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, October 30, 2011


Granada, a hybrid tea rose
With the more moderate weather and a nice rain the other evening the garden is coming along nicely. I had to go to the valley the other day and stopped at my favorite nursery, Shady Way in Apache Junction. They always have a nice selection of herbs so I picked up a couple of mint plants and some lavender. I had also stopped at K-Mart and picked up a Granada rose from the clearance table for only $2. It wasn't in bad shape and was described as having a 'strong spicy scent'. I love rose that have a strong scent and won't buy any that don't have one. I mean after all what's the point of planting a rose if it doesn't smell heavenly? I also picked up a couple of plants at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior at the members plant sale. I'll show you some of these as I get them planted out.

In the meantime here's how to plant a potted rose bush. The day before planting, water the soil in the pot well, so that it will hold together when you knock the plant out of the pot.

When choosing a site for roses, remember that in general they like to have full sun. However, if you live in the desert they will appreciate some late afternoon shade so that they aren't fried by the full strength of desert sunlight. I chose to plant the Granada in a bed in the front yard. It will get full sun in the morning and through mid-day and light shade in the afternoon during the summer.

Now dig a nice big hole, several inches deeper and wider than the pot. I know it's hard to tell in this picture, but the top of that shovel is about 3 inches deeper than the soil surface.

Add some compost to the hole, enough so the when you set the pot in the hole the base of the rosebush will be at ground level.
Take the bush out of it's pot and set it in the hole. Fill around it with more compost and then back fill with soil. If the soil is very dry, fill the hole with water and let it drain before back filling. Then water it again.

The soil in this particular spot is not in too bad a shape. If I were planting in an area where I hadn't been working the soil in the past I would have dug a much bigger hole and used a lot more compost. I think it is better to plant things in ground that you have previously worked and added compost and manure to in the past than to dig a hole in virgin territory. It makes it a lot easier for the plant roots to get out into the soil.

I know this is not the way a lot of 'experts' tell you how to do it, but this way works for me; After planting I pruned off a few broken and weak branches. I'll keep you updated on the rose's progress when it starts growing and putting out new growth.  I'll also be adding some more compost or some rabbit manure over the top of the soil as a mulch. If, when it starts putting out new growth it seems to have problems I'll add a little organic fertilizer mix to the top of the soil and water it in.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Grow Peas!

Sweet Magnolia, a purple snow pea
I love peas, I could eat green peas every day of the year. However, here in the desert they only grow from fall through spring as they don't do well once the temperatures start getting over about 80 degrees. So I plant peas everywhere I can and gorge on them during the season. I don't like canned peas so don't bother growing a lot of shelling peas.

If there are any extras I do freeze some of the snap and snow peas to use during the off season. I've just written an article about growing peas of all kinds, including sweet pea flowers, which you can read at How To Grow Peas.

A few years ago I grew six different kinds of peas and wrote a review of them which you can read at 6 Pea Varieties on Trial.

So what else is new around here, not too much, mostly I've been working the day job and with the days getting shorter there is less time to be working outside. I'm still hauling rocks and building walls as fast as I can and of course, planting peas!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Harvesting Has Begun ;-)

Shelly beans, lettuce, beets, Oct 21, 2011
Very strange. I know that I wrote this post yesterday, and that I published it, yet it is not showing up on the blog nor is it in my list of posts or showing up as a draft. Just strangely disappeared. So if in the future you see this twice, you will know it is because the original post magically re-appeared somehow! (edit: I have discovered that somehow the missing post has appeared on my art blog. Have no idea at all how I managed to do that!)

Anyway this was my harvest Friday, 2 pounds, 6 ounces of Hopi Purple Pod beans that shelled out to 8 ounces of beans, 3 ounces of mixed baby lettuces and 1 pound 12 ounces of beets & greens, the roots alone were 10 ounces. All of it quite yummy! Oh I love my garden!

Fresh raw Hopi Purple Pod Beans
Some folks are puzzled by the term 'shelly beans'. This refers to eating fresh those beans that otherwise you would eat as dry beans, like pintos, kidneys, black beans, etc. As you can see I picked some pods that weren't as mature as they should have been and the beans are a little small. The pink ones are about right. The ideal time to pick shelly beans is when they have completely filled the pod and the pod walls have thinned out but are not yet beginning to dry up.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lettuce, peas, Rock Walls

lettuce mix planted Sept 2011
This is the lettuce that I planted right after I got home from vacation. When it germinated it was much thicker, but something was eating it. I don't have any idea what; grasshoppers, mice, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, little birds, who knows? The area next to this patch (on the left) I am prepping to plant some more lettuce.

Bleushokker peas and misticanza (mixed lettuce)
In this photo you can see that the Bleushokker peas are really taking off. These were planted Sep 25th. In front of them is a patch of mixed lettuce. This bed stays a little cooler than the first one so the lettuce has grown better. Also whatever was eating the lettuce in the first bed has not discovered this bed. So far I have harvested 4 ounces of lettuce from this one and will probably be able to harvest about 2 ounces today.

mixed lettuce planted Oct 3, 2011

In this photo is the lettuce I planted Oct 3, with an spun polyester row cover over it.

