Conducting Experiments in the Garden

| 7/14/2016 10:09:00 AM

Tags: beginning gardening, garden planning, organic pest control, raised bed gardening, pumpkins, squash, zucchini, cloches, season extension, Rachel Stutts, California,

For all those current gardeners as well as potential gardeners out there, the surefire way to learn how to garden is by conducting experiments — by setting a hypothesis, testing it, and recording your results. Then doing this over and over.

Although you may hear the term "master gardener", there is no one right way to grow your garden. No two gardens are even the same. Soil conditions, climate and micro-climates, the preponderance of pests and many other factors all can vary widely from one person's garden to another's.

While it is great to get tips from your neighbors or from the plethora of information online, you will not truly know if something will or won't work for you until you get out there and try it for yourself. Conducting mini-experiments around your garden also increases the fun factor and keeps every growing season interesting.

For me, since this is only my third or fourth year growing any type of vegetable garden, most everything I do is an experiment. To help inspire you toward selecting and conducting some experiments of your own, I'm listing a few of mine.

Grow Zucchini or Summer Squash Vertically

Zucchini and summer squash are some of the easiest vegetables for beginning gardeners, but I thought I would change it up a bit this year. I was intrigued by some blog posts about growing squash vertically.

I got my tomato cage, staked it around my zucchini seedling and started training the leaves up through the cage. I left the yellow squash un-caged as the "control" to my experiment, so I can compare the one grown vertically to the other. I like how the cage keeps the plant from meandering out of the garden bed and into the pathways, but I also noticed how the birds love to perch on the wire of the cage. They have really torn up the leaves of the zucchini plant.

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