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!

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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?

First 2016 Bucket of Potatoes Harvest

It may have been a bit early, but our bucket of Red Norland potatoes was ready to harvest. Red Norland are an early maturing potato variety anyway, but this bucket was even earlier because of the type of pot or “bucket” that we used.

To make a long story short, we gave our last white potato bucket to a friend who wanted to grow his own bucket of potato goodness. As is usually the case when you give something away, we wound up needing it!

Some extra Red Norland seed potatoes needed a home and we were without the usual white bucket. Instead, we dropped them into a large black pot filled with our fabulous DIY Backyard Farm soil.

At first everything was going great. The spring did not bring hot temps at all and there was plenty of rain. Then Mother Nature turned up the heat. The days got longer and the sun got hotter. What do you think we learned???

Yes, the early days of science class came blasting back into our minds. Black colors absorb sun, white colors reflect it. Our black pot was turning our potatoes into french fries!!!

We moved the pot into a part sun area and watered it twice a day to help revive the greens. The plants started to turn around and then they suddenly browned out and went flat. Was all lost???

Watch the video below to find out!

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?

Companion Planting For Longer Lettuce Season

image It’s July and nearly 100° here on the DIY Backyard Farm. Lots of people who stop by ask how we still have lettuce, arugula, spinach  and other heat sensitive greens.

Our secret is all about choosing the right neighbors.  True, we do have great neighbors living near our DIY Backyard Farm, but in this case I am talking about plant neighbors!

As you can see in the picture above, we have our own living adjustable umbrella shading a new crop of lettuce.  The large kale plant is acting as a sun shade for the very heat sensitive lettuce below it.  The really cool part (no pun intended) is you can pick off some of the kale leaves in case there is not enough sun. Conversely, if you need more shade the kale plant grows so fast it won’t be long before the umbrella opens up wider.

This is not exactly an example of companion planting in the more traditional sense that you might read about in gardening books. However, it works for us!

 

 

The Trick to Growing Better Peas & Beans

Check out the video below for a can’t miss tip that will work for peas, beans, cucumbers and other “climbers”.

No pea left behind…everyone of them can now climb!

 

Don’t “Mess” With Me

Are you suffering from spontaneous bursts of flavor across your taste buds? Having dreams of being engulfed by the smell of freshly picked tomatoes? Maybe you can’t stop thinking about the satisfying crunch of the season’s first asparagus?

Relax, unless you have a greenhouse or geodesic dome you’re likely just suffering from edible gardening withdrawal. I know we are! Why else would we take turns dutifully carting out our remaining boxes of culinary herbs each day?

 

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Herbs On Wheels

Depending on where you live, you might have experienced a recent warming in the weather. The soil might even look workable. Stop!

The whole point of this message just hit home! Your soil is trying to trick you into playing with it. Resist young grasshopper. For if you don’t you might be toiling in the mud and setting yourself and your garden back by days and maybe weeks.

Your soil is lonely. Little to nothing has been actively growing in weeks. It wants to play! However, just like a young child, it needs a little guidance. In this case gardener guidance. If you start playing with the soil too soon in the season you will likely just turn over a top inch or two of brownie mix-looking mud. The next few inches down might be frozen solid or totally water logged from rain and snow melt. Trying to work the soil too soon will potentially disturb the structure of your soil and create more work for you later on.

Wait unti the soil is defrosted enough to be worked. An easy test is to grab a handful of soil and form it into a ball with your hand. Next, try breaking the soil ball apart with your hand or dropping it to the ground from a few feet up. Does the ball break up into small pieces when dropped or tapped with your hand? If your soil ball remains intact or only breaks into a few large clumps than it is probably too wet to work with. The soil should be more crumbly. Is crumbly a word?

So, be patient while you wait for your soil to be ready. It will come along soon enough. Spend the extra time and newly found gardening energy planning your garden, organizing your seeds, buying seeds, starting seeds and cleaning your tools. You could also read our book!

You see, there is plenty to do right now!

How We Grow Better Zucchini

In years past we lost many zucchini plants to various types of rot. I believe the rot was often caused by wilting and rotting leaves that created an environment of wet, mushy mess. Wet, mushy mess is a breeding ground for plant ailments. A couple of years ago I began to carefully experiment with trimming off single leaves and their stems from the main stem of the plant. This can be a risky move because pruning a zucchini plant leaves the plant vulnerable at the spot where you made a cut.

In my experience the risk was worth taking. The video below shows how I prune my zucchini and what they look like in late September.