This article was written from notes taken at a webinar presented by Jason Matyas and Rob Wokaty

Grow Your Own FoodThis is the time to begin planning your spring garden. Beyond Off Grid presented a webinar filled with answers to many questions you might have about growing your own food. There are four major constraints: planning factors, how much can you grow, how much can you expect to produce, and how to handle preserving the harvest. These things need to be considered before the first shovel of soil has been turned over.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Get a soil test to determine the pH (acidity) and the organic matter content.
  • Which way does the space face? Southwest facing beds get the most sun, warm earlier in the season and stay warm longer during the day.
  • How many hours of sunlight does the space get full sun? Pay attention to shade cast by trees and buildings.
  • What is around the growing space? Is there shade? Is there nutrient competition?
  • What about availability of water? How will you get it to your plants?
  • The space available will determine the style of gardening you do: rows, square foot, vertical towers.
  • What is the growing season length?  The difference between the date of the last spring frost and the first fall frost is your growing season. This varies with elevation and latitude, and will determine which plant varieties you should grow.
  • Do you know how to extend the growing season in your area? Cold frames help.
  • How much harvest can you expect? Some plants are one timers, and others are multi-bearing. Does what you plant have more than one edible part? Did you know that sweet potato leaves are edible?
  • What vegetables and fruit do you like to eat? Plant them.
  • When selecting fruit trees be sure to determine how many chill hours are required to encourage fruit to set. Make sure you have that many chill  hours in your area.
  • Assuming the best results, what will you do with the abundance you have grown?
  • What about pests both insect and animals? Can you protect what you plant?

A successful garden will require thinking through these questions. Don’t panic, it’s good for your brain.

This information packed webinar can be accessed at the website: There are many others scheduled. Feel free to sign up to attend.

Billie Nicholson, Editor
Updated March 2017

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