Reworking the Vegetable Garden-Lessons Learned


“Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.” 

  ~Wayne Dyer

It is hard to imagine that summer is almost over especially with the hot temps so late in summer this year.  But it is harvest time, and I hope to see more veggies in the late season garden.  This year I planted more veggies than in years past, and I planted for a late season harvest as well.  Of course we added another raised bed and more containers and grow bags.  But I am still in an early learning phase with my veggie garden.  I find I have a lot to learn to help better my harvest.

But as the season is ending, it is time to assess this year’s veggie garden.  And what better way than to join Beth@PlantPostings for her Garden Lessons Learned meme.  I promised a good look at the beds, and how they were arranged through spring and summer.  You can see what my plans were back in early spring, and I pretty much stuck with these plans.

Before I begin though, I thought I would look back at my Seasonal Celebrations mantra for summer.  Little did I know that these were going to be such perfect words to heed this summer, and were the reason I remained sane and hopeful.

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept is as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.” ~ Eckhart Tolle



1.  Friends are necessary in the garden.  

Pollinator friends that is so I plant my veggies among the flowers so the pollinators will be bountiful.  You can’t have veggies without them.



2.  The right companions are important, but planting in the right place under the right conditions is just as important.

Here is the new bed that we planted with peas and radishes in early spring (top left).  Once the weather warmed in May (ugh April was freezing), I planted eggplant, okra and beans (top right).  Peas grew as did okra and beans (bottom row), but they all shaded the eggplant which we ended up growing in bags.  Growing the peas and beans on the same trellis was also a challenge.

So for next year, I have decided to turn the trellis to face North so it won’t shade so much.  I will also add a bean tower and plant bush beans only in this bed.  As always I plant radishes throughout the garden with lettuces under cover in early spring replacing them with warmer veggies like beans later.  I also plan to use planting plastic in rows with okra, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant as I move them to the bigger tomato bed.  I have learned from our local farmers that with our unpredictable spring, the plastic helps keep the soil warm for these heat lovers.



3.  Never be afraid to reuse, replant or redo

These bags grew potatoes successfully, and they were harvested in mid August.  So what to do with the grow bags once they are empty?  Well I topped them off with more organic potting soil, and promptly planted lettuces and carrots in one bed, and kale and beets in another.  Look how much they have grown in a couple of weeks with the heat.  I am amazed and looking forward to more harvest in September.



4.  Experiments can be fun.

I created a berm for the pumpkins to see if they would grow if I gave them room and sun.  The weeds grew but so did the pumpkins albeit not as much as I had hoped but that was due more to the heat we had.

But my big change for this area will be where the current strawberry patch is behind the pumpkin patch (where the weeds meet the fence).  The berries will be moved and the area turned into a raised bed to accommodate lots of garlic and onions.  Then there will be more room in the main raised bed (currently where we plant garlic every year) for early veggies and more tomatoes.



5.  Hot air is beneficial, but by God we need rain too!

This is the first and main raised bed.  Garlic grows here all winter (top left).  Then I add radishes, carrots, beets, collards and spinach (top right).  Once these are done, the tomatoes and basil goes in with sweet peppers (bottom pictures).  Once the garlic was harvested, I underplanted with carrots, onions and radishes for a late season harvest.

Now the tomatoes and peppers adore hot weather, but they struggled this year.  So I had to add lots of fresh organic soil, Epsom salts and fertilizer all season due to a lack of rain although we watered every day.  They really like the rain water that gives them a deep soaking, and isn’t laced with chemicals like our tap water is.  Maybe next year we may use some drip irrigation with the tomatoes (if we have another dry summer) as they like their roots watered not their leaves.




6.  Mountains can be made from anthills.

This back bed is shaded some especially in summer so it is perfect for those cooler veggies like lettuces and other greens.  They did pretty good through July although other seeds like the beets, some radishes and carrots did not grow, ended up being moved, growing too deep or not deep enough.  So what happened-ANTS.  They have a kingdom in this bed and they love moving seeds.  So I have to wait until the bed is finished producing to take care of these ants as the organic treatment requires dry ground.




7.  Start from scratch or seed.

It is so much fun to watch a giant vegetable come from such a tiny seed.  I enjoyed starting all my veggies from seed; some started indoors in winter and early spring and the rest directly sown in spring and summer.  I already started to buy seeds on sale for next year’s garden.  Don’t these look yummy.  I cannot wait.




8.  You can plan for anything and everything and it still won’t be enough.

Blight still comes, plants die and we just chalk it up, learn and move on next year (OK we cry a little too).  This is my veg garden in mid March.  March was so warm (like May temps) I actually planted colder veggies under cover. If April hadn’t been so cold it would have been a bumper crop.  As it was, the veggies didn’t grow until a month to 6 weeks later, and some had to be replanted.




Failures really are nothing more than successes learned through experience!! ~Donna Donabella



Come Join Us:

I hope you will join me for my Seasonal Celebrations meme.  And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Garden Lessons Learned meme.  What lessons have you learned this past season of summer here in the North and winter in the South.  Then tell us about your wishes, desires and dreams for this new season.

The rules are simple.  Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations.  If you are joining in for both memes please leave a comment on both our blog posts.  Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post.  Make sure to include a link with your comment.


Beth and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the equinox (around the 21st of September).  And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog.  Your post should be linked in the weekend before the equinox to give us enough time to include your post in our summary.  And if you link in a bit late, never fear we will include it on the special blog page (when I get it done that is).

The badges here can be used in your post.  So won’t you join in the celebration!!



