For many, starting a backyard garden seems like a daunting task. Beginning with the right soil and seeds, fighting off the bugs, dealing with droughts and hopefully ending with a harvest you didn’t expect. It’s a lot of work! But what I’m going to show you today, you can do it!
We’ve had many challenges as a family with starting a garden that actually grows something we can eat. First, it was the problem of living in the woods, thus limiting our sunlight. Then it was the tired out old soil with traces of unnamed chemicals. And an unventilated greenhouse that ending up cooking everything inside. I think from this standpoint, even if we don’t have everything figured out or the best way to garden, we’ve still got a lot to share from our experience.
Yes, we finally got a garden to grow— which turned out to be rather simple, but that didn’t mean it was easy. Bugs hit some plants hard and we spent so much time moving dirt not many seeds made it into the ground. But by the second year at our new place, things were looking better than they ever have. Even if a really defensive black snake thought our kale bed was a great place to hang out…
The difference this time was how we prepared the soil: with horse manure, ash, and compost. We let this rot down for several months before hitting it with a tiller. What a difference this made! We started our seeds in an organic store-bought potting mix, then transplanted the seedlings to the raised beds. It wasn’t long before we had lettuce growing!
Kale and spinach grew amazingly; the baby lettuce mix took better than I’d hoped. After cutting leaves off many times, I let them go to seed, then harvested the seeds for next year. Weather and sun had destroyed the greenhouse plastic sheeting so it was off by the first snow. Surprisingly, the spinach and kale stayed alive during the winter and by the first of spring had regrown into fuller plants. It helped that we had a mild winter but the picture of seeing green under the snow was most encouraging!
What amazed me the most were the new lettuce plants that appeared, mixed in with the kale. It seems that when the lettuce went to seed, it distributed seeds throughout the raised bed which started up 10 or more fresh plants. I nearly have more lettuce than I know what to do with—and my family eats salad every day! One of the other things we tried was planting an organic horseradish root from the grocery store. After 2 years in the ground, the little stub had grown a brand-new root system, yielding a big harvest for the best horseradish sauce we’d ever made.
So, in closing, I’d like to encourage you to try starting a backyard garden. It may not be easy, but it’s definitely worth the effort with every reward. Just avoid any black snake that cares for kale…