2016 certainly has been one of my best years in the garden and on YouTube. I produced more food than I ever had before out of the same space and preserved more as well. To top things off the grapes that I got from my grandfather’s finally produced this year and I have been enjoying jam and jelly on Sunday mornings with my son.
Today I am going to go through the top 8 tips from the last year as decided by you the Gardening YouTube Community. This list is of videos I posted in 2016 and ranked based on the number of views. Links to all of the videos can be found in a playlist at the end of this video or in the description below.
As i go through the top 8 videos Ill touch on how each one of these videos contribute to the Alberta Urban Garden Motto of Simple, Organic and Sustainable gardening.
 How to Make Easy Compost https://youtu.be/BjGRhFqCDVg
Number 8 video this year was a recent one where I go through how to make easy compost. This video started off as a video blog but evolved over the editing process into a how to video. I have relied on free and local resources to fertilize my garden for the last 4 years. I take resources generated in my yard and kitchen and using the simple method of composting i showed I make wonderful compost that has helped me avoid having to apply store bought fertilizers for 4 years.
Referring back to my motto making this easy composting hits all of the points. Using resources from my home and neighbours combine with the simple method makes this compost both organic and simple. Because I am using compost to fertilize my garden not only am I diverting the things I put in the compost from landfill but I do not have to purchase non-renewable fertilizers helping to improve the sustainability of my garden.
 Installing a Rain Barrel for Beginners https://youtu.be/K8D6leyW47U
You would not have known it in late summer here in Alberta but often times water is the most scares resources in my garden. As many of you know I have been collecting cold hardy food producing perennials and that collection is quite important to my goal of sustainable cost effective food production.
Perennials are a one-time investment that if cared for will produce food for you for years to come. If we should have a drought the water in my largely recycled DYI rain barrels will help me keep my perennials alive. At the very least I can save the energy and effort it takes to clean drinking water by using rain water in my garden instead.
I see the rain barrels as a little bit of an insurance policy helping with my goal of sustainable food production.
 Grow a lot of Food in a Small Garden – 10 easy tips https://youtu.be/KRBPgnYBsZs
A number of years ago my father challenged me to push to see how much food I could produce in my limited garden space. At first I had no idea how to even approach the challenge but over time I am continually surprised how easy it really is.
In fact while producing this video I had so many tips that I chose to leave some out and have subsequently been made into standalone videos.
Most of these tips are at their core are very simple and do not take a whole bunch of time. These tips have helped me produce record organic crops year after year. The best part is by using these methods I am able to spend more time enjoying my garden and less time doing chores in it.
 Potato Growing Hack to Double Harvests https://youtu.be/NSXMH3MXwAE
Potatoes have to be one of my favourite crops. They are easy to grow and often produce quite healthy crops. The only issue I have with them is they take up so much space. So years ago I moved over to growing them in cloth pots that I could place in under utilized spaces in my garden.
These pots are great and shortly after planting them the first year I figured out that I could double my harvests by simply taking advantage of the vertical space in the bag.
This simple trick has helped me double my harvests while not actually taking any time at all.
 Does Compost Tea Work? https://youtu.be/ivGdHo1sXF4
This video certainly evoked some debate when I released it. In a two part episode I took a look at compost extractions and actively aerated compost tea. The premise of these videos was to test some of the claims made about Compost Tea. In part one I sent samples into the lab of a typical home made compost tea and part two I researched claims using peer reviewed literature.
I did clearly state there are limitations to the citizen science experiment I did and I made sure to state my assumptions.
The purpose of these videos in the Testing Garden Assumptions series is to evaluate the practices I have implemented to see if they hold up to a scientific inquiry. This video and any of my testing garden assumptions videos are not meant to tell you how to garden. Rather I want to present the evidence I find so you can review it in the context of your garden practices. If you chose to follow the same methods that I do it is completely up to you.
The testing garden assumptions series has been the biggest contributor to simplifying my garden methods. By taking the time to investigate the garden methods practices and products I have implemented, such as the use of compost tea, I have been able to drop those that simply do not hold up. This has supported not only my goal to be more sustainable it certainly has simplified my organic garden.
 How and Why I use Eggshells to Fertilize my Organic Garden https://youtu.be/gwVnWBh4-Lc
 Fertilizer your Organic Garden for Free with Banana Peels https://youtu.be/31u1kWs3mlw
Numbers 2 and 3 are both very similar. From time to time I talk a look at resources that people commonly recommend to add to ones compost. Often times people claim these materials have certain nutrients or characteristics that will increase the fertility of your garden. In the case of eggshells and banana peels they certainly live up to the hype. Both have nutrients that are beneficial and essential to plant growth.
These resources are also extremely common worldwide. This along with other resources such as wood ash and human urine can be used to grow food locally at little to no cost. by teaching people how to use these resources I think there is real potential to simply and sustainably improve local food security regardless of where you are.
Some people did mention that eggshell may not release their nutrients easily. I did research the issue a few months back and other than a few opinion pieces did not find compelling evidence one way or another. That aside it does not change the fact that when I have eggshells I am going to add them to my compost hopefully to add nutrients but if nothing else they will improve the soil structure and divert them from landfill.
 Fruit Tree Grafting for Beginners https://youtu.be/885VGccSrvs
The number one viewed video released in 2016 was my introduction to fruit tree grafting. I have to say I am quite pleased that this video is doing well. I have quite enjoyed learning about grafting over the last few years and look forward to grafting some more.
A common problem with urban yards like mine is there is limited space. Grafting allows me to continue to add perennial varieties while not needing to expand my garden. Having more varieties in close proximity also improves the pollination rates further increasing the harvests we are able to enjoy.
Similar to most of the garden tips I have talked about today grafting does not have to be complicated. I showed one of the simpler methods of grafting to fruit trees in this video and I have enjoyed an 85% success rate with it. With a little understanding a simple method can be very effective!
Grafting is a simple and organic way to sustainably increase the production and varieties in your garden.
I would love to hear what your favorite gardening tip was this year whether it was on my top 8 list or not. Let me know in the comment section below or over on the Alberta Urban Garden Facebook Page.
As it is the end of the year once again I wanted to take the time to thank you all for your continued support of the Alberta Urban Garden channel and look forward to spending 2017 with you all.
If you would like to continue to support my channel and our community make sure to subscribe and click the bell to get notified when I post new videos.
From my family to yours we wish you a safe and happy holidays.
Top Garden Tips Playlist