I took a risk during the Halloween freeze and left my plants out to endure the cold night. The bet paid off and the mild weather since then has allowed the last of my tomatoes to vine ripen and a few more peas to grow. But now the time has come for me to clean up my garden for the winter. While doing so, I reflected on the past growing season and realized that I’ve learned some valuable lessons.
1. Kids actually get excited about gardening.
I’ve heard a lot about how much kids love to garden and get really excited about seeing where food comes from. I assumed this hype was all inflated idealism spawned from parent’s denial over their own children’s love of video games. BUT it’s actually true. The kids that live in a condo across the alley from my apartment slipped over almost every morning to check out progress on the garden. It was really neat to see how they treasured the tomatoes I let them pick and how excited they became when they realized that they could eat the leaves growing in various pots. Their enthusiasm was very gratifying.
2. Grow more lettuce.
Last spring I wasn’t very excited about planting greens. Lettuce popping of the soil just didn’t have the same thrill for me as the idea of homegrown tomatoes. However, my gardening space is tiny. I managed to produce about 10 tomatoes and 4 peppers at the end of the season. This was lovely, but not a huge payoff for the investment. My pot of letus however produced enough greens for me to enjoy a freshly grown side salad once a week or so; a much better reward for my efforts. Lesson learned, next year I’m upping the greens.
3. Hot pepper deters mammals
Squirrels and rats seemed to make it their life’s mission this summer to dig up my garden beds. Sadly there is no such thing as a squirrel or rat scarecrow and I didn’t want to poison the furry creatures. Surprisingly, sprinkling the hottest chili powder I could find at my local Indian grocery store in the dirt around my plants did the trick. The look on the squirrel’s face the first time he went rooting around the capsaicin-laden soil made me feel a bit bad. I’ve accidentally requested the extra spicy dish at my favorite Indian restaurant, and understood his pain. However, he came out of the experience uninjured and no woodland creatures attempted to dig holes in my garden since.
Share with us lessons you’ve learned over the last year.