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

 

 

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 

Flavor of the week or maybe year?

I want to get a head start on my 2016 edible garden planning. Sure we still have gorgeous swiss chard and beets surrounded by armies of carrots, kale and herbs. However, our daily garden chores have diminished and we are starting to find ourselves indoors more. Perfect evening for planning the 2016 DIY Backyard Farm gardens.

Please share with me your favorite veggies, fruits and herbs from the 2015 growing season. Of course I will share my findings in some kind of top 10 list.

Thanks!

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.”

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).

Gardening Activities to Do With Your Children in Winter

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 parents have exhausted all the usual options. It just so happens these are the months when seed catalogs arrive in the mail. I call them colorful messengers of joy! Plus, seed catalogs remind us all that spring will in fact come again one day. So, break out the seed catalogs and start dreaming about the growing season to come!

Over the past couple of years we have made seed selecting and edible garden planning family activities. It is so much fun and very interesting to watch the children’s’ eyes light up as they see images of beautiful and often unique fruits, vegetables and herbs. Selecting seeds and garden planning do not have to be quick activities either. It usually takes us a few sit downs before we get our seed orders and edible garden plans just right.

Here is how to do it:

1) Have a bunch of small pieces of paper and some tape handy to allow each person to bookmark their seed pages of interest and write down their thoughts on particular seeds.

2) Place all your seed catalogs around a table and let each person take one. Some catalogs are more visual than others. Be sure the kids get the most visual ones. If they are old enough to read then encourage them to learn about the seeds. Take time to read to them if the reading is too advanced. You will likely learn something as well!

3) Begin to develop a garden plan once most of the seeds have been selected. This step is best done at a different seating. It is nice to sleep on seed buying decisions before investing time to plan a garden or order seeds. Plus, the kids will not want to do marathon garden planning sessions!

4) Sketch out edible garden beds on graph paper or use the garden planning worksheets in the back of my edible garden planning guide book. Does your seed selection make sense now that it is on paper? Remember, less is often more when it comes to edible gardening. Also be sure the edible plant selections will grow well in your location (consider variables like climate, sun exposure, watering needs and companion planting).

Let kids get creative (example in the picture below) by allowing them to use colored pencils or crayons to draw the edible plants they want to grow. I bet they surprise you with how well they can draw carrots, strawberries and other tasty produce. Be sure to help them understand how many of each plant can grow in a specified area. If you do not have this information then check the plant descriptions in seed catalogs.

5) Once you are satisfied with your seed selection and checked that plants will do well in your garden it is time to order or buy seeds from your local garden center. I buy some seeds from local garden centers, swap seeds with gardening friends and order from a few catalog retailers. Click here for a list of mail order seed suppliers.

When the seeds arrive you can keep the kids engaged by reviewing each seed packet with them. Remember to keep it simple and do not try to become expert on too many plant types at once. You and your children will benefit more from growing a few plants and knowing a lot about each one.

I find the process of seed selection and garden planning is helpful for getting through the winter. Before long it will be time to start seeds under grow lights or plant the first seeds of the season in your garden soils!

Fight Back Against Winter’s Dreary Grip

seed saver exchange catalog, 2014, seeds

2014 Seed Savers Exchange Catalog Cover

The seed catalogs are coming! Thumbing through the pages of these vibrant catalogs of cheer is a great way to push back against the cold, grey clutches of Old Man Winter.

Don’t forget our very own Edible Garden Planning Guide to help get your garden planning off on the right path. It includes garden planning worksheets for sketching out garden planting diagrams. Plan your garden, garden your plan!

book cover

Book Front Cover

What are you planning to grow in 2015?

Stay tuned for The DIY Backyard Farm’s top seed picks for gardening with kids.

raspberries

part of the daily golden raspberry harvest

A Tomato for the Ages (or next season at least)

Today a friend gave me a magnificent tomato called Purple Haze. I had them this evening and quickly wrote them into my list of tomatoes to grow next year.

tomato,purple haze

A perfect Purple Haze Tomato

As soon as I finished my meal I began searching the net for information on this variety. After reading a number of sites I was satisfied that I had enough information to confidently add Purple Haze to my very short list of tomatoes to grow next year.

I liked the summary offered by a website call Tomato Dirt. This site does a nice job of providing background info on how the variety was created. I especially liked how they noted that Purple Haze is not yet stabilized. That means it is not producing reliable, consistent results. For example, it is meant to produce large cherry-sized fruit. However, it sometimes produces oblong or larger tomatoes.

Stabilized or not, I want to grow them next year. As I always say, “plan your garden and then garden your plan!” Start planning now when the experiences are fresh in you mind.