Growing your own backyard produce not only provides you with fresh from the garden taste but also gives you a feeling of satisfaction. This year we encourage you to try growing a few of your favorite things and (literally) enjoy the fruits of your labor! Follow these tips for your best harvest…
- Are you a beginner? Don’t overwhelm yourself with a large variety of crops. Try your hand at 2-3 different crops of plants for the first year.
- Know your space. Do you have a large backyard that you can till into a garden bed or create raised beds? Or do you have limited space? Plan your space first and choose varieties suited for your growing space. There are varieties that are even bred now to be smaller and suited for small areas/containers. An increasingly popular form of produce gardening is called “Hugelkultur” and you can find tons of information online about it.
- Plan your space. Get ideas for vegetable garden layouts on sites such as Pinterest. Where is your watering source located? What kind of light do you get? Most crops need at least 6 hours of sun daily.
- Soil is important. Make sure to use not only the correct soil but also rich, good quality soil.
- Containers or raised beds on legs should use potting soil (we love Foxfarm Ocean Forest!)
- Raised beds directly on the ground can be a mix of topsoil, composted cow manure, compost, or other soil amendments. There are even raised bed mixes that are already pre-made and ready to pour into your beds.
- Direct ground tilling will need a good quality soil amendment such as composted cow manure as most of our area soil is quite heavy with clay
- Mulch is worth it. Mulching your beds will help with moisture retention and weed suppression.
- Grow vertical. Consider using trellis’, cattle panels, or other forms of trellis’ and fencing to encourage vinging plants such as cucumbers and beans to grow upwards and save space on the ground for other crops.
- Keep big plants to the north/west. Plant taller plants in an area where they will not shade smaller crops.
- WATER. Water is the most crucial part of growing produce. The best method is soaker hoses or drip irrigation to avoid soaking foliage but standard overhead watering works too. Make sure to water early in the day before the hot afternoon sun has a chance to evaporate your water before the soil and plants absorb it. Avoid watering in the evening as wet foliage overnight can encourage fungal diseases.
- Try companion planting. Companion planting is using plants that compliment each other and avoiding plants that can be detrimental to each other. A few quick examples are:
- Grow Basil and Marigolds with Tomatoes to help repel pests
- Avoid Broccoli, Cabbage, & Fennel with Tomatoes as they will stunt the growth of the plant
- Corn is great with beans, cucumbers, & squash but avoid planting with Tomatoes.
- There is tons of helpful information online to find about the crops you are growing
And of course, we are here to help however we can in person, by phone, or online.