A culinary online center dedicated to promoting the importance and the joy of American home cooking with an emphasis on local products and talent, celebrating the unique spirit and energy of the new food world ethos, especially in Vermont.

amuse bouche

I love quotes that add meaning to my life. Here are a few to live by:

Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.
—The Dalai Lama

Rhubarb is a metaphor for finding happiness in your own backyard.
—Garrison Keillor

Buy your snacks from a farmers’ market.
—Michael Pollan

Even when he had a garden in Paris, Thomas Jefferson cultivated Indian corn, “to eat green in our manner, …as quickly after it left the stalk as possible.
—Evan Jones, from American Food

5 Mistakes of a First Time Gardener

As a beginner gardener, I accept (somewhat grudgingly…my type-A personality gets in the way of 100% graciously accepting my errs) that I will not do everything right the first time.  However, I embrace challenges – so bring it on!

2018 marks year two of my life as a home gardener.  I learned some valuable lessons last year.  After a slow start, and purchasing some starts instead of seeds, I had a (mostly) productive garden.  This year will be even better! Namely because I won’t repeat my five biggest beginner mistakes from last year…

1. Smothered with love

Every morning and evening, ever so lovingly, I watered my seedlings.  I was sure to keep their soil moist at all times, just like the seed packets and online articles said.  Naively, I carried this same diligence to my garden beds!  Halfway through the summer, my beautiful, healthy squash started to rot right on the vine.

With some googling, I diagnosed my problem as root rot – this happens when the environment around the roots stays too wet and doesn’t get enough oxygen, developing a fungus which causes droopy leaves and rotting fruits.  Even though I had raised beds, the densely rich compost did not drain well.  We had a fairly rainy summer, and I was still out there watering every day and night…oops!

The fix: Assure proper drainage – add a layer of gravel to the bottom of your raised garden bed and avoid planting in low areas where water will collect and hold.

2. Helicopter mom

Thinking the protected, heated, and well-lit indoor environment would be best for all my plant starts, I started my lettuce indoors.  I planted them next to the heater, put them under grow lights, and fussed over their soil moisture, all in an effort to shelter them from trying to start their lives in the harsh outdoors.

Know what I raised?  Pathetic lettuce…flimsy, weak, and floppy lettuce.  They sprouted into tall, spindly starts that would tip over just by looking at them wrong.

The fix: Show some tough love and start your lettuce outside.  Let the natural forces of wind and rain force the lettuce starts to be hardier and sturdier than their sheltered counterparts.

Last year’s squash starts using egg crates

3. Pinterest is pretty, not practical

I’m pretty sure everyone has a story about seeing something cute on Pinterest, then failing miserably in an attempt to re-create it (check out this link for funny Pinterest fails!).  My Pinterest fail was using egg crates to start my seedlings.  In theory – it sounds perfect – they can be transplanted straight into the garden, egg cup and all!  In reality, my plants all germinated as expected, then almost immediately wilted and died.

The fix: Don’t plant in egg crates!  My theory is they do not hold enough soil to provide nutrients after germination.  I also think they may have been treated or exposed to something that harmed the plants…but these are just theories.  Simply put, don’t start in egg crates.

4. Give the carrots a break

Literally!  Last year, I filled my raised beds with rich compost from a local dairy farmer.  It was wonderfully nutrient dense, but also, very dense.  My carrot-tops were vibrant and feathery, and when it came time to harvest, I chose the fattest looking carrots I could find.  They were the shortest, stumpiest little carrots I’ve ever seen.  Apparently, girth is not indicative of length.

The fix: To be fair, I have not yet been able to prove out my solution this year yet, but based on garden advise from family (and the internet!), I mixed my compost with sand and perlite.  The goal is to aerates the soil, giving the carrots some space to push through and grow nice and long.

5. Bunnies are cute, but they’re pests

I completely underestimated the damage a single little cottontail can do to a bed of kale.  I transplanted my kale and figured I could wait a day or two to put up a pest barrier…WRONG!  So wrong…Literally that night, a hungry bunny ate the tops of every plant!  I had to start over with seed on all except one plant that had a couple leaves left and held onto life like a champ.

