Thinning Your Seed Starts



lettuce started from seed needs thinning

Ever feel remorse and near sadness for snipping bunched up seedlings like these? Many experts recommend thinning in that way. You simply select a strong seedling and snip off the neighboring plants to allow the strongest plant to grow. 

Here on the DIY Backyard Farm we have a “no snipping policy”! Instead, we invest a bit more time and a lot more care to gently uproot crowed seedlings and transplant them so they grow at desired spacings. 



lettuce seedlings in their new home

Our method requires a soft touch. In fact, tweezers come in handy for this job. Just be sure not to pick young plants up by their stems. We grab by the root tips instead.   

Transplanting crowded seedlings gives you a ton of bang for your buck!

Monthly Experiment (April 2015) – Growing Bucket Loads of Potatoes

Each season we focus on 1 or 2 new edible plants to grow. Last season tomatillos got our vote. We sure did get our fill of tomatillo salsa, chimichurri, and other tomatillo creations. In fact our neighbors did too!

What new plant would we grow this year? First a wee bit of DIY Backyard Farm history.

For years I have wondered if I could grow the bucket loads of potatoes that so many online videos and blogs talked about. I almost tried last year, but decided to wait a bit longer so the kids could be old enough to help with this experiment. Kids love to experiment with stuff!

So, back in February we finalized our garden planning worksheets and made it official. 2015 will be the season of the potato (in buckets). I hope the results are as promising as they sound. The set-up sure was as easy as I had heard. Check it our for yourselves in the video below.

Of course, I plan to report our results on this blog. However, we really have no idea if this experiment will be a success. That is part of the fun! Never expect too much. Just enjoy the gardening journey!

How to Plant Onions

If you have never tasted the crisp, fresh flavor of a home-grown onion than you are just not living the good life yet. Fear not, for much of the USA this is a great time of year to plant onions. I prefer to plant onions from “sets” and show you how to do it in this short, informative video.

Do you need more convincing? I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that onions and garlic keep away unwanted pests. I believe this trick works too and have lined the perimeter of some of my gardens with them!

What types of onions do you prefer?

How to Save Money This Spring

romaine lettuce

Just a Couple of Weeks From Our Salad Bowl

We spend a fortune on lettuce in the winter. I would estimate we spend $30 a week on lettuce! Of course, we only buy organic lettuce, but we buy it in bulk when possible. Buying organic lettuce in bulk usually saves some coin. However, nothing compares to the money you can save by growing your own lettuce from seed.

Do you think it is too difficult to grow lettuce from seed? Think again!

Lettuce seeds can be directly sown into the ground as soon as the soil is workable. Better yet, lettuce seeds germinate fast and most varieties grow rather quickly. Lettuce comes in many varieties and thrives in cooler weather. In fact, we hope to be crunching on some fresh lettuce leaves really soon.

What are you waiting for? Sprinkle some seeds into loosely worked soil, water gently and thin out the seedlings to allow each plant enough room to grow. I do not waste the seedlings by cutting the ones I wish to thin. Instead, I simply uproot them with a small tool and transplant to another area of the garden. 

How to Get Started with Backyard Edible Gardening

book cover image

New Book Cover

Over two years ago I set out to write an edible gardening guide book that could get people started with edible gardening without overwhelming them. My overall mission was and still is to get people to reconnect with their foods by growing their own healthy, delicious produce.

Last month marked the launch of the 2nd Edition! New cover, added content and more tips! The book still contains my popular garden planning worksheets too. Early feedback has been excellent and press coverage has been flattering.

The book is available for purchase from the DIY Backyard Farm eStore for $14 + applicable taxes, shipping & handling. I hope you will check it out and tell everyone you know too!

Happy Gardening!

book cover image

Click Here to Purchase

Next Reality TV Show???

I lucked into this lady Daria on Twitter who shared the teaser for a new documentary that is coming out soon. Before I could watch it I was hooked.


Well, have you ever seen those giant pumpkins that people grow? As I am sure you would expect, pumpkins do not grow that way without a lot of help from a grower. I have always heard how obsessed these growers are with their pumpkins. Obsession combined with a harmless and fun hobby like growing pumpkins = some really interesting people!

Take a look at the trailer and you will see what I mean!

Don’t Do This For Better Peas

book cover image

Purchase The New Book For More Tips and Garden Planning Worksheets

That is right, a “don’t” recommendation at a time when many folks have planted their spring pea crop. Lots of people are talking about best ways to sow the seeds, optimal trellis methods and best times to harvest. Those are lots of “do” recommendations. However, I have not seen much talk about one particular “don’t” recommendation that I find a lot of folks ignore.

Ready for the payoff pitch? It is simple and will even save you money!

Don’t fertilize your peas. That is right, peas often do best in less fertile ground. In fact, peas that have been fertilized will often produce vigorous leaf growth, but produce far less pods than their less spoiled pea friends. What do you want more of, leaves or pods? I rest my case.

Here are some other DIY Backyard Farm tips on playing nice with your peas:

Tee-“pea” Trellis

Planting Peas With Kids (they usually love snap peas)

Tips For Starting Pea Seeds Indoors

Romaine Calm…Lettuce Rejoice In Spring (finally)

The first couple of weeks of spring on the DIY Backyard Farm have been cold, crusty and filled with frost and snow. However, as the photo below depicts, “real spring” seems to finally have arrived.

The birds are chirping, seeds are beginning to awaken and today I even got to leave my trademark flannel on the hook!

Looking at the national weather map I see spring is even starting to arrive to our North. Hey Boston, did all the snow melt yet? Hang in there and visualize nature’s bounty of fresh produce bursting from your gardens and lining the tables of local farm markets.

Ah…the sights, sounds, smells and wonders of things coming back to life !

romaine lettuce

Freshly Planted and Just a Few Weeks Away From Our Salad Bowl

How to Build a “Teepee” Trellis

OK, you’ve likely seen teepee style trellises all over Pinterest and other sites recently. Trellises are fun and creative structures that also play a vital role for many vegetable plants.

This time of year I have peas on the brain. Fresh peas and all the recipes that call for them signify springtime to me. In fact, I will eat peas of all sorts all spring long until they are gone. Then I won’t touch peas again until late summer/early fall (assuming I get a second crop to grow). Eat what’s fresh and local!

Peas come in all types of varieties, shapes and sizes. Some are edible, pod and all (think snap peas) and others hide so well inside their shells (think shelling peas). Some peas grow as a bush, but most like to push high and climb. Regardless of their height they all lack the might to thrive without some support. However, peas that grow tallest must enlist the help of some kind of trellis.

There are lots of fences, nets and trellises available. If you want to get extra creative you may want to try a pea teepee like I have built-in the video below. Follow along or go your own way. Just be sure the job is not all work and no play!

Do share your creations as I love to see what other edible gardeners are up to.