This year we started our first ever backyard vegetable garden and today I’m going to be sharing everything we learned throughout the process. Before starting, I read some books and listened to some podcasts about starting your own backyard vegetable garden, but the best way to learn, is to just go for it. Although books and podcasts can be a great way to learn cool tips and tricks, just getting started is a whole other experience. So, if you’re on the fence of starting your own backyard vegetable garden, I say just start! But I do hope this blog post will be useful as well!
HAVING A YEAR ROUND BACKYARD VEGETABLE GARDEN
One of the books I read: The Year Round Vegetable Gardener is written by another Canadian who also lives in colder climates. This book is great because it talks about how you can have vegetables growing in your garden year round! Even in the winter. Although our garden isn’t quite ready to grow in the winter yet, we are working on building a raised bed with a cover soon so we can try next year! I love the idea of having fresh produce from your garden throughout the year!
This books also talks about seeding directly or transplanting, which is just starting the seed indoor and then moving it outside. Certain vegetables do better if they are transplanted while others can be seeded directly. From our experience, this is is definitely true!
seeding directly or interplanting
This year we planted carrots, cucumber, kale, bell pepper, hot pepper, roma tomatoes, basil and snap peas and we noticed that all the vegetables that were transplanted grew a lot faster than the others. Only the kale and snap peas grew very well regardless if they were seeded directly or transplanted. The vegetables that I transplanted were started indoors in April, although next year, I’m going to start them even earlier. What I did was, take a toilet paper roll, cut it in half, and fold the bottoms to make a little container. I added some potting soil, added one seed per pot, and topped it up with a little more soil. I watered it daily, and within a week or two, I saw little buds growing out.
You can even purchase seed starters from the stores. I particularly liked the toilet paper pot method, because when it came to transplant, I just added the entire pot into the soil outside. I believe if you use the seed starter container, some are made of plastic, so you will need to prop out the seedling and there is a chance of damage as you transplant. I’m thinking to test out this method next year as well.
location, location, location
From all the books and podcasts I read, I learned it is very important as to where your backyard vegetable garden is located. You want to find a place in your backyard that is more elevated, has sunshine for several hours in the day, is close to a water source and is close to the house itself so if you do start a year round backyard vegetable garden, you don’t freeze too much in the winter. We found that making a raised bed really helped us create more of an elevated location for the plants.
This was a quick and easy DIY. We just bought a piece of wood from Home Depot that was fairly wide, and got it cut into four pieces. Then we nailed the sides together to secure it. We then cleared out a space in our backyard and tried to dig a fair distance into the garden, so that vegetables like carrots got a lot of space to grow. We then placed the raised bed into the area and used wooden pegs to secure each side to the ground. Here is a picture of the raised bed with some directly seeded kale and snap peas.
The other thing we used in the garden were just some good old fashioned planters. These are great because they are highly elevated and therefore have great drainage and you can keep every vegetable separated. Just make sure there is either a hole in the bottom to drain out the water, or place something at the bottom that allows for drainage.
finding compatible vegetables
Another thing I learned as I read books and listened to podcasts, is that it is quite important what vegetable you grow alongside another. Some vegetables like nitrogen, whereas others don’t, so if you are interplanting some vegetables, make sure to research if the vegetables are compatible. We grew the kale and snap peas side by side and they are vegetables that can be interplanted. They grew beautifully the entire season! However, our cucumber did not.
Initially, we had the cucumber growing by itself in a planter and it grew so fast and so large and started to flower. At that point my mother in law planted cilantro in the same planter as the cucumber and just a few days later the cucumber leaves started to yellow and die. Upon researching, I learned that both cilantro and cucumber need nitrogen. Since both these vegetables were competing for the same nitrogen in the soil, they both started to die out. We then moved the cilantro into another pot where it started to grow. However, although the cucumber did start to look a bit healthier, we still didn’t get any cucumbers growing. This is why it is important to make sure you are growing compatible vegetables together.
I’m just going to wrap up this post with a summary of the important points I learned throughout our backyard vegetable garden process:
- Start most seeds indoors in March, water daily, and transplant when the weather is warmer.
- Build a raised bed or use planters so there is plenty of drainage.
- Find the optimum location in your backyard – close to the house, close to a water source, lots of sunshine, and an elevated area.
- If growing vegetables side by side, make sure to read beforehand to see if they are compatible.
- In terms of soil, use potting soil when starting seeds indoors and a mixture of soil and compost for the planters and raised bed in the backyard.
- Peas grow super tall – find an area near a fence or use poles to support the peas as they grow.
- Water daily.
- The more you pick certain plants (like basil and kale), the more they will grow.
- Just start your garden and you will enjoy the process.
Please do let me know if you found this post helpful and if I missed anything. I am definitely going to try to make our garden bigger and better next year! It was such a fun and satisfying past few months and the garden actually made me so happy! It’s great having fresh produce from the garden to make soups, salads, juices and dinners!