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!


garlic scape topped burger

Learn to Harvest Garlic

A few minutes time watching this video will help teach you the proper timeing and technique for harvesting your garlic. Didn’t grow garlic?

Watch it anyway to get inspired. We plant ours every October. Will you be planting some in 2016?

How and When to Pick Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are an amazingly tasty gift from the garlic gods who deemed the waiting period for garlic bulbs to be too long. Enough with the edible gardening mythology. Let’s move on to the tips.

The video below offers up the basics on how and when to harvest garlic scapes.


Parting Shot…Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm


Theory of Tomatillo Relativity

All items are grown in the DIY Backyard Farm except for the limes.

1 lb. Tomatillos + 1 Jalapeno + 1/2 Red Zeppelin Onion + 1 Small Head Garlic + Red Hot Smoker Grill + Vitamix Blender = One tasty fire roasted tomatillo salsa!


Fire roasting in the smoker grill

tomatillo salsa

The finished product, up close and personal

Grow Your Own Garlic

Gilroy, California is widely known as “The Garlic Capital of the World”. Sadly, much of the garlic on store shelves comes from far off places like China & Argentina. How could this be? One reason is cost. Amazingly, the cost of garlic imported all the way from China is often less than garlic grown in the USA.

Fortunately, more and more people are concerned with quality and not quantity these days. For about $1 – $1.50 a head you can buy local, high quality garlic at farm stands and farmers markets.

For an even great bang for your buck, more convenience and culinary inspiration you can grow your own. It is oh so easy to grow great garlic! With a little planning and some care you can have wonderful, pungent and tasty, fresh garlic. The taste difference will amaze you.

Growing garlic is not just about the prized garlic bulbs. The scapes are edible as well. Check out the video below for tips on how and when to harvest your garlic scapes.

Finally, if you’re convinced you want to grow great garlic than start planning now. Many garlic vendors sell out fast, so start planning your garlic orders for a fall planting. This link offers some more tips on growing your own garlic. Happy garlic gardening!


#7 of 31 Ways to Eat Healthier in the New Year

Garlic! Yes, that pungent, vampire slaying and healthy edible garden super star. We made garlic #7 because we use tons of it, it grows well for us, and it’s really healthy. There are a lot of health claims for garlic and we are not sure exactly which ones are true. What we do know is much of the garlic in our local supermarkets come from far off places like China. Kind of odd since “the garlic capital of the world” is Gilroy, Ca.

Why is locally grown garlic healthier than the supermarket varieties? In our opinion it is a matter of trust.  China has not proven to be a great trading partner to the rest of the world. Google “China and food exports” and read for yourselves. Tainted or fake honey, chemically laden fish, false claims around organics, the list can go on and on. We are not saying every food from China is bad for you, but why take a chance?

In the case of garlic we have options. First, with some planning it is easy to grow your own. Here is a quick, easy video we made to help first timers learn the basics of planting garlic. The bad news is you are too late to plant garlic for the 2014 growing season. Garlic is planted in the Fall of the following year. Do not worry, you have options (beyond moving to the Southern Hemisphere).

There are many local farms growing garlic these days. Sure, it may cost a bit more to buy local, but what a difference in quality and taste. In addition, we think it is nice to know where your foods are grown.

Another option is to trade with someone who grows garlic in their backyard edible garden. Garlic is picked around June in NJ. We do not need a calendar to know this because each June and July we see signs declaring “garlic for sale” all around our area. Maybe you have an abundance of early summer squash or greens to trade with your local garlic grower?

Finally, it is a treat to see the green shoots of garlic popping up from the soil as Winter sets in. Our garlic shoots are covered in mulch right now, but a quick peak beneath the mulch reveals the vibrant, green garlic tops. A nice signal of Spring life to come!