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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pea Planting

Dwarf Grey Sugar Pea
In 2009 I planted 6 varieties of peas. I am a fool for peas and between me and the grand kids we ate all the garden could give.

I wrote an article comparing them for Associated Content. I could probably plant peas now, but I'm not going to since I will be leaving soon on my vacation. The weather should be a lot cooler when I get home, so I will plant peas in mid-September instead.

Here are a few photos of the peas from 2009. Enjoy. (Unfortunately I didn't label the photos with the variety, and I don't remember now what some of them looked like!)
Bleushokker, a soup pea
I'm not sure which one this is, either Sweet Magnolia or Bleushokker
Maxi Golt, a shelling pea

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Not Gardening OR Edible!

culverts in the creek, before
So as the title of this post suggests today's work has nothing to do with the garden, nor is it in any way edible.

I have a creek, really a dry wash that fills with water during rainstorms, that runs through my property. Since my house sits in the bottom of the canyon, with steep hills on each side there is not much flat space for things like gardens, pasture, animal corrals or barns.

My son and some friends installed these culverts so we could drive across to the other side of the creek to a nice size flat area. We almost lost them in the storm July 4th, but they are hanging in there. 
culverts in the creek, after

Yesterday my son brought me the cement mixer from my mom's place and this morning I went and bought some ready mix. I managed to haul and mix three 80 pound bags before I needed to quit. I dug a little trench in front of the culverts and pulled some of the rocks down that are on each side of them. Then poured a little concrete apron along in front of them, to prevent water from washing under them and taking the whole crossing out. I poured a little cement on the sides of the culverts and reset some of the rocks.

It's going to take a lot of cement and rocks to build up around this area to prevent wash outs. Hot, heavy and exhausting work. What I got done today took about 2 hours, what with having to deal with the cranky mixer. BTW dear son if you are reading this, can we rig a safety switch on that motor? I hate having to plug and unplug it to turn it off and on, especially when my gloves are wet.

Next I'll be working on building up the walls along the creek sides to prevent more soil washing out. I do love building walls and working with rocks. It is heavy tiring work, but it is also fun and satisfying, yeah I know, I'm weird.

John Vivian has written a very good manual about building stone walls, mostly about laying them up without mortar or cement and without using forms.

Mike Lawerence will show you how to use brick or stone to build walls, steps, patios and paths. A handy reference book for folks new to the craft, with lovely color photographs of different garden features.

Of course people have been building with stone for as long as they have been building their own shelter. Perhaps you'd like to have a go at building your own stone house. I intend to do so in the future.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

bean plants running July 20, 2011
Well the Hopi Purple Pod Beans are beginning to run up the trellis. It will soon be a wall of green. Then later it will have pretty flowers and purple beans. Can't wait, though I anticipate that the first beans will appear while I am gone on vacation.

Potato Plants July 20, 2011
The potato plants are doing well, even a few little flower buds are visible.

Rain water tank
This is my rain water tank. During the bad storm July 4th it filled half way full of water, rolled off the bricks it was sitting on. I've been climbing around it since then, since I can't budge it. I have to siphon the water out and get it empty so I can set it up again. It holds about 150 gallons and is still half full. Just one of those things I haven't gotten around to yet.

Another project I need to get on with is getting the whole house guttered and getting more water tanks. I was talking to someone about rain water catchment awhile back and they didn't think it would be worth their while to do it at their house. I pointed out that if it rains 1", then you will collect a little over half a gallon of water from every square foot of roof area. So if you have 1,000 square feet of roof area, then for every one inch of rainfall, you will collect over 500 gallons of water.

My rain tank is an old fertigator tank given to me by a friend when they were moving out of state. There are many types and styles of tanks available now. My advice is to buy as many and as big as possible.Of course you can start small like I am and then buy more tanks as money allows. I've collected a few links for you if you are interested in rain water harvesting.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Beans & Potatoes!

Hopi Purple Pod Beans
Well, all of that rain the 4th of July and the little showers we've had since, have really got the plants shooting up! The Hopi Purple Pod Beans are outgrowing their screen protection and are nearly ready to run up the trellis.

The potatoes are doing great. The ones on the left are bakers and the ones on the right are the red and purple ones. I have used the silt and oak leaves that washed down onto the sidewalk and patio to mulch them with.
potatoes growing in mulch

The herbs in pots on the front steps are doing well, several pots of catmint, a variegated oregano, lemon basil, regular basil, lemon thyme and chives. The catmint is doing so well that my garden fairy is nearly hidden. Can you find her? Remember you can click on the pictures to see them larger.

Garden Fairy
Here's a close up of her hiding. Oh yes, some of the greenery in the large pot is a Four o' Clock or Marvel of Peru. I love these old fashioned flowers that open late in the afternoon or evening. They are very sweetly scented and change colors as they bloom and fade.

Here they act as herbaceous perennials, dieing down each fall and coming back from their roots in early summer.

Once they have grown a full season they are very difficult to transplant, since you can't seem to get all the root. So start some seedlings in pots and move them while they are small to their permanent home. If you don't have any neighbors to beg or trade seeds with, you can order some online.

Remember the little sunflower seedlings? Only a couple of them made it, between my crazy work schedule where I wasn't home to water in time before they wilted and what ever bugs & such were munching on the. But those two are growing steadily.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Well I was at work when it happened. A huge thunderstorm rolled in and in less than an hour dumped 1.4 inches of rain at my place. Which is wonderful.    Except it came so hard and fast a lot of it just ran off the hillsides, down the back sidewalk and right into my back porch and kitchen. It is going to take a bit to get it all cleaned. up.

This is the kind of rain gauge I have. Inexpensive and does the job. It has a gauge that you can stick in the ground and check how much water your sprinkler system is actually putting out or put the big tube into the short one and see how many inches of rain you received.

When you are siting your rain gauge keep it away from buildings, trees, bushes, anything that would hang over it and drip extra water into it. You want it to be in a wide open area to get a true reading.

 This is looking into my kitchen from my living room. I had just gotten home from work and was on my way to the kitchen to get a drink.... Mud and water; my floor is actually supposed to be blue.

And here's my back porch with a couple of inches of wet mud in it. I was saying things I cannot repeat here. I don't think anything that would be majorly ruined by the water was that close to the floor, unless it's deeper under the washing machine.

But I won't even bother starting to clean it up yet. Not only do I have to work a lot this week, the first thing I have to do is go up on the hill and clean out the drainage ditch. I don't think I've gone up there in a couple of years and most of the water and mud ran off the hill from up there.

But I can't find my shovel. I'm thinking I left it down in the creek when I was working down there a couple of weeks ago....which means if it isn't buried by now it's miles downstream.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I hope everyone is having a good time this weekend. Take it easy, sit in the shade, splash in the pool, make some ice cream and lemonade and just generally have a grand ol' time. Be careful in the heat, wear your sunscreen, don't play with fire! Enjoy yourselves.

DAMN PROUD AMERICAN! by maryhysong
Because no matter what, whether I agree with our politicians or not, this is MY country and I'm DAMN PROUD to be an AMERICAN!

Sorry, just had to get that out of my system. Now onto the garden. Not much going on right now except extreme heat and no rain, so watering and watering. Startled a little cactus wren when I went out earlier, poor thing was panting with the heat. My little water dishes for the birds were empty so filled them all up. Hoping it rains soon.

Garden, July 4th, 2009
While this year there isn't much in the garden, in 2009 there was a lot going on and the garden was green and lush and full of yummy things to eat. You can see more pictures by checking the archive links over to the right.

Growing your own food is one of the first steps to Independence. Get started today!