Our Backyard "Farm" Year Two!


Planting time is here!

Last year Scarlet and I went nuts and planted all sorts of delicious fruits, veggies, and herbs willy-nilly all over the garden. It was a magical spring and summer of pure mother-daughter-nature joy. Check it out here and here.

This year I had planned to create a raised bed (learn how from Jacinda here) and create an orderly garden of delicious bounty blooming on schedule throughout the summer, but I, umm, couldn’t quite pull it together.

Instead we just went at it with a little more knowledge and a lot more seeds – tilling, fertilizing, and sowing to our hearts’ content. Not much to show for it yet, but we should start to see some sprouts in the next ten days. This week’s rain is our friend, though the birds I once loved to listen to are not. Find out what we’ve planted and see some before pics after the jump.

Are y’all planning backyard farms this year? Got any tips? Any must-tries? Any never-do-that’s? Any hilar stories of garden catastrophes? Share them in the comments, you just might walk away with some adorbs beachmod ukelele fabric to make some kneepads or somethin’ with…

Our Backyard Farm Part 2

Among the great blessings in this family’s life are our precious yard and the Los Angeles climate. After last year’s bounty and the happiness it brought my husband, myself, and especially our daughter (in the form of delicious homegrown food and hours spent together in the sunshine) we’ve been counting the weeks until planting season was upon us. Now, finally, spring has arrived! First things first, we scoped out the situation.

Here’s the view from the “deck”. Lots of beautiful bulbs are in bloom with lillies and the like that we don’t want to remove just yet.

Our scallions we grew from seed last year were still going strong, but some sort of teensy black insect had taken over, so we dug ’em up and tossed ’em.

Our strawberries (some heirlooms planted by Carleton’s grandfather at his childhood home and transplanted here) have a few blooms, we decided to plant some more.

The artichoke we planted last year isn’t bearing fruit (veggie?) yet, but it is growing strong.

Our arugula is insane. We just chopped it off at the base, hoping it will grow back as it did once before. Any idea if it will?

Ugh, MINT! DARN YOU! We decided we don’t need 4 square yards of mint taking over our lives, so I ripped it all up. I replanted it in a giant pot, where it can stay contained.

Look, there was a parsley plant hidden under all that mint.

I transplanted the parsley to a different nook of the garden, right outside my office. I’m planning to create a little herb garden in this area. It seems to have survived the move one week later. We also planted chives, sage, thyme, and dill seeds. We have rosemary out front, so we didn’t include it, and we are planning to add some garlic bulbs over here soon. We may do the scallions here when we have more space after the flower bulbs bloom as well.

Up against the wall of my office, we used bamboo U-hoops as a trellis for pole beans, the seeds of which we planted 3-4″ away from each post. They should sprout this week if we’re lucky!

Because we have SO MUCH we want to plant, and not a ton of space (my poor gardener begged me not to ruin his beautiful lawn), I decided that I’d try to work this area by my office. It’s in the shade of the tangerine tree so it doesn’t get a ton of sun, but it might work for the pumpkins Scarlet insisted we plant. I haven’t yet worked the soil or staked the trellis, but that’s our plan for this area.

Now for the hard work. The ground is looking compacted and tough.

So we tilled.

The whole family got in on the action. Crazy fun.

Then we added some fertilizer. I meant to get all fancy and test the soil, but alas we just sprinkled willy-nilly.

Scarlet planted these white flowers here when we first moved in, she’s so proud of them, so of course they stay.

Then in went the tomatoes, crookneck squash, cauliflower, and zucchini plants.

Then we sowed our seeds.

Nothing much to show yet but soil, so here’s a list of what we planted:

Corn
Anaheim Peppers
Red, Yellow, Green, and Orange Bell Peppers
Eggplant
Spinach
Butter Lettuce
Mesclun
More tomatoes
Cucumbers (this year we planted them at the base of the “deck” in the corner, in the hopes I can train them to grow up the sides and hang from the railings.
Heirloom Pole Beans
I know the peppers and eggplant aren’t likely to sprout, but Miss S had her pick of seeds and she wanted to try it. Wish us luck!


I can’t wait to hear your advice, show you our progress, and to learn what y’all have in store for your gardens, containers, and yards this season. Happy gardening!

by

32 Comments

Meg Ring

Methinks Scarlet needs one of those little gardening Aprons.. But then I might be super envious! πŸ˜› Good job family! πŸ™‚

Reply
Dee - WishfulMe

We LOVE gardening! I have my tomato plants started inside and they are already 3 in tall! Loving them!! I will have posts later about them on my blog.

