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 

Choosing The Right Seeds

IMG_0582If you are into growing your own produce than this time of year your mailbox is probably flooded with seed catalogs. If you’re really into edible gardening you might be sneaking some peaks at online seed catalogs while you are at work. Excitement is building for the edible gardening season to come. You almost smell the tomatoes!

Speaking of tomatoes…

I find descriptions of tomato seeds and plants to be packed with exciting descriptives and amazing amounts of hyperbole. Yesterday a gardening friend and self-confessed tomato addict gave me a description for a unique “chocolate” style hybrid. After reading the description I was ready to sell all my Hershey stock and race to the store to buy every Ghiradelli bar I could find. I was certain no one would eat chocolate again. Why would anyone eat chocolate when they can grow their own?

Now back to reality, at least for a minute. I have grown some of these chocolate varieties of tomatoes. Some are tasty with great texture and unique flavor profiles. Others are rather boring and do not come close to their seed catalog descriptions. In any case, none have ever made me think I was tasting chocolate.

The moral to this story is to mostly grow what you like and are familiar with. Pick fruits, vegetables and herbs you enjoy and would normally buy in the store. Of course you should make sure they will grow in your zone and specific garden conditions. Then, each season you can throw in one or two exciting new edibles to see if they appeal to you. Just do not get carried away. I have seen many edible gardens suffer from overcrowding created by an overzealous, but good intentioned gardener.

What new fruit, vegetable or herb are you going to try growing this year?

edible garden collage

Some of our recent favorites

Monthly Garden Experiment – Fishnure (June)

In February while seeking a break from the snow and ice I came across Fishnure Fertilizer. Some guy on Twitter was posting pictures of side by side plant comparisons with and without the use of Fishnure. That guy was Jim and he’s the main person behind the Fishnure line of products.

I did not know Jim, so naturally I was skeptical and asked him to send me a sample so I could try my own comparisons.

A week later some Fishnure arrived in the mail! Good to see he was confident enough in his product to take up the challenge.

Waiting to try Fishnure was difficult because I had planned on using it for a tomato comparison. That meant I had to wait until May!

Fast forward a few months and there I was with my son, “The Tomato Shark”. Together we began the Fishnure Tomato Experiment. If you missed last month’s experiment on growing bucket loads of potatoes click here–>Potato Experiment.

We chose Supersweet 100’s tomatoes for the Fishnure experiment. The 2 plants were purchased from the store as starts and came from the exact same package. Our plan was to have two potted tomato plants. Potting them allows more control over soil, water, sunlight and nutrient differences. Both pots got identical garden soil right from the DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Beds. The only difference was that I mixed Fishnure into the soil of one of the plants.

The picture below shows the plants at the 2.5 week mark. The plant on the right is the one growing with Fishnure. We certainly noticed more foliage on the Fishnure treated plant at this point in the experiment. However, as I write this post we are almost into week 4 and the control plant seems to have caught up.

Plants at the 2 week mark in the experiment

Plants at the 2.5 week mark in the experiment

At this time we decided to add a top dressing of Fishnure. The product labeling recommends 2x a year feeding with Fishnure. This feeding will be the only additional application of the product we use this season.

Using Fishnure is fairly easy and not too messy. Ours came in a resealable bag. The product we tested had a tendency to clump and we had to break it up a bit before using. I was surprised by how little smell there was. I was expecting something that smelled like old fish tank or maybe fish oil capsules.

The plan is to update this post as the season progresses. My son and I are excited to see the final results of this experiment and will be sure to share them on the DIY Backyard Farm blog. Will the Fishnure treated plant produce more tomatoes? Will the tomatoes taste better or different from the tomatoes on our control plant? Only time will tell! Stay tuned…

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.

Tips For Tasty Tomatoes

Many people ask us how we grow such great tomatoes year in and year out. First, we are not perfect and we do have an off year from time to time. However, even in a bad year we manage to grow enough quality tomatoes  to satisfy our needs along with the needs of many friends and family.

Since our first 2 tomato posts of the season were so popular we decided to make a series out of them, In the first video we covered planting tomatoes. In tomato video #2 we offered tips on caring for newly planted tomatoes. In the video below we offer some simple tips that have resulted in great tomatoes for us over the years.

The only thing we forgot to mention in he video is a reminder to take notes. You will want to remember what works and what does so you can grow better tomatoes year after year.

Happy Gardening!