5 beginner gardening mistakes I made this year.

With the onset of some warm weather, FINALLY, my garden boxes have taken off.  There’s been a lot of trial and error, and I’m sure I’m not out of the woods yet.  Plenty of mistakes left to make, and so much yet to learn.  Here’s where we were when I last checked in with you about gardening.

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June 3. Peas on the left, tomatoes on the right side of the box. And also in the upper left corner, some screwed up weed that I thought was cucumbers. It eventually took over that whole corner before I wised up and yanked it out.

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Same box today, July 8. The pea blossoms are everywhere, the plants are about 2.5 feet tall and climb as fast as I can run more twine for them to climb. The tomatoes all have fruit in varying stages of green and look great!

Now that was the good box.  I have two, and one grew everything I put into it like it was getting paid and one was like a black hole, sucking all life into it’s void.

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Box O’ Death. May 17.

Now the box o’ death was a learning experience.  Same soil.  Same materials.  Same brands of seeds.  EVERYTHING DIES IN THIS BOX.  I think it’s on an ancient burial ground.  I planted my green beans here, and built this awesome trellis by hand, which would have gotten much more use in my pea box.  Stupid death box.

Maybe I put the beans in too early.  Maybe because it didn’t warm up above 70 for weeks, dropped to the 40’s at night and poured to boot, those seeds all died a horrible death.  As did my cucumbers, zuchinni and squash.  (Moment of silence for the fallen)  I don’t know if they rotted or what, but NONE of them came up.  So I waited about a month and tried again.  Truly?  Not much difference.  I mixed in a 50 lb bag of planting soil, Miracle Grow and a different brand of seeds.  I didn’t plant anything except green beans and squash.  Only a handful of the beans came up and ONE lone squash plant.  Seriously.

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Box O’ Death today, July 8.



The heat we’ve had these past few days has made a HUGE difference in growth.  The poor, downtrodden beans finally perked up and got their butts in gear and the squash has 3 squash babies on it and you can see them growing by the day.  My friend Wendy gave me 3 big garden tubs and I’ve got more beans growing in there (new soil) and I’m getting ready to do another tub with more squash, since we all love it so much.  The 3rd tub I used to plant flowers in out front.  Not sure what I’ll end up with, the seed packet said, “wildflower mix”.  Whatever it is, I maybe shouldn’t have dumped the whole packet into the soil.  I was excited!

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Look!  I’m growing things!  From seeds!  I am a farmer-type-lady!  So what have I learned?  Get in losers, we’re going shopping.

1.  Don’t plant a damned thing until the middle of June, at least.  Don’t go by the zone graph on the back of the seed packets..they lie.  They also assume we live in a state where you hit 80 degrees before July.  Ha.

2.  Plant different veggies at different times, so you’ll have staggered picking.  The way I’ve got things now, it’s all going to blow at once.  Thousands of peas, all of the tomatoes and the squash.  Except for the beans.  My beans are the stoners out behind the high school dumpsters stealing a smoke between classes. They haven’t earned my trust yet.

3.  Don’t over-water.  Once things got to sprouting, I’d water the beds like we were in the Sahara in August.  It wasn’t until I noticed rotting sprouts that I cut back.  Once in the morning, once at night on warm days, once a day otherwise.

4.  Don’t use untreated slats for trellises.  My wood slats are about to splinter and blow away on the wind.  I would have been better off with thicker wood (hee), PVC or metal.

5.  You don’t have to plant every seed in the packet.  My peas are about to take over our end of Bangor.  There will be peas for years.  Sure, they all look cute and orderly when they’re babies…but a month later when they’re almost as tall as your kid and thick enough to not be able to put your arm thru..you may be looking at wasted veggies because you won’t be able to see or reach them all before they go by.  And with that in mind..I found this recipe on Pinterest (where else?) that looks amazing.

  1. 3 dozen sugar snap peas
  2. 3/4 cups white vinegar
  3. 3/4 cups water
  4. 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  5. 1 tablespoon white sugar
  6. 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  7. 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  8. 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  9. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  10. 1 pint Mason jar
  • In a saucepan, heat vinegar, water, salt, and sugar until the salt and sugar is completely dissolved. You do not need to bring the liquid to a full boil. The point is to dissolve the sugar and salt. Once that happens, remove the pot from the heat.
  • Let the liquid cool to room temperature. I usually transfer the liquid to a glass Pyrex dish and pop it in the freezer to speed up this process.
  • Put the garlic, celery seed, black peppercorns, crushed red pepper (if using), and snap peas in a clean glass jar. When the liquid is cooled, add it to the jar.

Screw on the lid and place in the refrigerator. Let the peas pickle for a minimum of 4 hours, the longer the better.




Allyson Sorenson

About Allyson Sorenson

Bangor mom. BDN blogger. Volvo lover. Coffee drinker.