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.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Harvest Monday & Seed Giveaway Winner

Baby lettuce and edible viola blossoms
Welcome to Harvest Monday! This blog hop is sponsored by Daphne's Dandelions. I do hope you will stop over there and see everyone else's harvests; it is a lot of fun to see fresh homegrown food from around the world!

So a recap of the weeks harvesting, mostly a lot of baby lettuce, which is good considering that Organic Spring Mix is over $5 a pound at the store and I can eat at least two pounds a week.  I've been tossing viola blossoms into the salad mix too. I tried my big purple pansies and they were OK but nothing to brag about. The violas have a slightly sweet taste with a lingering floral essence. They are more bite sized, too.

Baby lettuce and Easter Egg Radishes

Another day there were several Easter Egg Radishes to pull along with the baby lettuces.

Radish, mizuna, spinach, lettuce

On Sunday there was another radish, some mizuna and some baby spinach in addition to the lettuce.  There was also 2 ounces of little tomatoes. I've moved the tomato pot into the greenhouse for more protection. We haven't had a hard freeze yet but when we do I expect the tomatoes will be done for, even in the greenhouse.

Yellow Marble and Princepe Borghese Tomatoes

Harvest Totals Week of November 21-27
Lettuce and other salad greens   2 pounds, 2 oz.
Easter Egg Radish                                     1.5 oz
Tomatoes                                                   2  oz
TOTAL            2 pounds, 4.5 ounces

Now I know everyone wants to know about the seed giveaway! To read more about how I'm doing this you can read this blog post. To read more about this weeks giveaway go to  my very first Seedy Saturday post.  If you want to get in on the action stop in next week for Seedy Saturday. I am trying to get the Mr. Linky thingy so that others with seeds to give away can join in but have been having technical difficulties. I will keep trying but if not I might allow links in the comments for that day.

So now, the Winner is......drumroll please...... BeeGirl! I'll be sending you an email through your profile, but if you don't get it be sure to contact me with your snail mail address so I can send your beet seeds to you! Congratulations!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Seedy Saturday: Free Garden Seeds

Yellow/white Heritage Beet
This is the first of my Seedy Saturday, free garden seed giveaway. You must comment directly on this post to be eligible for the drawing for free seeds. Read all of the rules here.

This weeks give away is for seeds for the yellow/white beet shown here. Back around 2003 or 2004 I ordered a packet of mixed Heritage beets from Bountiful Gardens. When I grew them out there were a couple of really huge white beets and a large slightly pale yellow one (as near as I remember now; of course I didn't write anything down at the time....). I saved seeds from these beets in 2005.

Beet Seeds

So the seeds are on the old side, but they had good germination this fall. I would like to get these out into the world so others can enjoy them.  I would plant them a little thicker than you would fresh seed. Most of the seeds will sprout, but they will only sprout one plant, not multiples like when they are really fresh, at least that is what happened with my planting this year. There is some variation in the color of the beets, some are more of a pale pink. But they usually grow pretty large and are very sweet, not nearly as 'earthy' as some varieties. Also, even when large the tops are sweet and yummy also.

Hopefully whoever receives these seeds will also save some seed and send them out into the world. I am sending out a good size handful of seed, about half of the seed I have left from 2005. I'll be planting more myself and collecting some fresh seed next year.

I am thinking about getting one of those linky widgets to add to the Seedy Saturday posts so that if you also have some seeds to give away you could join in with me. If there is any interest in doing this then please let me know. I envision lots of us with extra seed sending them out into the world and spreading and saving valuable varieties of vegetables, flowers and fruits from extinction.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Building Soil

mmm there's supposed to be steps in there someplace!

First off, Happy Turkey Day. Today I am remembering Thanksgivings past when I lived 1,000 miles away from any family. But we always had a good holiday. Some of those years everything on the table came from our own place except the flour for the pie crust and any sugar used. The meat, milk, eggs, vegetables, pickles and relishes were all homegrown. There were always some bachelors that didn't have any where to go and we would feed them, along with a young couple who were also far from their family. We traded and bartered with these folks all the time and many of them lent a hand when we built our house. Good times indeed.

Today was a very nice day outside so I did some more clean up work out back. There really is a set of steps in that mess someplace! It's buried in silt and leaves that washed down during the July 4th storm.

Shredded tree prunings with fertilizer sprinkled over.
A big part of what I actually worked on today was to continue shredding up weed trees. I also worked on soil building in a new garden bed right next to the sidewalk. I plan to do an informal espaliered apple tree on the fence with perhaps strawberries or flowers and herbs as an under planting. So I loosened the dirt up and piled tree chips over the area. Then I put on some blood meal for nitrogen to help decompose the wood faster, some potash because the soil has none, and some seaweed meal for trace minerals.  I watered all that in.

