I have to tell you I am a country girl at heart. That is saying a lot, considering I was born and raised a city girl. In my world meat came from the grocery store. My only experience with gardening was being sent to Grandma's house to weed (and occasionally glean) the garden. It wasn't until I married a country boy (who had come to the city to work and attend school) that I gained an appreciation. It was quite an education to realize that you can grow and hunt your own meat, and that vegetables don't miraculously sprout on their own. It has taken a few years (and I'm still not all that crazy about wild game....shh! Don't tell my husband), but I love being able to grow and can my own vegetables.
When we bought our first house, we planted our first real garden. It was huge; mainly because the yard was lacking in lawn, and growing a garden on half the lot was cheaper than covering it in sod. We had also drained our savings purchasing our (very little) house of dreams, and growing our food was much more economical than buying it. Unfortunately, as our little brood increased we quickly out grew our starter home. Dear Hubby and I decided to buy a house that our family could grow up in close to schools, and work. Our house has fit the bill, except for the yard(it is not very big). It has made gardening a little more challenging.
I have learned that you have to use all available space:
I am lousy at growing flowers (I kill them), so I planted tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries in my flower beds. I also have discovered that even though landscaping fabric is not the most frugal option it is definitely my friend (and it can be rolled up at the end of the season and be saved to use the next year).
In areas of the garden where the plants won't fill in and choke out the weeds; black landscaper's fabric cuts down on the weeding, big time! Roll it out, and stake it down or hold it down with pieces of wood or landscaping pavers (which I got at a discount at the Home Improvement store, because they were chipped). If you notice the white plastic pipe and sprinkler heads along the fence; Dear Hubby rigged a sprinkler system to easily water the garden.
Cut out holes where you want to plant your veggies. Pots help keeps the plastic blowing away in the wind, and they are great for planting herbs in.
Pieces of fence stretched between fence posts make great trellis' for beans, winter squash, cucumbers, and melons. Anything that vines can be trellised. Two years ago I trellised banana squash, and I had an 18 pound squash that hung off the fence with out falling off. It was amazing!!! If your accident prone or have kids (that would be me on both counts) cut a slit in old tennis balls and place over the tops of the fence posts to protect against potential accidents.
As you have probably noticed the garden runs along the backyard fence. To utilized my garden space I use the Square Foot Gardening method in areas where I want to grow smaller plants, like carrots, beets, spinach, onions, and lettuce. The landscaping pavers divide out the areas I have planted, and giving me some place to stand when I am weeding or gleaning the garden( they also act as a weed barrier). Our main garden space is 5 feet x 175 feet. I am able to grow enough produce in it to feed my family, the neighbors, and can enough to tide us over in the winter. This year I have planted: tomatoes, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, yellow summer squash, zucchini squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, cucumbers, green beans, broccoli, beets, carrots, onions, spinach, leaf lettuce, basil, parsley, dill, and basil.