This year was our first foray into homesteading. We tried a few things, had some successes and failures, and learned a lot. I’m hoping to get a fall garden started here soon, but we’re also neck-deep in remodeling our house so that’s been taking priority.

Jác built his mother and me some garden boxes early this year. We filled them with soil and waited a few weeks.

I was antsy to get started so I planted early April. That was a mistake. We had a frost mid April, and I lost my pepper plants and most of my marigolds. I replanted and ultimately had the following: 2 Zucchini plants, 2 Squash plants, some Onions, a red Bell Pepper and a green Bell Pepper plant, 2 Sweet Banana Pepper plants, Oregano, Dill, and a bunch of Marigolds. (The Marigolds look pretty, the chickens like to eat them, and they’re a natural pest repellant.)

My MIL planted at the end of April (some Spaghetti Squash, Bell Peppers, 3 different kinds of tomatoes, Sweet Banana Peppers, onions, and tomatoes) and her garden shot up like a rainforest! We’d never grown Spaghetti Squash before, so we had no idea what to expect. It needs a freakin trellis! Or maybe to grow out along the ground like pumpkins. The plant itself was our first major surprise, and eating it was another one – it’s delicious!

Maybe because of the frost, or its location on the property – for whatever reason, my garden took much longer to get started. While my MIL’s was growing like crazy, mine was stunted and looked like nothing was going to happen. The Dill and Oregano were the only things that looked healthy. My Marigolds look dried out, and the Squash, Zucchini, and Peppers just looked like the plants I’d bought for weeks. I’ve never had much luck with plants so I was beginning to get dismayed.

But sometimes you all you need is a little patience. My garden eventually got going and ended up looking really great and produced a lot of veggies. I guess I’m a master of Dill – it grew bigger than my toddler! I now have a giant jar of dried dill from my garden. I gave bunches of it away to friends. Next year I think I’ll plant it in its own pot. My oregano, too, grew quite large and is actually still growing nicely. Since the rest of the garden is about done, I may transplant the Oregano to a pot and see how long I can keep it going. The chickens love Oregano and it’s healthy for them, too. The Squash and Zucchini plants, too, were excellent. We harvested so many squash and zucchini that I gave some away to my neighbors, put up 10 pint ziplocks worth in the freezer, cooked 2 giant batches of sautéed squash and zucchini over the weeks, and I still have a basket-full of the vegetables that I need to put up soon. Only 1 of my banana pepper plants produced – a total of 3 peppers. My bell pepper plants grew but never produced. I grew medium-sized onions – the rest got shaded out by the squash plants (oops!).

My MIL’s garden produced a ton of tomatoes, 4 or 5 spaghetti squash (definitely growing these again next year), some onions, but also no peppers. And her squash plants didn’t really produce either.

Next year we plan to combine efforts and make a single, bigger garden. We also plan to till a few rows for some things (zucchini, squash, peppers), and use boxes and pots for others (herbs, primarily). I want to make a couple smaller boxes to put around the chicken house for oregano, marigolds, and mint. The soil around there is a bit sandy, and the only thing that’s growing there right now are some weeds and a rosemary plant.

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