Princeton Capital Blog

Growing Vegetables in Your Backyard

February 19th, 2015

Portrait of senior womanGrowing Vegetables in Your Backyard

Believe it or not, it’s time to start planning your summer vegetable garden. If you’ve never thought of growing anything, or if you’re thinking you killed every plant you’ve owned since college, today’s post is for you.  In future posts, we’ll go into the care of your crops.

What Should I Grow?

To start, figure out where you could grow.  You’ll need to monitor how much sunlight the place gets.  Some crops like lettuce and spinach don’t need much direct sunlight, whereas tomatoes need a lot.  Also, if you have trees that block a lot of your sunlight, you’ll need to evaluate what you want to plant.

Second, you can find your USDA plant hardiness zone from the map. This is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones.

However, we all know that there are micro climes. For example, if your zip code is the center of town, and it’s a flat, sunny area, it’s going to have a different growing season than if you live on a mountain slope.

The two best ways to figure out what to grow are:

  1. Ask your neighbors if they grow vegetables and what they’ve found works.
  2. Contact your local group of Master Gardeners.  They know what works in your area, and often offer free classes.  They’re committed to teaching others how to successfully grow fruits, vegetables, plants and flowers.

What If I Have No Backyard?

If you have a patio that gets some sun, you can grow vegetables in containers.  Seed companies have been developing fruits and veggies that can be grown on balconies and patios in containers.  Burpee has a cantaloupe, tomato, and a corn seed that can be grown in smaller containers.

Now if you really have very little room, grow herbs like basil, cilantro, chives and parsley.  You’ll save money because you won’t be buying a large bunch from the market that turns into mush at the bottom of your vegetable drawer.

Also, consider buying a blueberry bush that will produce fruit every year. It can be trimmed to size, and there are shade varieties. Or you could look on Pinterest for ideas for growing walls of lettuce and strawberries.

Be cautious of mint and certain berries like blackberries and raspberries. They can jump their pots and take over everywhere else.

And the thing to remember is that these vegetables grow in the wild.  They’re designed to grow and produce, so be patient with yourself.  Start small and manageable. Keep a detailed notebook so you can track what worked well for you. And enjoy the results.

In the next post, we’ll talk about soil, compost, and containers.

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