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.

Spring Cleaning – Asparagus Beds

DIY Backyard Farmer:

The perfect time of year to “dig up” this great post on preparing the asparagus beds for a great growing season!

Originally posted on Backyard Edible Gardening:

asparagus An image of spring glory to motivate you to do some spring asparagus cleaning

This is a special edition post by our friend, Dawn Crescitelli of Small Wonder Farm in NJ.

Here at Small Wonder Farm we have three types of perennial fruit (blueberry and raspberry) and vegetable (asparagus) beds to prepare. Today, I will be focusing on how to clean up and prep your asparagus beds.

First, carefully rake out your bed of left over frond pieces, seeds, and leaf debris. Clear off the debris from your row covers (if you have them) with a broom and large dust pan. You can also remove the stumpy old stems of last year’s asparagus from the garden bed. Only take the ones that are loose, do not pull or force an old stem out because this might damage the plant’s crown.

Next, weed the beds completely of ALL competing plants. Asparagus…

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Your Guide to Heirloom Seeds and Where to Buy Them

Just a few more days until spring. If you do not have your edible gardening seeds yet then it is time to get cracking.

Maybe you are still trying to figure out if buying heirloom seeds is the way to go?

Check out this cool infographic from Organic Lesson and then buy your heirloom seeds here

Heirloom Seeds Infographic

Heirloom Seeds Infographic

Companion Planting Ideas

March is a frustrating month for many of us. Sure St. Pat’s Day is fun, but March is still kind of frustrating. I guess March has one thing going for it…it is not February!

Edible gardeners are often perplexed by this much maligned month. To plant or not to plant is often the question. I say don’t plant until you are sure the conditions will be just right. Instead of planting spend your time planning.

More specifically, I find this to be a great time of year to think about and plan some companion planting. My style of companion planting embraces the unique characteristics of our family gardens. For example, we love growing lettuce because it tastes great when freshly picked and saves us a lot of money. The challenge comes during July and August when heat causes the lettuce to bolt, wilt or even disappear. Fortunately, we also love tomatoes and cucumbers. Over the years we learned to plant our lettuces and tomatoes in the shade of the sun-loving tomatoes and the succulent, crunchy cukes.

I also use the above technique with basil. However, basil typically prefers a bit more sun than most types of lettuce do. Basil is everywhere in our garden!

Another companion planting I find really useful comes from our friends, onions and garlic. I like to use these plants around the borders of our gardens. Onions and garlic are not a preferred target of many pests and critters. In fact, it is said these plants deter many bugs and even animals.

What types of companion planting do you do in your edible gardens?

Seed Starting Is a Family Affair

Started a tray of kale, swiss chard, beets and cilantro seeds tonight. We used one of the garden planning worksheets from my new book to map out our seed starting trays. No more unidentified plantlings because of lost plant markers or stakes!

Make this a family affair to teach life long skills like living sustainable, self-reliance and even math, geometry and spelling!

Two Avoidable Reasons Some Edible Gardeners Fail

book cover image

New Book Cover

The DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Planning Guide was written to help people get started growing their own healthy, delicious produce. Basically, I was getting too many request to help family, friends and acquaintances set up edible gardens. I wanted to help everyone, but I did not have the time! Writing a book outlining my methods for edible gardening seemed like a natural solution to my situation.

Below is an excerpt from the book to give you a flavor for what it is about. I hope you will get a copy for yourself and tell others to check it out too.

Copies can be purchased here.

From The DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Planning Guide, 2nd Edition:

“Now back to that original question. What have I done right and where do some edible gardeners go wrong?

The answers: planning and keeping edible gardening as simple as possible!

Yes, not keeping it simple and failing to plan are major reasons so many aspiring edible gardeners fail to grow great crops. In this book I will show you how I learned to grow delicious, healthy edible plants by following a simple planning and gardening method that lasts all growing season. I call it “plan your garden and garden your plan.”

As you will read, my edible gardening methods are based on keeping things as simple as possible, working with nature instead of trying to control her too much, taking notes on garden observations, and having a clear, manageable garden plan. If you let them, edible gardening and/or farming can become very complex endeavors. Most of that potential complexity comes from the pure human desire to control everything we encounter. Throughout this book I will frequently remind you to enjoy the “natural” aspects of working with Mother Nature. Losing the desire for a perfect garden is an important first step in that process.”

Gardening Activities to Do With Your Children in Winter

DIY Backyard Farmer:

Sending this post to the top because it’s not too late to plan your edible gardens and order your seeds. A breath of fresh air to chase away Old Man Winter.

