This post is long overdue (I’m aware that it’s winter!). I look forward to the next growing season in the backyard of my house, and want to catalog this first summer of growing vegetables and herbs from seed. This year has been such a year of growth for me, and I want to share more about this part of my life in this space as I was always curious about others who were turning their backyards into produce aisles.
If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be pulling up radishes and kneeling in the dirt to check on tomato seedlings, willing them to grow, I am not sure I would have believed you. My love and passion for food has brought me to care more about where our food comes from, and wanting to be involved in that process through edible gardening and urban homesteading.
Once we bought a house last December in Denver, I began brainstorming how we could fit growing space into the backyard area. Considering we did a lot of home renovations in January/February, we got a bit of a late start planning out the garden, but our half hazard seed-starting worked out and provided us with lots of fresh produce all summer.
Pictured above is the beginning of the summer, and below is mid-summer
Alright, so what did we grow in our Denver backyard?
- In the back raised bed (a 10’x4’ space):
- 4 curly kale plants (small yield)
- 1 jalapeño plant (never produced)
- 1 bell pepper plant (never produced)
- 1 ornamental pepper plant (just aesthetic)
- 5 yellow pear tomato plants (large yield late summer)
- In the front raised bed (a 10’x4’ space):
- 4 marigold plants (flowers)
- 2 rows of leaf lettuce (next time I’ll plant them in a shadier space)
- 6 lacinto kale plants (small yield per plant but consistent, want to plant more next year)
- 2 heirloom tomato plants (so delicious)
- In wooden box planter:
- 4 swiss chard plants (only 3 grew, medium yield)
- 1 sungold tomato plant (small yield, want to plant more next year)
- Note: Before we planted the chard, we did a whole round of radishes that was very successful (but we didn’t reseed them once we harvested)
- In our old bathtub (from our bathroom renovation!):
- 1 strawberry plant (never bore fruit before the squirrels ate it)
- 2 black beauty zucchini plants (large yield mid-late summer)
- In containers on the back porch:
- 6 heads of lettuce (3 varieties, large yield)
- 3 basil plants
- Other herbs: 1 rosemary, 1 oregano, and 1 cilantro
- On the ground in between beds:
- 2 compact zucchini plants (large yield mid-late summer)
- 1 compact cucumber plant (1 measly cucumber grew)
- More marigolds and sunflowers
- Finally, in the back corner, we planted a few rows of beets and carrots, a few of which grew but never flourished considering the amount of weeding/watering necessary.
Wait! Tell me about the chickens! Lastly, we started the year with 4 chickens adopted from Craiglist. Yes, true story – a woman was moving and getting rid of them so we snatched them right up after building a backyard coop. One of the chickens didn’t fare well from the beginning, and sadly we lost Octavius to an illness we couldn’t identify.
Thankfully, Eos (white with brown speckling), Felicia (red/brown), and Ms. Harrison Ford (black/gray) have been in great health all year and were producing 1 egg each everyday this summer. We are letting them take their winter nap (normal for chickens to drastically reduce laying during short days), and hoping they start back up early spring when the days begin to get longer once more.
I think this brings everything full circle, from sharing my hopeful seedlings with you back in the spring and infrequent updates. If you want to see more pictures, you can check out the #uprootgarden hashtag on Instagram where I’ve been saving photos from our backyard.