Getting Started: Backyard Farming

June 4, 2008 at 5:32 am 9 comments

Imagine a backyard with a lawn and little else. Now imagine a backyard dug up with two raised beds, two double dig beds and some fruit trees and bushes. Earlier in the year for the first time ever I started a vegetable garden with little knowledge, but much anticipation.

As a child I watched my grandfather, parents and aunt grow many Indian vegetables quite effortlessly. Later I helped to pick vegetables at Clagett Farm in Maryland. I really enjoyed the fresh vegetables and the community at the farm.

Now it was time to embark on my own growing adventure. I checked out many books from the library trying to learn as much as I could about how to start composting and vegetable gardening. One of the many books that I found to be quite helpful was Vegetable Gardening: From Planting to Picking, The Complete Guide to Creating a Bountiful Garden by Reader’s Digest.

I learned many things from reading the books, but wanted guidance from someone who is experienced, so I put out a call on the different email lists. Someone suggested Joshua Wenz who has a company called My Organic Garden and helps people to start their vegetable gardens.

Josh came over, measured the backyard and later emailed me the cost estimate and the layout. He suggested that I put in two raised beds and two double dig beds. For the raised beds, he brought in truck loads of compost. We also used some compost in the double dig beds. Before digging these beds, I got the soil from the front and back yards tested through UMass Soil Testing. This helped to determine the lead and ph levels of the soil. Based on the results, Josh also brought soil enrichments that were added to all the beds.

Next I ordered the seeds and fruit trees and bushes. It was quite exciting flipping through the online catalog of seeds and selecting them. To be continued…

Share your stories and resources. How did you get your vegetable garden started? What are your favorite vegetable garden books, websites and forums?

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Entry filed under: Gardening. Tags: , , .

Power Goes Out: Are You Prepared?

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. inadvertentgardener  |  June 4, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    It sounds like you did way more research and planning to get started than I did, Roshani — I think that’s terrific! The two web-based resources I turn to most often are GardenWeb and Blotanical — both have great resources and are run by great folks. Looking forward to hearing more of your gardening tales, and welcome to the blogosphere!

    Reply
  • 2. Kathy  |  June 4, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Great prep work! Looking forward to future reports and seeing your harvest.

    Reply
  • 3. David Grosso  |  June 4, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Great job! Sounds like you will have many years of fun gardening producing great vegetables etc…good luck.

    I grew up on a farm and always wanted to get back to gardening and knew it could be done in an urban setting. I convinced my wife to give up the only sunny side of the house (front yard) and turned it into a flower/vegetable garden. This year I started all of my plants from seed and built a cold frame to make it work better. I have 8 tomatoe plants, 2 tomatillos, 3 serrano pepper, a ton of basil all over the place, mint, thyme, oregano, mixed lettuce, Kale, nastursium and am just now starting some marigolds — happy gardening!

    Reply
  • 4. rkmusings  |  June 4, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Thanks for the links Genie!

    David, sounds like your garden is thriving! I tried to grow most of the plants from seeds, but many of them had a hard time surviving once transplanted. The seeds I planted directly into the beds like peas, carrots and onions are doing quite well. Where do you get your seeds from? Any specific tips for hardening off seedlings?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  • 5. David Grosso  |  June 4, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Hey.
    I get all my seeds from Burpee.com — My Mom used them back in the 70’s so I know that they are good….and they worked this year so far!

    Hardening off is really important and that is why I built a cold frame to give the plants lots of time to adjust. The plants spent a good 3 weeks in the cold frame before putting them in the ground.

    I did however direct seed the lettuce and it has been great!

    David

    Reply
  • 6. Joan Richards  |  June 5, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    I also grew up on a farm in Wisconsin and my job from i on was the family garden…and I still love it. I start most of my plants from my own seeds. For tomatoes I like heirloom varieties and I save the seeds eah fall and start them in the spring in a solless mix and whenthe first true leaves appear I transplant into peat pots or jiffy 7’s or small pots using a good soil mix (1/3 perlite, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 potting soil). I put them under shop ights 2 inches or so above the plant and 1 week before planting outside I keep them in the carport. Sunny AM and shade in PM. AFter a week of that I take them to the garden and lant. I have had no problems but…I don’t plant the tomato plants outside unti the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees F. This year it was just one week ago I planted them. I have found any seed works as long as you get the proper variety of seed.

    Reply
  • 7. Allan Griff  |  June 7, 2008 at 4:09 am

    All the energy and money are well spent. I’ve maintained that the best way to deal with the messy world we live in is threefold: get a garden, get a workshop, and get a relationship. The object is to avoid the need for Thing$ and Entertainment, and do things that are fulfilling that you can share with like-minded people. Those three suggestions can be used for Thing$ and Entertainment as well, but that’s not what I meant.

    Reply
  • 8. Lyvia  |  June 21, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Hi. I have been dabbling with vegetables, and it turns out DC is different from PA, where I grew up.

    The trick I am still working on is planning around the weather. I haven’t found a planting calendar that takes our “hot season” into account. Instead of one long frost to frost growing season, we have three tiny ones – cool, hot, cool. So please let me know if you can find a reference on veggie planting that takes that into account.

    thanks, Lyvia

    Reply
  • […] started a vegetable garden in my backyard. Here’s a link to the article I posted about it and also photos from the garden.  It would be great if you could highlight this […]

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