Growing your own vegetables in a modest yard is very possible. Space planning and time management are key to success. This article is going to cover what you need to prepare your garden and some tips to make this an easier process. Get the family involved in this process too. Kids think it is so exciting to grow their own food. Even toddlers can help with some “raking”, watering, picking a veggie or fruit to grow or planting seeds. The garden will be something the whole family can enjoy and be proud of.
Thanks to a mild winter and early Spring here in Southern Indiana gardening could be started in middle of March this year.
Look around your yard. See where a bed would be out of the way, get good light, find out where utilities lines may be buried (mentioned more later).
Read your seed packages! You can plant most anything in your bed, but make sure of what spacing the plants may need. For example you could put a watermelon out there, but it’s going to take over half that bed.
Also plants have multiple planting times so if you don’t have a lot of space for veggies like lettuce or carrots now you can plant a small section and near the their time of harvest start seeds in a planter for a second round.
2. Pre Bed Prep
3. Location, Location, Location
Where you put your bed is very important. Veggies and fruits need lots of sunlight, access to water, and space.
If you have pets or children who’ll be sharing the yard with the bed putting it out of the way is the best bet. It would be recommended to put it next to a fence to avoid possible traffic walking on plants trying to grow.
4. Bed types
You could either mark off a section of yard, till it up the grass and be ready to go or make a raised bed.
If you do not know about lines in your yard (electric, cable, water, etc.) locations you need to contact your service providers to prevent hitting these.
The other option is to build on top of the existing yard. Other benefits to this is less weeds, avoidance of pests like moles, and control of soil quality. Simply buy concrete retainer walls from your local home improvement store (can get these around $1 a piece depending on area) or using wood 2x6s or ties, etc.
5. Making the bed
As much grass and weeds need to be removed as possible before filling the bed and planting. Plants need as litle competition for nutrients as possible.
You can till it up like mentioned above if sure of line locations buried underneath
Another option is using a hoe to dig up all the grass and pull and rake it out. This is a long and tedious task.
One more option I learned from my farmer Dad is to just dig up the grass and flip it over. You scoop up a section and flip it so the roots are in the air. This is hardwork, but much much faster than the option above.
Look at this bed I made and tell me which side was hoed and which was flipped. Exactly…they look the same! Weeds can not be avoided completely, but might as well save some time now and get to the planting part.
(The Left is the Hoed Side and the Right is the Flip Over Side.)
6. Fill ‘er Up
The bed I am showing is 18 foot long by 4 foot deep. This took lots and I mean lots of dirt to fill up. Guessing it was 600 lbs and 3 trips to the store to do the job.
Mainly you need bulk so buy Top Soil (cheap store brand under $2 a bag stuff), then a few bags of Hummus/Manure (also $2 or under a bag) to add some nutrients, and then for an extra kick I added a couple bags of brand named soil with fertilizer mixed in it. All put in the bed in that order and raked a little to mix a bit.
If you planted ahead of time you can transplant your plants into the bed, or you could plant straight into your bed. Plants like lettuce, kohlrabi, and carrots can have their seeds sown this way and then thinned later as they grow to avoid overcrowding.
Keep an eye on nighttime temperatures and frosts early in the season. Those nights get some older flat sheets you don’t use and cover up those plants until morning.
6 Weeks Later (Kohlrabi, Lettuce, and Zucchini)