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Organic Family Garden Order and Chaos

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Pole beans growing, kale going to seed
How much planning to do you put into your family garden?  I drew out my plans, carefully trying to rotate some crops per guides like Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, allowing space for various vegetables, and dotting the garden with companion plants.
I was even proud of my practical copper labels, easy to use as we planted a larger assortment of foods than ever.  I had a light cover blanket ready to protect delicate plants from bugs and early spring’s coldest nights.
I didn’t count on critters digging up half the garden as soon as we got it into the ground.
Damage from digging nocturnal critter
knocking over tomato plants
For a series of nights, a suspected raccoon came digging along the edges of our raised beds for grubs.  It brazenly knocked over newly planted tomato plants and more.  So, several times I had to smooth out the soil and put tiny plants back into place.  Several of my best tomato plants that I had carefully started from seed seemed to have an extra hard time after these nighttime attacks.  It turns out that the tomatoes we started in larger pots (because we ran out of room in the raised beds) are thriving the best of all, more protected from digging critters.
Tomato plant surviving in large container
Then, there is the mystery of the “extra” plants popping up.  I carefully planned where the vegetables would go, yet somehow I have tomatoes trying to grow where the squash should be, more squash than I remember planting, even squash trying to grow on the stepped entrance to the garden.  I’m guilty of squeezing in a few extra seeds here and there, and apparently my husband kept adding sweet pepper plants to my other beds, so we’ve ended up with a more jumbled garden this year, it seems.  The good news is that things are growing.
Organic strawberries
That includes the strawberries.  After a rough start with the ground too moist, we added both weed fabric and straw to mulch and keep the area around the strawberry plants dryer.  Then, some combination of diatomaceous earth, diluted neem oil spray and crushed eggshells (thanks for the tip, Veronica) has helped keep most of the pillbugs away from our strawberries.  We can enjoy vine ripened, fresh, strawberries anytime we care to pick them.
Tiny carrot tops are sprouting from the ground, while I don’t see any celery.  Thanks to the few lizards we have that are keeping some insects in check.
Potato plants seems to be thriving, and we’re excited about a few corn plants too.  Wait until my husband finds the corn I planted in the front yard!  It’s exciting to see each year what we can grow with sustainable methods and without toxic pesticides.
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