Small Backyard Gardening

Do what you can, with what you have, in the backyard available and more tips from readers.

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Ivan Kurmyshov -

My wife and I subscribe to Grit and Mother Earth News, and we enjoy both. I’ve had co-workers who’ve asked me why I subscribe to such magazines, considering I live 1/8 mile from a downtown area of 45,000 people and have a small yard. But then I read Our View, and I realized that Caitlin gardens in a small yard as well!

backyard garden with green plants in containers and raised beds

I’ve tried to make my yard into my own little “farm.” This year, we had a new neighbor move in, which caused me to finish off the yard fence. Doing that has allowed me to make the garden bigger. Next year, I’m going to do even more.

The garden is a mixture of raised beds and containers. The picture (above, center) doesn’t show the whole thing. The pumpkin plant has gotten much bigger, but it’s hidden by the corn. It has one ball on a 7-foot-long plant. This year has been terrible for gardens in Connecticut. I should get something, but nothing like past years. (We’ve had huge amounts of rain, and in the second week of June, I recorded temps of 41 degrees Fahrenheit in our yard. That’s a record, and something my tomatoes and cucumbers hated!)

This is my first year trying corn in containers. I hope the “tree rats” (squirrels) leave them alone. I’m going to cover them with bird netting. I’m also trying some heirloom ‘Cherokee Purple’ tomatoes and my old standby, ‘Defiant.’ Mixed in are cucumbers, beans, peppers, herbs, and tons of zinnias for the bees and butterflies. We give away some of our harvest to a few people who are homebound.

I’ve always dreamed of a much bigger garden. It’s frustrating when I ride my bicycle in the rural towns around me and see the massive lawns, especially now that I’m retired from my engineering job and have a lot more time for a bigger garden. But, it looks like this will be it for this life. Still, I’m not complaining. I love my tiny farm.
Jim M.

GRIT Paper Route Memories

I’ve been wanting to write for a long time to tell you how much I enjoy and learn from Grit. I was a Grit paper girl years ago, having inherited the route from my dear brother. The income allowed me to purchase school supplies, books, and, at times, those 45 records. (Back then, they were about 50 cents at the 5-and-10 store.) I met many lovely people through my Grit deliveries whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

black and white photo of Grit newspaper from 1957
Thank you again for a wonderful publication and cherished memories.

H. Sterns

Additional Shooting Tips

I enjoyed every page of the March/April 2021 issue. I especially enjoyed the egg recipes (“Egg-cellent Eats“), but this is to address a few thoughts about the article “Make Every Shot Count.”

The first thing I learned about accurate shooting is the importance of making the weapon fit the shooter. If you’re getting a handgun, make sure it fits your hands. If you’re getting a rifle or shotgun, make sure the pull length and comb height are proper. When hunting, never take shots at running animals, and never take a shot longer than you’ve practiced for. Also, when hunting with a long gun, make sure you’re shooting from a solid rest, such as shooting sticks, a backpack, a rock, or a tree.

The last thing I want to mention is proper stance. Make sure your feet are set about shoulder-width apart. I always like my left foot forward, pointing toward the target, as I’m a right-handed shooter.
Thanks for a great magazine and great articles.
Jim Sharp
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Jim, thank you for the additional information. Readers, if you’re not familiar with firearm terminology, the length of the pull is the distance from the trigger to where the firearm’s stock rests against your shoulder. The comb is the top portion of the stock, where you rest your cheek. You can modify these areas to get the best fit for your personal use. – Grit Editors

Great Gardening Vest

In response to “Gloves On” in the July/August 2021 issue, I want to tell you that I received a gardener’s vest for Christmas last year. It’s actually designed by someone who gardens! It has snaps, buckles, pockets that are water-resistant, and the works! For years, I’ve been losing tools, seed packets, tissues, gloves, etc. Not anymore. The vest came from Duluth Trading Company. I don’t know how I lived without it.
Holly Areeda
Sebec, Maine

Looking For Pen Pal, QSL Cards, Buttons and Empty CD Cases

Pen Pal
I’m a 64-year-old man in a nursing home in a small town in Texas. My interests are cooking, gardening, bicycles, and anything with a motor.
Carl Long
409 S Files St.
Itasca, TX 76055

QSL Cards
I would like to collect shortwave radio broadcast QSL cards from around the world. If anyone would like to share with me, I will reimburse shipping.
Mike Parrish
305 West Ridge Drive
Nicholasville, KY 40356

I’m looking for buttons for my granddaughter, who wants to collect them.
Laura Slabaugh
5959 Curtis Middlefield Road
West Farmington, OH 44491

Empty CD Cases
I’m looking for CD cases for a storage project. I hate to be picky, but I can’t use the slim ones; I need the kind that are about ½ inch thick. I don’t need the CDs, and I can’t use any cases that are cracked or have broken hinges. I can’t guarantee repayment of postage, but I will try, depending on the response I get. I’d appreciate any help from this wonderful community!
Shelly Allisot
14 Tufton St.
Brunswick, ME 04011

Indispensable Tools

I loved reading “Gloves On” in the July/August 2021 issue. I have two indispensable tools around my acre of happiness. I have the type of hoe that most everyone uses to get weed clumps from their gardens, but I also use a claw with the long handle – like people use to grasp things on higher shelves – to pick up the clumps and put them in a wheelbarrow. This way, I don’t have to kneel or bend much. And when canning season arrives, I use welding gloves to place and remove the racks of jars from the hot water bath. I can’t remember the last time I got scalded with a stray boiling splash.

I love reading Grit cover to cover. Keep up the great work.
Matt S.
Seaford, Virginia

Wear a Hat

Regarding “Gloves On” in the July/August 2021 issue, my advice is to always wear a hat, no matter the time of day! Sunscreen and sunglasses come off easily when I sweat – which I do all summer long – and a hat is my only protection from the sun for my skin and eyes. I also find gloves a must, as the dirt and clay kill my skin. The other tools I can’t do without are a small handheld prong-hoe and a 5-gallon bucket for weeds and picked fruit and veggies.

garden tools and straw hat hanging on wooden wall

Like Caitlin, I use my fingers to feel weeds, soil textures, and more. It takes a little while to get the “feel” with gloves, but it does happen. I can’t do yard work without them now, and I have about 25 to 30 pairs in my garden supply area. There are so many types; find the one that works best for you and your job.
Karen Schneider
Uxbridge, Massachusetts

Share Your Memories

We welcome letters from our readers. If you’d like to comment on an article, share your opinions, or submit a “Looking For,” send us an email (with photos, if available) to, or send a letter to: Grit Mail Call, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. Electronic submissions are more likely to receive a timely response.

  • Updated on Oct 8, 2021
  • Originally Published on Oct 7, 2021
Tagged with: backyard farm, buttons, container garden, hunting, vegetables
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