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, June 29, 2011

The Beans are Growing & it's way too hot!

Well temps around here have been 106+ with about 7% humidity. Things are just dry as a bone. So right I'm mostly just marking time, trying to keep what I have watered and alive and keep myself as cool as possible.

The beans I planted the other day are doing well and growing strong. Beans like it pretty hot and these Hopi Purple Pods are no exceptions.
Hopi Purple Pod bean seedlings June 2011
And so far the grasshoppers that are eating up the morning glory seedlings don't seem to have found the beans yet.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Planting Sunflowers

Yesterday evening, when it had cooled off a bit and was nearly dark, I planted the little sunflower seedlings. Growing in soil blocks in the shade they had gotten a bit lanky but I was very careful of their tender stems. If you break the stem of almost any seedling below it's first leaves, it is pretty much dead. So be Careful.

I used my post hole digger to make a nice deep hole in damp soil. Here you can see the hole and a sunflower seedling on the tray, waiting to go in it's hole.

Then I gently set the seedling into the deep hole. By using a deep hole and by not filling it all the way with soil, but leaving a bowl shaped depression two things happen. First the plants roots are farther from the surface and therefor stay cooler. Second, the bowl shape concentrates any water or rain around the roots, helping the plant get off to a good start and saving water, since in the beginning I only have to water in the bowl. (Later as the plants grow and their roots spread out it will be important to water the whole area, but until then I can just concentrate it around the plants).

Then, gently propping the lanky stem up out of the way I fill in around the root ball and part way up the stem, still leaving a good size 'bowl' to hold water.

Then I fill the bowl up full of water once or twice, depending on how dry the ground was to start with.

But I'm not done just yet.

The last thing I have to do is to protect the seedlings from birds, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels and such. Right now it has been months since there has been any rain and it has be 106+ this week. Even the native critters are panting for lack of water. So I have to cover up any lush green stuff or it will be gone overnight.

If I were planting early in the spring, when water and food are abundant for the wild life, it would not be so bad. But this time of year without protection the critters will take it all.

I use anything handy that will let light, air and water in and help keep animals out, like these old nursery flats.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Sunflower Seedlings, June 2011
Well the other day I planted some seedlings in soil blocks [special soil mix compressed into a block by a special gizmo, very fun, grows great seedlings and no plastic pots everywhere].

Some decorative sunflowers, and a couple of luffa's in one batch. (you just can't see the luffa's in this pic, they're way in the back.

Snapdragon Seedlings

In the other tray I planted snapdragons. I dearly love these flowers, especially the old fashioned heavily scented sorts. Unfortunately the really grand tall ones tend to get broken over in the wind just at the height of their bloom. Yes,  you can stake them to help keep them up; do I remember? Of course not. So this batch is a dwarf kind, just as pretty but lower growing.

Hopi Purple Pod Bean seedlings

Then of course there are the beans out in the garden, you can see the planting of them in the June 19th post. and here they are today, sprouting up.

This is an Heirloom Native American variety called Hopi Purple Pod. I've had them probably about 20 years and don't recall now exactly where I got them from. I 'think' from Native Seed Search, but I didn't see them listed the last time I checked their catalog. They are a good size pole bean, with lovely purple pods. They can be eaten as string beans, fresh shellies or as dried beans and are delicious what ever way you eat them.

   Of course I didn't find any Hopi Purple Pods for sale for you, but I did find these great certified organic pole bean seeds for you to try out. The flat Italian ones are nice and beany and then of course there is that old standby, Kentucky Wonder.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


So glad you could stop by. This is the new home of  The Edible Garden Blog. Originally hosted on wordpress, I have just moved all the old posts to this site. Some of the formatting got scrambled up in the process, but I think I at least got all the words and pictures here. I'll be sprucing things up in the next few days and posting some pictures of what is going on in the garden this week. Hope to see you around.

