Turn your backyard into a GROWcery store

Published 4:42 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shelby County Extension agent Nelson Wynn said he receives calls every week from people seeking to turn their backyard into their own personal grocery store.

“With the economic situation we’re in, a lot of people are looking for ways to cut costs,” Wynn said. “They want to know planting dates and tips for vegetables they’ve never planted before.”

To assist novice gardeners, and those looking to expand, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System planned a Home Grown Gardening Workshop for Saturday, March 28 at the Alabama Green Industry Training Center located at the North Shelby Library.

The workshop aims to teach basic gardening tips. Extension agents and master gardeners will discuss soil and plant nutrition, vegetable and herb garden basics, techniques for raised bed and container gardening, and edible landscaping.

“Fruit trees, for example, have pretty foliage like any other tree, plus they can be useful by providing the fruit your family needs to eat to remain healthy,” he said.

Wynn said people assume gardening is difficult.

“Most people find it hard because they try to do too much,” Wynn said. “Anyone would hate gardening if they started out having to spend three to four hours in it every day.”

Wynn said a small garden might take just three hours of maintenance a week.

For someone with little to know green space, Wynn suggests raised bed or container gardening.

“You know how they make the houses now; you don’t often have a huge backyard,” Wynn said. “But we’ve had more than enough tomatoes before out of a five–gallon bucket.”

Wynn encourages first–time gardeners to focus on vegetables their family really loves. He said it wouldn’t make sense to grow three rows of broccoli if only one person loves it. He said proper planning helps you obtain the largest benefit from the smallest amount of work.

The workshop will run from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. with lunch included in the $15 cost of the program. Registration for the workshop has passed, although Wynn said there should be space for those interested. Lunch would not be available for anyone not registered.