I have started my food garden since spring 2014. I tried different gardening methods including container gardening, growing in the ground, raised bed, hay bale mulching, wood chips mulching, leaves mulching.
After 3 years of trials, I came to like growing in the ground and mulch with wood chips, fall leaves, and yard wastes. These are free resources in my area. I still have cinder block raised beds in the garden. But I garden in the ground in them.
Two years ago I planted many fruit trees of fruits that are not sold at the grocery stores. All the trees are hardy to my zone 5A. However, I lost some trees to winter and some to deer and bunnies.
After two years of planting them, I spent over $400 last year summer at a pick your own berry patch in strawberries, raspberries, cherries, apple. At that point I realized that local fruits are what my family enjoy the most and their trees produce more than the exotic fruits I was growing at that point.
This spring, I planted more fruit trees including, apple, cherry, peach, apricot, pear, plum, blue berry and many grape vines. I planted them in the front and back yard.
I planted 2 blackberry plants and 3 raspberry plants in 2014. I kept propagating from those plants. This year we harvested a lot from them. I didn’t buy raspberry from the berry patch. It costs $7 a pound. I only bought strawberries there this year. I planned to buy apple there this fall. It costs $2 a pound. The fallen apple is half the price when you pick on the ground. I would like to buy the ones on the ground to can for winter use. Then, apple went on sale at a grocery store for $0.77 a pound. My husband bought about 63lbs. I stored some in the fridge and some in the basement.
I grew a lot of vegetables this year. I purchased them in bulk like 1 lb. of peas, 1 lb. of bean…. They produced enough for my family supply.
I didn’t buy peas or green bean in the store so far this year. I planted over 200lbs of potatoes. They didn’t produce well.
I planted tomato that I started indoor in March and plants that I purchased. They both did well. I have many plants and I didn’t buy fresh tomato this year either. I canned some and froze some.
Pepper on the other hand, only the one that I started from seed indoor before planting outside did better than the plants I bought.
I direct sowed broccoli. They did well and I have been cooking the leaves. They have not flower. But at least I enjoyed their leaves.
Kale produced well. Collard planted this year didn’t grow but the ones that came back from last year produced leaves that I harvested. Some of them set seeds as well as some kale.
Beet didn’t grow well. Swiss chard did ok but not great. Only few plants excelled. The yellow and red swiss chard didn’t grow.
My Egyptian onion and potato onion thrived. Garlic not so much. I harvested the garlic to replant this fall.
I left parsnip I grew last year in the ground. They came back this year and set fruit. I harvested a lot of seeds and planted a lot of them in August. They started to grow.
I planted over ½ lb of carrot in spring. They struggled in spring and summer. In August they started to thrive.
I planted a lot of squash seeds but they didn’t do well. I have few plants of zucchini, acorn, and butternut in the garden.
Pickling cucumber and lemon cucumber produced well but not abundantly. I left many on the vine to harvest my own seeds.
Lettuce by far out produced anything in the garden this spring. I planted many varieties. My favorite is butter crunch. I let the plant set seeds and I hug the plants dry to harvest seeds.
My herbs did great. They include winter savory, chives, green onion, sage, pepper mint, English mint, oregano, thyme, and parsley.
I spent over $1,000 last year and $1,000 this year on seeds and fruit trees. I spend over $1,000 last year and about $500 this year on posts chicken wire, and concrete reinforced wire to fence my garden to keep bunnies and deer out. It has been a success this year. Do you have problem with deer or bunny in your garden, don’t forget to read “How to keep deer and Bunnies out of your garden”.
I have been saving seeds to decrease the amount I spend on them.
I save enough seeds for the following: parsnips, tomato, pepper, lettuce, and arugula. I have more plants in the garden I would save seeds from.
I have a lot of weeds in the garden that I use as mulch or food. I cook with garlic mustard a lot in spring. They are wild mustard considered as invasive. I use curly dock and thistle as mulch. I chop and drop. Creeping Charlie is a living mulch in some part of my garden. It doesn’t seem to bother plants around it so I let it be.