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!

You Really Can Grow Buckets of Potatoes

Back in April we began an experiment to see if growing potatoes in buckets was as easy and foolproof as so many Pinterest pins and blog posts have made it sound.

The suspense was killing us all here on the DIY Backyard Farm!

After just 3 weeks the plants were looking green and vibrant. Every couple of weeks we added a few inches of soil to cover up more of the plants. In no time at all the bucket was filled to the top with soil and green plants were spilling out over the top.

Then it got boring. Yes boring! Plant growth slowed and we wondered when we would get to dump the bucket and see the results. Most articles I read said to wait until the plants turned yellow before picking the potatoes. Our plants did not begin to yellow until late July. They also did not yellow evenly.

By the second week of August the kids were bugging me to, “DUMP THE BUCKET!”. So we did!

The video below is proof that growing your own potatoes in a bucket is not only possible, but positively potato pleasing too! If we had waited a bit longer I am betting some of those “small fries” would have gotten much larger. No worries, we still have two pots full of our “ketchup and fries” potatoes to go!

I apologize for the shaky video work. My 9 year-old videographer was feeling a bit too energetic with all the anticipation of mini red potatoes slathered in homemade chive butter.

How to “Kid” Around in the Edible Garden

Engaging kids with their food is a great way to create healthy, lasting eating habits. Just look at the fun and excitement we share in our backyard edible garden. Even more exciting is all the feedback I have been getting on this topic. People keep telling me how amazed they are that their children are eating their veggies, fruits and herbs!

One parent recently told me her son will only eat what he picks. He will eat picked string beans, but won’t touch store bought. Smart kid!

A Few Simple Ways to Grow Great Onions

Growing opnions is not hard and certainly not magic. However, I see very few backyard edible gardeners growing these pungeunt pals of the soil.

Watch this quick video for tips and be sure to read past blog posts to learn to get started.

Happy Growing!

How to Find Buried Treasure in Your Yard

I have yet to own a piece of property that does not hold some kind of buried treasure. Of course, the definition of treasure is in the eye of the beholder.

Sometimes treasure comes in the form of some really cool vintage glass marbles. I am amazed that marbles are such a common yard find, but then again kids once played marbles all the time.

Action figures are another fun find. Sometimes they are entangled in pachysandra and other times they are buried a few inches into the dirt. Make believe warriors battling mother nature and all she can throw at them. When I find an action figure I often think of the stories it could tell. If only it could talk!

Finally, we get down to the really cool and sometimes amazingly valuable stuff. Ever hear the story about the Honus Wagner card inside of a metal case? Some lucky person unearthed that find in their yard (reportedly). Sadly I have never found one of these!

Yesterday while planting a beautiful new tree I did find this amazing blue glass Milk of Magensia bottle. Surely the monetary value of this bottle will not rival the Honus Wagner card.  Though I must say I did get quite a bit of value stopping to ponder the story behind this recent find.

My Most Recent Find

How did it get here? Were some work men building the house sick to their stomachs? Maybe it was being used as a flask to hold some whiskey? What year did this bottle come from?

I will be researching this cool fine over the weekend to see if I can figure out some more background or at least get an idea of how old it is. Who knows, maybe it is even be worth a couple hundred bucks.

What treasures have you found buried in your yard? The only way to find out is to start exploring. Building your own edible garden is one way to see what might be buried just beneath the surface. Our new book can show you how to get started in backyard edible gardening today!

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!

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).

Fall Into A Great Opportunity

Fall offers a whole new season to grow your own healthy, organic produce. Like spring, the onset of fall offers a noticeable change of season. Fall even offers predictability. Conversely, spring doesn’t always deliver what we expect spring to bring. Sometimes it feels like spring never comes at all. On the other hand, fall never seems to disappoint.

The leaves will change, the evenings will get cooler and harvest will be in full swing. As I think of fall I imagine pumpkins and wild-looking gourds gracing the steps of many suburban homes. Soon we will all rejoice in stinging, “trick or treat”!