Planting Beans, Potatoes, & the Great Garden Cleanup June 19, 2011

Planting Beans, Potatoes, & the Great Garden Cleanup

Well I have been working on the yard and garden at least 15 minutes every day. Some days it’s mostly watering things and pulling a few weeds. At other times I’ve actually spent the whole time on pulling weeds and picking up trash. I worked in and around the greenhouse the other day. You can see before pictures in my post on May 30, 2011 
This photo is after just a couple of 15 minute sessions. I have a piece of black shade cloth over the green house frame to help shade my bedroom window until the morning glories take over the job.
green house after some clean up

The potatoes planted recently have mostly sprouted so I have begun mulching the open spaces between them. Not every piece planted has sprouted yet, which is ok, they should all make an appearance eventually.
I just try not to put a lot of mulch over the ones that haven’t come up yet.potato plants sprouting up
Since I’m going on vacation in August & September I’m trying hard not to plant too much stuff that will need a lot of attention. But I did decided to plant some Apache Purple Pod beans. These make nice green beans, shelly beans and dried beans.
getting ready to plant beans First I dug a good size trench next to the trellis and watered it well. The ground is very very dry and I’m trying to get moisture to the root zone.
After the water soaked in I made the trench even deeper and set out the bean seeds.planting beans
I then watered them in and covered them with about an inch of soil by directing the water to the side of the trench so the soil would wash down over the seeds. I then used  old screens to cover them to try and protect them as best I can from the birds. Right now the desert is very dry and the birds will dig up and eat any little green sprout they can find. June is a very difficult month to start any kind of seeds directly in the garden for that reason.
protecting the bean seeds from the birds

You Will Love These Folks! June 18, 2011

You Will Love These Folks!

Imagine a space one fifth of an acre in size, about the average city lot, 66×132 feet. Now of course on that space is a little house, a garage, driveway, paths et.  So when you subtract all of those you end up with one tenth of an acre. Gosh doesn’t sound like a very big space does it? And you are right, it isn’t a very big space.
But with a great deal of effort and determination that small space has done something really really amazing. In 2010 that ONE TENTH of an acre,( just .1) produced 7,030 pounds of fruits and vegetables! WOW! NO GMO crop could possibly do that! NO Chemical Company can produce those kinds of yields in modern American Agriculture in any way shape or form! They do not even come close!
BECAUSE in PER ACRE amounts it totals: 70,300 pounds. No current big farm agriculture can possibly produce 35 TONS of fruits and veggies on an acre of land!
NOW, imagine if every person that could possibly do this, would do it. Where ever they live. Even if they didn’t manage these ginormous yields, but just think if every one grew their own salad, potatoes and green beans?
Think of how beautiful our cities would become with all that green. Think of how much pollution of all sorts would be reduced. How about whole city blocks of people getting together and landscaping the whole neighborhood together, with everyone sharing the produce of the different trees? That alone would be priceless.
One of the things America has surely lost in most places: a sense of place, of belonging, a local food system, a sense of caring and community. This is a way of beginning to get it back.
The Dervaes family have a number of websites, all of which you can access from this link.
Now around here, it is hotter than blazes and half the state of AZ seems like it is burning up with no rain or let up in sight. So I will dream of fall and winter and early next spring….hopefully the next pea crop will be as good as this ones was:

Good Reading

Well there were hoof prints in the potato patch this afternoon. But I don’t think it was javalina because nothing was rooted up and they were pretty big. So I have a feeling it was the deer that have been hanging around. It’s been really dry so I’m thinking that they are coming for water.
I might put a tub of water over across the creek for them or something, just to help keep them out of the yard.
In the meantime I’ve been having a wonderful read over at Gene Logsdon’s blog; awesome fella, I’ve been reading him almost as long as he’s been writing. Bought a few seeds the other day and cleaned out one of my seed boxes this afternoon. I really am trying not to go whole hog on the garden but my fingers are itching to be in the dirt.
So I planted about 3 luffa seeds, a few red sunflower seeds and some snapdragons. That shouldn’t get me into too much trouble. I planted them in some soil blocks and set them in the kitchen to keep the birds and chipmunks out of them while they sprout up.

My Gardening Heroes; a Gardening Author Review June 15, 2011

My Gardening Heroes; a Gardening Author Review

I just finished writing a review of what I consider to be the best 4 gardening authors of all time. These would be Gene Logsdon, Rosalind Creasy, Nancy Bubel and Elliot Coleman.
These four authors have done more to shape my thinking and my gardening than almost any others, except perhaps Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain and Living the Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing. Perhaps I will write about them another day.
You can read my review at My Gardening Heroes
On another note, the potatoes are sprouting.

The potatoes are sprouting

Potato Planting Time! June 12, 2011

seed potatoes

Potato Planting Time!

