just went out the window. With mulch you don't water your garden. The moisture is trapped under many inches of mulch and the plants thrive. Wonderful book, I highly recommend reading.
2. Plant everything so that it yields fruit before or by mid August. This was important for my garden because the heat that comes with August (think 108 degrees) just fried everything. The garden is brown. I'm not willing to water daily so I wanted everything harvested before August. This doesn't work for tomatoes as they are still producing fruit well past August.
3. Some crops do better than others. My winners this year: corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots and onions. My mediocre crops: broccoli, squash & beans. The looser crops: watermelon, cantaloupe, okra, eggplant & tomatillos. The squash did really good until about July when they started wilting and then they just died one day. Later found out this was from the squash beetle. I've learned they lay their eggs inside the plant and the larvae eat the plant from the inside out. Darn crappy bugs, I was so looking forward to loaf after loaf of zucchini bread. Only got one loaf. The beetles then moved on to my watermelon and cantaloupe plants. I will plant squash, watermelon and cantaloupe again next year and will be prepared for those little critters. The okra did awesome this year and is still producing like crazy yet it just sits out there on the plant, uncut. I'm not a person the fries anything, I don't know why I thought I'd start frying up okra when I literally barely know how to fry something. So there it rots, out on the plant. The eggplants never really took off, looked pretty pitiful from the get go. They need wonderful drainage, we have clay...enough said. And the tomatillos were doing great until we started picking the fruit only discover a nice juicy worm in each and every one. It started becoming a game for Wesley to pick them and then examine each one until he found the tiny hole where the worm got in. It was worth it to plant those things just for the entertainment value they brought Wesley.
Next years garden will be a little bigger...I'm thinking 40X30 and I'm gonna concentrate on more varieties of the winner crops. I'll try and go organic as possible with the exception of something to wipe out those nasty squash beetles. Any suggestions?