How to turn our Urban backyard into a garden?

We live in the city, Lexington, KY and we have grown tomatoes and cucumbers, but most recently tried growing everything from seed. I even tested the soil which was approximately a Ph of 6.5. Some things grew and others did not. I had some problems with pests and rodents eating the plants and vegetables, but we do not want to spray pesticides, etc. that would be harmful to the land. So the garden was not very fruitful.


It is now January 2010 and I am already thinking about getting the garden ready. We want to be as self reliant as possible. How do I successfully start growing a garden from seed? When do I need to start? Where is the best place to get my seeds? Is there anything I can do make this a more successful year?

Sorry for so many questions. Any help/direction you could provide would be extremely helpful and most appreciative!

Thanks!

JD

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Urban Gardening in Kentucky
by: Sue Merriam

To successfully start seeds indoors, You will need both light and warmth for your seeds to get off to their best start. I always use an indoor greenhouse with Jiffy pellets and have had good success. Keep your greenhouse in a sunny, south window or use a grow light to ensure adequate light. Also, to make sure your seeds stay warm, you can invest in a propagation mat for less than $30. A propagation mat is a water-proofed heating pat that keeps your seeds at the best temperature for growth.

As for when to start your seeds, that always depends on the type of plant you want to grow and where you are located. Since you live in Lexington, KY, you are in the Zone 6 Hardiness area. I found a wonderful, free book online about home vegetable gardening in Kentucky. In it (on page 10), they have a list of different plants, and when to start seeds indoors.

The best place to get seeds that I know of is Johnny's Seeds. They are recommended by Steve Solomon, author of Gardening When it Counts.
Solomon grew and sold seeds for many years, and has always been impressed by the quality of Johnny's Seeds. I have been impressed with them as well and prefer buying my seeds from them.

As far as a more successful gardening year goes, if possible, I would recommend you invest in beehive. But before getting your hive, be sure and find a local beekeepers association, join it and ask lots of questions. Not only will they give you lots of helpful advice, they will know whether you can keep bees in your urban setting.
One local group in Lexington is the Bluegrass Beekeepers Association, but for others reading this post, you can find a beekeepers association in your area by doing a Google search. Type in your state and beekeepers association, and you ought to be able to a find a group in your area pretty quickly.

I am convinced that the reason gardens aren't as successful as they used to be is because the wild bees have become virtually extinct due to pesticides, spraying and colony collapse disorder. So if you can, do your part for the environment and help your garden be the best it can be by learning about and keeping bees.

Here's hoping that this spring will bring about the best and most productive gardening ever!

Sue


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