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, May 19, 2017

Farmer Friday; Potatoes, Pak Choi and More

New Potatoes; White Creamers & All Blue
More potatoes this week, mostly White Creamers and All Blue. The main planting is fairly protected, inside a weld wire fence which is inside an electric fence. But some were planted in the front yard where the old pallet fence was falling down. And of course the dang javalina found their way in.
javalina destroy part of the potatoes
pallet fence in the works
So working on replacing the fence became a priority; there is still more to do, but I closed up the main gap the javalina were coming through.
that *was* about 30 lettuces just 2 weeks from cutting
So then the next day I discovered a squirrel  had eaten the next lettuce patch. To the ground. Barely even a stump left. I was not happy to say the least. And I have been watching for it to come back.
squirrel eaten tomato
To add insult to injury it also took off with the biggest green tomatoes.
baby beets
beets & potatoes for dinner!
The beets are starting to come in and they are so sweet and delicious! Roasted with a little olive oil and seasoning they are as sweet as candy. And all the colors are so pretty together.

Baby Pak Choi
The baby Pak Choi was starting to bolt, so pulled it all, 3 pounds from a small patch and all spoken for as soon as I let the word out.

time for the peas to be gone
The peas have given less and less the past couple of weeks. We've had some cooler weather so they aren't too sad looking yet, but they aren't producing enough to be worth the water. So out they are coming, to be replaced by cucumbers.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Farmer Friday: Potatoes & Squash

New Potatoes; White Creamers
All Blue potato

Yukon Gold

New Potatoes; almost 5 pounds
I love growing potatoes. They are a pretty easy crop, just remember that the new potatoes will grow above the piece that you planted. I try to plant mine about 9 inches deep and 9-12 inches apart depending on how big the plants will get. I have also grown potatoes in 5 gallon buckets. To do that I just put potting soil in the bottom third of the bucket and plant the seed potato. When it sprouts I add more soil, a little at a time, until the bucket is full. Keep it watered and when the plant dies back dump it out and pick up the potatoes. I usually get about 1-2 pounds from each bucket.

This year I didn't plant any buckets, I planted about 200 square feet of growing beds in potatoes. I planted All Red, All Blue, Yukon Gold, Belinda and White Creamers. Some take longer to finish than others, so I'll be digging potatoes for quite a while.

Biggest onion ever~ 1 # 8 oz
I grew a small bed of onions. In the past I haven't had the best luck with them since our soil is not the best. I was really impressed with the Barbossa and Granex varieties. I will plant a lot more this fall.

Baby Squash
Picked the first squash today; Gold Rush, Bennings Green Tint patty pan, yellow straight neck, Grey zucchini. Just a few were ready, but soon there will be a flood.

Flat & Curly Parsley, Lavender
Nanking cherries
I grew 9 Nanking cherry bushes from seed. They are 3 years old and fruiting. I'll be planting a lot more! They are a sweet / tart cherry and juicy, but not very big.

gopher snake getting a drink
close up gopher snake
I had something amazing happen one hot afternoon last week. I went to move the hose that was trickling on the squash plants and discovered this gopher snake getting a drink. Yep, it was actually drinking water right from the hose!

lambs quarters
A lot of lambs quarters are growing all over. Some people call them weeds, but they are actually good to  eat like spinach. And I feed a lot of them to the chickens.

Yep, as long as I have my garden!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Farmer Friday

yep there is a chicken on my back
One of the oldest chicks this year jumps up on my back any time I squat down in their pen. Buff Orpingtons, especially the male chicks are extra friendly. The girl chicks are more standoffish until they reach point of lay, then I am practically tripping over them whenever I go out to the pens.

Fresh cut herbs, flat and curly parsley, lavender, oregano
Getting ready for market tomorrow. Cut some bunches of herbs, flat Italian parsley, curly parsley, lavender and oregano.

new white potatoes
I poked around in the potato patch and found a few white potatoes to dig. This is the earliest I've ever had potatoes. The yellows, reds, blues and purples are not ready yet, but what fun when they are.

wild four o'clocks with tansy in front
The wild four o'clocks are really pretty; here they are almost over taking the bed of tansy.
The tomatoes are coming
first squash blossom
I should have zucchini for market by next week; earliest ever!

Sadly there is no lettuce this week. Any big enough to pick was too bitter because it's trying to go to seed. And the next succession planting was eaten by a rodent. There was a little chard and kale. I have more kale planted. More lettuce and more spinach this fall.

If the pack rats and rabbits hadn't eaten the plants I"d have cauliflower and broccoli.Maybe next year. But man will I have squash and potatoes!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Farmer Friday; Abundance Everywhere!

