Getting Started: Backyard Farming

Imagine a backyard with a lawn and little else. Now imagine a backyard dug up with two raised beds, two double dig beds and some fruit trees and bushes. Earlier in the year for the first time ever I started a vegetable garden with little knowledge, but much anticipation.

As a child I watched my grandfather, parents and aunt grow many Indian vegetables quite effortlessly. Later I helped to pick vegetables at Clagett Farm in Maryland. I really enjoyed the fresh vegetables and the community at the farm.

Now it was time to embark on my own growing adventure. I checked out many books from the library trying to learn as much as I could about how to start composting and vegetable gardening. One of the many books that I found to be quite helpful was Vegetable Gardening: From Planting to Picking, The Complete Guide to Creating a Bountiful Garden by Reader’s Digest.

I learned many things from reading the books, but wanted guidance from someone who is experienced, so I put out a call on the different email lists. Someone suggested Joshua Wenz who has a company called My Organic Garden and helps people to start their vegetable gardens.

Josh came over, measured the backyard and later emailed me the cost estimate and the layout. He suggested that I put in two raised beds and two double dig beds. For the raised beds, he brought in truck loads of compost. We also used some compost in the double dig beds. Before digging these beds, I got the soil from the front and back yards tested through UMass Soil Testing. This helped to determine the lead and ph levels of the soil. Based on the results, Josh also brought soil enrichments that were added to all the beds.

Next I ordered the seeds and fruit trees and bushes. It was quite exciting flipping through the online catalog of seeds and selecting them. To be continued…

Share your stories and resources. How did you get your vegetable garden started? What are your favorite vegetable garden books, websites and forums?

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