Silt and oak leaf compost spread over the top
Then I began mucking out that set of steps. They are buried in fine silt mixed with decomposed desert oak leaves. I tossed it on the growing bed, right over the wood chips.

and mulched with fall leaves.

Then I topped off the bed with a bag of free leaves from a friend. I'll probably pick up a new apple tree around January when they come into the garden centers. By then most of the raw organics I've added should be pretty well decomposed. The next time I'm working over the worm box I'll grab a few and drop them in the bed to help things along.

Since the garden is a bit higher these days than the sidewalk I set some old boards right along it to keep the soil and leaves from washing off onto the sidewalk. I also managed to set the posts and string most of the fence (only about 8 feet). There is one small gap next to the green house that I have to cover and I have to make and hang a gate. I haven't decided what I'm going to make a gate out of. I have several options; a couple of different sorts of wood or a wood frame with wire fence or perhaps a piece of junk art.


bean seeds
I have been looking through my seed boxes and realizing I have a lot of seeds that I will probably not get planted before they are too old to sprout. So I'm going to give some away. A couple of times a month, probably on a Saturday morning I'll make a post about what I'm giving away. If you'd like some of the seeds, then all you have to do is make a comment on that post (commenting on FB or G+ doesn't count, you have to come to the blog and comment directly on the blog post). Then I will put all the names of the commentors in the hat and draw one out and on my Harvest Monday post I'll announce the winner. I will try and contact you through your blog or your profile, but I'm not responsible if your contact info is hidden. In that case you should contact me and send me your snail mail address so I can mail your seeds to you.

I will also say that I will send the seeds to other countries, but it is up to you to know if you can import them or not. I don't have the time to research the rules and regulations for such. Also, like I said, some of these are older seeds and the germination rate may not be the best. If I recorded the year the seeds were saved then I'll tell you that and maybe make a guess at how thick you should plant them to get a reasonable stand of plants.

And today, since I'm not cooking (my Mom is, I'll go over and help her in a bit) I've been working in the yard some more. I'm actually making a lot of progress out there and things are looking much better.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cleaning Up with my Electric Shredder

beginning to clean up with my shredder
I have a small electric shredder that I dearly love. Today I worked in the garden cleaning up all that stuff on the last garden bed.

This first picture is a little after I got started.

My electric shredder; nearly done!

This picture I am almost done with all the weeds and trees that were laying around in the area.

Back garden, looking better!

Here I've finished up what was laying around and have even cut down some of the weed trees in the area behind it.

The back sidewalk, still with remains of the July 4th flood

Here is the back sidewalk, still with remains of mud and leaves from the July 4th flooding. It was a nice day out, so I cleaned up some of this area too. I scooped up the leaves and silt and dumped them on top of the shreddings on that last garden bed. I'll probably add some of the leaves a friend gave me too, along with some blood meal to boost decomposition.

Back sidewalk, after

You can see I still need to do some work, but it's looking a lot better around here!

Inside the greenhouse

And here's a peek inside the green house. I know it's not much yet, but give it some time, it'll be pretty crowded before spring!

The Greenhouse

Just a little more greenhouse construction. It's actually all finished but here are some pics. Here in the first pic I'm putting the top layer of plastic on. This is seperate from the rest of the wall so that I can push it back and vent the whole top when things are warming up in spring. In this pic I haven't gotten the door fixed and re-hung yet.

Here's a shot from the outside. I've got the plastic stapled on but I haven't got the tie downs on the top plastic yet.

Monday, November 21, 2011


bowl gourds
Every Monday, Daphne of Daphne's Dandelions hosts Harvest Monday; a nice little blog hop where gardeners show off what they have harvested during the previous week. I don't always remember to take pictures of everything, besides some of it would be boring. After all, one batch of baby lettuce looks a lot like all the others.

So this week there are these three bowl gourds. I was surprised the seeds sprouted at all, they were about 5 years old, one sprouted and grew quite large. The top gourd in the photo was the first to form, before I went on vacation. While I was gone another one came along and then the last one after I got home. I'm pretty sure the first one will be ok, but the other two are still pretty green, so I'm not sure they are going to dry out well enough, since I planted these fairly late in the season.

Drying Nepeta and baby lettuce
Early on in the week I harvested 5 ounces (wet weight) of catmint, aka catnip and Nepeta. This herb is a nice tea mint and of course if you have cats it will make them crazy ;-)  And of course some baby lettuces.

baby lettuce with Easter Egg radishes

Yesterday I was harvesting lettuce and realized I had also planted some Easter Egg radishes in that bed. The plants didn't really look that big, but when I poked in the dirt around them, there were some radishes.

