My Edible Garden

I've been gardening for most of my life and have been a devoted fan of organic gardening the whole time. It just makes so much more sense to work in harmony with Mother Nature than to fight her. Besides which it is better for the planet and better for our bodies. Here you can see what I'm planting and harvesting, with gardening hints and resources thrown in for good measure.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Farmer Friday

Red Mizuna Mustard
Getting ready for the Superior Farmer's Market tomorrow. I pulled all the red Mizuna Mustard greens, cleaned up the bed and planted cilantro in it's place. In a couple of weeks the Giant Red Mustard will be ready to start pulling.

Ants warming up in the sunshine
It is still about freezing at night, then warm and sunny during the day. I noticed the ants sitting on a rock by their nest enjoying the sunshine.

Rainbow carrots & Radishes
I pulled some Rainbow carrots and a few radishes. There are not a lot of carrots left, but it's almost time to plant more.

Marans egg is #6 on the shade card
The days are a bit longer now and some of the hens are picking up their egg laying! I love the extra dark Marans eggs. This one was a #6 on the shade card (which happens to be upside down in the pic) I'll start collecting eggs to hatch starting this Sunday.

The back garden 2-3-2017
Today was a really pretty sunny day and I enjoyed my time in the garden. Took off row covers and discovered some beds needed a drink of water and most had a few weeds. So I enjoyed the sunshine while I watered, weeded and harvested. The chickens all enjoyed the weeds and bugs I tossed to them.

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Little of This & That

Pinal Peak Jan 22, 2017
We had a pretty sunset yesterday evening; I was going down the driveway just in time to see the sun highlight the mountains. A good bit of snow up there.

rainfall week ending Jan 22, 2017
In the past week we've had 2.1 inches of rain. We sure need the moisture but I wish it would spread things out a bit. It's raining again already. Can't we save some for June and July?

Leek Seedlings
I haven't grown leeks before but I grow garlic and onions so shouldn't be any real difference. The main difference is planting the leeks deeply and hilling earth up around them when they get bigger. That is what makes a long white stem.

Parsley seedlings
In spite of garden books predicting it taking a long time, my parsley seedlings are germinating, only about 10 days after planting. I think I saw a speck of green in the sage tray too.

Scarlet Kale seedlings
Can't wait to see what the Scarlet Kale is like. This makes 4 varieties of kale this year!

new layer
I don't think the new girl laying quite gets the idea of what the box is for.....

I bought the book Gaia's Garden a couple of years ago. This is a great introduction into the concepts of Permaculture. There are some great projects and ideas to help you get started with becoming more self sufficient, resilient and sustainable around your home and in your garden. If you don't know, Permaculture is described as a design science. Things are designed so that the wastes of one system feed another. Remember in Nature there is no such thing as garbage. Only humans create garbage. Permaculture design principles can be used to design any system, from an urban homestead to a city to a large company. When thinking about something new around my place I ask myself if it fits into the Ethics of Permaculture: Care of the Earth, Care of the People, Share the Surplus

Gaia's Garden, Second Edition

from: Chelsea Green Publishing

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Week In Pictures

#73 a 2016 pullet was Champion English and Reserve Large Fowl Safford, AZ 
Last weekend I attended the Safford Poultry Show. I was pleasantly surprised that my Buff Orpington pullet #73 was judged Best of Breed, Best English and Reserve Large Fowl. There were not that many birds shown in the English class, but there were 108 large fowl show, so not too shabby.

Mount Graham, Jan 14, 2017

Mount Graham Jan 2017

Mount Graham was covered in snow. Can you spot the observatory?

My daughter shows off the marble size hail
I got home and unloaded in time for a little storm of marble size hail.
Sunset Jan 14, 2017
Followed by a really pretty sunset.
uh oh

twisted a 6x6' chain link panel

The storm however did a number on the compost chickens pen. It even twisted a 6'x6' chain link panel out of plumb. I had to leave it out and rearrange the remaining panels.
Ameraucana pullet's first egg
One of the June hatched Ameraucana pullets started laying. Her first egg was this tiny one.