Back to gardening though. Have fun with it! I'd recommend a journal. I thought it was crazy when I started it but it's helped me "weed" out the types of plants we don't and do like so I know which ones to do the next year. Hehe… Weed… sorry…

Take care!
Dee

Reply
Melissa

You don't have to plant potatoes "eyes up". My grandfather likes to tell the story of the time his father made them redo an acre of potatoes, to plant them all "eyes up". And this was back when they had to plant and plow by hand. After an acre, my grandfather's dad was laughing so hard that the kids realized they had been had!

Reply
The Extra Ordinary Bree

We tried to plant a garden last year. The kids were so excited. We worked our happy little tushies off. We waited and waited but we didn't see a single plant pop through the dirt. My 5 yr old still tells people that our family can't grow things… we just kill plants.

Maybe this year will work out better lol!

Reply
randomcreativity

I wish I had a yard! The little herbs I have in pots don't do too well once the summer heat hits. Your garden looks like so much fun – enjoy it πŸ™‚

Reply
SusanE:)

I started my first garden, in containers. I thought it would be easier to control weeds and have better soil quality. So far, the garden is growing! We have spinach, scallions, chives, mesclun, sunflowers, snap peas, lavender, and spearmint. And I just bought a blueberry plant yesterday! So far, only the spearmint has not sprouted yet. We've already harvested some spinach and scallions. It is so exciting! My 3 yr old niece loves going out to check the sprouts!

Reply
amomwithalessonplan.com

I am totally jealous of your garden!!! I just posted the beginning of our garden. We are only planting a couple of things. We did pumpkins last year and it was really fun! They take up a lot of space but the kids had a great time nurturing them and then carving them for Halloween.

My tip is wait to plant the pumpkins. We planted ours in May last year and they were ready in August. (Good thing they kept for so long!)

Reply
Karin

Each spring I can't wait to dig in the dirt and fill our raised beds with veggies (and a few flowers) but ill admit that my enthusiasm waned in the scorching KS mid-summer heat. I can't seem to grow rhubarb to save my pie-loving life!

Reply
samanthajarnagin

Planting the seeds indoors this weekend and will transplant them in early to mid May since we are in NY – I can't wait to see what kind of harvest we'll have this year! Last year the deer got to my cucumbers and squash. I'm putting a casing over the garden this year so we won't have that problem! Happy planting!

Reply
Emily

I wish we could plant now! I'm a huge fan of square foot gardening! I blabbed all about it on Jacinda's gardening post.

Reply
HarmlessColor

We love gardening. So much, in fact, that despite having an apartment we have an enormous garden at a friend's house miles away.
Do you compost? I would recommend that. I am so determined with my composting that during graduate school I bought a rubbermaid container and kept it on the doorstep of my apartment and filled it with vegetable scraps…of course it was still there when I moved out so I left my landlord with a bubbling stink liquid. Oops!
He he…my methods have improved since then. But if you actually have a backyard composting is a cinch!

Reply
The Cooper Family

I am hoping to have my first garden this year. I think it will be so good for my kids to get to pick what they want to plant and help out in the garden!

Reply
lealou

We tried this 2 years ago and after all the work realized it was in a really shady part of the yard so nothing took! We don't have room anywhere else in the garden so a pot garden it is this year! We'll line it up in the sunny part of the drive way in the back yard – I can't wait! Thanks for sharing!

Reply
Charles

Looks like some fun work! I planted my first garden this year but I cannot keep out the bunnies!! As soon as something grows, they munch it right down.. except for the zucchini. I guess no one in my house likes zucchini but me!

Reply
jennie

Wow, I've been toying with the idea of doing a raised garden, but wasn't sure but you've totally inspired me. I just found your site a week ago and I've been reading it ravenously since then. You guys are awesome, thanks for sharing all that you do. My only concern is I'm not sure how into it my 4 year old will be. We just put a swing set up in the backyard this weekend and he was running around and found one of our dogs little presents. He was so upset about having "poop toe" that I really thought we were going to have to seek some counseling πŸ™‚ I hate to see how upset he'll be when I have to explain what manure is! Thanks again!

Reply
Jaime

We added two more raised beds this year and are planning to replace some of our landscaping with squash, melons, strawberries and the like…in spite of losing some to all of our plants to deer the past few years. Jerks.

Reply
Jan

Our soil is so bad I started composting last year. I have had a lot of fun composting. I take all our produce scrap, coffee grounds, a little grass clippings and some dirt and chop it together in a large plastic pot and cover it with wire. Adding and stirring it each day. With in two weeks it is ready to add to the soil. Wish me luck on this years crop.

Reply
Rachel

Wow! I am so impressed! Unfortunately I haven't met a plant yet I couldn't kill. Maybe this will be the year my thumb turns green, but I'm not holding my breath. I'll stay indoors with my sewing machine and venture out later to the farmer's market. I'm all about letting someone else do the dirty work for me!

