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.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Oh Tomatoes!

Way Back Garden 42 tomato plants
Has been a long hot week here, pushing 90 some afternoons. Crazy early spring, I can remember years I was still making an occasional fire this time of year.

This is the way back garden, because it was "way back" of the house, it's really not that far from the house tho. Some pick and shovel work and I planted 42 tomato plants, they seem to all be doing well.

Tomato Cage

Since I had to move in with mom my old chicken pens are empty. Well now they are full of tomato plants!  Gives a whole new meaning to tomato cage doesn't it?  I have gotten 86 plants in the ground, with 40-50 more in pots waiting to be planted. I have 12 plants in permanent pots at mom's house.  Why so many? I sell eggs and veggies at our farmer's market from June through September. For the past 2 years there have been almost no tomatoes from any vendor because we have all had a horrible problem with viruses and wilts. So I just decided to plant lots of different kinds and see what happens.

Found one of my lost marbles

carrot seedlings

ripening mulberries

You know nasturtiums are edible, right? Blossoms, leaves and seedpods have a spicy flavor reminiscent of watercress to which they are related.

A pot of flowers
baby silkie

zucchini blossoms

And in an exciting development we have zucchini blossoms at about the time of year I am usually just planting seeds!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Around the Garden

pots of flowers
I have put some pots of flowers in mom's front entry, snapdragons, calendula, petunias

Her climbing red rose is blooming.

red rose

lettuce & red mustard in the hoop house

The red leaved mustard is bolting, but the mixed lettuces are still doing OK.

about 40 potted tomatoes
a 'few' more tomatoes

the junk pile
I have been working on the junk pile out back. On the other side of the rock wall to the right is a garden area that I made a long time ago. It's been abandoned a few years now due to javilina issues.

back garden

I' hauling pallets to fence it off from the pigs. Then at least some of the tomatoes will go here.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Making Some Progress

early bearded white and purple iris along the driveway

Some of these pictures are from the end of March. There were tons of these short, early blooming bearded irises around my house when I moved in. They are pretty drought resistant, as long as they have a bit of afternoon shade in the summer. As the front yard grew overcrowded I would transplant them along the creek bank and up on the hill above the house to help hold the soil. The best time to divide iris is after they have bloomed. I usually get around to them in late summer, sometimes early fall.  The thick rhizome, what some think is a bulb, is actually a thickened stem. When planting bearded iris do not bury the rhizome. You just want to cover the small feeder roots that come off of it. The fall rains will bring them out of dormancy and they will put out new leaves over the winter and early spring. Newly planted rhizomes may not bloom for a couple of years, just let them get established, and they will bloom when they are ready. I do whack down spent bloom stems, but never remove green or dead leaves from the clumps. They leaves help to mulch the roots and keep them a bit cooler.

pistachio tree seedlings
I bought this pot of pistachio tree seedlings from Bob Zache at our farmer's market last summer. Of course then stuff happened and I just got to them in March. I planted out the 2 biggest ones along the side of the creek where I built the new chicken yards. There were 6 smaller seedlings that I potted up in 1 gal pots for this year.

My goal this year is to plant 100 trees and shrubs on my property. Not sure how close I'll get but so far this year I have planted the 2 Pistachio trees, 9 cherry bushes, 1 Goji berry, an olive, a fig and 3 sweet broom so that is 17 to start. In the past 3 years I've planted a fig, a red locust, 2 ash trees, a mulberry, and 5 live oaks,

The mulberry was a seed dropped by a bird into one of my flower pots. The fig was a rooted cutting from Pat Romero (who also started the olive that I planted), the Arizona Ash trees I planted were also from Bob Zache. The red locust I purchased from Golden Hill Nursery and I grew the live oaks from acorns.

The cherry bushes, I know there is another name but I can't remember what it is. I grew them from seeds given to my by my friend Annie, of Annie's Edibles.

All planting at my house begins with the pickax

olive tree

The caliche drains slowly, but that's a plus come summer. Everything will get a heavy mulch as I have time to get it spread.

cherry bush

A few of the cherry bushes had blooms and set a few fruit. They are like tart pie cherries. I think these may be called Nanking bush cherries.

Sweet Magnolia purple snap peas

Over in the garden the Sweet Magnolia, a purple podded snap pea is doing great. This pic is from almost 3 weeks ago, they are now beginning to bloom and I'll be able to pick some later this week.

Spring is Coming!

Granny Smith apple blossom
Oh dear, it's been forever since I made a post here! Well here are some pictures from my house about the middle of March. Since Mom sleeps late most mornings I go over to my place and work for awhile.

Cecile Brunner
I have the climbing sport, the branches are about 7-8 ft

I adore my Cecile Brunner rose. The dainty pink buds are very fragrant. I have the climbing sport and it has grown huge, with branches 7-8 feet tall. The original plant was introduced in 1881 according to this article.

Creekside garden

The garlic and snap peas were doing well.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Tucson Poultry, Pigeon and Fancy Fowl Show

Buff Orpington pullet #93 Reserve English
I went to the Tucson Poultry show last week end put on by the Tucson Poultry, Pigeon and Fancy Fowl club in Tucson AZ

Pretty much every kind of fowl was represented with over 1100 birds present.  My Buff Orpington pullet #93 was Reserve English.

