Learning in the dirt.

Gardening, for me, is an endless learning experience (that’s the primary reason why I’m participating in the Master Gardener training program this fall). One that sorely tests my patience.

I’ve picked up several lessons from our vegetable garden this season, all of which I’ll put to use come next spring. First: Make sure the tomato plants you purchase are, in fact, what their labels say they are. The Early Girls I planted are neither early nor particularly girly … and they’ve been a disaster in the garden this summer. We’ve had barely any yield.

The cherry tomatoes, however, have been prolific. And we’ve witnessed an explosive second season … the plants produced a slim first crop and then, as the heat broke in late August and we got some rain through September, I’m picking a colanderful almost daily.

I’ve also learned about sun. (Duh, right?) More to the point, I’ve come to better understand the progression of the sun in the vegetable garden over the course of the season. I’ve discovered that as the days shorten, the sun settles into a more southerly trajectory, leaving the southern half of the bed (which is oriented north-south) with less direct light. So I’m planning to reconfigure the garden quite dramatically to take advantage of the fuller sunlight that hits the north half of the bed when we need it most: in the fall, to extend the growing season.

Funny how we can learn so much by paying attention to the smallest details.

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