Backyard Farm Year 3!

I can barely believe it is year three of Prudent Baby’s Backyard Farm experiment. It has become such a part of our lives to tend to our garden that I can hardly remember a time when we didn’t have one. We look forward to spring like people must when they live somewhere with snow (growing up LA, I never had that “when will this winter end?” feeling I’ve heard about- but now I count the days till I get to till and plant). When we started three years ago, I had never grown anything in my life (actually I was famous for killing green things at an impressively rapid pace). Look how far we’ve grown since year one and year two! (omg, i couldn’t help myself with that pun). So…

Three years later guests who see our garden seem to think I have a natural green thumb, assuming I have some mystical talent (plant whisperer?) and/or a wealth of knowledge gained over a lifetime of growing plants. Not the case. THey think this because they assume growing food is hard. It’s not. My point in telling you this is to make you understand that anyone can grow food. It’s not that complicated. I tried it for fun three years ago, and it was not hard. Some things failed, some things died, but for the most part plants know what to do, so with water, sun, and a positive attitude (no giving up at your first fungus or squirrel), you can give it a shot. Once you start, you start learning, wanting to learn more, and truly enjoying what gardening is all about – not the results (pretty flowers or food are nice, but you can get them anywhere), but the peace.

Spending time outdoors in the sun with my plants is my meditation time, my me time, our family time. Scarlet and I have had such joy in our yard together, such pride, we make such a mess, we have such fun.

Come check out what we’ve got going on this year, and also I have a few questions for you, if you don’t mind teaching me a thing or two…



My favorite seat in the house…

Corn… planted it piled right on top of the other plants and kept them close together for better pollination this year. So far so good, we will see how many ears we get and report back.

So many tomato plants! Added a few new ones but most just sprouted from seeds left behind after last year’s crop. Flowers are blooming, fruit should appear soon!

A huge variety of peppers, I can’t remember which is which but I know I bought at least eight different kinds. No jalapenos this year though, learned that the hard way on year two (kids and spicy pepper juice on fingers is a bad combo).

Obsessed with herb garden that I started last year. Curry seems to be taking over so I’m going to prune it back and dry a bunch very soon. Basil is the hardest over here so I think i’m going to grow some in a pot. Sage, cilantro, thyme, oregano, chives, and parsley are all thriving.

Last year I planted garlic and shallots over here, but when I went to harvest them it was too early. I gave up halfway through and forgot about them over the winter. Now I see these, not sure if they are garlic or shallots, and when I should pick them? Is last year’s crop hiding underground somewhere possibly? Advice?

These beautiful heirloom pole beans just showed up. We planted them last year – they were so good – and I even pulled them up at the end of the season. But this year double the amount of plants just showed up on their own. This area doesnt seem to get enough water so I’m going to have to give them extra attention.

My fennel is out of control. I need to cook with fennel more, grilling it with olive oil and balsamic is delicious.

Jasmine… is there something I should do with this besides enjoy the scent while it is in the garden?

Eggplant! Can’t wait to make some Jordan-style baba ganoush.

Zucchini – one of those foods you never crave but when you have it around you eat it all the time. As sweetzucchini pickles and and healthier zucchini bread are favorite “stash busters” for when my plants explode with mutant giant zukes like they always do.

Cucumbers are my favorite crop. Can’t wait to make our pickles and our spicy pickles. Or cucumber popsicles. No wait, cucumber vodka. yes.

My cala lillies are sticking around longer then usual, these beauties are still blooming and i can’t bring myself to get rid of ’em to make room for more food. What can I plant later in the season when they are gone?

Artichoke just shot up with several more branches than last year. This is year three for this plant (first year no chokes, last year we got about ten), so I’m hoping for a big crop.

Oh, strawberries, you are so cute to have but slugs are not cute. Stupid slugs.

Celery! This is my first year with celery. Any tips?

Scarlet planted this when we first moved in over three years ago, it was so tiny. I love it so much, watching it grow with her. I’m a cheeseball.

Fennel! So soft, i want to take a nap on it.

Butter lettuce – lettuce usually kinda tastes like nothing, so it’s extra surpising when you eat fresh lettuce and it has rich flavor. It’s so easy to grow and so delicious.

View from the treehouse…

I like to lay in bed and gaze upon our bounty.

And I know I’m getting old because I love my windchime, ha.

What’s growing in your gardens?




This is truly beautiful! and great job on the gardening!
I’m at the year-1 stage of backyard gardening in our new home. Some plants start to get killed by the southern heat, so I put on shade and they slowly recover from the heat damage. Learning process…..

Thanks for sharing your garden pictures, I hope mine gets better and better in the years to come~


yes, i neglected to mention that i think most of my garden is just pure climate-luck here in So Cal. that heat must make it much more difficult.

Cindy C

Such a beautiful yard. So proud of you and Scarlet for all your hard work.


Your garden looks great! It’s year 2 for mine. Year 1 did not go very well. I only had okra that was edible. This year I started over earlier, added a bag of compost and bought heirloom plant seeds. So far, it looks like it will be a great year. We have harvested some chard (winter crop), 2 green beans, and lettuce. I planted some potato seedlings thinking it would be done before the summer plants but they are not! I have a very small space & the potatoes are taking half of it. Hopefully they can be pulled early June and then the beans & tomatoes will have more room. Maybe you could try okra when the cala lilies are done. Okra likes the late summer heat.


Okra is a great idea! I adore pickled okra. My first year, the okra died a terrible slow painful death, maybe i planted it to early? definitely will give it a shot this year, thx.

so far i have not had luck with root vegetables, i think my soil is too dense. homegrown potatoes sound amazing!


