We’ve been on this journey for five years now and have learned so much! My husband and I both had family members who grew their own food and so had seen it done, though hadn’t ever tried growing vegetables ourselves. The idea of being able to grow our own food was appealing for a few reasons: the ability to save money on our food budget while having access to very fresh produce, knowing what each vegetable was (and was not) treated with, as well as sustainability and self-reliance. Fast forward five years and we’ve moved on from having to call grandparents for step-by-step help to knowing what works well in our space, what we will actually eat, and how much work we’re willing to put in to production. Not everyone has seasoned gardeners in the family, so I’m hoping to share some of the knowledge we’ve gained with you and hope it’s helpful in your home gardening journey.
Three Reasons We Chose This Property
- Good south exposure with lots of areas that would provide enough light for plants that require full sun;
- Relatively large square footage for a city lot in order to allow for recreation space as well as shed, greenhouse, compost bins, and of course garden beds; and
- Some established gardens that we could expand with bee-friendly plants to support pollinators.
We’ve experimented with planting a number of crops in the last five years in our Vancouver, British Columbia climate (zone 7/8) and we’ve have had the most success with:
- Field cucumbers
For us success means something that is easy to grow and care for and produces a plentiful quantity relative to the effort and space required.
Things We’re Learning
We’ve certainly had our fair share of failures and certainly aren’t where we want to be production and knowledge-wise.
We planted Honey Crisp and Macoun apple trees in our front yard last year but seem to have trouble with coddling moths as all apples that were produced had pests in them. Our attempt to control the population with traps last year did not work so we’ll be experimenting with different organic treatments this year in hopes of better results.
We also attempted to start our own seeds last year in a window (north-facing, didn’t think that through very well!) but the resulting plants did not produce well, so this year we’re starting our seeds with grow lights.
This year we’re expanding, changing our approach, and hopefully (finally) putting up our greenhouse that’s been in pieces for two years!
And I’m very excited about a new, large bed we’re going to be creating this year for winter vegetables. The plan is to repurpose some of our front yard to make a large raised garden bed and use it to plant brussels sprouts, kale, arugula, and carrots to be harvested throughout the winter.
We’re also going to be attempting to incorporate elements of permaculture into our garden planning in order to work with the environment while attempting to increase and extend our harvest.
I’m so happy to have you journey along with us to our goal of year-round harvest and increased production on our suburban lot. I’ll be sharing regular updates here to be sure to check back often!
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