Harvest totals this week:

Catmint  5 ounces
Lettuce  30 ounces (1.875 pounds)
Radish   1/2 ounce

Sunday, November 20, 2011


On Saturday I participated in a new program starting up in my community called Bountiful Baskets. This is an all volunteer group that is bringing fresh, low cost produce to families. This co-op is all over the US so go check them out and see if there is one in your community and if not, volunteer to start one!

This is the best deal, this is a co-op, everyone pools their money and then volunteers buy and deliver the produce. A regular basket is $15 or you can get organic for $25. They also have additional products like rolls and breads that you can buy extra. The very first time you participate there is a one time fee of $3. This is so your volunteer can buy a laundry basket to sort your produce into. You take your own bags or boxes to take your produce home in.

This is what I got for my $15 this time, some red potatoes and two really huge onions, 2 pounds of carrots, 2 bunches of celery, 2 bunches of spinach a box of cherry tomatoes, a bunch of bananas, some pears, apples, tangerines and fresh pineapple, which I gave away because I can't eat them.

I'd like to encourage everyone to look into this program and join up, it's a great way to save money and eat better too!

Garden Tour

south side of the house, green house under construction
Here are some pics of the small back garden along with some progress on the green house. The greenhouse is a pretty simple structure, lengths of PVC are attached to a baseboard with the other end stuck in a hole in a 2x4 that is attached to the side of the house right under eave. About 3 feet down from the top a small board is bolted to the pipe for rigidity and the bottom 5 feet is covered with concrete reinforcing mesh. The helps support the plastic and becomes a trellis in the summer. In this first pictured you can see the nearly dead morning glories and the still trying to grow gourd vine. In this picture you can see the first part of the greenhouse which I got done a few years ago. Right now I'm working on carrying it completely along the south side of the house. Because the garden area is about 3 feet higher than the house and the house eaves are just over 6 feet tall the greenhouse is not very wide. But at least it's something.

Backyard Garden
This is an over view of part of the back garden looking towards the east. The junk pile at the front is the last bed that needs to be dug and put into production, the edge of it is where there was a giant tree stump that took forever to dig out of the way.

yellow beets plant Aug.
Broccoli and Cauliflower seedlings
carrots and clover
baby lettuce and clover
lettuce bed after cutting; Bleushokker peas on left
another bed of lettuce

Friday, November 11, 2011

Today's Harvest: lettuce, beet, tomatoes

Harvest 11-11-11, baby lettuce, yellow marble tomatoes, a yellow beet
Today's harvest is small compared to how much food I actually eat, but things will get bigger and better as I go along. I picked 8 ounces of mixed baby lettuce, 4 ounces of Yellow Marble tomatoes and the biggest beet in the patch. The beet & greens together weighed in at 1 pound, 3 ounces. The root alone weighed 5 ounces.

The root really is that bright of a golden yellow. When cooked it loses most of the color and is a very pale yellow, almost white.  The ratty outer leaves and the tough stalks went to the rabbits; the tender leaves were part of tonight's dinner along with the root which is super sweet and not quite as earthy as red beets I grow.

I don't know the name of this beet and I'm not sure but it might even be a cross between a couple of kinds.You see I bought a mixed package of Heritage beets from Bountiful Gardens probably about 8 years ago. There were several really huge white beets in the mix, which I let go to seed. There might have been a yellow one in there too, I really don't remember now. That would have been about 2005. I still have more than half a pint of seeds left, but germination is beginning to drop off a tad. Most of the seeds sprout, but instead of several plants from one seed ball, they are tending more to just one. Which is OK, it means a lot less thinning for me.  I will probably let some of them go to seed next year, just to replenish the supply.

Also I'd like to draw your attention to the tabs across the top of the page. These are extra pages I've added to the blog which I'll be updating from time to time, especially the amounts harvested and worth of produce but also the varieties I'm growing. That page will eventually be in alpha order, but for now it's a little random. The worth of produce is the price I'd have to pay for a comparable product at the local market.

And since I didn't harvest anything else since Friday, I'll list this post for Harvest Monday over at Daphne's Dandelions, a great place to connect with other gardening bloggers and what they are harvesting from their gardens.


Home Grown Goodness
How much land does it take to grow your own food? Well that covers a lot of territory and there are a lot of variables. Are you talking about ALL of your own food? Are you talking about a typical American diet or a strict vegan diet? Are you talking about a 6 month growing season or do you only have 4 months or maybe you are luck and have 9 months.

I give you some general ideas and some resources to check out in my new article: HOW MUCH LAND DOES IT TAKE TO GROW YOUR OWN FOOD?

