Saturday, November 1, 2008

Growing Food In Your Backyard


Anyone that goes grocery shopping knows that food prices have risen and that prices especially for organics have always been high. One way I've dealt with this is to try to grow the majority of our fruits and vegetables at least during the spring/summer months.


I use raised beds and containers. I used to have 4 large raised beds but we're re-working them this fall and I'm changing to having more but narrower beds. The far left bed is the old size and the two on the right are the newer sizes.



Right now I only have one bed planted with fall/winter veggies. That's swiss chard and red cabbage growing in that bed.



As soon as we get the other beds finished I'll be planting some spinach, lettuce, kale, broccoli and smaller varieties of carrots. I have my last crop of potatoes and some onion in one of the older beds. I also have some potatoes growing in a container



That's a second crop. The first one did really well so I decided to try it with another variety of potato. As a matter of fact, my beds were all full this summer but I had some corn seeds so I tried growing corn in a container and it worked!



Those are the dried stalks in the picture above. I got about two ears per corn stalk. So I was excited that this experiment worked! If you don't have room for a garden try growing things in containers. It's amazing what you can do with some big pots! Even when we lived in apartments I always grew some tomatoes and herbs on our balcony.


I've always been interested in simple living and suburban self-sufficiency. So when we bought this property one of the first things I did was to plant some blueberry bushes, blackberry bushes, grape vines, apple, pear, quince and nectarine trees. We had an existing old apple tree here. So in the summer I very rarely have to buy fruit! All my fruit is organic. So far I haven't had to spray but even if I did I'd at least know what I was spraying and hopefully would only spray as needed instead of being on a program of spraying.



These are my blackberries. I've found that for my family of three I don't need a huge amount of fruit bushes. We have 3 blueberry bushes and they give us so many berries I'm always able to freeze lots. Same with the blackberries. I picked blackberries everyday this summer and made cobbler almost every day and I still have some in the freezer!


I'm much better at growing things in the summer than I am in the fall/winter. So that's a challenge I've set for myself this year. I'd love to be able to be able to eat from my garden year round.


I won't tell you how to start a backyard garden because it all really depends on where you live, what kind of space and light you have, how much time you want to devote to it and a number of other factors. There are so many good books out there to help you. I recommend:

  1. The Self-Sufficient Suburban Garden by Jeff Ball
  2. All New Square Foot Gardening or Sq. Ft Gardening by Mel Bartholomew
  3. The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery
  4. Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour

Now is a good time to start planning your spring/summer gardens but if you don't have the space or desire I would suggest checking out your local farmers markets or joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).


24 comments:

glorv1 said...

Manuela, you go girl. You won't believe this, but I have pretty much the same things you do in my garden. There is nothing like gardening. Thank you so much for sharing.

salmagundi said...

We had a good blackberry year in our garden here in Colorado, also. I'll be making cobbler from frozen blackberries all winter. We are expanding our garden for next spring right now, but sometimes it is a toss-up as water is really expensive here in our semi-arid climate. Congrats on your efforts!! Sally

April@Crafty*Nesty*Thrifty said...

I appreciate you recommending some books, I am going to look them up tonight and choose 1 or 2 to add to my Winter reading pile. Take Care, April.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Well done, Manuela. I was very intrigued by your corn experiment.

Lady Katherine said...

Manuela, I love your garden, we have ten acres, hubby grew peas, butter beans, watermelons, ect. at the back. I loved having the small tomatoe garden. I love the raised beds. I want to try. Hubby cuts the blackberry bushes, much to the girls and my dismay, they grow all over, I have bought blueberry bushes, they die on me, I have been rooting cutting of roses and other flowers,grapes and figs. They doing great. I have plastic over to keep the frost off. Does your blueberrys still have leaves? Do still want the loofa seeds? If so email me an address, and I mail the seeds. Love your arbor! You are so inspiring.

Lyn said...

You have a lovely garden, Manuela. You must certainly have a green thumb. I'm in awe of all your talents.

Mimi Sue said...

One of my favorite things to do is to go outside and pick my salad for dinner. Love it. So good and good for you too. Love your picket fences. You must live in a warm winter area. Lucky you. Mimi

Connie said...

