Getting a jump-start on the garden…

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!

3 thoughts on “Getting a jump-start on the garden…

  1. You are so lucky! I love gardening but unfortunately we live in the woods and all of my veggies and herbs get eaten. I tried planting a veggie garden several times but with no sucess. We tried everything and then gave up. So, I don’t really have any good advice, but good luck! It sounds like you’ve got everything planned out well, so I think you should have no problems. It’s so great to eat out of your own gardern!!

  2. I know someone that has a slightly bigger back yard that would share some space with you for a few eggs and a couple of tomatoes. I also have good intentions for a garden but end up not being that great with upkeep.

    I had read some stuff about things that can co-habitate in a garden. I tried planting corn with the intention of planting beans a few weeks latter and they would climb up the corn. But someone mowed over my corn when I had them mow my yard. Sounded like a good idea.

    I have had success with planting cucumbers to grow up on a trellis or just twine. I also like asparagus but it takes a while to get it started.

    things that can grow up are always good because they can use less footprint. Spinach you can plant pretty early and then replant it from time to time to keep it going most of the season. Okra grows up but I think you need a lot of plants to have much of a harvest.

    I didn’t have much luck with broccoli nor lettuce. They grew but didn’t look like anything I had ever seen anyone eat.

    You can look into growing tomatoes upside down in buckets some people like that because it doesn’t take up much space. I have also planted in flower pots so that they can move around and stay in the sun longer.

  3. Wow, thanks for all the tips, Tim! I also had similar thoughts about growing things “up” to save space… I think we are going to cut a bunch of cane from Stephen’s parents land to make some trellises for beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and such. I would be really interested in using our nice big, sunny front yard as a garden if I could get Stephen on board… maybe you could help me talk him into it? For a few fresh eggs? 🙂

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