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, August 21, 2011

Flowers in Italy

Early morning shadows
I'm having a lovely time in Italy. We spent 3 days around Perugia, staying just outside the town at a bed and breakfast called Agritourismo San Fellissimo. There are more photos on my art blog of other places, The Artist's Way.

The swimming pool on the terrace

San Fellissimo

Begonias near the stairs


Elise meditates in the early morning light

The pergola near the swimming pool

potato vines in bloom


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Of Record Keeping and Stone Walls

It is always a good thing to keep records of your garden from year to year. I haven't been so good the last couple of years, but in the past I have filled large binders full of plot plans, crop rotations, old seed packets, photographs, plant lists, planting times and harvest records. All of these bits of information really help me plan what, where, when and even how to plant next year.

I designed this binder to be completely customizable. You can change any of the text and pictures to personalize it to your garden. Add in your own page protectors, photo sheets and journal pages and you'll have a record of this year's garden for years to come.

I've finished up the last bag of cement that I had so I'm done with that until I come home from vacation in September. I still have quite a ways to go on this wall and when I finish this area I have to start on the other side of the crossing. That storm July 4th caused a lot of erosion on the other side. Perhaps I'll get a picture of it tomorrow.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Beets, Carrots, Rocks

Beet Seedlings, Aug 7, 2011
Well the beets and the carrots are up, wow in only a week, that is probably a record breaker for carrots!
carrot seedlings Aug 7, 2011

More work on the rock walls around the culvert in the creek. I have about enough cement left to make one more batch and then I'm done until I come home from vacation in September.

I tried to do that last batch this morning but it just got too darn hot. Now there are thunder grumbles so I suppose I should just go ahead and clean up and do something else for the afternoon.

rock walls from above

Walls from above and to the side
walls and culverts in the creek
I did spend some time this morning after it got too hot to write an article about how you can build your own green home, with lots of links to introduce folks to all the different alternative building materials and techniques, including passive solar and underground houses.You can read it at Build Your Own Green Home

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hard Rock Labor

I've been working on getting the retaining walls built around the culverts the last couple of days. Here's where I left off this morning.

The warm weather and light showers have really been helping the garden grow. Here are the beans and the potatoes.

This gourd vine has been growing almost 2 inches a day! At the base of the trellis are Heavenly Blue Morning glories. I just love them. By the time I come home from vacation they may be in bloom.

If you haven't tried Botanical Interests seeds I've bought them off the rack at retail stores many times. Now I've discovered there is even more variety on their website.  Great seeds and their packets are a wonder, full of information on the outside AND the inside!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Carrots, Parsnips, Beets & Fennel

Last night we got a nice little rain, about .6" It's trying to rain again this evening but I don't think it's going to make it, the clouds are moving off in the other direction.

I decided I would plant just a little bit more before I leave for vacation. If I'm lucky things will survive and I'll be a month ahead than if I wait until I come home.

When I was cleaning up the silt and leaf mold that washed down onto the patio and sidewalk I dumped it onto one of my garden beds. I decided it might be good for my root crops. I added some potash and some seaweed meal and loosened everything up.

This evening I planted a few fennel seeds, some Danvers carrots, parsnips and three different kinds of beets. Cylindra is a carrot shaped beet that is easy to slice for canning. In 2004 I ordered a mix of Heritage beets from Bountiful Gardens. There was a large white beet in the mix from which I saved seeds, so I planted a row of them. I had some of the original Heritage mix left so I planted those too.

Here in the desert since water conservation is so important, I plant at the bottom of the furrow. That directs any rainfall straight to the plant roots. After I watered the seeds I covered the bed with my trusty old door and window screens to keep out the pesky quail and the neighbors cat.

When it looked like it wouldn't rain again today, I mixed up the rest of the open bag of cement and worked on the walls down in the creek bottom again. I worked on it a couple of hours early yesterday morning, too.

I've actually moved quit a bit of sand and rock the past couple of days. My mortar joints aren't very pretty but I think they will do the job. This wall follows the creek bank and the cement is mostly in the front face, with loose rock for back fill. Every once in awhile I lay a bigger rock that goes back farther to help tie things together.

All my life I have wanted to build a stone house. I still do. In fact working on this wall reminds me of how much fun I have doing this sort of work. And I'll certainly get in some practice in making nice mortar joints with this project!

Of course you can always use slip forms. This is where you use shallow forms, fill them with stone and cement and when the cement sets up you move the forms up the wall and do it again. Once the wall is completed you go back over the face of it and 'point' it, that is using a fine mortar mix and a small trowel you smooth out the joints and fill in any holes or gaps.

Or what these folks did; they just built a frame house and built stone walls on the outside of the frame. They covered the interior walls with sheet rock and it gave them a space to run their plumbing and electric lines.

People have been building with stone for thousands of years. Here in the southwest the Native Americans  used rocks and mud, many of their pueblos are still standing 200-500 years later.

The same in Italy. I saw farm houses there with walls 18-24 inches thick, built by the farmers themselves. Rocks with at least one flat side are set on each side of the wall and the space in between is filled with mud and rubble. This is also a common building technique in many other countries, from Irish cottages to great English Castles.