In the meantime I will be working on this question myself, here in my edible garden. It will probably take me a couple of more years to get my soil into the best shape for doing it, but I'm hoping I'll be totally sufficient in vegetables by the end of 2012, at least 50% sufficient in fruit by 2014 and totally and completely sufficient in veggies, fruit, meat, milk and eggs by 2020. So what are your goals for the next few years?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Planting Peas

Of course I love peas of all kinds; I've probably told you that a few times already. This years roster so far is Sugar Snap, Sweet Magnolia, Bleushokker, Early Perfection and Mammoth Melting Sugar. Yesterday afternoon I planted the Melting Sugars in the bed where the beans were. I took out the shorter trellis of weld wire and replaced it with a chicken wire trellis down the center of the bed.

Soil prep for pea planting
After I put in the brackets to hold the trellis poles I ran a string between them and dug a trench down the center of the bed. Here you can see I've dumped in about 6 inches of rabbit manure. If you don't have manure compost will also work. Then I leveled the bed, covering the manure with about 2-3 inches of soil. Then I covered the whole bed with several inches of sifted compost.

Planting Peas
Next I used my triangular hoe to make a small trench on each side of the trellis after I put it up. I set the pea seeds every couple of inches in the furrow then covered them with about 1/2 - 1 inche of soil and watered the bed well. It's also been raining off and on since I planted them so they should be coming up pretty quickly, usually about a week this time of the year.

I've written an article about peas, How to Grow Peas and a few years ago I grew six varieties of peas and wrote 6 Pea Varieties on Trial.   


Stone walls, Nov 2, 2011
Well here is where I left off on the walls last week. It has been rainy and grey since then. The corner on the left is the height the left hand side will be going to. As you can see the right hand side above the culverts needs to come up higher. I have enough cement to make one more batch but I don't know if the weather is going to cooperate.

Stone Wall above the culverts

Here is the wall from above the culverts. As you can see I still have to haul some dirt and fill in behind the wall where the July 4th storm washed so much away.

In the meantime I did harvest some lettuce and baby beets yesterday and I *thought* I took pictures of them but I guess I didn't.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saving Seeds: Onions

With everything that went on July 4th and after (see my posts here) I forgot all about these guys. I save a lot of my own seeds for my garden. This picture is the seed head of an heirloom onion called Italian Red Bottleneck, which I obtained from the Seed Savers in Iowa. Each of the little bud like things was a small flower and now have several small black seeds in them.

You can see where one of the pods has split open, exposing the small black seeds. When a couple of pods have opened I go ahead and cut the whole stem and bring it into the house to finish drying out.

[edit]Which I did and now they are very dry and ready to clean, which hopefully I'll get to in the next day or so. In the meantime I will publish this post which should have been done back in July; don't know how it ended up still being a draft all this time....
I learned a lot about saving my own garden seeds from Carol Deppe's book, I think it should be on every gardeners reading list! She is a geneticist by training and a serious gardener. Her instructions are very easy to understand and implement in the garden.


National Geographic Magazine - This chart shows up the dangerous loss of genetic diversity to our food crops. In 80 years of corporate farming we have lost about 93% of the varieties grown in 1903. Just imagine the colors and flavors of the vegetables that were available to our grandmothers that we no longer have access to. Before the advent of industrialized farming where everything must be exactly the same size shape and color, people ate in a much more diverse way. Before the widespread use of electric refrigeration our ancestors had special varieties of food crops that were best for certain uses, for fresh eating, for storing away in a root cellar, for keeping well in the field overwinter, for canning, for pickling. That is why I try to buy and grow heirloom varieties whenever possible, to keep our diverse agricultural heritage alive. Adopt some heirloom fruits or veggies this next growing season, save some seeds and pass them along to your friends and neighbors, buy local and organic whenever you can, keep your small farmer or market gardener in business. Good for your health, good for the economy, good for the Earth!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Today's Harvest

Yellow Marble & Princepe Borghese tomatoes
Several tomato plants volunteered in this pot, mostly Yellow Marbles, but surprise, also a Princepe Borghese, an Italian drying tomato. I picked about two ounces of them today.

Lettuce mix, baby carrots, Hopi Purple Pod Beans
Since the days are getting shorter and the nights cooler I know it's just a matter of time until ol' Jack Frost runs by and wipes out the bean plants. So today I picked all the beans and pulled the vines out. I need to get more peas planted. Besides tomatoes today's harvest was 6 ounces of baby lettuce, 2 ounces of baby carrots (roots only) and 5 pounds, 14 ounces of beans in their pods. I don't have time to shell them before I go to work but suspect the shelled weight will be somewhere around 2 1/2 pounds.

Each Monday Daphne's Dandelions has a Harvest Monday post, so I'll add my link over there. Happy Growing!