I usually have a very healthy looking garden. I don't really consider myself to be a hobbyist. Mainly because I spend hours every day, except Sunday, working my garden. I take it very seriously. And I was able to make a dent in how my family eats this summer.
Next year it will be even better. I plan on growing enough green beans to can and literally very few veggies bought from a store next year. I can't help but have a lot of pride in that goal.
I have friends and people visiting that will stop and stand there staring at my garden. There is a bit of a shock and awe factor. My stuff gets big and a deep green color that most people aren't used to seeing in the average garden or yard.
Zucchini by the 2nd week of June.
Now I say that, in order to say this, I got totally humbled and schooled hard this year too.
The company that my brother-in-law works for has a very large building and has land around the building that goes for probably a mile. They had the great idea of giving the employees space to grow on. About an acre all together.
They had the land professionally prepared. They brought in tons of compost, tractors and the works. They divided this acre in to dedicated rows covered with thick commercial grade tarp and landscaping fabric. Under the tarp on each row they put in a dedicated drip system.
All the employee has to do is request space and they are giving a section of a row. The employee just has to go to their section and punch a hole in the tarp and plant their seedlings. Perfect sun, perfect soil, and perfect water. And all maintained by professionals.
At the beginning of this season I had started just about everything under lights and had given my BIL all my extras; tomatoes, pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers, etc... he took them all to work and plugged them in.
One Saturday afternoon, BIL and I were standing out in my garden talking about how beautiful everything was looking...he invited me to drive over to his office and see his garden. Well, I ate humble pie that day and went back for seconds.
His tomatoes were easily 4x the size of my plants. Cherry tomatoes so big you couldn't put two in your mouth at the same time. His zucchini plant was gigantic. The leaves extended almost 5' off the ground. He got 20lbs of green beans off of one picking off a short row of like 10 bush bean plants.
I looked around at rows of perfect corn, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe,... it was like being in a different world. I was in shock.
His plants were from the same batch of seeds as were mine. Same altitude and same temperature conditions. But on average his are growing and producing 2 to 4x better than mine.
My new raised beds were built last fall. I trucked in 8 tons of topsoil and compost. The biggest bed is 16'x10' the second is 12'x7' at it's widest point.
He's probably getting about 3hours more direct sunlight than me, but there's nothing I can do about that.
I believe the biggest issue is the soil.
It takes years, IMO to get the soil to optimally produce. Therefore I started with the first grass clippings I could get and start mulching the whole garden. When my onions, lettuce, carrots, and pumpkins were done, I tilled all that green matter back into the soil.
If you click to enlarge the image you can see the brown composting matter in the soil.
As soon as the beets, squash, and cantaloupe are done I'll put them on the pile too.
Then after the last mowing of the lawn I'll add probably 6-ish bags of sheep manure, and then till it all under for the winter.
I'm going to transplant those lavender out of that bed and put in 8 rows x 16' of bush beans in there. With a row of cantaloupe and honey due that will run to the right and up the trellis. Leaving a 3' space on the right as a "no mans land". The sun doesn't hit that area until around 1:30pm. Well I might put the lavender in that space though.
I think with that effort I will soon close the garden gap.
By the way, my BIL came by this morning and dropped these off saying he had extra: *sigh