My backyard mini-farm

Our backyard “mini-farm” is thriving again in the warm weather.  Last year we put in above-ground garden beds to house our mini-farm, and it didn’t take long before it paid off big time.  Last summer we had a steady supply of tomatoes, strawberries, beans, red and green bell peppers, and more cucumbers than we could handle!  And, it turns out that making pickles really isn’t all that difficult. 

The fall/winter plants were a little bit slower, but we did enjoy a nice supply of peas and broccoli.  Being a San Diego native, I’m not too familiar with the idea of having to grow in “seasons” given that there are really only two seasons there: really awesome, and “oh man, it’s 60 out…better grab a sweater!”

The garden seems to have really taken notice that the weather is warming up nicely.  The strawberry plants are already full of berries ready to ripen, the tomatoes have yellow flowers ready to give us tomatoes, the jalapeno is thriving, the watermelon has already sprung up from last year, and the cucumbers are threatening to overwhelm us again.

Once we have finished the last of the broccoli, we will be combining that bed with the strawberry bed to give them a little more room.

Backyard farming really isn’t that hard to do.  Because we are in a house where we can’t really mess with the backyard too much, we opted for above ground wooden beds that are easily assembled/disassembled for when we move.  We ordered them from a company in Oregon that gave us a major discount for getting the “unattractive” wood (the kind with knots, and natural discoloration), and an additional discount for my husband’s active duty service.   Anyway, we grow everything from organic seeds, used organic soil, and then we routinely feed them from our compost bin.   Our herbs stay indoors most of the time, but I set them outside every few days for some extra sunshine, which has proven to have worked well considering we had basil, cilantro, and parsley all year long.

I think the best part of it all is that my kids get to see science in action.  They help germinate the seeds, plant them outside, pick the weeds, and then they get to enjoy their work when we go out to pick what’s ready.  They are also learning about the “natural order” of bugs too.  When our flowers were being taken over by aphids, we learned that by planting marigolds near the flowers in need, the marigolds would attract bugs that love to eat the aphids…and it worked!  My squirmy girly girl is also learning to be more tolerant of the bugs, knowing that they are “good bugs” that eat the “bad bugs” that try to eat our plants.  It’s slow coming, but she’s learning to shriek less at the bugs.

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