Growing a garden from seed is more economical than purchasing started plants, and it allows you to select unusual or heirloom varieties. Choosing seeds can be a fun part of the garden-planning process.
Photographed by Rachel Quenzer of https://www.sugarmaplefarmhouse.com.
Choose the raised bed design that fits your style and budget. In Emily Barlow’s garden, she pairs two deep cedar beds with eight more-affordable beds built from 2 x 12 fir boards.
Photographed by Emily Barlow of https://handmadefarmhouse.com.
Turn a willow tepee into a blooming tower of vining nasturtium. All parts of the nasturtium plant are edible and have a distinct peppery flavor.
Photographed by Fabiana of https://ciaonewportbeach.blogspot.com.
Keep track of your plants with DIY markers like these from Rachel Quenzer. They’re cut from polymer clay, stamped, baked, and finished with weatherproof sealer.
Designed and Photographed by Rachel Quenzer of https://www.sugarmaplefarmhouse.com.
Homegrown food has always been a traditional part of farmhouse life. Although no longer a necessity, growing your own produce can allow you to eat healthier, enjoy better flavor, control your food supply and keep active. Plus, working in the fresh air and sunshine and seeing the results of your labor can boost your mood and increase your self-confidence.
Get started now to plant a garden from scratch or expand what you already have. Start small with a group of pots on your patio or a raised bed assembled from a kit. Grow the vegetables and herbs you already know you like to eat. You can scale up over time with additional containers or beds or move to a larger in-ground garden. With more space, you could experi-ment with different vegetables or grow more of your favorites to freeze or can.
Most vegetable plants require ample sunlight, so choose a growing space that receives at least six hours of direct sun a day. Sketch out the area on paper or a computer to help you decide what you’ll plant and where. Consult books, blogs or your local garden center as you select varieties appropriate for your climate, note proper spacing and determine planting schedules.
Include areas for both annual and perennial vegetables and herbs as well as beneficial flowers. Annuals must be sown or planted each year—and include most of the home-garden classics—while perennials are planted once and will return year after year if properly maintained.
Keep in mind that annual planting areas can be turned over multiple times during the growing season. For example, in a single garden bed, you can sow cool-weather lettuce in early spring and then plant bush-type green beans for summer once the lettuce starts to fade; in fall, you can sow fast-growing radishes and harvest them before the ground freezes.
Flowers can be a great addition to a vegetable garden—besides providing color, many offer key benefits such as attracting pollinators and repelling pests, and some are even edible. Sprinkle individual flowers among your plants or group various types in a bed or border. Marigolds, zinnias, nasturtiums, cosmos, calendula, chamomile and sunflowers are all easy to grow and good for the veggie garden.
Whether you’re growing in your own yard or renting a plot at a community garden, structures will help you make the most of your space.
Raised beds allow control of soil and nutrients, contain the plantings and help manage weeds. Look for plans online to build your own from new or salvaged materials or purchase a kit that contains everything you need.
Plant supports will help you take advantage of vertical growing space and keep your plants healthy. Some vegetables are natural climbers and will grab onto just about anything, while others trail along the ground and need to be “trained” upward with clips or ties to prevent disease and pest issues. Generally, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants only require minimal support using basic garden stakes or cages. For peas, cucumbers and pole beans, you’ll need a sturdy trellis or tepee to support their longer vines. Larger structures, such as arches, fences or arbors, can hold vigorous vining varieties of squash, beans and melons while adding architectural appeal to your garden. Just be sure to provide extra support for heavy fruits with slings or mesh bags when trellising.
Gardening takes time and occasionally hard work, so look for ways to make your tasks easier. You can get off on the right foot by carefully selecting your garden’s location and design. Keep it as close to your house as possible, in an area that you will enjoy visiting often. Consider installing raised beds or elevated planter boxes to minimize bending and reaching. Make pathways wide enough to accommodate a garden cart or a portable seat, and lay mulch thickly to prevent weeds. Also include a storage area to keep everyday tools close at hand. This can be anything from an old mailbox or plastic tote to a prefab deck box or small shed.
Vegetable plants generally need about an inch of water each week, so don’t let it become a dreaded chore during dry spells. If you have easy access to water, connect one or more hoses so you can reach your entire garden. Or, invest in irrigation drip tape and a programmable timer that will provide water to plants’ roots even while you’re away. If you don’t have direct water access, consider setting up a rain barrel to collect rainwater from gutters for use in the garden.
Talk to neighboring gardeners to learn about the local wildlife and insects that you might need to deter. Choose solutions based on species, such as using tight-mesh fencing to keep out rabbits and squirrels or setting up motion-activated sprinklers to scare away deer. You can even fool strawberry-eating birds with faux-painted stones set out before the real fruits ripen.
With planning and commitment, growing your own food can be a rewarding part of your farmhouse life. You can grow just enough to eat fresh or preserve a bountiful harvest. Whatever the scale, gardens will remind you—and teach little ones—about the value of hard work, the reality of failure and the joy of success.