4 Things You Can Do Now For a Great Edible Garden in 2017

It’s the time of year for lists. In the last 7 days I have seen lists about:

  • top ways to lose weight
  • saving money
  • getting organized
  • etc.

Seeing such lists got me thinking about the top things an edible gardener can do today to prepare for their best vegetable, fruit and herb gardening season. Come to think of it, if you have a productive edible garden then you will eat healthier, probably lose weight, surely save money and maybe even learn some new recipes. Talk about a life hack!

OK, without further delay, here you go:

  1. Review your notes from the previous season(s). What would you improve upon? What went right in the past? Did you jot down any ideas for new plantings in upcoming seasons? That brings me to #2…
  2. Get inspired. Start browsing those seed catalogs and find some new and exciting plants to grow this season. Before you know it the time will be right to begin starting indoor seeds.
  3. Do an inventory of your seeds and other supplies. It helps to do this before ordering any seeds because we gardeners tend to forget about that end of season discount purchase of seeds and potting mix.
  4. Start sketching out your garden plans.Have some fun here and don’t be too rigid. Your first sketch likely will not be the final one. It helps to see your mental garden plan on paper to ensure it makes sense for your space. I have included garden planning worksheets in the back of my latest book on getting started in edible gardening. I hope you will check it out and maybe purchase it too.

Before starting these activities be sure to include anyone who will be a part of your gardening endeavors. Your group will be more engaged if they had a hand in the planning of the garden.

garden plot sketch

Grandma’s garden sketch

 

 

You too can make your vegetable and herb gardening seasons longer

For many years, we have successfully extended our growing seasons for vegetables and herbs. We do not have a greenhouse and we do not spend much time or money creating effective cold weather protection.

Need some inspiration (and proof) that you can grow edibles well into December? Check out this video to see what we have growing right now. Notice the real snow on the ground!

Do This to Grow Better Produce Next Season

How has your growing season been going? Did you learn anything new, discover a new vegetable, fruit or herb that you want to grow again or find a new technique to trellis that you do not want to forget?

Each growing season offers new lessons. That is what makes edible gardening so darn fun (and addicting).

Things are beginning to slow down in the DIY Backyard Farm. As the days get shorter the plants grow slower. The weeds go slower too! That means there is less to do and more time to enjoy the amazing harvest. We still have tomatoes, peppers and some other all-star summer vegetables. There are even some golden raspberries showing up for a curtain call. It is like we have worked hard all spring and summer cycling to the top of a steep mountain. Now it is time to coast down the other side.

The extra time allows for reflection and some preliminary planning. The image below is of a real garden notes sheet for one of our tomato gardens. I included it here as an example of how we catalog our experiences and ideas. These notes will be a huge help once we begin planning for the next season’s crops.

If you take notes like these you will be a better backyard farmer and grow superior produce year after year. My book contains garden planning worksheets and garden notes pages like the one below. I hope you will buy a copy today.

Garden Notes

Garden Notes 

Must Read For Anyone Interested in Growing Their Own Food

Today I was prompted by a few things to revisit a previous post I created to help our followers grow their own garlic.

First, I read yet another article on the dangers in our food supply. Sadly, not all our trading partners feel it is important to give us clean, safe and healthy foods. The power of the almighty dollar often outweighs the importance of good, quality food. This particular article cited the use of chemicals on foods that you would not want on your foods. Garlic was one of the key foods mentioned in th article. Further Googling and reading on the topic led me to another article where crops were grown on human waste. Gross! Growing your own food helps you identify where your foods are from. Would you grow your foods on human waste or use unsafe chemicals to treat or condition your foods???

Next, the nice folks at WordPress who do the daily writing prompt tempted and challenged me with the word, “fragile“. That word made me think of our food supply. It sure sums up the conditions I see in and around the world of food. We have the unknown dangers of GMO’s (unlabeled in many cases too), chemicals with nasty side effects, tons of synthetic fertilizer use and a very fragile ecosystem. Many farmers do not even use the term soil anymore. It is now a, “growing medium”. At our home we grow our own food and encourage others to do the same. No GMO’s here. No pesticides or synthetic fertilizers either. We plant it, care for it and pick it when needed. It sure feels good to be so close to a large portion of our food supply.

Lastly, it is almost the time of year for planting garlic here in the Northeastern USA. Garlic is so easy to grow and happens to be mentioned in many of the aforementioned news articles on imported garlic. Here is my chance to hook you. What would be more fulfilling and rewarding than creating your very own backyard farm of organic garlic? Perhaps just one small row of vampire repelling goodness?

Go now and grow!

IMG_3311

garlic scape topped burger

Growing Your Own Leeks

DO let this information “leek” out. Leeks are an amazing vegetable to grow yourself and super easy to care for too. 

I know local prices vary, but I live in one of the most expensive markets in the USA. So, chances are you’ll pay less than the $4 I paid for two small packs of baby leek plants. I wound up getting about 30 full-grown and amazing leeks. 

What’s the secret you ask???

I wish there was more to it, but these babies are simple as can be to grow. Actually, I am so happy there is not more to it. Simple is perfection!

The main thing that I did to get such healthy-sized leeks is water frequently. This was especially important during the hot, dry summer that we experienced this year in my neck of the woods.

Some days that extra watering was a pain in the overalls. However, now we have the bounty of the harvest to remind us how much the effort is worth it. 

Lastly, I noticed that my home-grown leeks are so much cleaner than the ones I buy in the store. Washing them is a snap compared to their store bought friends. I credit this to the less sandy soil that we have here on the DIY backyard farm. 

Traditionally, leeks are grown on very sandy soil which makes cleaning them difficult and time-consuming. As you can see from the top photo, we did not experience any difference in quality. I believe this is because our soil is so loose and drains well. 

Leeks  have made it to our list of must have vegetables for the 2017 growing season. Do you grow leeks? If not, are you planning on growing them now that you have read this post?

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 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

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 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!