When my local country radio station introduces a new song it allows its audience to rate it. They call it smash or trash. So how did the garden do this year was it a smash or trash?
No matter how many years you garden, there are always successes and failures. Perhaps after looking at a disaster you've said, "Well, I am not doing that again!" (Hopefully you don't say that about gardening as a whole.) Yet when the planting season rolls around, we usually forget both our successes and failures.
Perhaps before you forget you should write down successes and failures you experienced in the growing season. Keeping a garden journal is a great way to document the happenings in your garden. Not only recoding successes and failure but dates when certain pests arrive, unusual weather patterns, and a map of your garden are all extremely beneficial and will be helpful for the next growing season.
Sometimes our failures are due to our own cultural practices or maybe lack of good organic gardening practices. Here's a short checklist to evaluate how you are doing.
Checklist of Organic Gardening Practices:
____ I incorporate organic matter into the garden as a soil amendment. Best Organic Gardening Tip to Build Healthy Soil
____ I limit any tilling to only new areas or poorly producing areas Choosing a Site, Building Raised Beds, & Preparing Your Soil
____ I do not walk on my soil causing compaction
____ List crops that did extremely well this year: (Include variety and if you want to plant again)
____ List crops that did poorly and why I think they failed:
____ My plants had protection from harsh winds. I have some kind of wind break. Hedgerows, Shelterbelts, and Windbreaks
____ My garden's watering system provides even moisture and I monitor it to be sure all areas are sufficiently covered. Organic Principles: The Living Soil
____ I know what type of soil I have and water accordingly. Sandy soils require short frequent waterings and clay soils need water applied at a slow rate and less frequently.
____ I apply fertilizers at the proper time. Preparing the Soil & Fertilizing
____ I mulched after seedlings were up
____ I know what pests are a problem in my area and monitor for them. Summer Garden Pests Tips for Controlling Slugs Controlling Squash Bugs
____ I have an integrated pest management program IPM to deal with common pests in my garden
____ I use good quality, disease free seed. Sow Many Seeds
____ I know how deep to plant a seed.
____ I weeded regularly
____ I trellised plants that need to climb or provided cages for crops such as tomatoes
____ I harvested regularly
____ I spend time in and enjoy my garden. I monitor the condition of my plants.
____ I use organic pest control and avoid broad spectrum pesticides that kill native pollinators. Native Pollinators
____ Which crops were high producers?
____ Which crops gave a disappointing harvest?
____ Which crops had the best taste? D0 you think it was the variety or due to your cultural practices?
____Which crops did not taste good?
____ Which crops were both high producers and good tasting healthy crops?
____ I planted crops in the proper season. Cool season crops in early spring, warm season crops in summer, and another round of cool season crops for fall and winter. Seed Planting Schedule
____ I have ways to protect spring crops from a late frost. Row Covers Low Tunnels
____ I do some companion planting
____ I do staggered plantings of the same crop to have a continual harvest. How To Have Continual Harvests
____ I cleaned out my garden for the winter and destroyed diseased plants. Preparing the Homestead for Winter
____ I use cover crops or add a layer of mulch to avoid leaving the soil bare through the winter.
____ I rotate the planting location of my crops. Rotate, Rotate For Healthy Soil
So how did you do? We all have room for improvement. I find that most people neglect their soil and water inconsistently. Both of those practices stress plants effecting not only the size of your harvest but the quality.
So that you do NOT get discouraged remember mistakes are proof that you are trying. So congratulations!
Garden is a verb as well as a noun. It does require consistent dedicated effort. Enjoy the experience and opportunity you have to garden. Make the best use of the time and resources available to you. You have the winter to forget about your failures and the promise of a new growing season and a new opportunity to reap what you sow.