The fix: Be diligent with your pest barriers!  I use mesh wildlife netting supported by 2×2 posts.  Definitely diminishes the appearance, but you’ll be glad YOU are the one eating your kale, not the damn bunnies.

This year’s squash starts.  Notice how plump and healthy they look compared to last year!

PLEASE SHARE your pearls of wisdom for home gardening!  I look forward to a more productive year than last, but there is still much learning to be had…

Until next time,

Corrie Austin

Posted: 5-13-2018

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2018 marks year two of my life as a home gardener.  I learned some valuable lessons last year.  After a slow start, and purchasing some starts instead of seeds, I had a (mostly) productive garden.  This year will be even better! Namely because I won't repeat my five biggest beginner mistakes from last year...



1. Smothered with love

Every morning and evening, ever so lovingly, I watered my seedlings.  I was sure to keep their soil moist at all times, just like the seed packets and online articles said.  Naively, I carried this same diligence to my garden beds!  Halfway through the summer, my beautiful, healthy squash started to rot right on the vine.

With some googling, I diagnosed my problem as root rot - this happens when the environment around the roots stays too wet and doesn't get enough oxygen, developing a fungus which causes droopy leaves and rotting fruits.  Even though I had raised beds, the densely rich compost did not drain well.  We had a fairly rainy summer, and I was still out there watering every day and night...oops!

The fix: Assure proper drainage - add a layer of gravel to the bottom of your raised garden bed and avoid planting in low areas where water will collect and hold.

2. Helicopter mom Thinking the protected, heated, and well-lit indoor environment would be best for all my plant starts, I started my lettuce indoors.  I planted them next to the heater, put them under grow lights, and fussed over their soil moisture, all in an effort to shelter them from trying to start their lives in the harsh outdoors. Know what I raised?  Pathetic lettuce...flimsy, weak, and floppy lettuce.  They sprouted into tall, spindly starts that would tip over just by looking at them wrong.

The fix: Show some tough love and start your lettuce outside.  Let the natural forces of wind and rain force the lettuce starts to be hardier and sturdier than their sheltered counterparts.

[caption id="attachment_4825" align="aligncenter" width="520"] Last year's squash starts using egg crates[/caption] 3. Pinterest is pretty, not practical I'm pretty sure everyone has a story about seeing something cute on Pinterest, then failing miserably in an attempt to re-create it (check out this link for funny Pinterest fails!).  My Pinterest fail was using egg crates to start my seedlings.  In theory - it sounds perfect - they can be transplanted straight into the garden, egg cup and all!  In reality, my plants all germinated as expected, then almost immediately wilted and died.

The fix: Don't plant in egg crates!  My theory is they do not hold enough soil to provide nutrients after germination.  I also think they may have been treated or exposed to something that harmed the plants...but these are just theories.  Simply put, don't start in egg crates.

4. Give the carrots a break Literally!  Last year, I filled my raised beds with rich compost from a local dairy farmer.  It was wonderfully nutrient dense, but also, very dense.  My carrot-tops were vibrant and feathery, and when it came time to harvest, I chose the fattest looking carrots I could find.  They were the shortest, stumpiest little carrots I've ever seen.  Apparently, girth is not indicative of length.

The fix: To be fair, I have not yet been able to prove out my solution this year yet, but based on garden advise from family (and the internet!), I mixed my compost with sand and perlite.  The goal is to aerates the soil, giving the carrots some space to push through and grow nice and long.

5. Bunnies are cute, but they're pests I completely underestimated the damage a single little cottontail can do to a bed of kale.  I transplanted my kale and figured I could wait a day or two to put up a pest barrier...WRONG!  So wrong...Literally that night, a hungry bunny ate the tops of every plant!  I had to start over with seed on all except one plant that had a couple leaves left and held onto life like a champ.

The fix: Be diligent with your pest barriers!  I use mesh wildlife netting supported by 2x2 posts.  Definitely diminishes the appearance, but you'll be glad YOU are the one eating your kale, not the damn bunnies.

[caption id="attachment_4827" align="aligncenter" width="520"] This year's squash starts.  Notice how plump and healthy they look compared to last year![/caption] PLEASE SHARE your pearls of wisdom for home gardening!  I look forward to a more productive year than last, but there is still much learning to be had...