June is a good time to start potatoes in the garden here in the desert foothills. While I really should have bought certified seed potatoes, I just went ahead and planted the sprouting spuds growing in my kitchen. some purple/blue ones, some with red skin and white meat and a few regular russet bakers.
I have also written an article about potatoes, Growing Potatoes.

Gardening In The Desert June 11, 2011

Gardening In The Desert

I’ve written a short article about gardening in the desert, which you can see  Here. It is the first of what I intend to be a long series of how to articles. It’s been a long week, so not much going on; will be out and about taking pics in the morning, so check back for more in a day or two.

Herbs & Flowers June 5, 2011

Herbs & Flowers

I bought a few herb and flower plants last night. Not much selection locally this time of year but that is ok. I am really trying to keep myself reined in as I will be gone three weeks in Aug & Sep and that is a hard time in a big garden. So trying to keep things small and manageable so who ever I rope into garden sitting & bunny tending isn’t overwhelmed.
This morning I planted most of the plants into their pots. I also did a quick tidy up around the front steps where they will live. This spot gets plenty of early morning sun and a bit of late afternoon shade; perfect for so many things in the desert.
herbs & flowers

Front steps
a yellow daylily and some lobelia
a yellow daylily and some lobelia

TGIF June 4, 2011


So happy it’s Fri and I have the weekend off. My regular job has just been kicking my butt. In addition to the fact that I have been spending a lot of extra hours here on the computer, working on my squidoo and zazzle projects.
Ran to the store for groceries and picked up a few flowers and some herbs for the pots around the front steps; that will be tomorrow mornings project, so more pictures tomorrow.
have fun and be safe!

Potato Time June 1, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Potato Time

June is a good time to plant potatoes here in the desert foothills. I had a few purple and red potatoes sprouting in the kitchen so got them put in today. I’ll be writing an article about planting potatoes and will let you know when it’s published!

Resurrection; bringing the dead back to life May 30, 2011

Resurrection; bringing the dead back to life

Well folks as you can see I haven’t been too active here for a long time. I’m hoping to change all that now. At the moment the garden is quite dead but I am working on bringing it back to life. Just got side tracked down a byway on life’s hiway. ;-)
So here is what a section of the back yard looked like before:

And then after I did 15 minutes of work. Yes in just 15 minutes I picked up a bag of trash and pulled quite a big pile of weeds.

I’m going to try and work at least 15 minutes in the garden every day. I’m missing having my hands in the dirt.

I’m Baaack! May 12, 2010

I’m Baaack!

Boy it’s been a long time since I posted here. The dog attacks last fall really took the wind out of my sails. But spring has come and the flowers are blooming. I haven’t done a lot in the garden, but here are some catch up pictures for you.
Spring comes early, like January and February, starting with the Paperwhites.
Then the short bearded iris come on. I have solid white and a purple kind. I think of these as being the old-fashioned ones because they were here when I moved in. I see them all over town. They do so well that when they get over crowded and I have to divide them I have even put them up on the side of the hill and along the creek bank. They are good to help control erosion. As long as they are not in a real hot spot they can get along without extra water, though they will bloom more prolifically if they have some.

A painting I did from the above photo.

There are a few tulips around the yard. [Did you know you can eat tulip flowers?]
Some California poppies. These bloom all along the highways and on the hills around here.
Later come the tall bearded iris. I don’t know the name of this variety either. This one grows about 3 1/2 feet tall with as many as 6 blooms to a stalk.
About the same time these tall yellow ones come along, tho they are not quite as tall as the ones above.
Over on the hillsides the cactus are blooming; this one is called a hedgehog. The photo does not really give you the true color; it is much more intense, nearly fluorescent.
Here is a yucca blooming. They are related to our garden lilies. The Native Americans used this plant for making baskets and shoes. The would strip the fibers  off the leaves and the sharp points provided a ready-made needle. Also, they would watch the plants in early spring and when the bloom stalk started to swell up out of the plant they would cut the plant down and roast the middle of it in the embers of their fire. The plant stores up a lot of carbohydrate in preparation for blooming and setting seeds. When roasted those carbs turn to sugars and made a sweet treat.
Well that’s all for now. I’ll try to post some more later today or tomorrow.

