• My grandfather had a huge garden back in WV in the 70's and 80's. He and a neighbor gardened their back yards and a one-acre plot down on the banks of the Ohio River, where they grew corn for the truck market. He always had tons of tomatoes just from his backyard. We would eat tomatoes like apples while weeding and dozens of tomato sandwiches all summer, plus he gave tons away to the elderly neighbors and canned literally 100 Mason jars of tomato juice, 50 of stewed tomatoes and 50 of tomato sauce every year to use during the winter (he used a Mouli mill to crush the tomatoes and remove the skins for the juice and cooked some of the juice down for sauce). I'll give you his secret for tomatoes. Remove the lowest leaves and leave just one set of large ones at the top of young tomato plants (plus the small ones at the growing end, of course). Dig a trench rather than a hole, sprinkle in a teaspoon or so of bone meal and lay the young plant into the trench, then cover it with dirt up just past where you removed the leaves. Bend the plant gently so the leaves point up and pile dirt to prop it. It will grow upward on its own toward the sun in a few days and sprout new roots all along that stem and be a sturdier plant. DON'T use regular fertilizer like Miracle Grow or you'll get very lush plants and no blossoms or tomatoes. Fertilize with fruit tree fertilizer at one-quarter the strength recommended for dwarf trees. Don't forget to pinch suckers (any shoot that comes out from the stem between sets of leaves). You'll have a lovely tomato crop.

    He grew corn and beans together in a mound about 4 inches high. Plant 3 corn kernels spaced out in the center of the hill and a circle of 4 beans about halfway down the mound. When the seeds sprout and start to grow, choose the strongest corn and the strongest bean and pull the other seedlings up. Then train the bean vine around the cornstalk as they grow. Works a charm. He used Sugar and Butter or Silver Queen corn and Kentucky Wonder (green and wax) or horticulture beans (cranberry beans, October beans). He raised half-runners, too, but those were on a trellis, along with a neighboring trellis of nasturtiums for salads, a third one for strawberries and pale lavendar Clematis and deep rose pink rambling roses on both ends of the covered porch outside the daylight basement.

    We ate not only tomatoes, corn and beans from a backyard garden, but okra, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, bell peppers, eggplants (aubergine) and zucchini (courgette). He had rhubarb planted in the tree line of his plum and cherry trees and a cold frame, too, where he grew cabbages, turnips, parsnips, kale, broccoli, etc. You can get quite a good yield from a small garden. And don't forget that 2 or 3 cukes or zucchini plants will yield more than enough food for a family. Back when I was young, no one locked their car and people would often come out of the grocery to find bags of "donated" zucchini in the back seat, because everyone always grew too many. The flowers make great appetizers dipped in tempura-style batter and fried if you find you are getting behind on harvesting the zucchini or summer squash.

    New round of plants soon, I hope. Not putting holiday ones in here, as I have several gift links on the forum.