Remember, we are not claiming to be edible gardening experts. We are a young family simply sharing our experiences and love of organic, edible gardening. The whole process has changed our lives while helping shape the minds and palates of our children. We save the expert advice for the experts. We will surely mention the resources we find most helpful while also sharing our experiences and opinions on various products. As you gain confidence and a desire to learn more you will surely seek out a constant supply of edible gardening information. Some of it you will find on our site and some will likely be found elsewhere. We hope you will share your findings and experiences with us too!
No matter what information resource you choose as a guide, be sure to take steps to determine your land is safe to grow edible plants on. There are great expert resources out there on soil contamination testing. The note below offers 3 examples to get you started. Do your homework folks.
Important – Unfortunately, polluted and contaminated soil is quite prevalent in much of the world. Do not just assume your soil is clean without exercising due diligence. It is your responsibility to ensure the safety of the soil you intend to grow edible plants on. There are no universally agreed upon safety thresholds for many soil contaminates, but testing services are available. DIY Backyard Farm does not intend to be a full resource on soil contamination, testing, etc. However, there are some great resources available to home gardeners from universities and other organizations. Here are a couple from Cornell:
Finally, raised beds can reduce, but not eliminate exposure to polluted soil. After all, your hungry plants will often send roots deep into the beds right through to the “native” soil. If you do have contaminated soil you could always explore container (think pots filled with purchased soil) gardening. Container gardening is not as bad as it sounds either. We have beautiful and creative container gardens all around our yards.
Once you are ready to start you need to decide if you prefer to grow in raised beds, directly in your soil, in pots/containers, or some combination of them all. As mentioned above, we are using many different edible gardening methods with great results.
Raised Beds – in our humble opinion there is one book on raised beds that stands out most. Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening. He has a knack for making the raised bed gardening experience an easy and “fruitful” one. Read his book if you are looking for a “step by step” guide to get you started with raised beds.
Planting Directly in Your Soil – This is probably the fastest, easiest way to get started. However, before you grab your shovels you need to reach for some simple information to help guide you. Besides ensuring your soil is safe to grow edible plants in, you will need some guidance from people with more edible gardening experience than you. Be humble here, it is OK to ask for help!
There are a number of basic gardening guides available and written in enough styles to appeal to any “budding” edible gardener. Skim through a few to find one that appeals to you. Just be sure to stay away from guides that seem hyper-focused on certain stuff. For example, a great herb growing book will help you grow great herbs. It won’t do much for giving you what you need to grow tomatoes. You should also try to stick to guides that highlight organic gardening methods.
Look for books, magazines, or websites that cover all the steps of edible gardening for beginners: Understanding your soil, garden design/planning, plant selection, plant care, pests, soil amendments, treating plant problems, regular maintenance, and harvesting.
We offer our own book on getting started in edible gardening. Much like this website, our guide book is based on our own edible gardening experiences. The book is a simple, easy to use resource to help get people started right away. There are enough tips to guide folks without overwhelming them. Plus, the book includes worksheets and garden design templates to make planning garden beds a snap. In summary, The DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Planing Guide offers the information and tools needed to simply, easily and effectively plan and track edible gardens while improving results year after year.
Again, refer to our “Recommended Reading” page for more great resources of edible gardening information.
Container Gardening – Fear not, container gardening is not as sterile and limited as it sounds. In fact, there are loads of edible plants that will grow well in a container. Plus, container gardens allow you to get really creative by reusing and salvaging different types of containers or themeing your container gardens (chef’s garden, carrot patch, salad mix, etc.). This book is an inspiring guide and reference for anyone looking to get into container gardening: McGee & Stuckey’s Bountiful Container Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers.