Ask a Question forum: backyard vegetable garden

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Oct 30, 2016 2:01 PM CST
Looking for advice I'm turning my backyard ,small backyard, into a productive vegetable garden to grow my vegetables for summer and winter this is located in the Southern Oregon area Grants Pass
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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Oct 30, 2016 2:29 PM CST
For this fall and winter, I'd advise you get hold of as much organic material as you can to amend your soil with. Spread leaves, grass clippings, and other compost-able materials all over the area you want to plant. Then plan to beg, borrow or rent a roto-tiller in the spring to turn it all into the soil.

Compost is the gold standard for growing veggies anywhere. Check with your County landfill to see if they have a composting program. We have one here and they give away the compost free, except you have to load and transport it yourself. In Salt Lake City where I help my daughter with her garden they also have a great composting program, charge $25 for a pickup truck load and they have a front-end loader that will at least load it in the truck for you.

Look critically at the area and ask yourself if there are any trees too close by. First, you need full sun all day so you don't want shade, but the most critical thing is that the trees will have roots out as far or farther than the branches reach. If your vegetable garden is within reach of tree roots, the trees will "invade" your rich, moist vegetable garden in a very short time. They'll steal water and nutrients to a point where your veggies won't stand a chance. You may be reduced to growing your veggies in containers if the tree roots are in the area. (I have this problem, and now grow all my veggies in Earth Boxes raised up on cinder blocks)

A line of trees, a tall fence or a building on the north side of a garden can help a lot to extend your growing/harvest season (as long as the trees are far enough away). They'll protect your garden from the cold winds of the first few cold fronts of the season. The longer the soil can stay warm, the longer your plants will survive and keep bearing goodies.

Think about installing a micro-irrigation system. It's the best way to water as well as being water-efficient and also flexible so if you change your design, or need more water in an area it's easy to add or reduce the flow to one set of plants, a row or a whole section. The materials are inexpensive and available at Lowe's or HD (I personally prefer the brand that Lowe's carries). Overhead sprinklers waste a lot of water, throwing it up into the air where some of it evaporates before it comes back down. Low-flow micro sprinklers can be adjusted to only water where you want them to. If you invest in a timer, you'll never forget to water your vegetables and even can go away for a vacation with confidence that you won't come back to dead plants. Always water early in the morning to reduce evaporation, and also help prevent fungal infections on some plants that happen if they go through the night with wet leaves.

Get your irrigation water tested! You can do it yourself with an aquarium or pool test kit, or your County Extension service can also usually do this. The pH of your water is critical to how well your plants can take up nutrients that they need to grow and produce.

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Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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Oct 30, 2016 4:56 PM CST
Good information from @dyzzypyxxy. Thumbs up

Okay, you said "backyard, small backyard" but that has different meanings to different people. What size garden (in square feet, square yards or acres) do you wish to make? Sometimes it helps us to give better answers if we can see a photo of the area where the garden will be situated.

What kind of vegetables do you want to grow? There is a gardening calendar here on NGA. I typed in Grant's Pass, Oregon to find this:
Your exact location may be slightly different due to micro-climate so please check using your zip code.

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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
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Oct 30, 2016 6:53 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @Mrgreen !

Good for you, for wanting to start a veggie garden!! Elaine offered very good advice above... I would just add: if this is your first attempt at veggie gardening, don't get completely carried away with the size of the garden or the number of different things that you are trying to grow, because that can be very frustrating. And don't plant things so close together that you have trouble getting around in the garden to tend the plants. Give your plants the room that they need to grow well... some things, like carrots and beets, usually need to be thinned out after the plants are a few inches tall; it can be hard to make yourself pull out those nice baby plants, but in the long run you will be happy that you did. And don't forget to give your plants some fertilizer.

I hope you will join us on the "vegetables and fruits" forum ( ) and let us know how you are doing with your new venture! Smiling
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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Oct 30, 2016 7:04 PM CST Admin

Excellent advice.

Also, I want to suggest that you check out our Vegetable Gardening Guide at

It's loaded with excellent tutorials on how to grow pretty much every kind of vegetable.
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Oct 31, 2016 7:08 AM CST
If you don't have at least 6 hours of full sun, forget it. Grow shade plants. I'm struggling with 6 hours and with the neighbors' trees growing taller it gets harder every year.

This year my corn never grew higher than 3 feet, I got few tomatoes, no cukes or melons, and barely enough beans for a side dish once a week.

I looked into community gardens but there are none within 10 miles of me.

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