March 13, 2009

Find Your Green Thumb

We have a new book to love -"The Backyard Homestead", edited by Carleen Madigan Perkins. If you remember any of the old Storey publications, this one will be familiar to you. The author says that she is taking some of the best of those old stand-bys and compiling the information into this new book. It is absolutely rich with great instructions, loads of pictures, and even recommendations for varieties of plants to grow. Now this book might seem to focus on those homes with acreage of some sort, but it also supports our belief that gardening is possible for anyone.

We have lots of folks tell us that they wish they could have a garden like ours and all the goodies that come from it. But it really isn't necessary to have a lot of space, or time, or great skill to grow a little fresh produce. You just have to really desire to give yourself and your family something very high quality for the table, or just have the determination to prove that you can do this! Start by thinking of what your family loves to eat and/or what is the most expensive thing you buy and would love to grow to help save money. Here are a few ideas from us, from this book, and other various sources. We hope this encourages you to grow!

1. Use self-watering containers of all sorts on a porch, deck, or patio. They have a reservoir in the bottom that you keep filled, which reduces your chances of having the plants dry out. The one in this picture comes from plowandhearth.com, but they're sold everywhere. We're moving our herbs up to our deck this year. The Backyard Homestead suggests that all of these things will grow in this type of container - tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, eggplant, beans and more.

2. If you have a bit of yard space, try the method called "square-foot gardening", which has been championed by Mel Bartholomew for many years. He has a new book which updates this method. The link to his website is in my sidebar. We will be re-visiting this method in our own garden for some of our plants. Here's Mel!Our plan is to purchase some of these grids in vinyl, so that we can move them around easily and take them with us when we move from this home to another - eventually that is. NOTE - these are more commonly wooden boxes and you can build these yourself! His website is full of information that he generously gives for free. His book has great instructions as well.

3. Grow up instead of out. We're planning on using trellises of various sorts to grow things vertically this year - cucumbers, beans, peas, etc. It takes lots less space and is easier on the back when it comes to picking!

4. This is the most low-tech idea of all, which a friend in GA did years ago, and which shows up in our new favorite gardening book. Buy a large bag of potting soil, lay it down flat, cut an X in the top and plop your tomato seedling in. It will thrive and give you gifts!!

Start small and gain confidence as you go. Your green thumb is waiting to pop out!
Well, this is all then.

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