GRRRRR DOGS! November 11, 2009


Well the !@#@#!!! dogs returned! They mashed down the 6 foot tall chicken wire I put up and attacked the chickens again! There is one hen and one chick left. I am just glad they didn’t go after the rabbits this time. I am angry, sad, tired, disgusted and depressed. My world and my life that I am trying to build are falling apart.

Another Skunk! November 8, 2009

Another Skunk!

After shooting the first skunk the other day, there was evidence of a second one digging holes all over the garden and trying to get into the chicken pen. Well I have been trying to catch it out and shoot it and this morning I did. I discovered it was living under the house and shot it as it was going to go down it’s hole. So now the house is a bit smelly, but at least I don’t have to worry about the skunk.
Because it was digging all over the garden I hadn’t bothered planting any more seeds, now that it’s gone I’ll be planting up a storm to make up for lost time,
I also need to work on the greenhouse and finish the fence around the back garden. I also have to get busy and fix things so the rabbit & chickies in the house can go ahead and live outside. I’m hoping to get that done today.

SKUNK! November 4, 2009


Well, I put up some chicken wire and made the hens enclosure bigger, including the rabbit cages and space for the little chicks. Well I know it won’t stop a dog but at least it will slow them down a couple of minutes.
Tonight I heard the little chicks squaking out there and there was a !@#@#!! skunk in there, with a chick by the head. I shone my flash light on it and it went out and I brought the chicks in. The hurt one probably won’t live the night. The others seem ok, just excited.
A few minutes later I was in the kitchen and could see that the skunk had returned to the scene of the crime, so I got my gun and shot it. ;-) yeah, one less skunk in the world.

Tally Ho! November 2, 2009

Tally Ho!

Well, here’s the numbers for October:
Eggs, 107
Produce, 45.19 pounds. Mostly beans, squash with some pepper, tomato, eggplant and sweet potato. Also our Bloody Butcher corn. Still have to shell out and test our popcorn.
Since there’s been so much trouble with the wildlife there won’t be much to harvest for awhile, need to get busy planting.

Season Review October 31, 2009

Season Review

Well since summer seems to be gone, I thought it would be a good idea to think about this past year and make some notes for next year.
It seems that last spring I could have planted more lettuce, radishes, beets & carrots later in the season. This would have helped with the gap in late May. While the kids enjoyed the baby corn, it seems they really wanted regular fresh corn.
I definately need to plant more melons. Plant less small tomatoes and a lot more large ones.  Give the large tomatoes more space, they probably need a good 24 inches each. I only had about 2 doz large tomatoes, could probably use upwards of 75-100. It takes a lot to make sauce, ketchup and other tomato based things.
Twenty to thirty row feet of snap and snow peas are probably enough, since I don’t like the way they are when you freeze them. But we could use 50 or more row feet of shelling peas for freezing little green peas and probably 25 feet or so of the Blueshokker soup peas.
Since the Lima beans didn’t set pods until late September, they could probably go in a lot later than they did.
I need more bird protection, especially in the summer and fall. Not only did I lose a lot of seedlings to the birds, but also a lot of sunflower and popping sorghum seeds.
I need more rat/squirrel/rabbit  control, they got some melons, tomatoes, squash and other things.
I want more peppers of all types. The amount of squash was fine, as we don’t eat much, especially of the summer types.
We would probably eat more spinach type greens, but mustard and turnip greens were a bust at the table.
We could probably eat more dry beans. The amount of green beans might have been too much, they weren’t a big thrill for the kids so I anticipate the 21 pints I canned to be more than enough. Though I will plant less yard long beans and more Kentucky Wonders.
We could use a lot more strawberry plants. Nobody likes Huckleberries, so I will just invest in more blueberry bushes.
We needed a lot more cucumbers. So this year watch out for the aphids and try to get rid of them ASAP.
I really need to work on the succession plantings. Not keeping up lead to a lot of gaps this year.

chickie update October 29, 2009

chickie update

Well some good news. the two hurt chickies seem to be doing better. One has been up walking around for a couple of days. The other one that couldn’t stand at all was standiing up this morning.
Some bad news. I didn’t put small enough mesh wire on the rabbit cages and a little bunny fell out and died. Also, the 50 or broccoli and cauliflower seedlings that were ready to go in the garden were sitting on top of one of the rabbit cages that the dogs tore apart, so now I have to start over there too.

