Lessons From My 2014 Garden

Growing a garden in the desert… it’s a challenge. Well, I think that growing a garden anywhere may be a challenge for me. It’s a learning experience, this is only my second year putting forth a real attempt at growing stuff. (Meaning I have grow boxes in my yard and I’ve actually planted things in the ground. I’ve killed plants in containers for several years now.) But so far, I can’t figure out a pattern to this gardening stuff… but I’ve figured out a couple of things. Maybe I’ll remember to refer back to this post next year. Or maybe I’ll just remember these lessons better if I’ve spelled them out.

Hornworms Leak

This is my second year that hornworms have moved into my tomato plants. I’m not entirely sure how to prevent them. I do know that you’re supposed to go pull the nasty buggers off the plants and drown them in soapy water if you spot them. And if you startle them by grabbing them, they leak this nasty green goo out the sides of their head. And it makes me shudder and squeal. (Which made A come up to me and say, “Is okay Mommy” while patting me on the leg… so sweet.) They’re horrible, disgusting creatures and when they start to show up, the plants die.


Zucchini plants hurt

Zucchini plants have giant leaves and the veggies are kind of hidden underneath these, so you have to push them aside to look for zucchini and to pick the goods. And they have prickly parts all over them. And after a few swipes around the plant, I end up with a rash that moves up my entire arm if I don’t move on and get it washed it off quickly.

Watermelon Entertaining, but Not Worth It

I was so excited when I started to see little melons show up in my garden. And when one of them finally met all the criteria of being ripe, I plucked it and took it inside. It was about the size of a grapefruit. And when I cut into it, it had a lot of rind and the edible amount of fruit was about the size of a golf ball. The plant starts to spread out quite a bit and I don’t have space for plants that need a ton of room. And it’s so easy to buy a little watermelon at the grocery store, often for just $2.99 and I get a lot of edible fruit from them.


Pumpkins Need Too Much Room

The pumpkin plant grew and grew and grew. And it overtook a whole region of the yard that wasn’t earmarked as garden space. One pumpkin grew successfully. The rest of it was a constant battle against squash bugs until it finally succumbed to some kind of fungus.  Too much work, not enough reward.


I’m tired of cucumbers

So…. many…. cucumbers. Is there some adage about a cucumber a day? What happens then? Cause I’m eating at least one lemon cucumber a day these days. And I’m the only one in the family that is eating them. (Who are we kidding, I’m the only one that eats most of the garden’s yield.)

I don’t know the secret to tomatoes

Last year I had an abundance of tomatoes. This year I got a couple of tomatoes earlier in the summer, had a really long dormant period and now I’m starting to get a few tomatoes. I’ve yet to eat one since A spots them and eats them straight off the vine. There is zero chance they’re going to make it in the house to get washed first. Sometimes she grabs green tomatoes and eats those too. We’ve had some good wind and rain storms which have beaten my tomato plants, they are all basically sideways right now. It’s a big tangled mess but I don’t want to pull them up yet because I want to get as much fruit from them as possible. Which will probably be about 25 grape tomatoes by the end of the season!


Peppers are Prolific

I’ve got a ton of green peppers this year. I finally had to freeze a bunch of them because I couldn’t stay on top of eating them all as they were ready. Three plants seems to be too many when they are thriving.


Peas were a huge success with the kid

I planted pea plants in the spring and those were a big hit. A and I would go pick peas every evening and she loved eating them. When it got too hot in the summer months for peas the plants died, but I recently planted seeds and we have the beginning starts of a new crop popping above the surface. Hopefully we get a good yield for a while throughout the fall!


Gardening is good for the kid too, she’ll try just about anything that we pull out of the garden 100% willingly. She loves to go pick things and I think it’s a good lesson about where food comes from. So I’ll keep it up, maybe some day I’ll master growing something? Radishes have been successful both years, maybe I’m a master radisher?


  1. My problem with the cucumbers was that some of them tasted terrible! It was like only 50% of my cucumber yield was actually edible.

    • I haven’t had that issue, fortunately mine have all tasted right. But I’m just really really really really really really tired of the taste right now! 🙂

      • My sister swears by a Julia Childs recipe for cucumber something or another that is cooked in the oven. Her 1.5 year old loved it.

  2. I’m terrible and haven’t been here in so long! I loved this post though. It’s funny — this was the first year I didn’t deal with hornworms! Maybe all of mine moved up towards your end of town. 🙂 In all the years I’ve been gardening in Las Vegas, the only thing I do know is there are very few consistencies from year to year. It’s still fun to try though and always a bit of surprise how things turn out!

    • I find this comforting, to know that you don’t have consistencies year-to-year! I kind of look at your as the Vegas garden pro! And you’re right, it is fun to see how it goes. But also frustrating when I counted on having lots of tomatoes again!

      You can take your hornworms back. 😉

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