Next up on the blog:     On the 13th I will share a special GDDB as I celebrate my second blog anniversary, and on the 17th I will share another wonderful garden book.  Stay tuned for Seasonal Celebrations revealed on the 21st, and then at the end of the month I’ll share another favorite native wildflower.

I will be linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month on the 3rd Tuesday, at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. The next one will be on the 18th.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2012.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

34 Replies to “Reworking the Vegetable Garden-Lessons Learned”

  1. You did well this year. Really good looking heathly vegetables. What varieties were your aubergines and peppers, I like the long shape of the peppers. Christina

    1. Thank you Christina. The aubergines were a long Asian eggplant. The seed company did not stipulate which ones but I like the long Asian even better than the Italian which is just now giving me an eggplant or 2. They are sweeter and not as spongy. The peppers are Hatch green chiles which are only sold in New Mexico. They can be mild, medium or hot and once they grow you roast them and peel them. These green chiles are used as a distinctive taste in New Mexico cooking. I use them on burgers, in soups and stews and in omelets.

    1. Beth I think I started them all from seed…some indoors and some outdoors. I actually only harvest enough to eat as I only have time for harvesting on weekends. Now if I can increase my yield next year by doing a few things differently, I may end up freezing some.

  2. I really like the quote at the beginning of the post. Something for me to remember during the day. I think it is great that you included pollinators as part of your post.

    1. Mary I am quite a quote addict and they really do help me focus sometimes on the important things for me. And what would a garden be without pollinators. Actually the hummers love the tomato flowers too which I find so interesting.

  3. Your beds are just beautiful! I think you almost have this down to a science – if only the weather had been just a bit more cooperative. You still got quite a bit of harvest, even with the odd weather, and next year will be even better!

  4. Back when I first did veggie gardening the companion plantings were not as well publicized. It makes so much sense.
    I like the re-use of the potato bags, very clever. You really have your garden beds nicely placed (per your photos). You have assessed your results well and sounds like some adjustments will increase your crops next year.
    We did strawberries for a number of years. It was fun for the kids to go out and pick their breakfast berries. I heartily recommend them!!

    1. We have had some strawberries but not in a well placed spot. I hope to get them into a better plot. I really love companion planting and planting second or third successions.

  5. Donna, your veggies have done amazingly well given all the knocks they’ve suffered this year! I’m remembering back to your seed trays from the winter and tickled to see the plants having come to fruition now. The way you’ve extended the harvest with row covers and your basement microgreens, preserving almost seems like a moot point.

    I got my chiles yesterday — can’t believe how much better the flavor is than the canned or frozen ones from the store. Yours are going to be soooooo good roasted up!

    1. You are so right Stacy…fresh is the best with chiles. I am hoping to get into year round gardening next and seeing what I can grow during winter more…always a challenge.

  6. Donna, I agree with everyone, your vegetable gardens look really good for the weather you have been having. And they do appreciate rain much more than commercial water. My most productive veggie gardens were in summers with lots of rain. I always left the vegetables go to seed because the insects were so varied coming to those small flowers, plus the lettuces were kinda pretty in the garden that overgrown. I just replanted them to eat, but let the insects dine on the older ones. Congrats on two years too.

    1. Thanks Donna. I have been letting more veggies go to seed to experiment and see what happens. As I look back I can see successes more in those summers with more rain.

  7. This is a lovely and interesting insight into your veg plots… thanks Donna, for inspiration and your experience. I may build a raised bed next year, and your comments on shade from a trellis have got me thinking!

    1. Cathy thank you! I think you will enjoy a raised bed. Shade from a trellis can actually help in warm weather when you want to extend lettuces…a bit of shade helps…but for me I wanted more sun. I read where the tallest plants in the bed should be on the N side of the bed. it makes perfect sense.

    1. Shade is a problem when you want to plant veggies that crave sun like so many…but sometimes we can push the envelope a bit to get some veggies to produce.

  8. Donna, I love this time of the year, after the rush of summer but before the fall clean up begins in earnest, when you can take the time to figure out what worked and what didn’t. Gardening certainly is a humbling experience. No matter how much we plan and fuss so much is out of our control. Your quote about failures and successes sums it all up perfectly!

  9. What a great post! I love your blog, I can come here and learn so much about plants and gardening. Your veggies and flowers look beautiful. Great post and photos. Have a happy week!

  10. Your veggie garden looks so wonderful, Donna! It looks like it’s going to continue with a great harvest with all those late season vegetables, too. My tomatoes have been a real disappointment this year. So many of them are cracking and thus spoiling before they fully ripen. I’m blaming the heavy rains we’ve had recently, although we sure needed the rain. I find that every year is different with vegetables, no matter what you do or how experienced you are–it’s a constant learning experience.

    1. Rose you are so right..I think it s why I love veg gardening so much because I am always learning…and if I a not I will not have much of a harvest…keeps you on your toes!

  11. Funny how we both love quotes and I have used them from the beginning of my teaching career. We have had quite a bit of rain and all of a sudden the plants are growing..even those that we did water seem to like the cooler temps. I am wondering when I should plant in the milkweed patch as it is probably wet now and where I will get the energy to do it.. It has been a challenging summer on many fronts. I love reading your post Donna..Michelle

    1. Thanks Michelle…I would say if your weather has been wet and cooler you can do it now especially if you have the energy….here we finally got .4 inches of rain. The most in one storm all season. And the cooler temps moved in…it has been a hot and dry September so my garden is done…too stressed to bounce back. Good luck and email me if you have questions…happy to help!

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