Fall has so much to offer to edible gardeners. Here on the DIY Backyard Farm we grow many wonderful, organic edibles. Right now we are picking the final tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and cucumbers. At times it is sad to know we are tasting the final flavors of summer. Then we begin to think of our kale, broccoli, swiss chard and beets. These are getting tastier by the day and will take us right through to December and maybe even January. In the words of the immortal Bob Marley, “everything gonna be alright!”

kale,plant

National Kale Day (10/2)

Fall is also the time to plant garlic. There is something exciting about planting garlic in the fall. Our anticipation of tasty garlic scapes and bulbs build with each bulb we sink into the ground. Heck, it is just plain nice to plant something at a time when much of nature is maturing or already on the finished for the season.

Finally, there is a lot less to do in the garden this time of year. In the summer weeds pop up with each passing second. Not so in the fall. Watering is usually less of a chore too. Rest assured, there will be plenty of time to plan your Halloween costume!

Are you growing your own produce this fall? If so, what are you growing?

 

Never Yell “Eat Your Veggies!” again

In a world filled with processed foods and a constant barrage of fast food commercials…small groups of parents are fighting back in the war to get kids to “eat their veggies (fruits too)”. The current “crop” of children has largely lost touch with where their foods come from. Even “fresh” fruits often come encased in cellophane!

My take on this situation is that most of the last one or two generations of parents stopped growing their own produce. Food science captured the minds of the many more than Mother Nature. So sad, but don’t let it bum you out. Times are surely changing! There is a whole new interest in the origins of our foods. Better yet, that interest spans many generations.

cucumber, kids

Special Delivery

Just head to your local farmer’s market to see the “blooming” interest in quality, local foods. People, young and old are asking farmers the difference between Tuscan Kale & Curly Kale. Bakers are introducing consumers to breads made with ancient grains and baked in stone ovens. Meat and seafood purveyors are educating hungry families on the benefits of grass-fed meats or sustainable fish.

Even pizza has been swept up into the farm to table movement!

pizza, vegetables, garden

garden fresh pizza

Some families are taking things a bit further, yet staying closer to home at the same time. That’s right, backyard edible gardening has returned! Growing your own is even trendy and fashionable in some parts of the country.

Here on the DIY Backyard Farm we believe in making edible gardening a family affair. Our 6 & 8 year-old backyard farmers have their own little 4’ x 2’ raised garden beds to care for. Each child is responsible for selecting and taking care of the plants they wish to grow. Our son loves salad and grows lettuces and tomatoes exclusively. Our daughter calls beets “The Candy of the Garden”. She grew four different varieties of them this year. Both kids know where their foods come from and they sure do eat their fruits, veggies and fresh herbs.

raspberries

part of the daily golden raspberry harvest

We are suburban parents with kids who are subject to the same advertising and peer pressure as the majority of our population experiences. However, our kids have a love and respect for their food that is far beyond their years. In fact, they often outwit many adults when discussing different types of edible plants. For example, my kids recently told one of my adult friends all about Cacuzza. This is a really interesting Italian squash that our Nonna prepares into a fabulous sauce.

We did not hypnotize our kids or force them to help us in our edible gardens. Their own curiosity drove them in just the way mine did 37 years ago. All we did was encourage them to explore(safely). Of course, they have to be old enough to grasp some basics and garden safely. Ours began exploring the gardens as early as age 4. Here is how we engaged our kids with edible gardening:

1) Explained the growing process: planting the seeds, watering, tending to young plants and harvesting
2) Allowed them to have their own edible gardens. They select the plants they want to grow (with some guidance to ensure success). This part includes allowing them to design their own garden plans (see below).

garden plan,kid

Our 6 year-old’s 2014 edible garden planning worksheet

3) Help them understand the basics of garden care
4) Get creative with cool plant identifiers, building trellises, etc
5) Let them select veggies, fruits and/or herbs for a meal
6) Select age appropriate books on fruits, vegetables and herbs

Of course we always make sure to Have Fun and watch them to ensure they are safe

It is hard to quantify the health benefits my kids are getting from their organic, produce heavy diets. However, it is generally well accepted that diets with sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables are healthier than diets filled with processed foods. Just not having to fight with them at meal time is benefit enough!

If you want to start your own backyard edible garden and do not know where to start then I recommend my easy to follow DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Planning Guide. It even includes garden planning worksheets and sections to take down notes.