I started truly gardening about ten years ago; completely clueless.  I figured I should know what I am doing, majored in horticulture in college after all.  My first garden was a disaster! My husband and I tilled up a spot in the lawn, raked it and threw in some seeds, easy peasy. I was not at all prepared for the work that it required. Ugh, weeds everywhere. It seemed that that was the only seeds I could grow. My soil was hard as a rock, no wonder the beans, lettuce and carrots were so sparse.  I watered every day, if a little is good then a lot should be better right?  Tomatoes were full of blight and falling out of their cages. But then I got that first red tomato… okay maybe I can do this.

I learned a lot of lessons the first few years. My soil needed more organic matter, so in the fall I would pile leaves and any other yard debris right in the garden. By spring most of it would be decomposed and then we would till it in. This loosened the soil and made it so much easier to work. I also learned to water more efficiently, more is not always better. Now I only water once to twice a week, but I water longer and deeper. This allows the root systems to really expand. I also try to water in the morning if I can, so the foliage can dry before night to avoid diseases. Weeds still are my nemesis, but I use non-treated grass clippings to keep most of the weeds at bay.

  A lot of my gardening successes were learned by trial and error.  I asked lot of questions from family, neighbors and customers. So many gardening mysteries were solved with their knowledge.
Over the years gardening became more than just a chore. It became a part of my daily summer life. I look forward to checking the garden and seeing what has changed from the day before. Trading veggies with the neighbors and comparing tomatoes has become the norm. I love coming in the house after picking two pails of beans and showing the kids. They are always impressed!  Yes, the weeding is still there but it is a great excuse to get moving and work off the zucchini cake you just ate.
-Katie Manning
Katie, How Does Your Garden Grow?