I also planted blueberries when I bought my house, but only 2 years ago. How old are yours now, and do you have problems with birds eating the berries? Would love to see a photo. Connie

Kathleen Grace said...

Wow! You really have a green thumb. My husband and I are already planning a bigger garden for next spring, here in Michigan the growing season is pretty much over. I can't say that gardening is one of my passions. Having had to work the 3 acre garden that my parents had as a child pretty much turned me off to it. Every day of summer began with weeding. The weeding and much of the harvesting and canning was up to us kids. It was a monumental job and often hot and miserable. All that to say, we are planning one more out of necessity than love. It is good to know that I have the skills and ability to garden and can the produce, so I guess there was something good about all that work.

Cyndi's Re-Creations said...

Wow you have quite the variety for a back yard garden I love the idea of raised beds and hope to have a garden in the back yard this next summer. we have so many trees that we are abit limited but I miss having veggie gardens!

Betsy said...

I so wish I could grow food in my backyard. I do not have a green thumb at all....I forget about my plants.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Hi, M, I have always admired all your fruits & veggies you are growing. We just bought 6 blueberry bushes from the local nursery that specializes in these things & are planning to plant some blackberries too...the HUGE variety. Can't wait til we are picking our own fruit too. I have a feeling we didn't need to plant 6, but that's my hubby's idea. :)

Darlene said...

We have never tried a garden...yours looks GREAT!! Those are big beds for some great veggies! I don't have such a green thumb....and can barely keep plants alive.

Sue said...

Hi Manuela...I'm very impressed with your gardening skills and will certainly have to get some pointers from you in the spring. My neighbor asked if I wanted to do a raised "salad garden" between our houses and after seeing what you have done and reading about your fruit cobblers everyday I'm ready to start digging!

Mrs. Homemaker said...

My sweet husband found some large wood boxes for free and turned them into planters for my tomatoes and peppers. He also built me a large raised bed for my herbs and green beans. (Without me asking, which is pretty amazing!) We very much enjoyed our produce, since this was our first successful try at gardening in containers. (or anything for that matter) I think we are hooked!

By the way, I love the red toile pattern on your plates and the fabric in your blog title photo. It makes me smile everytime I see it, toile is one of my favorite patterns, and red is one of my favorite colors that it comes in!

The Cwtch said...

Oh how excting!!! I would love to have a space to grow. There is nothing like eating home grown produce! So much more delicious and how wonderful to be able to plan meals around what is ripe and seasonal. I'm very jealous!

mrsjones6 said...

Manuela, You have impressed me greatly (like that should suprise me) creating such a wonderful garden in a fairly urban area. It's funny that you posted on this as I hade taken pictures of our raised beds this weekend. :)
I wish you lived nearby. We are planning a huge garden (my first) for the spring since we know we won't be moving again and wouldn't it be fun to have someone to share it with!
Have a great Monday!
Jen

ShabbyInTheCity said...

I could eat blackberry cobbler everyday! I did that last summer too...this year for some reason I didn't get to pick.

Paula said...

Dear Manuela,

Your garden is so pretty! We eat all organic and grow organically too. We also have raised beds and have planted, chard, kale, lettuces, beets, carrots, green onions, parsley, arugula and few other things I can't remember! I hope to plant some blueberries next spring and some saturn peach trees too. I love to garden and I thank you for sharing yours.
Love, Paula

Emily said...

Impressive. I need to try growing a garden. I have the space. It just feels so intimidating. Love your thoughts!

Felicia said...

Thanks for the book recommendations :)

sheila from life @ #17 said...

I've just about helped DH realize he really wants to be the vegetable gardener as his new hobby, lol :)

I handed him 3 books...SFG, New Victory Garden and Carrots Love Roses (about companion planting)...

now I hope all my hard work pays off :)

Tracey McBride said...

Manuela,

You are so amazing! I love your garden and am a kindred spirit in that area (and many others)!! I love your arbor, raised beds, and the picket fence around the garden. I'm excited to see your solutions for eating from the garden year-round as that's always been an ideal of mine as well.
Keep up the inspiring work and thanks so much for sharing with us so generously.
Warmly,
Tracey McBride

newlyweds said...

What a great garden. let me know how yours does. Thanks for stopping by.