Until next time,

Corrie Austin

" ["post_title"]=> string(35) "5 Mistakes of a First Time Gardener" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(228) "Learn how to avoid home gardening mistakes! Last year I attempted my first ever home vegetable garden. There is definitely a learning curve, especially for Vermont's short growing season, and I learned some valuable lessons..." ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(35) "5-mistakes-of-a-first-time-gardener" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(50) " https://diyprojects.com/pinterest-fails-make-day/" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2018-05-13 14:15:29" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-05-13 18:15:29" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(42) "http://inthekitchenwithbronwyn.com/?p=4813" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "2" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } } ["post"]=> object(WP_Post)#373 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(4813) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "8" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2018-05-13 10:45:32" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2018-05-13 14:45:32" ["post_content"]=> string(6275) "As a beginner gardener, I accept (somewhat grudgingly...my type-A personality gets in the way of 100% graciously accepting my errs) that I will not do everything right the first time.  However, I embrace challenges - so bring it on! 2018 marks year two of my life as a home gardener.  I learned some valuable lessons last year.  After a slow start, and purchasing some starts instead of seeds, I had a (mostly) productive garden.  This year will be even better! Namely because I won't repeat my five biggest beginner mistakes from last year... 1. Smothered with love Every morning and evening, ever so lovingly, I watered my seedlings.  I was sure to keep their soil moist at all times, just like the seed packets and online articles said.  Naively, I carried this same diligence to my garden beds!  Halfway through the summer, my beautiful, healthy squash started to rot right on the vine. With some googling, I diagnosed my problem as root rot - this happens when the environment around the roots stays too wet and doesn't get enough oxygen, developing a fungus which causes droopy leaves and rotting fruits.  Even though I had raised beds, the densely rich compost did not drain well.  We had a fairly rainy summer, and I was still out there watering every day and night...oops!

The fix: Assure proper drainage - add a layer of gravel to the bottom of your raised garden bed and avoid planting in low areas where water will collect and hold.

2. Helicopter mom Thinking the protected, heated, and well-lit indoor environment would be best for all my plant starts, I started my lettuce indoors.  I planted them next to the heater, put them under grow lights, and fussed over their soil moisture, all in an effort to shelter them from trying to start their lives in the harsh outdoors. Know what I raised?  Pathetic lettuce...flimsy, weak, and floppy lettuce.  They sprouted into tall, spindly starts that would tip over just by looking at them wrong.

The fix: Show some tough love and start your lettuce outside.  Let the natural forces of wind and rain force the lettuce starts to be hardier and sturdier than their sheltered counterparts.

[caption id="attachment_4825" align="aligncenter" width="520"] Last year's squash starts using egg crates[/caption] 3. Pinterest is pretty, not practical I'm pretty sure everyone has a story about seeing something cute on Pinterest, then failing miserably in an attempt to re-create it (check out this link for funny Pinterest fails!).  My Pinterest fail was using egg crates to start my seedlings.  In theory - it sounds perfect - they can be transplanted straight into the garden, egg cup and all!  In reality, my plants all germinated as expected, then almost immediately wilted and died.

The fix: Don't plant in egg crates!  My theory is they do not hold enough soil to provide nutrients after germination.  I also think they may have been treated or exposed to something that harmed the plants...but these are just theories.  Simply put, don't start in egg crates.

4. Give the carrots a break Literally!  Last year, I filled my raised beds with rich compost from a local dairy farmer.  It was wonderfully nutrient dense, but also, very dense.  My carrot-tops were vibrant and feathery, and when it came time to harvest, I chose the fattest looking carrots I could find.  They were the shortest, stumpiest little carrots I've ever seen.  Apparently, girth is not indicative of length.

The fix: To be fair, I have not yet been able to prove out my solution this year yet, but based on garden advise from family (and the internet!), I mixed my compost with sand and perlite.  The goal is to aerates the soil, giving the carrots some space to push through and grow nice and long.

5. Bunnies are cute, but they're pests I completely underestimated the damage a single little cottontail can do to a bed of kale.  I transplanted my kale and figured I could wait a day or two to put up a pest barrier...WRONG!  So wrong...Literally that night, a hungry bunny ate the tops of every plant!  I had to start over with seed on all except one plant that had a couple leaves left and held onto life like a champ.

