Planning and Preparing our Vegetable Garden: Part 3

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Today, I will be sharing with you the next set of steps in the process we followed to ensure that we set ourselves up for gardening success! This is the third post in a series of four total, sharing our experience-From the planning stages through to the finished product, trouble-shooting throughout the season, and improvements we plan to make next year. So, make sure you continue to check back so you don’t miss any posts in this great gardening series!

If you missed the first post, check it out here!

If you missed the second post, check it out here!

So far we’ve covered the planning process which included planning out our garden, choosing the best location and what supplies we needed to be successful. Next we covered how we got our garden plot ready, including building our fence and preparing the soil….Now what’s left? In my personal opinion, the best part of the whole gardening process-choosing and planting our veggies and seeds!!

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This is the largest garden we have ever planted, so we had the opportunity to plant a lot more variety than we have in the past. We have a “core” group of vegetables that we like to plant every year which include tomatoes, bell peppers, kale, beets & carrots. This list also usually includes green beans-however, we still have quite a stock of these canned from previous years, so we decided to skip them this year. When you are choosing what to plant in your own garden, be sure to consider what your family likes to eat. Make sure that you choose foods that you use a lot of and your family loves to eat. Also keep in mind the quantity that would be fitting for your family! Sometimes, you can be very surprised by the quantity that even a small garden produces over the course of the summer. If there is going to be more harvest than what you can eat fresh, make sure that you have a plan in place for what you are going to do with the surplus. You can store root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, etc) in a cool dark place like a root cellar or even in your basement. Other vegetables can be preserved by canning, freezing or dehydrating. It’s important to have a plan, so that your harvest that you put so much time and effort into, doesn’t go to waste!

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We typically plant a variety of both plants and seeds. Some plants, I just find harder to start from seed because we would have to start them inside. I don’t know why, but we have always struggled with starting seeds indoors prior to garden season beginning. This is just not a talent I have acquired yet. So typically we like to stick with buying plants at a local greenhouse for a few vegetables and the rest we sow directly into the garden.

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Let’s get right down to the details…here is what we planted…

Plants

12 Tomatoes
8 Bell Peppers
8 Kale
3 Jalapeno Peppers
Strawberries (a whole bunch!)*

Seeds

Arugula*
Swiss Chard*
Lettuce
Cucumbers*
Cantaloupe*
Delicata Squash*
Acorn Squash*
Butternut Squash*
Pie Pumpkins*
Turnips*
Beets
Carrots
Peas*
Sweet Corn

All of the vegetable listed above with an asterisk beside them are ones we were planting for the first time. As you can see, there are quite a few vegetables that we were planting for the first time this year.

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We did run into some soil drainage issues so unfortunately we did not have luck with some of our seeds. Our greens (arugula, Swiss chard and lettuce) did not come up. Our root vegetables (beets, carrots, and turnips) did not do well either. They started to come up, but then the seedlings did not survive. We planted a second round of root vegetables later in the summer. They did grow, however they did not produce very good vegetables. Even though we ran into some issues, we were still very happy with our overall results! Take a look at our garden yields…

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Tomatoes: We picked well over 14 dozen red tomatoes from our 12 tomato plants. This isn’t including the ones we picked to eat fresh, this is only counting the ones picked for canning. These were made into stewed tomatoes and tomato soup. We also picked a large quantity of green tomatoes before our first frost (not included in the total count). We made these into salsa verde.

Bell Peppers: I didn’t keep as close of a count of these but my estimate is 40-50 peppers.

Jalapeno Peppers: We picked 105 peppers from our jalapeno  plants. A portion we pickled and canned. And the second portion we smoked and ground into chipotle powder.

Potatoes: Our potatoes didn’t do extremely well, however we had enough to can some for the winter. And we also enjoyed one meal of fresh roasted potatoes! They were delicious!!

Squash: Overall, our squash plants did not do well because we got a bad case of powdery mildew pretty early into the season. I had never had issues with this before, so by the time I realized there was something wrong with my plants, it was too late and it had already destroyed the plants. This caused quite a hit to our squash yields, but we still have enough to enjoy throughout the fall! Here are the individual numbers for our squash…

Butternut Squash: 8

Acorn Squash: 2

Delicata Squash: 2

Pie Pumpkins: 2

Sweet Corn: We got 37 ears of corn! This was our first time planting corn, so that was an exciting result!! Some of them were pretty small but we still harvested enough to have one fresh meal of grilled corn and some to freeze for the winter!

Kale & Peas: These I do not have an exact “harvest” amount on. We just cut these as they were ready to eat and had a pretty steady supply throughout the entire summer!

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Check back soon! Part 4 will be covering how we resolved the issues that we ran into throughout the season. I will also share what improvements we plan to make next year to have better results!

What are your favorite fruits or vegetables to plant in your garden? What are your tips & tricks for planning & preparing your vegetable garden? Share your thoughts in the comments below-I love to hear from my readers!

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