Yard Farm FAQs
If you are new to having a yard farm, here are answers to some common questions, and information about what to expect throughout the season!
When do you start building the beds?
If you place your order in the winter or very early spring, we will start constructing your raised beds as soon as possible, so that your yard farm is ready for planting as soon as weather conditions allow.
Clients who choose The Whole Enchilada package may take advantage of our Early Bird special of one free service visit by making their initial down payment by March 31, 2018! Of course, we can start work on your yard farm at any point in the season.
How long is the season?
The earliest spring crops (peas, radishes, spinach, other leafy greens) can be planted as early as mid-March. First harvests of early spring crops can begin as soon as mid-April. Most planting will take place between mid-April and early June. Most of the favorite foods (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini) can be picked in late mid to late summer. Clients interested in late fall/winter yard farming can expect to enjoy leafy greens and hardy root crops well into November and even December, depending upon the weather and level of maintenance. And so, a complete growing season can last as many as 9 to 10 months!
What's more, by growing crops that can be stored for long periods of time (winter squash, potatoes, onions, garlic, beets, carrots, cabbage, and more); and by using some simple food storage techniques (freezing and drying, for example), it is totally possible to enjoy food from the garden all year long.
Why do you plant in raised beds?
We advocate growing in raised beds, as opposed to planting at ground level. There are many reasons for this, including healthier soil, easier weed management, less soil compaction, improved drainage, and ease on the back (you don't have to bend over quite as much)!
The easiest way to manage a raised bed garden is by constructing a frame to maintain a consistent bed depth. The most cost-effective frames are built from untreated lumber--we like using 2" x 10" untreated Douglas Fir. However, if you prefer a different look (4" x 4" untreated timbers, for example, or stone, or brick) we can customize the materials used.
We fill our raised beds with a soil and compost mix from trusted small compost businesses in your area.
How many beds should I get?
We get this question a LOT. It really comes down to how many veggies and how much variety you want to have, and how much work you want to take on in the garden. Here are some helpful tips to assist you in making the decision!
Our standard raised bed size is 4 feet wide by 8 feet long (but this is customizable to your preferences). In our experience, for a family of four that cooks dinner 4 to 7 nights per week, 3 to 5 raised beds is probably a good starting point. If that same size family cooks dinner 1 to 3 times per week, 2 beds is probably sufficient.
For a single person or couple that cooks 4 to 7 nights per week, we recommend 2 to 4 beds. For a single person or couple that cooks 1 to 3 times per week, 1 to 2 beds should do the trick.
How should I choose the crops?
Garden package clients are free to choose any available crops they'd like from our Produce Options menu. Garden plants are available to customers who are not signed up for a garden package on a limited availability--please contact Amy for more details. For most crops, we offer a wide selection of crop types (or "varieties") that span the spectrum of flavors, colors, shapes, and textures. We will make recommendations to help you pick the best varieties for you, according to your culinary taste, your garden's location, and other factors. Click here to take you to our page of Produce Options! We love growing new things, so if you don't see one of your favorites, let us know, and we will try to make it available.
Will I learn how to garden?
Part of what you get with a Yard Farmer package is a built-in gardening educational program. For the DIYer package, your consultation and basic garden plan will give you the answers to questions you may have struggled with for years, and will give you an easy-to-follow planting plan, so you'll always know when to plant the next item.
For the Starter-Upper and Whole Enchilada packages, your complete garden plan will include a multitude of helpful information ranging from planting dates to pest management techniques used by the pros. Additionally, you can elect to have your own private gardening education class in place of a regular service visit, during which we can train you on hundreds of topics, from asparagus planting to zucchini blossom harvest.
How do the service visits work?
For The Whole Enchilada package, The Yard Farmer makes service visits on a regularly scheduled basis. The default service visit is one worker for one hour, in which time we will prioritize the most important tasks. Should you desire a longer service visit, all you need to do is contact us. If we recognize that more maintenance is needed, we will make the recommendation to you.
Tasks tackled during service visits are varied, but generally include irrigation, weeding, pest management (including use of organic pesticides for those clients who have signed up for this service), trellising crops that require it, fence maintenance if needed, harvesting, replanting, thinning, pruning, soil fertilization, and fall clean up (pulling out old plants and putting on a protective cover of leaves).
Following each service visit, we will email you with a report of what we accomplished, a "to-do" list of tasks and harvest tips for you, and a forecast of what we will likely work on at our next visit.
What is the cost breakdown?
Yard farming is more affordable than you might think! Many people who start gardens on their own make costly mistakes along the way, such as paying too much for supplies from the garden center, buying low-quality starter plants that don't yield much; or planting crops too early or too late, incurring wasted time and few edible vegetables. Let The Yard Farmer eliminate that waste and frustration!
If you sign up for The Whole Enchilada and two garden beds, and elect for monthly service visits, for example, your weekly cost breakdown for Year 1 will probably be in the ball park of $56 per week. In Year 2, the cost breakdown will be around $29 per week. In other words, for $29 per week, you will have your own personally-selected variety of home grown, ultra-fresh produce, right outside your door, from April all the way through December! (Cost breakdowns are based upon harvesting produce from the Yard Farm for about 35 weeks, and enjoying stored/preserved produce an additional 5 weeks.)