You know, I think I’ve had a backyard garden almost every year of my life. I love gardening and I love fresh vegetables. But many today did not grow up with a gardening heritage. They have always depended on the grocery store for their fresh produce, and this year they seem to be in short supply; at least that’s what many of our customers are telling us.
I order most of my seeds each year from an heirloom seed company I’ve used for a number of years and have never had trouble getting all I wanted/needed. But this year as I started to plant, I noticed that there was one favorite that I had forgotten. So, I got online and tried to order, only to find they were out of that seed. I was surprised, so I called them and asked what the problem was. They said that so many people have concerns about our food supply that they have been ordering seeds in record amounts, planning to grow their own.
We’ve had a number of customers state that they do not have either experience or know how to garden nor a place for a garden. So, I came up with four viable alternatives to share with our listeners.
- Container gardening. Literally, all you need is a container, some soil and some seeds. You can grow an abundance of produce is a relatively small space. My sister lives in an apartment and has only a 5’X6’ balcony, but it’s room for one chair and over a dozen different sizes of pretty pots. She grows a lot. And stuff grows in ugly pots like tin cans and soup cans as well as in the pretty ones. And when in the past I’ve done container gardening, I didn’t adhere to the spacings listed on the seed pouches. The packet may have said plant one seed every 6”, but neither I nor my plants seemed to mind touching each other. I had a friend who planted everything she needed for salads in a half whiskey barrel and kept it going spring through fall. When she picked one thing, she just put in a couple more seeds!
- Backyard gardening. Turn over whatever size plot of soil you want to plant, add some compost (usually available from your city – call around – at no cost if you’ll go pick it up (by the tub, or bucket, or pickup truck load), or a bag or two from the local home decor shop. Spread it on top of the area you turned over, turn it all over again to incorporate it, water it, and let it set till you’re ready to plant.
- Raised beds. Same as above, except start by putting in something for height (wood, concrete, stones, cinder blocks, etc.). Fill it with soil and compost and plant. Stray bales may also be used. Either just put composted dirt on the top of them or arrange the bales in a square or a rectangle and fill the space with the composted dirt. When the growing season is over, the bale will be partially decomposed and will add nutrients to the soil for successive plantings. You’ll be amazed with the quantity of produce you can grow in this small space!
- Chip gardens. Companies who trim trees run them through a chipper and have to pay the city dumps for the privilege of dumping them there. There’s a tape online called “Back to Eden” that gives a fuller description, but basically you turn the soil, cover it with newspaper (or something like it) to keep the weeds from growing through, put some dirt on it, and then put some chips – free from tree trimmers – and wait for planting time. Add a couple of inches of chips each year and in no time, you’ll have a very lush garden area.
We recognize that backyard gardening is a dying art, so a buddy of mine and I are considering putting together a “beginning gardener” class in the August/September time frame to let some folks get be ready for next year’s spring gardening. Let us know if you’re interested. If we have enough interest, we’ll do it.
I garden and we can and preserve produce each year. Join me, and you too can control the quality and variety of foods you eat! Good health and God’s blessings!