Broccoli coming out
Later in the work I pulled out the broccoli bed and planted some lettuce mix in it's place.

Pinal Mountains Jan 21, 2017
This weekend we have had a lot of rain and have been under a winter storm warning. It's stopped raining for a bit but we have more rain and snow coming. I love that we are getting much needed rain but I wish it would spread it out a bit. Some parts of our county are under a flood watch now too.

There isn't too much run off at my place yet, but the winds have taken out the low tunnel. The plants are all hardy and can survive freezing just fine. The tunnel is just to help them stay a bit warmer so they grow faster. I will deal with it when the weather clears up a bit.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Farmer Friday

carrots and radishes
Today was getting ready for market day. Pulled some rainbow carrots, although most of the ones that were ready were white, there were a few orange, red and purple ones, along with a few radishes.

Red Russian Kale
Got the first picking of kale from the hoop house. This is Red Russian, also known as Siberian and Ragged Jack.

Red Mizuna Mustard
Picked a couple bunches of Red Mizuna Mustard. There is some left, but it's going pretty quick.

Picked some lovely cilantro. I love this stuff. I even munch on it as I work in the garden. It's like addicting.

DiCiccio Broccoli
I picked a couple last bunches of broccoli. The side shoots are getting really tiny. If I was just picking to eat myself I would leave the plants a little longer. But most people was something bigger than your thumb nail. So next week out it will come and something new will be planted. Lettuce mix, perhaps.

Rainbow Chard
The Rainbow chard is still doing well. Some of these plants were planted a year ago and still going strong.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Planting in the New Garden

adding purlins to the low tunnel hoops
Well my supplier didn't get my EMT conduit in yet but I remember seeing some laying around somewhere.... So a check of the junk piles yielded just enough to finish the first bed in the new garden. Mmmmmm looks like a couple of issues. Partly these aren't connecting because the ground slopes a lot from one end to the other and partly because under the compost the ground is as hard as concrete.

my trusty 8' iron bar
So off to find my trusty iron bar. The pointed end is just right to make the holes deeper for a couple of the hoops so they go into the ground a  little further.

purlin on, ends taped to protect cover from rubbing
You can buy special connectors to attach the purlins to the hoops and I probably will get some; they will help make the framework more rigid. In the meantime some baling wire (aka tie wire) did fine. Along with some Gorilla tape on the ends to prevent abrasion of the row cover on the end of the purlin.

wind.... grrr
It was a beautiful sunny morning, so calm and so still..... UNTIL I rolled out the row cover! Of course the wind started up the instant I went to put the cover on the hoops.

with 2 pieces of row cover
So I found some clamps and got it fastened down. Only to discover that either I should have pushed the hoops farther into the ground or I should have ordered wider row cover. What I have is not wide enough to cover the hoops with enough slack on the ground to weight it down. So for now there are 2 pieces of cover on these hoops.

Once all of that was settled, I got busy planting. Some baby pak choi, collard greens and broccoli. I'm thinking the pak choi and collards will be ready to pick in about a month. The broccoli will probably be about 8-12 weeks.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Potatoes and More

kale seedlings under lights
The past few days I've been cleaning up my grow light set up. I have some heavy metal shelves that will take 3 shop lights on each shelf. I picked up some more light fixtures and now have 2 shelves with 3 lights each (before I was just running 2 fixtures per shelf but that isn't enough to keep seedlings from getting leggy). I like to start a lot of seedlings, even those you might direct seed outdoors, inside under the lights. I have more control of temperature and humidity and often get much better germination. This also give me time for crops outdoors to mature and the beds readied for the next crop all while the next crop is already growing.

For example I seeded 2 flats of Red Russian Kale into soil blocks about the first of December. When they filled the blocks with roots I potted them into 4" pots and set them out in a plastic tunnel. A couple of days ago I finished pulling all the carrots out of a bed. Today I cleaned up the bed and got it ready for the kale. In a couple of weeks the kale will be ready to start picking off the outside leaves. But if I had waited and direct seeded the kale today, it would be about 8 weeks before it would be ready to pick.