Originally posted on Backyard Edible Gardening:

Kale,tent Kale Tent

It’s January and in much of the county it is cold. Too cold to grow most fruits, vegetables and herbs. The next 2-3 months can be really dull and difficult for many edible gardeners. Having young children at home can make wintertime cabin fever more difficult. What can one do to inspire their inner edible gardener while keeping the kids entertained? Easy, plan next season’s edible garden! Just be sure to include the kids.

Recently I posted about fighting back against winter’s dreary grip. It contains a recommendation to browse seed catalogs as one way to brighten up otherwise dull, grey days. Why not invite the kids along to thumb through the seed catalogs with you? After all, seed catalogs are usually filled with wonderfully colorful images of amszing produce!

Winter months are some really tough times for parents, especially those with younger children. The holidays are over and…

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How to Save A Ton of Money and Have Fun Too

tomato,huge

This organic, heirloom beauty was nearly 1.3 pounds. At $5-$6 a pound in the store…

My family and I have long grown our own healthy, delicious produce. We do so for the health benefits, to know where our foods come from and because we love the feeling of taking care of ourselves (self-reliance). In recent years I have become more aware of another great benefit of growing our own produce–saving money!

Food costs continue to rise dramatically around the world. It is simple economics. More people = more food demand. Less farmers and a finite amount of land = lower supply. Low supply + high demand = higher prices!

OK, that is enough of Economics 101. Here is a step by step way to save money on produce.

First, identify all the fruits, vegetables and herbs favored by your household.

Second, see which ones will grow well in your climate and available growing space. For example, you may love grapefruit, but unless you live in a place with year-round warmth you will not be able to grow them well.

Third, decide if you are going to buy seeds or plants. Either way try to grow from nonGMO, heirloom seeds or buy plants from a grower that does.

Fourth, plan your garden. In my book I write a lot about a need to “plan your garden, then garden your plan. Planning is an essential process, but it does not have to be difficult or too time consuming. In fact, my book was carefully designed to get the reader started in edible gardening without overwhelming them with to much information. Edible gardening can be complicated, but it does not have to be. Get started with a simple approach and add to your knowledge base as time and interest levels allow.

Fifth, track you “profits”. How much money did your edible garden save you? I started doing this in earnest during the 2014 growing season. We tracked golden raspberries, tomatoes and kale production. Those 3 organically grown crops alone more than paid for all our seeds, supplies, time and efforts! This season I plan to keep a closer watch over just how much money we save across the entire harvest from our backyard edible gardens.

Lastly, HAVE FUN!!!!!

I will do my best to post updates on this topic. Please share your experiences with saving money by growing your own produce too!

broccoli,broccolini,vegetable

grab some greens and save some greenbacks!

Special Announcement!!!!!

Hello DIY Backyard Farm Fans! You are among the first to hear about the exciting release of the 2nd edition of the DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Planning Guide. Now is the perfect time to plan your 2015 edible gardens and the new book can surely help. In fact, I hope I can lots of messages telling me it was the best $14 (+ tax) that you spent all season long!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 23, 2015

book cover image

New Book Cover

What’s the Simple Secret to a Thriving Edible Garden?

Reading The DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Planning Guide!

Last year, Greg Carbone of Backyard Enterprises LLC authored a book to help novice gardeners plan and start their own thriving edible gardens. Now his book is being released as a 2nd Edition. The new edition has a gorgeous cover photo taken in his very own edible gardens. The latest edition also contains additional content and even more useful garden planning worksheets.

The DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Planning Guide provides the guidance and tools needed to simply, easily and effectively plan and track edible gardens. The book provides information and tips to guide “budding” gardeners without overwhelming them. The worksheets included in the book are critical tools to help people avoid one of the biggest mistakes many edible gardeners make–failing to plan.

Greg is the “Head Farmer” and Managing Partner of Backyard Enterprises LLC. The company runs the website www.diybackyardfarm.com, which is dedicated to providing simple and easy tips to help regular folks grow their own healthy, delicious produce. Greg is on a personal mission to reconnect people (especially kids) with their foods. He believes edible gardening is one of the best ways to do it!

People have expressed a lot of initial excitement for the website and book. One might say, “the topic of edible gardening is really growing!”

Greg will be speaking and signing books at local New Jersey garden centers and libraries throughout the spring and summer growing seasons. Check out the website or the DIY Backyard Farm Facebook page for details. The book can also be purchased on Amazon.com or through the DIY Backyard Farm website (www.diybackyardfarm.com).