Each year I plan to grow my own fresh vegetables and herbs, and I begin with very good intentions…. unfortunately I usually don’t start thinking much about my garden until school’s out (because those last few weeks of the year are just crazy!) and the weather starts to warm up and it’s too late for things like building up the soil with compost and starting seedlings indoors. All of my good intentions usually end up as just a handful of tomatoes and a few peppers. This year I am really trying to come up with a game plan early and stick with it. I have been reading up on things like crop rotation, composting, natural pest control, etc… and I can’t wait to see what my garden does this year!!
One of our biggest challanges is our small back yard. No, really, it is small. As in 8 feet on each side (we use these long, narrow, otherwise wasted areas as runs for the chickens and switch them between sides periodically so that they have fresh grass and bugs to munch on) and 20 feet or so deep in the back. And half of the yard is heavily shaded, which is nice but not so conducive to vegetable gardening. Oh yeah, and we have a HUGE concrete slab patio that takes up a lot of otherwise good growing space as well. So I have been working on some sketches to lay out some raised beds in what little space we have. Pretty much all of the space we have:-) We may even remove a portion of the patio to accomodate. In the past, I have just had one (about 4×10′ or so) bed that I have used to plant a whole hodge-podge of stuff: Tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, radishes (well, I attempted radishes) and a few herbs. Since I have been reading about crop rotation, I have decided that I really need at least three of these plots in order to establish a productive garden. Basically, one will be used for fruit-bearing plants and beans (which add nitrogen to the soil), one will be for brassicas or cabbages (which require a lot of nitrogen), and one will be for root vegetables (which don’t require as much nitrogen, but can develop diseases if planted in the same area year after year). The three groups can then be rotated each year to make the most of the nutrients in the soil.
I’m also planning a small herb garden in the front yard that incorporates somr “prettier” but still useful plants like lavendar, rosemary, basil, etc… I personally think we should turn the entire front yard into a garden too since it is larger, sunnier, and as it is, it requires mowing, weeding, and upkeep without offering us anything in return. Stephen is not so convinced. He seems to think that our wonderful POA would object to cornstalks in the front yard. So a tiny herb garden it is. for now 🙂
My question is this: Do any of you garden in a small yard? If so, what kind of setup do you have, and what kind of crops do you grow? I really don’t have much experience gardening at all, but I want so badly to grow healthy fresh veggies for my family, especially now that we are about to have a little one!
Any tips or advice would be much appreciated!