Red Russian Kale ready to transplant
Also this week I've been getting out all the seed potatoes that I ordered for spring planting! The best size to plant are small potatoes or pieces of potato with one or more eyes that weigh about 2 ounces. (that's the size of a large hen's egg). So there were a few to cut up, but most were about the right size already. I put the cut sides up for a couple of days to get air circulation and dry off, then I will turn them over. Pre-sprout (called "chitting") potatoes in a cool area with some light. If it's too dark and warm the sprouts will grow long and spindly and won't make good plants. I set each kind in a box with it's label so I won't mix them up at planting time! These will go into the ground in early February.

Royal Purple
All Red

All Blue
Belinda is  yellow inside

setting up drip lines on a new bed
In other news I have the first bed in the new garden space ready to plant and got the drip lines installed on it. I am waiting for my supplier to get in some more 1/2" EMT conduit so I can finish the hoop set up. That way I can put frost cloth on as soon as I plant. Not only will it help keep it warmer on cold nights, it will help keep the birds out too.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Farmer Friday

left 4 eggs from the bantams and a olive egg from a compost chicken
After taking a couple weeks off for the holidays tomorrow we'll be back at the little market in Superior, Arizona. So today was mostly about getting things picked, washed and packed for that. The little bantam hens I was given have been laying about 4-5 eggs a day. They are small eggs and go in my 18 count cartons. Most of the compost chickens, being older hens have taken the winter off so I was surprised to find this pretty olive egg in their nest box this morning.

Rainbow carrots
I finished cleaning out a bed of rainbow carrots. I'll probably plant lettuce there as soon as it's ready to replant. Only one more bed of carrots are left.

Baby Mizuna Mustard
I picked a couple bunches of baby Mizuna Mustard. Its frilly cut leaves are really pretty with the red and green color.

Cilantro, also known as Chinese parsley, is a multi-purpose plant. While the flavor is not to everyone's taste, once you get used to it, it's addictive. It's chock full of vitamins and minerals so it's good for you too. It grows very well in cool weather, but won't even sprout once the heat sets in. I like to grow patches of it all over the yard and let them bloom. In the spring they feed the ladybugs and butterflies. Then they make tons of seed. That seed is another herb known as coriander! I love to add a few to my pepper grinder for a different taste. The entire plant is edible, roots, leaves, stems, flowers and seeds.

Lancinato Kale
Lancinato Kale is also called Dinosaur Kale or Palm Tree Kale. It grows up a fat stem and since you pick the leaves starting from the bottom, you end up with something that does resemble a palm tree. 

DiCicco broccoli shoots
The DiCicco broccoli is still putting out little side shoots. These are so tender and yummy even raw. You have to be careful not to overcook them and make them mushy. As soon as they turn bright green they are done!

I also picked some Giant Red Mustard and some Georgia Collard greens, just forgot to take a picture! Besides the veggies I'll have some eggs and my daughter and grand daughter will bring their Peace &  Harmony brand all natural face scrubs and chap sticks.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Wet and Grey

compost chickens
The compost chickens have been doing well. We have made 25 piles of compost, each one roughly 4x4x4 ft. to start. The first two windrows are ready to plant into and the third should be ready next month when it's time to plant the potatoes.

So tomorrow they will get to move to a new area to make more compost.

sunset Jan 1, 2017
We had several days of rain to end the old year and start the new. I'm thankful for the moisture and hope this year is not as hot and dry as last.

There have been pretty sunsets but the days are kind of grey and gloomy. I have been productive on these rainy days however. I have been mucking out my office and seed starting area and getting the paperwork ready for tax time and the seeds ready for starting. Hopefully I'll be more organized this year.

gloomy Jan 2, 2017

A friend of mine decided he had too many chickens and gave me some of his. These girls look to be part silkie, judging by some of them having 5 toes and black skin. There may be a little frizzle in there too.  A couple of them may be Marans or Australorp or mixes of them. The little crested ones are really cute.