My First Garden: 9 Weeks Later

If you’ve been following along with me as I planted my first garden, you may be wondering just how it’s coming along. Well… I thought it was doing really good, until I saw everyone else’s gardens. Now I see just how pitiful my poor little plants really are.

Go ahead and say it; It’s looking pretty bare! Not at all how I imagined it would be.

It has grown a lot since my last update. Still, my plants aren’t as big and robust as everyone else’s are, nor are they producing anything. I realize now what my mistake was: not fertilizing.

You know, when they teach you in school about how plants grow, all they tell you is that plants need three key things: sun, water, and soil.

Not true. They also need food. You have to feed them fertilizer or they will not flourish.

I thought I’d try doing it the cheap way this time: just sticking the seed in the soil (not adding anything to it really) and watering it. Well, you get what you pay for… which is not much in my case. Lesson learned.

Looking back through these posts (which actually serve as my Garden Journal), I can’t believe it’s only been 8-9 weeks since I started planting in my garden.

It seems like four months have gone by! I still haven’t gotten anything from my plants, except for a handful of strawberries. Though I do have one green tomato growing!

Here’s how everything is looking:

strawberry plants in the garden

My strawberry plants are growing nicely, though they are done producing for the year:

potato plants progress

My Potato plants are about 3 feet high. I haven’t been able to mound them very often because of all the rain. I guess I won’t know how well they’ve done until I dig up the potatoes.

I can say that the ones I planted in the post holes did not do well. Every time it rained hard the holes flooded and I’m sure the seed potatoes rotted. Only one out of ten lived.

My first two rows of corn are about 3-4 ft. tall. I planted another two rows a few weeks after the first two, just so that they wouldn’t all come in at once.

corn plants

Those are only a foot or so tall.

I planted my pole beans beside the corn so that they could grow up the stalks. I only did two rows of these. They shot up quickly though! They’re about a foot tall:

corn plants close-up

I’ll be surprised if my poor carrots produce anything. The soil is just too clay for them here. They are about 5-6 inches tall now.

carrot plants

My mother-in-law gave me this zucchini plant. It’s doing okay, and blooming, though no zucchini yet:

zucchini plant

I have two of these cucumber plants growing (from seed). They, too, are blooming, but haven’t produced anything yet:

cucumber plant

My watermelon plant has really grown a lot lately after all of the rain we’ve gotten. I hope we get some melons this summer!

waterlemon plant in raised bed

This is one of the tomato plants that I started from seed. It’s only about 7 in. tall. Actually, I’m surprised it’s still alive!

7 inches tall tomato plant

tomato plant

I think my mother-in-law felt bad for me and my poor little garden, ’cause she also brought me several tomato plants (and planted them for me!). They seem to be doing well. I do have one big green tomato growing:

green tomato growing on plant

And the broccoli that I started from seed… I don’t even want to post a picture of them. There are three left, and they are about an inch tall (if that).

I did two major things wrong with them: I planted them too late, they need cooler weather. And I did not fertilize them; broccoli are heavy feeders.

There you go. That’s my garden. I kinda feel better now realizing that it’s only 9 weeks old still, and I like to tell myself that everyone else’s gardens are doing so much better because they just bought the plants instead of starting them from seed.

Plus, Heirlooms aren’t genetically modified to grow larger and more fruitful like Hybrid seeds are, so I can’t expect mine to be as robust.

But I know deep down that I’ve neglected my poor little plants by not fertilizing them. Oh well, you live and you learn.

Maybe I’ll still get something from my garden before the season is over. And, it’s probably a blessing that I’m not overwhelmed with a bountiful harvest.

I’d feel obligated to can everything right away, and with baby #3 due in about 4 more weeks I just don’t know if I’d have the energy.

So, what about you?? How is your garden growing? I’d love to see pictures of what you are growing, and any suggestions you may have for me as well! Don’t be ashamed to brag either… just as long as you share your secrets to success with the rest of us!

16 thoughts on “My First Garden: 9 Weeks Later”

  1. Find some old chicken manure and make manure tea. I get a bucket and fill it to around one inch-2 inches of manure. Then fill with water. Stir. It will foam. Stir daily for a couple of weeks. Then drain through an old strainer. I keep the manure in the bucket with a lid. I take a cup of the manure tea and add it to another bucket. Then I add a gal. of water to dilute it. Water your plants. It will give your plants wonderful food.’

    After you have no garden, Let the chickens on it for the winter. They will help it alot.

  2. Your garden looks like mine did the first year (this is my 3rd year gardening). A little fertilizer and lime helped my garden a lot this year. I bought a soil tester and my soil was deficient in everything.

    To improve your soil, get several bales of straw and work the straw into your garden. Do this for a couple of years and it should loosen it up and add some nutrients.

    I have a compost pile this year and I plan to spread it on the garden along with some of the neighbor’s goat manure after the growing season. We’ll see how that helps.

  3. Kendra-
    Just found your site and read all of your Butterberry posts – great stuff!

    A couple of gardening things: please don’t get hybrid seed mixed up with “GMO” (or genetically modified) as the term’s used now. GMO seeds are very scary and they put things inside the vegetable like animal proteins and herbicides. Hybridization has been around for hundreds of years and can be practiced in home gardens and backyards- in fact some famous hybrids are the result of a farmer fertilizing the plants by hand to get the best of both of the others.

