How was your first year of growing your own food? Did you at least have a few successes?
And did some things simply not work out? That’s okay. Really! At least you tried.
Whenever you try something new, you have to be prepared for not everything going well or according to plan. After all, our plants are growing in some challenging conditions!
The important thing here is to learn from what worked and didn’t work. What small successes you did have hopefully bolstered your confidence.
And even when you think you’ve got it figured out, something happens with the weather or you make a mistake and you have problems.
It still happens to me every year!
Problems are there to be solved. And focussing on solutions is what it’s all about.
So now what? Your heading into your second year and wondering:
- how do I overcome last year’s challenges and failures?
- how do I grow more to feed my family?
- what other varieties of veggies and fruit could I try?
- what do I need to build to improve growing conditions?
- how can I make caring for my plants easier?
Preparing for year two - 3 actionable steps to make your second year better
This will improve your garden more than you may think!
With the right planning, you’ll maximize your growing space even if it’s tiny, have less problems and get better harvests, which is your end goal.
Planning doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some resources to help you:
Want to get your kids involved too? They can have their own section of your garden or their own self-contained garden planter box and plan out their veggie garden in a fun and easy way.
And you are going to also want to go away on vacation, perhaps when your garden is in full growing mode. Here is a guide on how you can go away and still have your garden cared for:
Perennial plants are plant-once, harvest every year types of veggies and fruit.
They save you time and money in that you don’t need to seed and transplant them every year. And you can usually get greater harvests from perennial plants as they are more established.
What are some of the most common ones?
Veggies: asparagus, artichoke, rhubarb, walking onions, sunchokes, horseradish, plus some fruiting vegetables that can continue to produce the following year(s) if kept frost-free in winter
Fruit: almost all fruit is perennial including berries, stone fruit (peaches, plums), apples, pears, bananas, citrus (lemons)
The reason I include this step here is that most perennial veggies and fruit need some time to establish. So the sooner you plant them, the sooner you will be able to harvest. This is especially important for fruit trees.
Definitely include perennial plants in your planning as once you’ve planted them, you don’t want to move them. In some cases you can move perennial plants but then you may lose one season’s harvest as the plant re-established itself in the new location.
Once you have planted your perennials it’s important to take care of them. While you don’t need to replant every year, you do need to make sure they are fed and have adequate water as well as taking care of them during the dormant period in winter.
Here are some articles to give you an idea of the easy maintenance that you can easily do in just a few minutes on the weekend:
Build your first permanent raised bed
Maybe in your first year you went ahead and purchased a fabric, soft-sided planting bed. These are great for starting but if you want to be serious about growing lots of food, you may need to build some permanent raised beds.
The best way to do so is to purchase the Family Raised Bed Garden eBook. This eBook goes over all the steps needed from site preparation to final harvest and maintaining your beds over the years. And it includes the fully-illustrated step-by-step construction guide to build your first raised bed even if you’re not experienced working with wood and tools.
And I’ve included some other bonuses not available elsewhere such as 5 Raised Bed Layouts for different shaped spaces, a Site Preparation Worksheet and a Vegetable Planning Worksheet.
And the good thing is you can start with just one bed and then expand and add more beds as your time and money allows.
You also have the option of buying a kit instead of buying the lumber and building your own.
Here is a kit I would recommend. I’ve listed the 4’x8′ kit but they also have other sizes if those would fit your space easier.
You may still though want to purchase the eBook mentioned above to get all the other info you’d need even when purchasing the raised bed kit.
What do I need to buy?
In your first year you probably didn’t want to spend too much money on tools and other garden things. If you want to get more serious about growing more, you probably will need some extra tools and invest in your growing garden.
Check out my buying guide of the 15 Special Gardening Tools That You Will Find Helpful [Buying Guide] for others tools that you may need as you expand your growing efforts. You can either shop online on Amazon with the supplied links or at your local nursery, garden centre or even big box store/home improvement store.
You may also want to give the seeding square a try. This is perfect for spacing out plants neatly in a raised bed garden. Learn more here in my review: Seeding Square Product Review: A Useful Tool For Square Foot Gardening
Easier Garden maintenance
So now your probably thinking: “But if I expand and grow more food, that’s going to take a lot of extra time and work, time I don’t have in my busy life taking care of my family.”
Instead of focussing on the problem of more work and less time, let’s look at some solutions that will give you back time and let you focus on what matters most to you: your family!
Your plants need water. Ideally it would rain regularly and you wouldn’t have to worry about this. But in many regions, summers are dry and you might not get any decent rainfall for weeks and sometimes months.
And your plants need at least 1″ (2.5cm) of water a week. You could just hand-water everything with a watering can or hose when you just have a few containers or planters or one raised bed.
But the moment you expand to more planting areas, you’ll find watering to be too time-consuming. So we need to find ways to automate watering and make it less work.
My article on different watering systems gives you all the options so you can choose one that works best for you.
For beginners, investing in a drip irrigation system makes the most sense and here is the one I recommend:
A lot can be done to minimize the time you spend doing what most gardeners and homesteaders despise: weeding!
No need to spend all of your time on the weekend pulling weeds and wondering where the time went!
Start off with my guide to weeds and finding the best time to weed your garden: The Best Time To Weed Your Garden: Natural Weed Control Made Easier
And if you really want to reduce the weeds that grow in your beds, consider adding mulch. Mulch has other benefits as well (including less watering) so be sure to read: 7 Benefits of Mulch You’ll Get When You Add It Right Now
Need More Help?
Do you need more help? Here are some additional resources that will help you stay on track and keep that motivation going in your second year! Remember YOU’VE GOT THIS!
Do you learn best watching someone else?
Did you know I have a YouTube channel?
Subscribe today and learn tips and techniques from how-to videos. Also join me on regular homestead tours to get inspiration and motivation!
JOIN THE FREE FACEBOOK GROUP
Join a community of others just like you to share experiences and get inspired to grow food!
Click here to answer a few simple questions and request to join the Healthy Fresh Homegrown Facebook group. You’ll usually be approved in one to two days and then you can introduce yourself and start interacting.
GET the best HELP
Going into your second year of growing food can be overwhelming! So much new stuff to think about and it’s easy to get behind.
That’s why I created Seed to Table, the monthly membership for families growing food at home.