VEGGIES: Community Garden Update, Part V

VEGGIES: Community Garden Update, Part V

Fall In New York City

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As colder temps set in here in New Jersey, the leaves change colors and start to fall from the trees. It also means that gardening season has come to an end. Last weekend we pulled the remaining plants from my plot. All my hard work came out of the ground in less than an hour.  As this was my first year gardening I wanted to share everything I learned with you!

1.  Tomatillo plants grow to be HUGE! What started as a small little seedling ended up taking over half of my plot. I planted it at the front of my plot which was a mistake. It ended up stealing sun from many of other plants. Next year, if I plant a tomatillo seedling, it will be going in the back of the plot and I will make sure to stake it well. That being said, my plant produced hundreds of tomatillos. It was by far my highest producer. And we made some killer salsa verde.

VEGGIES: Community Garden Update, Part V

A Beautifully Ripe Tomato & Kalettes

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2. Baby Tomatoes. Everyone in the garden had them and I wanted them. I went to Home Depot to find them and they were sold out already. I will definitely be purchasing some at the beginning of the season.

3. Eggplant. I will NOT be planting eggplant next year. It was a lot of work for very little reward. I only had ONE white eggplant that grew. Also, the leaves on the plants attracted these small black bugs that were really hard to get rid of. They ate holes throughout the leaves. It looked horrible.  Thank god the bugs didn’t hop to other plants.

4. Lavender. While it smelled beautiful, it was kind of a waste.

5. Beets, Carrots and Radishes. I will be growing them again next year but I will be careful to plant the seeds far away from each other so they have space to grow.

6. Sugar Snap Peas. One of my favorite things I planted. I will have to make sure to plant them earlier next year so I maximize the amount of sugar snap peas I produce!

7. Basil. Next year I will only plant one kind. This year I planted four different kinds, including Thai basil and purple basil, and it was too much. We will be eating pesto throughout the winter as I have it stockpiled in my freezer. Not necessarily a bad thing.

VEGGIES: Community Garden Update, Part V

8. All of the Peppers. This year my pepper plants didn’t yield very much. Next year I am going to focus on them because the peppers we did get were AMAZING. Especially the green bell, poblano and the shishito varieties.

9. Cucumbers and Zucchini.  Definitely growing cucumbers and zucchini next year but I am going to plant them with a lattice backing so they can grow up. Additionally, I am going to make sure that the soil has enough nitrogen so they don’t turn yellow. My fellow gardeners explained that coffee grounds have lots of nitrogen and should added to the soil around the cucumber and zucchini plants.

10. Fennel. My fennel plants didn’t grow very well because the tomatillo plant stole its sun. Next year I am definitely going to plant it but it will go closer to the front of the plot.

11. Dill. One of my favorite herbs. And it grows so well!

12. KALE. This year I grew kalettes. While they tasted good and grew very well, they weren’t our favorite for salads. Next year I am going to try my hand at lacinato kale. It is one of my favorite kale varieties and I saw that other gardeners had grown in successfully.

13. Lettuce. I was a little late to the lettuce game this year. Initially I didn’t buy any seedlings and was jealous of all my fellow gardeners! My gardener neighbors had a few extra seedlings and they gave them to me. They grew very well but would have been even bigger if I had planted them earlier. Next year, they are going in first!

14. Donate. The South Orange Community Garden requires each gardener to donate 10% of their crop to the local food pantry. Volunteers went through the garden and picked whatever was fresh from each plot and donated. It is very rewarding to plant and harvest for yourself but even more so to help those who are less fortunate. Food for thought.

15. Gardening is HARD work. After a morning of gardening my arms and legs HURT. It was like I went to the gym and lifted weights.

VEGGIES: Community Garden Update, Part V

First Planting – At The Beginning Of The Season

16. Gardening is FUN. I am really looking forward to gardening again next year. I met some lovely people at the garden and it really made our new home in New Jersey feel more like a community. I hope next year I can share my garden plot with a friend. I think that will just add to the fun!

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