    Heirloom seeds are wonderful and it’s true that they are the only ones to come back true year after year, but it is not true that they are ALL not bigger than hybrids. I grow heirloom tomatoes that are HUGE compared to some hybrids (Brandywine, anyone?). There are some great reasons to grow some hybrids – many have great flavor, they are not all flavorless like store-bought. Like anything, it takes trying a lot of different varities to find what your family likes. We like the sweet corn, and I like that I don’t have to pick and cook it all within a few days like the old corn. Hybrids are not all bad. A good catalog to get, if you don’t already, is Territorial Seed. They have a lot of information, as well as a good variety of heirloom and hybrid seeds that have been taste-tested for flavor.

    Finally- take some manure and “side-dress” your plants with it now- it’s not too late! They should really take off after you do that. I seem to remember Addy telling you that in one of the Butterberry posts? Just scratch it along the sides of your plants, but far enough not to hurt them. I’ve read that rabbit manure doesn’t “burn” plants like other manure, so maybe use that if you’ve got it…

    You can check out my garden posts at my blog, An Oregon Cottage!

    Good luck and keep up the good work!

  4. I was told by a master gardner once that coffee grounds work great as a fertilizer. So if you drink coffee, use the grounds on your plants. Just dont put too much on or it will fry the plant the same way any fertilizer would. We used it on roses and it worked great.

  5. We’ve got lots of blips about our little garden up on our blog. It’s mostly in containers, and some is doing pretty good, and some not good. I hope to at least get the $70 we put into it back out of it. LOL So far we’re eating it almost as fast as we are picking it.

  6. I have heard chicken manure is great for gardens, but Ive never used it. I use black cow manure to start with and then every few weeks I use miracle grow. Im not an organic gardner, so I dont know if you would like that or not, but it works good. Tomatos take a long time from seed, I always use plants. last year I knew a lady who had the most perfect looking tomatos Ive ever seen, and she used miracle grow, and fish emulsion.

  7. Gardening is always an adventure. You’re always going to do something goofy you regret. I still do stupid things – all part of this life experience. But the good news is that you probably won’t do it again. 🙂 As for carrots… if you can do a raised bed at some point, or sift your dirt (to get rocks out) and add a ton of compost (seriously, a bunch, like 2-3 truckloads if not more depending on the size of your garden), it’ll get better. And if your carrots aren’t too big by harvest time? Just throw some straw on them (to insulate) around your first hard frost and leave ’em be. You’ll have decent sized carrots (if you’ve thinned!) by about March or whenever your snow is able to be shoveled away. 😀

  8. Hi,
    I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. I always look forward to seeing what you have been up to. I was out picking the last of the snow peas and got to thinking of your garden. I suggest planting some things next year that produce quick. Makes it seem more fun somehow. Radishes are good and quick, and so were the snow peas this year. Probably too late to plant them now for you as they like cool weather, but you might be able to get a fall crop of them. Also…for free plant food. You have chickens… and they supply a lot of free manure. Mix it with some dirt and let it sit a week or too, its pretty potent and you wouldnt want to burn the plants. Maybe your goats could contribute too? I dont know about goat manure, but cows and horses will work though any type of manure will add weeds if it hasnt been composted. Just some thoughts for next time. Good luck with your garden and your baby. Love reading about it all.

  9. Every year you learn something new. This is my 6th year of gardening for my family and I am still learning what to do and not do. One thing that really helped me this year was taking a soil sample. I went down to my local Ag. Extension office and there was a small fee. (like 3 bucks or something) and they tell you exactly what you need. Next year I will add chicken manure and compost and till in and then take my sample after a few weeks. This should cut down on fertilizer needed.
    I think it looks great. My garden is huge but unfortunately so are the weeds!

  10. It makes me feel a little better that you shared your garden photos with us. I planted my first big garden this year and have also been depressed to see how much other gardeners are already able to harvest! I’m a recent transplant (from Ohio, too!) to the Pacific Northwest, and the growing season is much shorter and comes much later than what I’m used to. It’s almost July, and the only thing we’ve been able to harvest is lettuce! We’ve had some spectacular failures, too–like our bell peppers that won’t grown above four inches. I guess I should have known better than to plant peppers in chilly Washington! Anyway, just think how much work you put into your garden that will pay off next year–you should have plenty of strawberries, at least!

  11. I have corn that is producing ears (not ready yet). I was gone for 3 days and soaked my garden before I left so it would not die. As a result I ended up with two zucchini that would feed a third world nation (each) – they are HUGE. I will harvest the green beans tonight and this morning I was able to pick about 6 green bell peppers. This is my first garden and I am thrilled with the results so far (I feel blessed to live in sunny CA as my garden produces – I just hate the heat!) Best of luck to you and your garden.

  12. Maybe it’s like you said, the heirloom seeds take longer and don’t get as big cause they’re not G.E. I would like to have those kinds of seeds next year. You do have some red clay there, we only have sandy soil, so I don’t know much to help. The only thing we added to our soil was some black cow manure when we tilled it up. We haven’t added anything since then. I think I haven’t been watering enough lately because the plants aren’t looking so good.

  13. I think it is a beautiful garden…especially for your first!!!! I am already dreaming of a garden I want to have one day! Kudos on using heritage seeds!!
    Just think what NEXT year will be like! =)

  14. my garden has suffered tremendously! I am used to Ohio weather where there is a fair amount of rain so if you miss a day of watering, it wont hurt. This southern weather has got me beat! My plants are horrible. I do not know if I will get much from them. My brussel sprouts were doing really well…then one by one I noticed they were getting eaten…big time! My neighbor said that she sees deer walking thru the yard in the morning and since they were planted in the front, the dog doesnt scare the deer away from these plants! UGH! I really wanted to see how they grow…oh well, maybe next year.


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