My dad has had good luck growing potatoes in a trash can! I know it sounds a little strange, but apparently it works :)

Kimberly F

So gorgeous! I am slowing trying to grow more food this year. I did tomatoes last year, and this year have added just lettuces and herbs. (My yard is quite shaded, so I only really have one small spot that gets enough sun for veggies.) I am so jealous of your beautiful fennel! Here are a couple of amazing fennel recipes (both from Giada):
Also, if you have a tomato soup recipe that you love, substitute fennel for onions. So delicious!


thank you so much, these recipes look amazing! i have found (at least in my garden) that arugula does not mind the shade. it grows everywhere all the time like a weed almost.


on the garlic wait for the green stems to be about 18 in tall and in my experience the stem should be as thick as your ring finger unless you’re going for the elephant garlic. when it’s ready a few of the outer stem leaves will start to brown. I always push away as much dirt as i can and lightly dig around it to see how large the bulb is and then make the call to pull it or leave it. (same with onions) Garlic usually needs 4 – 6 months in my experience, depending on when you’ve planted it. i planted a dozen cloves in late November and pulled them up about a month ago. the other dozen planted in January probably will be pulled up in two weeks or so.

i’ve got cabbage galore ready from my ‘winter’ garden … cabbage patch kids! 12 tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, purple potatoes and purple carrots, green beans, snow peas, garlic & basil (lots of it), shallots, cayenne & jalapeno peppers, japanese eggplants and I started an asparagus bed!

my MIL sent me a Shitake Mushroom starter log … i’ll take photos as it progresses! that will be the highlight of the year!


that sounds amazing! i kept meaning to do a winter garden but only got as far the fennel. I have a mushroom starter kit too, I’m going to give it a shot this weekend. Report back!


Jasmine should be cut back every so often (after flowering and leaf drop, helps it stay healthy. Celery , you really need to dig a trench about 1/2 a spit deep , put some compost in bottom and as plant grows, back fill trench which will then blanch your celery for you ( create the white crunchy bits) As an alternative , you can sometimes get away with tieing newspaper round it then putting an old pringles can with the bottom cut off over it once its tall enough. Yes you probably will have garlic/shallots under there but what was created last year won’t be usable . You want to leave it till normal harvest time then pick it . Strawbs , try putting hay underneath to beat the slugs but the only really effective thing to do is go out after dark with a torch and a pot with some vinegar in , pick up slug and drop it in pot to kill , then bin. Good luck and happy huntingx x


A trick to keep the slugs off your strawberries is to set out a small plate or pie tin with beer. Then put a bucket or something upside down over top of the plate. (To keep rain out of the beer.) The slugs will go for the beer instead of your strawberries.


i tried this but i think all of our slugs are teetotalers because they were wholly uninterested, sigh. Sluggo works like a charm but i dont like to use it too often and change the soil balance.


Sprinkle crushed egg shells around the bottom of the plants to keep the slugs away. They don’t like the sratchy bits on their bums, ( do they even have bums?) Whatever. It works! I keep my egg shells all winter in a big zip lock, then run the rolling pin over them, my daughter will probably have fun doing it this year. ,


Great job on the garden! You might want to bring some of the jasmine inside (or have a potted plant in addition): a study conducted at Wheeling Jesuit University came out recently that showed the scent of jasmine improved quality of sleep at night and cognitive focus while awake. And we all thought it just smelled nice, right? I’d also highly recommend chives for your herb garden if you don’t have any already. So easy to grow they would be a weed, but they stay pretty compact. Maybe also some fruit? We grow blueberries and pink currants and it is absurdly exciting to see our crop ripening each year :) And you can’t beat the taste of sun-warmed berries fresh off the bush!


Another suggestion for the slugs and most other bugs is Diatomaeceous Earth. It’s a fine type dirt that feels very soft on our fingers but is very scratchy to bugs. The only downside is that you have to reapply after watering the garden because it loses the scratchy feeling. But not a huge deal because it is relatively inexpensive. I get it at my local co-op and use it all over my mini-farm for a whole plethora of things. It’s very versatile adn chemical free. :)


Try the beer thing for slugs again, but use a shallow lid, like from peanut butter or mayo, and depress it into the ground a bit. Slugs are lazy and like to just fall into the beer, then they drown in it. If you make them work too hard to get up into the dish, sometimes they’ll take a pass on it.

Very satisfying to just toss the lid full of dead slugs in the trash.

And they die happy, so it’s all good.


As to when to harvest your garlic…you have to wait until the stems that are above ground are dry & withered, that’s when it’s time to harvest your garlic (note…don’t water your garlic as it will rot in the ground). If you ever plant onions you harvest when the stem is all withered as well (but the onion you do have to water). I moved to Spain from NYC 2 years ago (fell in love, got married, had a baby).
I knew nothing about growing things, but hubby has ‘farmed his whole life. In our HUGE backyard we have peppers (spicy & Italian), tomatoes, onion, garlic, zucchini, White, red & black beans, string beans, squash, carrots pumpkins, corn, chickpeas, & potatoes. Eggplant bombed last year because the chickens ate the plants, will try again this year & will be planting watermelon & cantaloupe next week.


Hi Jaime!
I came here via Pintrest and noticed u were talking about ur zucchini. My favorite way to use up especially big zucchini is to slice it, put olive oil, salt and then grll it. Serve it with soft goat cheese… HEAVEN!

I live in CA and hv gardened for 5 years or so. I’m excited about this years garden and the tweaking ill do. The drip system is what keeps me going… Then I hv time to enjoy the other aspects and I don’t kill things off if I get busy… Which is often 😉

Enjoy Spring!


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