7 Secrets to Veggie Success in your own Backyard
WITHOUT breaking your back or busting your budget!
Hi, my name's Toni and I've been growing food in my own backyard (or apartment balcony!) for over three decades now.
Hubby always wondered where the fresh greens were coming from when we lived in an apartment--he couldn't believe you could grow that much fresh food in such a small space...Anyway, I digress...
You're here because you're waiting for me to share with you the 7 secrets I discovered on my OWN path to growing superfood in my own backyard. Let's get started with #1
The first mistake that most new gardeners make is trying to turn a huge space into an edible garden.
Don't make that mistake.
When I was living in a apartment, I had been gifted two wooden garden beds. They measured 1 metre (3 feet) by 15 cm (6 inches) and I began planting salad greens and herbs in these. We had salad greens most nights when they started producing.
Call to Action: Where can you put one or two small containers to begin growing?
Use what you have
You don't need to invest in raised garden beds, or terracotta pots (well, you can if you want too!) But it's just as easy to grow your first salad garden in whatever you have available that will hold soil.
I have been known to grow salad gardens in cardboard boxes. They eventually break down into more comost for the garden, but they can hold it together long enough to grow great salad plants.
Call to Action: What can you upcycle or recycle?
Invest in Compost
I'm a great believer in using compost to grow everything. I've been doing it for years and it's served me well.
When you're starting out, you won't have compost on hand, so make sure that you go out and buy the best organic compost that you can. You want organic compost to avoid the disappointment of having pesticide residues cause your crops to fail.
Call to Action: Start your compost pile now!
Seeds or Seedlings?
I'm a seed kinda gal. There's something special and magic about holding a tiny seed in your hand and knowing that it has all the genetic material just waiting for you to add compost and water for it to grow and reach it's full potential.
Growing from seed is a special kind of magic that everyone should experience. But, some people find it trick growing from seed, so if that's you, then I suggest that you get a hold of some seedlings from your local garden centre.
The up side is that you'll get faster results with seedlings. The down side is that you won't have the same huge variety to choose from.
Call to Action: Put something in the ground today! They say that the best time to plant something is yesterday :-)
You'll want to make sure that you water your new seedlings every day.
If you're growing from seed, you'll need to make sure that your compost never dries out.
Whether you're dealing with seeds or seedlings, you need to keep an eye on the water. Keep your seedlings damp, but not drowing in water.
Watering every day means that you get to know your climate conditions and also you can keep an eye on your plants and spot any issues early on and deal with them.
Call to Action: Make yourself a liquid fertilizer--your plants will love you for it.
Know what grows where you live
It's not going to do you any good if you try to grow things that don't grow well in your area, or if you try to grow things out of season. Plants take a certain amount of time to get from seed/seedling to harvest. If you don't have enough weeks left before your ground freezes, then you're not going to harvest your crop.
Check in with growers near you. What are they planting at this time of the year?
I'm blessed to be able to grow outside all year round because we don't get snow in winter--in fact we barely even get a frost and our ground never freezes. The photograph is of greens growing outside in mid-winter in my garden.
Call to Action: Find out your first and last frost date so that you can plan your growing season.
Find a Mentor
Gardening is a fascinating journey and I always feel like there is so much more to know. This amalgamation of art and science is truly a fascinating hobby and with the added bonus of growing beautiful things that you can eat.
There are always new ways of doing things and new people bringing new ideas to old techniques.
Of course, Nature herself has the final say! If we play nice, she is kind, if we don't...well, I don't like to think about that.
Call to Action: Find someone you like, who has what you want. Follow what they do and you'll get what they've got.