How to Grow a Garden Without Tearing Up the Backyard

This is my first attempt at writing a “how-to” article on gardening for the beginner. I also found that my method would come in handy should anybody have limited space in their backyard. Think in terms of square foot gardening. First you’ll need the following items:

1. concrete cinder blocks, bricks, or stone.
2. a roll of gardening/ landscaping fabric.
3. Lots of potting soil depending on size, this could take several bags.
4. Live plants, seeds, seedings started indoors (transplant when weather is fair and there’s no threat of frost).
5. Miracle Grow
6. shovel, hand rake, hand shovel.

Depending on the depth of the space, lay out the roll of landscaping fabric, weigh down with bricks, rock, stone or cinder blocks. Fill the enclosed area with potting soil, water generiously and add in a little Miracle Grow into the water (follow directions on the package).

Plants need water before they are planted, so fill the holes with water, then transplant the live plants, and/or seedings from their containers to the holes and gently pat down with extra potting soil.

Tend your garden at least once a day. I generally water mine at a certain time of evening every day unless rain is in the forecast, then I forgo the watering for that particular evening. Best times I found to water are during the hours of 5-8 p.m. when the weather will tend to cool down in the summer.

Extreme heat and dry spells will cause plants to wither and wilt regardless of watering. I found this out just this summer. Plant the plants according to the charts on the packages/and or seed packets.

To harvest a garden by the end of the summer, and say, a person still has tomatoes on the vine that haven’t rippened yet. What to do?

Either tear down the garden and produce compost for the following summer, or pick the green tomatoes, wash, slice, and fry them. (Think of the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes). Reciepes for making fried green tomatoes can be found on the Internet. For harvesting peppers: bell peppers, jalopenos, Hungarian hot peppers:
Pick the last of the peppers, especially if they’re wilting due to the summer’s heat. Wash them, and place them on a window sill with ample amounts of sunlight and allow them to turn a deep red color on their own. Sometimes they’ll mature on the window sill, other times, they won’t.

Cucumbers: pick them (and unless a person knows how to can and make their own homemade pickles from scratch), wash and store them in freezor bags in the fridge first. Second, when cold, transport them to the freezor and they might keep for the winter. Since this is my first attempt trying that, I have no way of telling if this works or not. Individual results will vary.

I didn’t have very much success with lettuce this year. I know that if the weather gets too hot for a long period of time this tends to make lettuce grow poorly.

I grew a bunch of other stuff in my garden as well this year. Everything from flower seeds to onions, none of which I think ever produced much.

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