Ladybug larvae

ladybug larvae

I was very happy to see this ladybug larvae in the hoop house. They eat tons of aphids. This is why I am never in a hurry to 'weed' as often the weeds are full of these. If you pull them up and throw them away you lose a lot of these natural predators. And sad to say, for whatever reasons I have not seen as many ladybugs this spring as I have in the past. It might be the weather, I'm not sure. But so glad to see them now.

Mexican Evening Primrose
I love these little wild primroses. These popped up from some wildflower mixes I tossed out last fall.

Chocolate flowers, they really smell like chocolate!

Red Flax and Bachelor Buttons

Some more wild flowers are blooming.
Summer squash plants of all kinds

Gold Rush Zucchini

The squash plants are doing well. It looks like the Gold Rush Zucchini will be coming in first!

Summer Bibb Lettuce, bigger than a dinner plate!
Summer Bibb, red and green and delicious!

Burpee's Gourmet Mix
So far the lettuce is going gung ho. I don't know how much longer  it will last with the heat, so eating as much as I can while it lasts.

Best onions ever!
I did a small experimental planting of onions last fall and some of them are whoppers. I'll be planting a lot more this fall! I planted Granex and Barbosa, both of them did well.

Besides lettuce and onions there was a little bit of spinach, another 5 pounds of snap peas, curly and flat parsley. If I have time this evening I'll pick some bouquets too.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Farmer Friday; Peas in Overdrive

Snap Peas; the vines are loaded
Pea season in the desert is short, sometimes only 6 weeks, occasionally a little longer. Right now the vines are loaded. I have already picked 10 pounds this week from just three short rows (one row is about 18 ft, the other two between 20 and 25 feet). I picked peas this morning and when I was moved water hoses this evening saw more that need to be picked! However, they are predicting highs of 90 F on Monday, so pea season may be extra short this year. So I'll be seeding some melons and cucumbers next week to take their place as soon as the time comes.

Rainbow Beets
I planted some seedling beets in a hoop house late last fall as an experiment. They didn't do much until it warmed up, but now they are ready and delicious looking.

Summer Bibb lettuce
Photographs don't do the Summer Bibb lettuce justice, it is amazingly beautiful and very tender and tasty.

Scarlet Kale
The Scarlet Kale is a much deeper shade of red than the picture; in the shade it is almost purple.

Siberian or Red Russian Kale
The Red Russian kale is going strong but I see signs of bolting.

cut down Swiss Chard
The Swiss Chard has been trying to bolt for a couple of weeks. The nice thing about chard is that if you cut it down to the ground, give some good compost it will go back to making leaves again instead of seed stalks.  These chard plants are already over a year old.

the big hoop house today 4-21-2017
As I was finishing up this evening I took a moment to look back along the trail. I've done a lot of work and have accomplished a lot the past few years. There is a lot more to do but everyday I manage a little bit more. That bit of green along the trail here consists of Nanking cherry bushes, Arizona Pistache and Ash trees along with clovers and herbs like catmint, mugwort and lemon balm. Hiding out for now are newly planted zinias and marigolds. The bigger bushes farther along are burro brush and mesquite, which were about the only things here when I started. Oh and there's Tinkerbell, about ready to have her kittens pretty soon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Things are Changing Fast

Last of the spinach

We are having unusually warm weather here. Many years we have a snow storm roll through at Easter. Well this year we are having 80-85 degree days and 45-50 degree nights. So we are a solid month ahead of schedule. The last patch of spinach was getting aphids from the warm weather so out it came, to be replaced by cucumbers.

pulling out the bolting collards
planting Pak Choy

The collards were bolting and nothing I did would stop them from trying to flower and go back to making leaves. So out they came, to be replaced by some Pak Choy seedlings on one end of the bed and bush beans on the other end.

potato blossoms
The potato plants are growing well and some are blooming. The flowers are pretty and are slightly different colors on each variety.

Summer Bibb lettuce
The Summer Bibb lettuce is really pretty and ready to cut.

blossom on Sweet Magnolia, a purple snap pea
I didn't get the Sweet Magnolia's planted until it was pretty late, but they are finally blooming so there will be purple pods mixed in with the green ones this week or next.

lettuce seedlings tucked under tomato plants
I try to make use of every inch of space so after planting out the tomatoes, I planted lettuce seedlings between  them. The lettuce will be gone long before the tomatoes are too big.

tomatoes on strings
This year I am experimenting with growing tomatoes very intensively. They are planted close together and will be trained up strings and pruned hard. This is supposed to give you more perfect fruits. We shall see.