Our grandparents and one very special Great Aunt were passionate gardeners. Growing up with them meant lots of days in the yard tending to gardens, learning simple lessons about nature, and of course eating great fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Our yards were a constant exploration of edible goodies. The memories of walking past all the different edible plants and tasting the amazing flavors are forever burned into our minds. Our lives seemed destined to be filled with the same types of gardens and amazing edible plants.
However, as we got older and life responsibilities hit we began to lose touch with our green thumbs. Eventually, we determined we did not have the time or energy to have our own edible gardens.
Over the course of three gardenless years we began to lose touch with our foods. Produce just became nutrition, fuel for the body. We purchased all veggies, herbs, and fruits from grocery stores and farmers markets. Sure we looked for fresh, often times organic produce. However, something was missing from our lives. Growing our own edibles provided an important link to nature and the changing seasons. We had an odd feeling of being out of synch with the world around us. Strawberries in November just did not feel right. We should be eating dark leafy greens, beets, and squash in November!
After having children we realized they too were totally missing this important linkage to nature. They were not going to have the same wonderful gardening experiences we did as children. We began to question some of the activities we spent our time on and revisited our gardening techniques to see if we could make them easier. Books and magazines on edible gardening were consumed at a ferocious pace. We also looked back at history to help us figure it out. After all, Native Americans were legendary gardeners and our grandparents made it look so simple. At what point did edible gardening become complex? What was their secret?
We soon realized we got caught up trying to be too perfect and scientific and it drove us away from edible gardening. Some science is critical (think soil contamination testing). Be sure to have your soil checked for safety! However, the need to grow perfectly straight rows of plants with blemish-free produce can send any gardener over the edge. After all, nature is wild and wants to do what it wants to do. Why try to over control it? This was one of the key mistakes we were making.
Our grandparents did not start by planting edible gardens all over their properties. They did one piece and then another. They learned to manage what they had, evaluate the plants they were growing and then decided to expand or take away. The lesson here is simple…start out small and expand your edible adventures slowly.
We also realized we were not properly planning our edible gardens and had no real strategy for tending to them. As a result, we developed our own edible garden planning worksheets and planning tools to improve our odds of having a manageable and successful edible gardening experience.
We were excited, energized and armed with some new knowledge and key revelations on our previous mistakes. We were ready to give edible gardening another try. Plus, we had just purchased a new home with no existing edible gardens. A blank slate!
Three years (2014) into our organic, edible gardening adventure and we are happy to report we have succeeded! Not only are we able to have an organic edible garden, but we still have time available for the rest of life. The biggest indicators of our success have been the responses we get from others. Neighbors are now growing their own, strangers stop by to ask about the edible garden, and our children’s friends are asking their parents for edible gardens too!
We got so many requests to help others have organic edible gardens like ours that we decided to start this site and write a book too!
DIY Backyard Farm is dedicated to sharing our experiences, ideas, and opinions on edible gardening (organic when possible). Nothing complicated here, just working with nature and allowing her to give back bountiful rewards and the satisfaction of creating something from almost nothing. Please follow us and join our expression of passion for seeing things grow. Few things are so elemental and satisfying. Growing your own edibles is one of them.