Three years ago we decided to grow vegetables in our back yard. We bought a large amount of garden dirt and had an endless supply of free 5-gallon buckets from our neighbor whose family runs a pickle business.
The results the first year were disappointing, we started late- the plants were stunted and low producing, and we were plagued by pests. But we learned a lot in the process.
Year two we started early and stayed on top of the pests, we also had ~50% more dirt since I mixed in a lot of compost with the previous year’s dirt… I applied beneficial nematodes to kill off many of the pests that had plagued us (especially flea beetles) but again the plants started of stunted- finally I checked the ph of the water we were using and found it was a ph of 8.5- I started adding phosphoric acid to lower it to ~6… and the garden exploded. With regular doses of neem oil, BT, and other natural pest control methods we had more vegetables than we could keep and eat. just ONE of our many cherry tomato plants produced nearly 50feet of vine with countless tomatoes.
THIS year we have ~30% more dirt, we are starting a little late with the seedlings but it shouldn’t be too bad… I just finished mixing hundreds of gallons of dirt with 30% finished compost and adding fertilizer. I will be using actinovate on all the soil (its a bacteria that attacks harmful fungus- we had signs of fusarium fungus last year on our tomatoes), we will plant squash and other plants in the dirt that had the tomatoes last year to hopefully avoid the fusarium getting out of control.
I also have a large pressure cooker to can what we can’t eat.
Hopefully this year will be a bumper crop! We have ~200 seedlings started a couple weeks ago and all look healthy- tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, melon, zucchini and other squash, strawberries, lettuce, mustard, other greens and herbs, beans, peas, carrots beets and radishes, corn and even a couple passion fruit plants…