One of my favorite things is to walk into my backyard, pick some fresh tomatoes and eat away! Anyone else with me? I have done a backyard garden for about 7 years.
Another one of my favorite things is to cook or bake with the produce we grow. Here is a yummy recipe for Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies I made with zucchini from yours truly backyard garden. 🙂
I have learned a few things along the way. So I thought I would pass my knowledge along. I am not an expert in backyard gardening. But I do love it. I am still learning along the way and reading as I go along.
Step 1: Prepare Your Soil
The first thing you want to do is purchase some compost to mix into your soil. Every year besides this year we have done this right before we planted our veggies.
However, at the end of the summer I was reading my Better Homes and Garden magazine. They suggested mixing in compost in the fall. This way the compost will work the soil for months.
I’m hoping it will work…
Over the years we have bought many different kinds of compost. We have done straight manure. Sometime we have mixed a few different kinds of compost in our soil.
The important thing here is to get some compost and mix it into the top layer (5ish inches) of your soil. We normally pour out the bags onto the top of the soils and mix together with our shovel or rake.
This is also a good time to weed the areas where you will be planting. And get those darling kids involved!
Step 2: To Seed or Not to Seed
Haha! We have started some of our plants from seeds twice. It went okay… One year I had such bad morning sickness that the thought of walking down to the basement to water my plants seemed like death. Last year I may have forgotten sometimes. :/
Needless to say we have some plants that did well and many plants that did not. We had to buy a few anyways. So this year I opted to buy all of our plants. I will try planting seeds inside another year.
The benefits of planting from seeds are:
- You get to pick the exact variety and brand
- You know the soil you are planting your seeds in
- Seeds are usually much cheaper then plants
- Sense of pride that you started the plant as a seed
The benefits of planting from plants are:
- It’s easier to not start as early
- Your plants may be further along
- You can buy small or larger plants
The cons of planting from seeds are:
- Takes longer
- Not all plants can be started inside as seeds so you may need to buy plants as well
- You’ll need to experiment with timing and best time to plant
- You’ll need more supplies to start inside (lights, planter or tubs, soil, container to plant seeds in)
The cons of planting from plants are:
- More expensive to buy plants
- May not be able to find a plant you want
Step 3: Get Planting
After you have decided if you are going to plant plants or seeds in your backyard garden you are ready to start planting. Now, this part I can’t stress enough!
Look up the last frost in the area you live. You can just google it. This year Eddy suggested we plant sooner then we have before. I was pumped to get started so I bought plants. We planted as a family, the kids had a blast.
The plants were looking great! That is until we had a cold night and we woke up to frosted plants. We will be buying more plants next week to replant the ones that died. So sad!
So, make sure you find out when the last frost usually is in your area and plant AFTER that day.
Once you are frost free grab your hand shovel, plants, and gloves. I like to lay the plants in the spot where we plant them. It’s a nice visual to see where everything will go.
I have read that it is best to not plant the same thing in the same spot year after year. The soil needs the nutrients from different plants and will do better if you mix it up.
This year we decided to do a few tomato or a pepper in each box. We also planted squashes, cucumber, or watermelon in each box as well. We wanted to have enough room in our backyard garden to let the ground plants spread out.
Planting your plants is easy. I plant the same way wither they are store bought or grown from seed indoor.
First dig a hole deep enough to bury the roots and dirt. Carefully take the plant out of the container. You will want to break apart the roots and place it in the hole you dug.
Next fill in the hole and pat it down firmly. With the extra dirt you can make a small mound around the plant. This will allow water to pool and soak down to the roots.
If you are planting seeds directly into your backyard garden you will want to read the directions on the seed package.
And that’s it! Well, that’s mostly it. 🙂
Step 4: Last Few Things
Make sure you water your backyard garden as soon as you have everything planted. This will help get the plant ready to spread it’s roots and keep growing.
Last year we upgraded our hose attachment to the ones you see below. We are able to get water were we want easier and more directly. It was very easy and well worth the few bucks it cost.
We also like to use Miracle Grow every so often on our backyard garden plants. We have found that it has been super helpful in helping in our vegetable production. We have used both the powder you mix into water and the little balls you pour around the base of each plant.
As your plants start to grow you will need to continue to give them attention. It is important to keep the garden weeded and the plants pruned. It may seem counter productive but when you prune your vegetable plants they will produce more and better vegetables.
Again, I am not an expert in pruning. So read the seed packets and do a google search to help. Some things I have read say to cut off the bottom branches and leaves on tomato plants. Also, cut off the small branches that do not have any veggies growing on them.
What are you planting this year in your backyard gardens? We will be replanting: tomatoes, several squashes, pepper, and cucumber.
I’m a little bummed to have to pay for replant. But I keep telling myself that the produce will be soooo much better and cheaper then store bought. Ha! How’s that for looking on the bright side? 🙂
I’d love to hear any tips or tricks you have with your backyard garden. Happy gardening!