Reply
kelly

We are in a rental home this year so
We will probably just do some tomatoes, strawberries (my daughter loved that last year), and some herbs.

Reply
Sarah

We have a little raised garden. Since we are in FL, our yard is literally pure sand, so some soil mix was needed for any nutrients to stay put. We have 2 tomatoes started, and we are still using up onions that have been growing all winter. The broccoli finished off a couple of months ago once the temps started staying in the 70's. Looking forward to trying again with the summer veggies – they have to be planted about now so that the heat and bugs don't kill them off later in the summer.

Good luck!

Reply
Nissa

So far we've only planted two types of sunflowers, zinnias, and some peas in starter pots and they've already sprouted! We will be transplanting them into a sunny patch in the backyard in a couple weeks along with tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, lettuce, and some herbs. We will plant our pumpkins in June. Love reading your garden posts!

Reply
Teri

We have planted tomatoes and peppers in the past. We hope to add some zucchini this year, as we all love zucchini bread. We also have two blueberry bushes that may have berries this year. We could easily cover our small backyard with all the things we want to plant. It is lots of fun to see the kids (2 and 4) help in the planting, watering & harvesting.

Reply
ecreech81

Love It!! More people need to garden, Its so rewarding. I have Learned that Carrots need Wicked Loose soil, Totally rock free! I only got one crooked carrot my first year (2 seasons ago) Last year i got a few short ones , I don't think i loosened it deep enough . But it's ON this year! I think i got it. 12 inches of loose soil. My girls picked out Kalidescope carrots this year, They are orange, yellow red and Purple! So cool.

Reply
Mrs. Fischer

You have totally re-inspired me! I need to get my rear in gear and plan some veggie garden goodness. I do have a gardening disaster story for you. We were blessed to have some friends at church give us some raspberry plant starters. They brought them over last fall and helped me get them in the ground. They promised to return in early spring with poles and wire and get my little patch off on the right foot. True to their word they were back in late February and had my plants looking like little soldiers all lined up and at attention. Just a few days later we had a wind storm and a large branch from our pine tree broke off, fell through two power lines (without breaking them) and smashed right onto my raspberry plants. Needless to say I was pretty steamed. I was planning on fixing the damage myself, but before I had a chance, my husband mentioned the incident to our friends at church. The NEXT DAY they were at my house again and had my patch back in order in no time. I am happy to report that the plants seem no worse for the wear and are starting to sprout leaves. Yay for gardening and the friends that help us make it happen!

Reply
Bobbi

I cannot believe you are gardening already! I am so jealous! I live in Canada and we are expecting nothing but more snow and cold to come over the next week and on… so.not.cool! We have a tiny yard and plan on doing mostly container veggies this year- going to try hanging grape tomatoes and strawberries, container peppers, beans and big tomatoes. Lots of flowers in the beds but, oh, it will still be so long until we start. Boo hoo. Oh! But I did see some daffodils sprouting through the snow this week! There is hope after all!

Reply
Sarah Rose

We planted our first garden this year. My father in law has lots of practice so he helped us out a lot! One thing I learned is that you have to put the cow manure down before you put the soil down. We wanted an organic garden so we used cow manure and an organic soil. Can't wait to see our plants sprout!!

Reply
Val

We live in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, so it's a little drier and much more windy and cold than Seattle. Last year was wetter than the normally wet Pacific Northwest Spring. It was our first year with a real garden and we went nuts with seeds.
We started them in my office (the garage was too cold) and the neighbors made "grow operation" comments about the grow light in the window.
We planted everything in early April and a week later they mildewed and melted back into the ground. Next came the slugs, armies of ravenous and slimy beasts. Once things began to dry a bit, sprouts grew to plants and the deer ate them. The only plants to survive and bear fruit (veggie!) were the sugar snap peas. There were a lot of them! They tasted so good, I don't think any actually made it into the house!
This year we are back and we're using Steve Solomon's Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades as our garden bible. I bought Siberian and Nepalese tomato seeds. All of our other seeds are heirlooms and/or developed for the PNW. I am canning tomatoes this year!!!!! I may have to share a few with the neighborhood deer though.

Reply
inadvertent farmer

Oh I wish we had your weather…up here in Western Washington it is still raining, ugh! If you are still looking for ideas you might want to check out kinderGARDENS. It is a series especially designed to get kids excited about growing there own food. We have bean tunnels, sunflower houses, and one of our teens even planted a 'goth garden'!

I found you on tip junkie where I'm one of the garden writers. Kim

http://sweetgrace.typepad.com/the_inadvertent_farmer/2011/05/kindergardens-2011-here-we-go-again.html

Reply

Leave a Reply