Things you need to know about starting your own backyard garden

The Early evening news on KOTA Territory TV
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 8:09 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Whether you are a gardening expert or new to growing your own food, knowing which crops to plant and when is the key to success if you are planning on a bountiful harvest.

The first step of backyard gardening is knowing what zone you live in. The Black Hills are mostly zone 4 with a few pockets of zone 5 mixed in. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location.

The second step is knowing when to start seeding.

“I wouldn’t recommend much before the middle of April, the last part of April.” Tim Sime from Jolly Lane Greenhouse stated. “If they start too early, they end up a tall leggy plant, it’s not real strong stemmed and stuff, you don’t really gain just because its 12 inches tall instead of 4 inches tall when you go to the garden.”

If you plan to start early cold weather crops are the way to go. Some cold-season crops include:

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Radishes
  • Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Arugula
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kohlrabi
  • Potatoes

While not all crops do well in our zone due to the length of our growing season there is a variety of items that will do well.

“Your perennial items like asparagus and strawberry plants do very well around her. Onions, potatoes and beans, and peas, radishes, and carrots and ... just about the whole realm of things that we would normally want to plant we can do quite well with,” Sime said.

If you are a renter who dreams of cultivating a garden, there are options available to you.

“Planting in containers is a totally viable situation and acceptable situation. Sometimes you want to make sure that you have a large enough container to support that plant’s moisture needs when it finally does get large. I mean obviously one of the biggest things in containers is probably tomato plants,” Sime said.

Sime adds that it is trial and error when it comes to gardening no matter how long you’ve lived in the Black Hills.