Hopi Purple Pod beans

These are the Hopi Purple Pod beans. The vines are doing pretty well, tho I lost of few while I was on vacation. The survivors are loaded with bean pods and they are beginning to color up. These are not really green bean type beans, they are more a dried bean type. When more of the pods are ready I'll pick them and make a batch of soup or garden chili.

Rock Wall downstream side from above

But most projects around here have ground to a halt while I concentrate on getting as much wall building done as possible before it starts freezing up at night.

Rock Walls and Culverts down stream side

Rock Walls, down stream, right side

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Misticanza; baby lettuces, first harvest
Woot, a few days ago I made my first harvest of baby lettuces, yummy! I was able to pick about 2 ounces, enough for a salad and a few days later picked about another 2 ounces.


The violas in the tub by the front gate are really doing well. They are edible and I will be adding them to my salads, just because it is fun to eat flowers ;-)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Around the Place

baby lettuce mix
I thought today I'd just give you a few pictures of things happening around here.  The baby lettuces are taking off. Botanical Interests has many varieties of organic lettuce seed for you to try; I love all the colors, flavors and textures available!

Bleushokker Soup Peas

The Bleushokkers were the first peas to go in this year and are doing well. I grew them for the first time a few years ago. You can read a review of them and 5 other peas varieties that I wrote over on Associated Content.  I'm really looking forward to pea season this year with the Bleushokkers, snow peas and green and purple snap peas.

Along the south side of the house

I whacked down some of the weed trees along the south side of the house. I would like to get the greenhouse finished along there but I don't know if that is going to happen before it gets cold this year. Still so many things to do!

Heavenly Blue Morning Glories

The morning glories are still going strong; can you see the white gourd blossoms mingled in with them?

Gourd blossom peeks out from under the morning glories
potatoes growing in a pot

My potatoes growing in pots are doing ok but not the best. The ones I planted in the garden beds basically croaked while I was on vacation, there was a 100+ heat wave while I was gone and they just didn't get enough water. Better luck next year!

planting bed

I divided this bed up into sections for planting. In it I planted Bloomsdale longstanding spinach, Golden Globe yellow turnips, Easter Egg radishes, Western Front kale, mixed lettuces, mache, mizuna and chard. The turnips and radishes are planted in the dividing lines. After watering I covered  it with a row cover to keep out the birds.

stone steps in the creek

Last weekend I also worked down in the creek. I'm on the down stream side of the culverts. The July 4th storm washed a lot of dirt out of this area.  Since part of it was washed out anyway and a very steep drop to the bottom I decided to make some steps to make it easier to get up and down. I'm also working on the walls around the culverts.

stone walls in the creek

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More planting!

seedling in a soil block ready to transplant
Well I made lots of soil blocks and have been planting lots of seeds. The best gardening season of the year is fall to spring; summers are just too darn hot. I've planted the following,either in the ground or in soil blocks:
  • Amber violas from Botanical Interests.
  • pakchoy
  • tatsoy
  • Broccoli-purple, DiCicco and Romanesco
  • Early Snowball Cauliflower
  • Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage
  • Red Giant Mustard
  • dwarf snap dragons
  • mixed lettuces
  • Golden Globe Turnips
  • Easter Egg Radishes
  • Western Front Kale
  • mache
  • mizuna
  • chard
  • spinach
  • Sweet Magnolia, a purple podded snap pea
 If you don't know what soil blocks are, I wrote a three part article about them, complete with color photos of making and using them. You can read part one, at this link: Seed Starting in Soil Blocks. There are links to the other parts on that page.
mmmmm didn't I just cut down those stupid trees???

Monday, October 3, 2011

Planting Time!

Heavenly Blue Morning Glories
I love Morning Glories, especially these Heavenly Blues. They remind me of my granny; she always grew them on trellises around the house. Right now they are blooming up a storm, which always signals to me that fall is really here.

We had a short sudden rain shower this afternoon, about .2" of rain with a little hail. I had done some more cement work down in the creek this morning. Just fortunate that the cement had set up pretty good before the rain started and a trickle of water ran through the culverts and onto the freshly laid bit of wall.

Spent most of the day working on an article about making and using soil block; Seed Starting in Soil Blocks

Something has been eating the strawberry plants and carrying off their leaves as well as some of the newly sprouting pea plants. It's not a bird, they wouldn't bother the strawberry leaves and they pull the pea plants out of the ground, not bite them off. So the usual four legged suspects; wood rats, pack rats, chipmunks, squirrels. Also one of them or maybe a small bird or mouse got under the screen and ate a lot of seedling lettuce.

So I worked on cutting down the weed trees along the side of the house, again. Need to plug up the holes under the house, as I think that is probably where the critters are nesting.

mini greenhouse
rose cuttings
jasmine cuttings