SLAUGHTER HOUSE October 27, 2009


I came home to a slaughter house. 3 big dogs, somebody’s pets! tore open a rabbit pen and killed one of my bucks and injured another one. They got in to the baby chicks and killed most of them. There are only 5 left out of 14 and 2 of them are injured; I”m not too sure they will make it.
The worst thing is that my gun jammed so I couldn’t get even one shot off at them, or they would be dead dogs right now.
Be sure you keep your dogs at home because if they come to my place they aren’t gonna leave.



I grew six varieties of peas last spring and have written a review of them. You can read it here 6 Pea Varieties on Trial.

In the Garden October 21, 2009

In the Garden

The garden continues to produce, though at a slower rate than before. The summer crops are winding down, but the fall and winter crops are a little slow taking off. It doesn’t help that a flock of quail helped themselves to the radishes and lettuce seedlings.
gardenoctt09 001Here are the King of the Garden Limas, finally! I picked 1 1/2 pounds the other day, which shelled out to about a quart of beans, cooked them up with bacon & onion, delish! Even Liberty liked them.
gardenoctt09 002Here a Trombocino squash {seeds available from} hides in the Red Currant tomato
gardenoctt09 005The bed at the bottom of the picture has baby carrots, the one farther away, Golden Globe turnips and parsnips. The bigger green plants are hollyhocks.
gardenoctt09 008Broccoli and cauliflower seedlings wait in the wings.
gardenoctt09 019Kabocha squash volunteers have run over quite a bit of the garden. The one in the front isn’t quite ready to pick. The ones in the back weighed 7 & 10 pounds each. The other one is twice as big, can’t wait to see how much it weighs.
gardenoctt09 023Lovely Hopi purple pod beans. These are yummy as fresh or dried shellies.

Tractor Work October 11, 2009

Tractor Work

For more than a year we have worked towards putting culverts in the dry wash so we could drive over to the other side. That project got a big push in the right direction this weekend when our friend brought the backhoe in and started leveling the area on the other side.
gardenoctt09 014
gardenoctt09 016
Once all the tractor work is done and culverts are laid we’ll be able to work on some other projects, such as a work space, guest trailer, green house, gardens, animal pens.

Beans & More Beans October 10, 2009

Beans & More Beans

After waiting most of the summer for the beans to come in, they are here in abundance.
gardenoctt09 001As predicted, once the weather began to cool off those 11 foot tall Lima beans began setting pods.

gardenoctt09 007Hopi Purple Pod beans, a Native American variety, have set thick clusters of pods. I love this bean because it sets bunches of pods, I can fill the bowl in a few minutes, picking fistfuls of beans at a time. Picked really tiny you _can_ eat them as green beans, but they are at their best as green or dried shelled beans. They look a little like red pinto beans and have a full bodied meaty bean taste.
The Kentucky Wonder pole beans have come on strong too, with several pickings of 3-4 pounds of green beans, along with Pencil Pod Wax [a yellow bush bean] and Provider, a green bush bean available from



Some of my family & friends do not understand my passion for my garden and canning and preserving the food I grow. To me this is my own form of  Social Security. If things go to pot me and mine will be provided for. If, when I retire, the system doesn’t give me enough money to live on, I will be fine, because I have taken on the responsibility of providing for myself.  Some object that it is cheaper to buy things at the store. That could be, in some cases, modern agriculture and mass production have given us cheap food and goods. However, cheaper is not necessarily better. Some of these systems are actually making us sick! Look at Mad Cow disease, swine flu, bird flu. There is evidence that genetically modified foods are very bad for us [and, if given a choice between natural and GM grain, animals will eat the first and refuse the second! Lets be as smart as the animals!] Besides all these reasons, I enjoy what I do. It gives me a great sense of pride and accomplishment to look at the shelves in my kitchen, bursting with food I put there myself. Besides which, there are many things I can make at home that you cannot possibly buy at any price.
gardenoctt09 009Bean soup, potatoe soup, dilly beans, green beans, pickled peppers, tomato sauce, pickled eggs… there’s more you can’t see, blueberries, apple sauce, jams, jellies, pickles, sauces, marinades. This year not everything was grown at home. I took advantage of terrific sales and the farmer’s market. But next year most of the cupboards will be filled with home grown goodness.  Also not in this picture are the things that I’ve dried, plums, apples, raisins, tomatoes, jerky, herbs for seasoning and tea.