I've lost count of the number of times that I've said "Oh well, it's all a learning experience..." since we established the country garden (or the city garden for that matter). It really has been a steep learning curve, but lots of fun along the way.
Here are a few of the tips and tricks and mistakes that I've learnt along the way...
16 December 2012
here and here
24 February 2012
Stem and Root protection
Don't transplant carrots
Every book I've read tells you to plant carrot seed directly into the bed. However some nurseries still seem to sell carrot seedlings, and when I was getting impatient with the slow rate of growth on my carrot seeds last winter, seedlings seemed like the perfect solution. The problem is that carrot seedlings are usually made up of a cluster of tightly packed seedlings, not just one. At that stage it's really hard to separate them out, and be confident that the roots will go straight down into the ground. So I got lazy and put them in in small clumps. Guess what? The carrots grow like that! Intertwined, pushed out sideways by their mates, strangled by others...what a mutant bunch of carrots we produced!! They were still delicious (we planted Purple Dragons) but really time consuming to separate and clean and chop, and not that aesthetically pleasing on the plate!
Sometimes when we start a fresh garden bed we get over-excited by the opportunity to cram as much as possible into it, because surely those tiny seeds or plants won't grow that big... Well the lesson is, that if there is healthy soil, sun and enough water, they will grow as big, and probably bigger than you expect! I really have to consciously restrain myself now when I plant, and am beginning to understand that fewer plants with room to grow will probably produce just as much as more plants shoved in too close together, fighting for sunlight and nutrients. We'll definitely remember that next year when we plant the next tomato crop...