The fix: Be diligent with your pest barriers!  I use mesh wildlife netting supported by 2x2 posts.  Definitely diminishes the appearance, but you'll be glad YOU are the one eating your kale, not the damn bunnies.

[caption id="attachment_4827" align="aligncenter" width="520"] This year's squash starts.  Notice how plump and healthy they look compared to last year![/caption] PLEASE SHARE your pearls of wisdom for home gardening!  I look forward to a more productive year than last, but there is still much learning to be had...

Until next time,

Corrie Austin

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The fix: Assure proper drainage - add a layer of gravel to the bottom of your raised garden bed and avoid planting in low areas where water will collect and hold.

2. Helicopter mom Thinking the protected, heated, and well-lit indoor environment would be best for all my plant starts, I started my lettuce indoors.  I planted them next to the heater, put them under grow lights, and fussed over their soil moisture, all in an effort to shelter them from trying to start their lives in the harsh outdoors. Know what I raised?  Pathetic lettuce...flimsy, weak, and floppy lettuce.  They sprouted into tall, spindly starts that would tip over just by looking at them wrong.

The fix: Show some tough love and start your lettuce outside.  Let the natural forces of wind and rain force the lettuce starts to be hardier and sturdier than their sheltered counterparts.

[caption id="attachment_4825" align="aligncenter" width="520"] Last year's squash starts using egg crates[/caption] 3. Pinterest is pretty, not practical I'm pretty sure everyone has a story about seeing something cute on Pinterest, then failing miserably in an attempt to re-create it (check out this link for funny Pinterest fails!).  My Pinterest fail was using egg crates to start my seedlings.  In theory - it sounds perfect - they can be transplanted straight into the garden, egg cup and all!  In reality, my plants all germinated as expected, then almost immediately wilted and died.

The fix: Don't plant in egg crates!  My theory is they do not hold enough soil to provide nutrients after germination.  I also think they may have been treated or exposed to something that harmed the plants...but these are just theories.  Simply put, don't start in egg crates.

4. Give the carrots a break Literally!  Last year, I filled my raised beds with rich compost from a local dairy farmer.  It was wonderfully nutrient dense, but also, very dense.  My carrot-tops were vibrant and feathery, and when it came time to harvest, I chose the fattest looking carrots I could find.  They were the shortest, stumpiest little carrots I've ever seen.  Apparently, girth is not indicative of length.

The fix: To be fair, I have not yet been able to prove out my solution this year yet, but based on garden advise from family (and the internet!), I mixed my compost with sand and perlite.  The goal is to aerates the soil, giving the carrots some space to push through and grow nice and long.

5. Bunnies are cute, but they're pests I completely underestimated the damage a single little cottontail can do to a bed of kale.  I transplanted my kale and figured I could wait a day or two to put up a pest barrier...WRONG!  So wrong...Literally that night, a hungry bunny ate the tops of every plant!  I had to start over with seed on all except one plant that had a couple leaves left and held onto life like a champ.

The fix: Be diligent with your pest barriers!  I use mesh wildlife netting supported by 2x2 posts.  Definitely diminishes the appearance, but you'll be glad YOU are the one eating your kale, not the damn bunnies.

[caption id="attachment_4827" align="aligncenter" width="520"] This year's squash starts.  Notice how plump and healthy they look compared to last year![/caption] PLEASE SHARE your pearls of wisdom for home gardening!  I look forward to a more productive year than last, but there is still much learning to be had...

Until next time,

Corrie Austin

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2 responses to “5 Mistakes of a First Time Gardener”

  1. You did it, again, Corrie. I learned something about vegetable gardening from your post, and I’ve been gardening for too many years to mention! Thank you for the tip on carrots, getting rid of those sweet, hungry bunnies and avoiding cute ideas on Pinterest! Another winner!!

    • Corrie Austin says:

      Hi Bronwyn,
      It’s a humbling experience, as you just have to accept some failures. I’m hoping for a better turnout than last year! Only time will tell, and I’m sure I will make at least 5 more big errors!
      See you Friday,
      Corrie

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