This is my first year gardening, and I have tried to research as much as possible. However, I have made some mistakes in gardening, and some things have been trial and error. Now that we are well into growing season I would like to share some things I have learned in hopes that you guys can learn too.
First things first, when I made my raised garden bed I took all the steps to help prevent weeds, and pests. I laid down breathable garden fabric, and even chicken wire to keep underground pest at bay. However, I did not take my soil into the same consideration. I thought mushroom compost would be good enough. I was wrong, while I believe that it has not affected the plants health I took substantial time watering to ensure that it was not too salty. Another side effect of the mushroom compost has been the loss of soil. From what I have gathered in research mushroom compost has quite a bit of gypsum in it, and that will start to decay and you lose soil depth. I have lost at least 3 inches of soil depth in each of my garden beds.
Second thing I learned, never underestimate a good fertilizer. Thankfully I chose a high quality natural fertilizer before it affected my plants. I am trying to grow heirloom vegetables in an organic way. So I immediately start off with a fish and seaweed fertilizer. My plant have been big and healthy, and quite fruit bearing at this point. I gave away a few of my leftover tomato plants to a friend, and he chose to use a certain blue crystal plant food. Unfortunately his plants had a protest of such use of that plant food. I gave him the remainder of my bottle of fertilizer, and since applying his tomato plants have been growing at a 1/4″ a day. So make sure to use a quality fertilizer your plants will thank you for it.
Third thing I have learned is heirloom tomato plants are BIG. Growing up all I had seen with people growing tomato plants were single staked tomato plants. So naturally that’s what I tried. It has not worked out well. I have since had to add another tomato stake to each plant to help with support. Next year I am going to try a few different idea to see which I like the most, and probably end up sticking with tomato cages. I do want to try a Florida weave, and may post results when trying next year.
I hope you guys have learned something, and can use it to better your gardens.