To kick off my series about growing your own food I am going to start with the way I am most familiar.
Growing a garden in an average urban back/front yard.
Growing your own food on an urban lot comes with its challenges as well as benefits. You obviously lack space that you would get on a larger piece of land but what you gain is easy access to water and immediate proximity to your garden. This walkout your back door kind of access makes it really convenient to do everything. From planting and maintaining to harvesting your produce, having your garden just 10 steps from your door makes it really easy to garden.
What is spring so far am I right….
If you live in the Midwest of the United States like I do you most likely have had your fill of the this intense spring weather we have been experiencing.
This weather which includes snow just a few days ago for me has been a huge cramp in my planting schedule for this spring. Normally by this time of year I have my entire garden planted and I have moved onto mowing grass and keeping up on other projects that always take up my spring. At this point I only have my onion, beets and spinach in the ground which is okay I guess since they can take all the cold crappy weather we have been having.
But this late start got me thinking I have just essentially been robbed of about 20 days of my growing season and it left me with all sorts of questions like….
How is that going to affect my season?
Will I be able to grow the long season crops that I want to?
What should I grow to take advantage of what time I have left?
Do I need to consider season extension this fall?
Yes lots of questions….
Short Season Crops
A spring like this calls for the planting of cool season and short season crops. These types of crops typically take 50-90 days to grow and produce a crop and some will keep producing as long as you keep harvesting.
Plants to consider would include
Double Cropping/AKA Companion Planting
When you are dealing with a shorter planting season one thing to think about is double cropping or companion planting. There are alot of crops out there that you can grow in the same space at the same time which or course means you can grow more in the same space.
An example of this is the three sisters planting system attributed to the Native Americans in the USA. They would plant corn, climbing beans and squash in the same area and all three species complement each other and can be grown in the same space without interfering with each other.
Finally the big kahuna thing you can do to make up for this short season is the plan some sort of season extension device for the end on the season to try and get back some of this days in the fall. Season extension comes is three evermore expensive flavors for the home gardener.
Low tunnels are basically little mini greenhouses created by installing metal or plastic hoops over the garden bed and then covering them with plastic. In the fall they work best for low growing and confined crops, think salads and root vegetables. Most everything else is too big or spread out by this time of the growing year to work. They are great season extenders for pretty much everything in the spring since everything is small that time of year.
Like I am sure you guessed from the the name high tunnels are like low tunnels except they are much bigger. These are made in much the same way as low tunnels with larger stronger hoops and more supports. These can be used almost like actually greenhouse but they are not a durable or as easy to control temperature. The advantage of these over low tunnels is that they can contain pretty much every crop you can grow and with a larger area protected they are less prone to large temperature swings.
Finally you have greenhouses which come in lot of different varieties and purposes. The upside to these is you can really control the temperature in these much better than when compared to the the tunnel structures. This downside to them however is that they are relatively permanent structures and they will be in that spot for a long time. You can work around this depending on your situation but for most part you are stuck with wherever you build it.
The moral of the story
With that good luck on your gardening endeavours and I hope the summer turns out to be better than this spring has been.
For more information like this check out other articles here on the Green Living LIbrary
I know right….
It’s January and I am already talking about the summer garden. But if you are a serious gardener like me you need to start planning this early because before you know it the early cool season crops can be going in the ground.
The winter is perfect time to look back on your garden and figure out what you did right what you did wrong and what you want to change before this next season begins. In my case some things that went right this last summer would be the following,
Things I did wrong…
Planning for next year
After you have had a chance to reflect on the previous year you can now plan better for next year. Things that you should figure out now would include,
When most people are planting a garden they think they have only one shot at in the spring. Well thankfully for unlucky gardeners like me that is simply not the case. When you are growing a garden in most parts of the United States you can get 2 sometimes 3 crops from the same plot of land depending on how far south you live. In the midwest where I live if I plan it right I can get two crops of produce from the same plot of land.
Beets those wonderful, earthy flavored roots that have graced many a dinner table over the years despite the groans from the children they were being served to. Now I will admit beets are an acquired taste and it can take some time to acquire it. But like a good wine or coffee the flavor of a good beet will grow on you with time especially when you grow them yourself in the garden. Now beets being a cool season root crop are very versatile in the home garden. They can be grown with lots of other crops as a companion and you can get multiple harvests per year depending on your climate.
The Three Sisters Planting method is a technique that groups up three different types of plants to form a healthier planting system. They work together to support each other in a variety of different ways. It originates from Native Americans and has been a time honored technique to growing successful gardens. The basic technique technique works because of the underlying facts of how plants prefer to grow together and with a variety of other types of plants.
Companion planting has a long and documented history. While there has yet to be any serious scientific research into whether companion planting actual works the anecdotal evidence is intriguing. There are as many companion planting combinations as there are garden plants so the choices can be daunting. I wanted to narrow it down a little bit by talking about cucumber and what companions are suitable for them.
Hello my name is Josh Larson and I am the creator of the Green Living Library. Here on the blog you will find updates to content found in the Green Living Library as well as stories from those living the sustainable life already.