We have tried many ways to grow food in our backyard. There have been successful years and many blunders. We have had bugs and animals eating our vegetables, drought and for sure more than our share of weeds.
Our backyard changes like the wind. We have built cold boxes fencing for trailing vegetables and used shade cover to shelter the plants from the heat. All the while keeping some kind of vegetable growing.
Over time many of our good intentions turn into not such a good idea project because we did not think ahead and wasted money due to wood quickly rotting and weeds taking over in hard to reach areas.
I am doing this post to help you to save money if you are trying out backyard gardening.
It takes a lot of work to grow vegetables and a lot of water. We have been on the dry side for many years now. We had one fairly wet spring this past year but we can go from wet to drought quickly so water is a big issue. I just cannot give up trying even if we get a small yield because what we grow we know how it was grown and in today's world that is important.
Early this past spring we tore down our large keyhole garden we had on the patio and made three small planters on our patio. The reason we put it on the patio is to keep tree roots out of our beds. We tried several times to grow vegetables in raised beds only to quickly have a tangled mess of roots. Putting the raised beds on the patio stopped this problem but we learned that we needed to water differently. We put gravel in the bottom of the beds before adding soil and I measured the water I used by watering with water cans. this helped me to learn how much water that needed.
These beds actually did well but we had a constant fight with the squirrels eating our vegetables.
My husband built frames and added sunshade even though we have many trees and mostly too much shade. The sun still remains a problem when you are growing vegetables that bolt.
We enjoyed eating out of our small raised beds and I was surprised at how well our turnips grew and how many turnips we harvested.
We grew spinach, onions, cabbages and turnips.
This is the large block raised bed that grew carrots, lettuce and spinach. It did very well. We had a small compost area in the middle and we put composting worms in the middle and fed them rabbit poop and scraps and it did wonderful! UNTIL...the rolly polly's took over the entire garden. Ugh!
We grew tomatoes in pots on a rolling cart and a trellis. They required a good bit of watering but did very well.
We harvested many cucumbers from these black pots and trained the plants to climb up fencing that was attached to two posts. This worked very well but required watering twice a day.
Here is where I lined up black pots along the gravel paths and grew cabbages and cauliflower. This too required watering twice a day. I fed these organic feed sticks that you push down into the soil before you plant. I also used some organic liquid food a few times.
Here the broccoli made more leaves than heads but our rescue birds enjoyed them.
Here we harvested lettuce that we grew in hanging baskets. This worked best with potting soil and constant watering. I planted four baskets and hung them around posts. I would cut one basket then next time cut off another while the first one would grow back. We went around and around for a good bit of time doing it this way.
Looking back this was an old design that we had one summer and we grew okra in these hay baskets. We actually harvested quite a few meals of okra this way but the problem was the soil dried out too quickly and just could not keep up that amount of water so we abandoned this project. Later we graveled the paths.
This was a year that it seemed everything was good. We harvested large bell peppers and squash over and over. It was wonderful! So what did we do different? I planted earlier while it was still winter and kept them in cold frames. I worked extra hard this winter and spring carrying the plants in and out getting sun and putting them back in cold frames when it dipped back to freezing. It was very hard carrying all these pots and grow bags but we avoided the destructive heat that dries out the pots and put up a lot of vegetables in the freezer!
This is our tiny open pollinated corn patch. It grew a lot of grass and weeds and it produced 6 cobs of corn all different sizes.
We did enjoy this.
This is where I spend my time carefully planting seeds in cups with dirt. We have grow lights which can be quite tricky to use. I learned that they must be very close or the plants will get long and leggy.
This area taught us, do not plant anything behind the work shop or else mice, rats and squirrels will find their way into the yard and eat our plants here.
We learned we can grow cucumbers, squash and peppers in pots but it requires a lot of feeding and watering.
We grew some sweet potatoes but had to find a place to grow them in the ground.
I found that I do not like these kinds of pots because water will stand in the little cups at the bottom and mosquitoes will hatch in this small water area.
My husband says the one thing that I plant and seems to do well year after year is carrots. I simply sow seed in large deep containers, water and wait a long long time. It takes a long time for carrots to grow and we can grow them all year long. I simply thin them out after they come up and feed and water them.
So now we have moved our raised beds once more to a area that we put down stepping stones and my husband put chicken wire around the frames because the squirrels chewed through the plastic mesh and ate every single fall plant that I had planted. I have started over once again. this is cabbage and onions here. we cut one side of the frame at the top so I could remove the side and bend over to work the bed. Before I had to crawl under the frame and this is much better.
So here they sit, our small raised beds full of fall/winter plants. Broccoli, onions, cabbages, spinach and cauliflower. Since this picture the onions are about 8 inches tall and these plants are growing. The squirrels are upset they cannot get into the beds and I am hopeful we may actually harvest in early winter.
This was my mothers pet chicken "Sister". She loved to be held and my mother would always have to make sure when she was ready to go to town that Sister did not sneak into the car because she enjoyed hitching rides. One day my uncle came by for a visit and she got into the back of his truck. He did not know she was there and she went to town with him then he went out to visit another family member a good ways away and she got off there. My mother received a call that Sister was at her house! It took quite awhile for them to figure out how she got there.