Grow a Garden!

A ripe tomato on a fencepost, cover art for HOMEGROWN: Your Backyard Garden Podcast

How to grow your own vegetables - even if you have no room for a garden - here on  HOMEGROWN: Your Backyard Garden Podcast. If you have a sunny spot in your yard, or a patio or balcony, you can grow some of your own food.

I’m so excited to welcome you to the first episode of HOMEGROWN: Your Backyard Garden Podcast!

I’m your host, Kathi Rodgers, and together we’ll explore growing a successful vegetable garden, no matter where you live.

Let’s dig in!

Did you start a garden during the lockdown? So many of us had all that time on our hands, and supply chain issues contributed to that rise in gardening too. 

Or maybe you live in a rented house, or an apartment with a balcony, or a home with a tiny yard or even just a patio to call your own.

Whether your spare time garden was a success or not, you might not have continued once your world was back to normal (or what we now call normal). In other words, you don’t have as much time now.

Maybe your balcony or patio garden was a total failure, and you wonder what you did wrong. 

I want to encourage you to try again! You’ll find encouragement here, plus tips and secrets on growing the best garden ever. 

From when to plant, how much to water, how to fight insect pests (and rabbits and raccoons and other non-insect pests) without using chemicals, and more, you’ll find help here at HOMEGROWN: Your Backyard Garden Podcast.

And if you don’t have a backyard - just a balcony or a patio or even just a windowsill, you’re sure to find help and inspiration here too.

If your back-to-busy life leaves you with little time to call your own - and honestly, doesn’t life seem even busier now? - we’ll explore some quick tips and ways to fit gardening into your life.

Growing your own food - or at least some of it - helps to fight inflation too!

A white bucket full of homegrown tomatoes and assorted peppers
Gardening is great therapy - and you get vegetables!

To celebrate our first episode, I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself as your host and to encourage you to start your own garden, even if you’ve tried before and not been successful. Even if you don’t think you have room for a garden.

Listen, you don’t need a huge farm - you don’t even need an acre of land -  to grow at least some of your own food. You can do this, no matter where you live.

This might be our first chance to get to know each other and I’m excited to be here.

I’m Kathi, the gardener behind the blog Oak Hill Homestead, where I’ve been helping gardeners grow food for more than 17 years. 

I know, right? That was back in the dinosaur days of the internet!

I’m also a wife, a mom, and a grandma. Believe it or not, my husband and I have been married for 49 years.

I didn’t have a garden mentor, although I grew up with several part-time gardeners in my life. My grandmother had a small garden but I wasn’t involved in the day-to-day, I just happened to be visiting when she picked tomatoes. They were delicious!

She was a good example, but I wasn’t around enough for her to be my teacher or my mentor.

My dad loved his yard and his flowers, but again I wasn't involved in the yard work. One year he and I grew a tomato patch in the backyard, which was very successful and very delicious, but we only did it once, which was a shame because those tomatoes were really, really good! 

But my dad and my grandmother did introduce me to the magic of growing things, and that’s how my interest in gardening began.

A woman's hand holding a green tomato
Waiting can be the hard part. This tomato is taking its own sweet time to turn red.

For many years my only plants were houseplants though, as my husband and I moved around the country on military orders. Apartments, base housing, and eventually rental houses … and then, after he retired from the military, we moved from parsonage to parsonage for a few more years.

Our little family moved about every two years, and I literally stopped counting when we made our 30th move. No, I’m not kidding.

Sometimes I had a tomato plant in a bucket or chives in a pot on the porch. One parsonage had an asparagus bed. Let me tell you, fresh asparagus bears no resemblance to mushy canned asparagus. It’s SO GOOD! 

I hated asparagus as a kid - but when I tasted that homegrown asparagus, well, there’s no comparison.

When we finally bought our first house, I had a full-time job and an hour-long commute. The Chief (that’s what we call my husband because of his military service) worked 16-18 hour days, we had two children, his mother lived with us for awhile, and well, my life was super stressful. 

I started having some health issues… and I ended up in a neurologist’s office. He told me my issues were caused by stress, or as he put it, “it’s just stress.”

Just stress. That's a good diagnosis in the grand scheme of things, but stress is really nothing to laugh at either, right?

He recommended that I find a hobby - as though I had time for a hobby! - something that I did for myself, something to look forward to, something that could make the stress go away for a while.

Nowadays we’d call it “self-care” but that wasn’t a thing back then.

Well, it was spring, we had a backyard, and I dug up a little patch of dirt between the garage and the fence, and I planted tomatoes.

I’m not sure how they survived - the soil was awful, and I can’t even remember if it was in full sun or full shade. I didn’t know what I was doing. 

But I poured myself into that little garden patch - and it was such a blessing.

A yellow swallowtail butterfly on a branch of apple blossoms
Just being outdoors and working in the garden relieves stress and helps fight depression.

It really did help. I learned how to relax, and to let the cares of the world slip away for a while. I’d go back in the house in a much better frame of mind.

And then there were the vegetables. The sense of pride you feel when you serve food you grew yourself in your own backyard - is priceless.

And I’ve been a gardener ever since.

I love teaching and encouraging new gardeners - and experienced gardeners too - to grow healthy food and also to harvest peace and satisfaction from their gardens.

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I encourage you to do what you can, where you are, with what you have. I honestly think that’s my favorite part about gardening: to encourage others and to help you find solutions to the hurdles you face.

I know you can do it. I know it might be hard, it might be really hot outside, it might be more than you think you can do physically, you might think it will take more time and money than you have, but I know you can do it. 

Yes, money is an issue. Isn’t it always, no matter what new hobby or project you start? 

I DIY what I can, and I know you can do that too. I recommend starting small and adding more garden space or containers or raised garden beds over time, as you can afford it. 

I’ll be sharing money-saving tips along the way too. I’ve grown sweet potatoes in cardboard boxes and strawberries in big rubber feed tubs from the local feed store. I grew potatoes in an old pink bathtub one year.

We’ll figure it out together!

Sweet potato vines growing in cardboard boxes
While starting a garden can be expensive, if you know how some tips and secrets you can get started at little cost. These sweet potato vines are growing in heavy-duty cardboard boxes. Learn more here.

And that’s what we’ll be talking about in future episodes of HOMEGROWN: Your Backyard Garden Podcast

We’ll talk about how to get started with your own garden, and about alternatives to a traditional in-the-ground garden, if you don’t have a lot of space. 

Growing a vegetable garden might seem daunting, but there are plenty of plants that are easy to grow, even for beginners. 

We’ll figure out what will grow best in your climate, and when to plant them. 

We’ll talk about how to squeeze gardening into your already busy life and how to find the less-expensive options when it comes to soil and supplies.

You might not have grown up with a gardening guru, or have a friend or neighbor to teach you the ins and outs and the secrets of growing food - but you can still learn - and I’d love to help you.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll subscribe to this podcast so you won’t miss a single episode. Share with your friends too.  Leaving a review would be awesome! 

I’d love to keep in touch with you too. You’ll find me on my blog, Oak Hill Homestead, on Facebook, and on Instagram

Thank you for tuning in today, and I’ll see you here next time on Homegrown: Your Backyard Garden Podcast.

Ripe tomato on a fencepost: cover art for HOMEGROWN: Your backyard garden podcast


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