Blue Ameraucana Hen Best of Variety
My 2 year old Blue Ameraucana hen was Best of Variety

Black Ameraucana pullet Reserve AOSB

My black Ameraucana pullet was Reserve Any Other Standard Breed (ASOB)

My Black Copper Marans pullet of which I have no good picture was Best of Breed and my old trio was Reserve Continental Trio. My Black Silkie pullet was Best of Variety. All in all not too bad for a beginner to the show circuit.  This is my 3rd year showing in Tucson and I always have a great time.

just part of the show hall

There is a costume contest for the kids to dress up their chickens

Lots of poultry of all kinds!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Well as you can see it has been a long time since I've posted. Mom fell and hit her head shortly after my last post and the summer was one long nightmare, 9 weeks between two hospitals and a nursing home. And I had to move in with her. Physically she's doing ok except for her arthritis. But she's forgetful and needs help.

So, I spent the summer putting up new pens and moving birds into her big tin barn, originally built to house their motor home.

Even as big as the barn is tho I still have fewer pens than I did at my house, so  lot of birds had to go.  But less space just means culling harder and more meat in the freezer.

I am trying to hang onto some of my breeding projects if I can. It just means hatching fewer chicks at a time and spreading things out more.

Mom has a lot of space that I am slowly trying to rejuvenate and get ready for planting. Mostly flowers and herbs in the front yard. I seem to be missing the pictures I took of the front yard.

We do have a great view from up here on the hill of a mountain called Sleeping Beauty.

Monday, June 1, 2015


Stage One. 
I swear if I had neighbors they would be calling the men in white suites. "What is that crazy chicken lady doing now?!"

Some friends gifted me a lot of 3" PVC drain pipe. I didn't need it for drains and it's been laying around with the intention of cutting it half long ways to make feed troughs out of. Then I got an idea.

Stage one, cut the pipes in half. Now this is a good lesson in never assuming anything. I assumed these pipes were 20 feet long and never measured them. Since I assumed that length I just measured 10 feet and cut them. Then I realized that they weren't all 10 feet long. Apparently they were really only 19 feet, not 20.

Now wire them up to the pens every few feet.

Stage 2

Stage two; drill holes in them and run wires out to the fence line.

Stage 3

Stage 3. Clip some shade cloth to the wires. I was lucky enough to have most of a roll left from last year.It covered the whole stretch.

I wasn't so lucky in the process that my ladder twisted out from under me. It happened in kind of slow motion and all I could think of was "Don't hit your head!"  I'm OK, just stiff, sore and bruised up. And I didn't hit my head.

Now all the chickens and Giotto have some afternoon shade to help them stay cooler.

So maybe I'm not so crazy after all!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Part of My Mornings

chicks in the house
Well this is a little bit of my morning around here; after a bit of tea and getting dressed, feed and water the newest babies in the house, these were hatched about a week ago.

Silkie babies from August hatch

Then outside to feed birds, A couple of pens of Silkies including  these babies that hatched in January. I still can't tell for sure which are boys or girls.

2-3 week olds
Then out to the small hoop coop by the house, feed the 2-4 week olds, mostly easter eggers and olive eggs, a couple of Buff Orpingtons in there.

4 week olds, OE/ EE and Buff Orpingtons

feed wagon

Then I load the buckets of feed and Giotto's breakfast on the wagon and head for the main coops

6-8 weeks

My bigger hoop coops are divided into 3 sections; first up the 6-8 week olds; some sexlinked crosses (you can tell males from color at hatch), along with more easter eggers and olive eggers and a few pure bred Ameraucana.

Silkie with foster chicks

The next section is a pair of Silkies with easter egger foster chicks. As soon as I finish a coop for the Silkies to go into, I'll open the door and integrate these chicks in with the others.There are a couple of Buff Orpington pullets in the last section but I didn't get a pic of them this morning.

Black Copper Marans and Buff Orpington

After feeding a pair of Ameracauna, feed the babies next door These hatched in January

Buff Orpington pullets

These two Buff Orpingtons are in one of the breeding pens, I'll be hatching just a few from these girls for myself. ;-)

Next the Plymouth Rocks, Buff and White

Muscovy Duck eggs

Next up the Muscovy ducks, building a nest; 7 eggs now.

The layers, looking for breakfast!

Then open the door to the layer house and be charged, everyone is hungry! I found a roll of fabric set out for the trash awhile back and used it to make nest box curtains and to cover the windows  where the afternoon sun is too strong.

Curtains in the hen house!

cat & bunny

After hauling the empty buckets back to the house, I go feed some ducks in the front yard. Here also is my last remaining rabbit, a doe over 5 who hasn't been bred in a couple of years. She escaped her cage and just hangs around with the ducks. None of my cats bother her or any of my grown chickens because they were raised with them since they were little kittens. I don't, however, trust them with baby chicks.

So that is part of my morning. Inside the layer house there are several pens with individual birds, mostly breeding males that have to be separate so the don't fight, and there are a few more chicks and Silkies around.