Well, growing your own food isn't as simple as it sounds. There's a lot more to it than just sticking some seeds in the ground and standing back.

A few things that I've learned about growing food in the past few years here in the Pacific Northwest:

That old farmer was right: you need to do everything when it needs to be done, not when it's convenient.

The condition of the soil is 90% of the battle. Poor soil = poor crops. If a Depression started right after Christmas, I would be SOL.

The soil test shows some nutrients are missing. I need to grow more cover crops like clover to add nitrogen, and add lime to raise the calcium level and the pH.

Beans really will grow up corn stalks. The corn was poor due to nutrient deficiency (they take more nitrogen than practically any other crop), but the Romano pole beans were wonderful.

I think I've got the corn planting thing figured out: plant the early kind when the soil temp is at least 65F three inches deep, then 10 days later plant the mid-season kind, then 10 days later plant the late-season kind.

Asparagus are a pain to plant, but they can produce for over 25 years.

Don't try growing strawberries unless you have a good supply of Sluggo or other non-toxic iron phosphate-based killer. Same for lettuce.

Artichokes can be grown here as perennials -- the guy who told me to mulch them heavily with ground bark knew his stuff.

Homegrown carrots are totally superior to store carrots. Fence them off next time so the dog doesn't do the harvesting.

Blueberries also do well here. Again, fence them off next time so the dog doesn't do the harvesting. And the chickens will chase the dog off and then jump straight up and grab the berries. That explains why there were no berries less than three feet off the ground last year...

If you grow pole beans on supports other than corn, put up the supports even before you plant the beans. Having to tear them apart, cut off the tops and wind them around supports when they're half-grown is a PITA, and they don't produce well afterwards. (Dummy!)

Bush beans need to be picked all at the same time (good for freezing or processing), but pole beans produce gradually so you can have them fresh over a longer season.

Don't plant cucumbers that close together again -- there wasn't enough room on the trellis.

Eight Butternut squash plants planted in improved soil can produce about 50 viable squashes.

Investigate drip irrigation... handwatering takes too long and probably isn't as effective. Remember those poor watermelons.

If you grow sunflowers for seeds, put paper bags over their heads before they even start to ripen. The birds don't care if they're ripe-- maybe they're easier to eat when the shells are softer. But they can strip a big sunflower in 1.5 days.

The neighbor says to plant pumpkins all the way around the corn patch to keep out the raccoons, as the pumpkins are stickery. I don't know about this, as they're pretty stubborn. But, since the corn was such a bust, it didn't matter this year.

The 2x4 welded wire fencing laid flat on the ground really does keep out deer.

Fence out those chickens! It isn't their pecking as much as it is the scratching damage from their big feet! Fortunately, they're a heavy breed that doesn't fly much, so 24" poultry netting will do fine.

Bell peppers either need to be planted earlier and covered, or just kept covered with some kind of clear, ventilated little greenhouse, esp if you want colored ones.

Plant the tomatoes earlier and put the 5-gallon water jugs (with cut-off bottoms) over them. This esp applies to the larger types of tomatoes.

Keep the dog away from the cherry tomatoes.

Try leeks again, but get them in EARLIER!

Grow more sugar snap peas as they can be eaten whole. Regular English peas sure take a lot of hulling to make a few servings!

Grow potatoes under soil next time. This business about setting them on the top of the soil and covering them with straw doesn't seem to work too well. Esp if you're not religious about keeping the straw deep enough (sunlight makes green potatoes).

One or two zucchini plants are enough.

Alfalfa meal makes a good fertilizer for adding nitrogen.

Learning more all the time. Next year should be better.