Having a small garden in our backyard can be fun, rewarding, and healthy. Not only does it help us consume more fruits and vegetables, it gets us more active and involved in the backyard while allowing the backyard to flourish with produce we grew ourselves. Simultaneously, it teaches us the skill of growing our own food independently and can be beneficial and exciting for the whole family! There are numerous crops we can grow in the backyard; the decision is entirely up to you! Choose vegetables that are enjoyed by the family, that way the everyone stays motivated to upkeep the garden. But it's always fun to plant something new to taste. You never know, you might discover your new favorite vegetable! Having the entire family partake in backyard gardening is fun and easy! First, choose a spot in the garden that has the most sunlight during the day. It's important that we choose a nice sunny spot because most crops need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day to thrive. Crops that love the sun include tomatoes, sugar snap peas, kale, corn, beets, carrots, radishes and much more. It's also fun to grow herbs such as mint, dill and rosemary, likewise, those herbs thrive off sunlight. Next, it's important that we use good soil for growing vegetables because soil provides the essential nutrients that vegetables need to thrive. The local nursery will be able to provide information on good soil to use. however the best soil suitable for growing vegetables should include mostly compost and organic matter. The next step is very fun for kids to do and it includes planting the seeds. Gardens can be big or small, in the ground or in a pot, and even in a recycled container with a hole drilled for drainage. Environmentally friendly fun tip: used disposable coffee cups (or any plastic cup that would likely be thrown away) work excellent for potting vegetables! Simply cut a hole on the bottom of the cup for drainage. Regardless of where or how we decide to plant our vegetables, dig a hole small enough to place the seeds (about the depth of your pinky knuckle). If desired, depending on the size of the pot, plant up to 3-4 seeds. It's important that the seeds have just enough space for the roots to grow and thrive. If you decide to plant in a recycled cup, no more than 2 seeds should be planted.
Lastly, maintenance! It's important to be consistent with your garden, a little love will go a long way. Make sure you check your garden at least once a day because some crops need more water than others, especially on a hot day. Remember what plants need to grow: seeds, soil, water, sun, air, and just a little bit of love.
Need more gardening help? Contact UC Master Gardener Program helpline firstname.lastname@example.org. For youth garden education activities the UC Hansen education team at email@example.com is ready to help.