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, December 26, 2011

Harvest Monday

Baby lettuces with red mustard, chickweed & viola blossoms
We had some snow again on the 22nd so didn't harvest as much this week as I could have, with everything being frozen. This fall I will start more lettuce and things in the greenhouse earlier to have more salad under cover and easier to get to.

This Harvest Monday blog hop is hosted by Daphne over at Daphne's Dandelions. Stop over there and visit with other gardeners around the world showing off their harvests. Don't you just love the internet!

Baby carrots

I also harvested some baby carrots.

This week I harvested:

Salad           8 ounces
Carrots        8 ounces
total            1 pound

15 bean soup cooking on the airtight woodstove

This week I used the ham bone from the ham I cooked last week to make 15 bean soup, one of my favorites. I cooked it on top of the airtight woodstove in the living room, since I had it going all day anyway.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Put the Fat Cats on a Diet: Stop Buying Tainted Food From Billion Dollar Corporations

Put the Fat Cats on a Diet: Stop Buying Tainted Food From Billion Dollar Corporations

Seedy Saturday

Home grown bean seeds, Yard Long, Kentucky Wonder, Hopi Purple Pod
I'm going to take a couple of weeks off from seed giveaways for the holidays, in the meantime you might want to read Garden Seed; Grow Your Own if you have never saved your own seeds before.

Having control of the seed supply equals having control of the food supply and both are in grave danger. Monsanto and other corporate giants have stated outright that control of the food supply is their goal. Which means that there will be less variety and fewer options not only for farmers but also home gardeners, especially as these corporations try to get new laws passed against small seed companies and seed saver exchanges, preventing the free and easy availability of many types of open pollinated, home saved seed. In addition it means that we will be totally at the mercy of the corporations.

This has already happened in the EU where the only commercially available seeds belong to the big companies because only seeds and plants on a special approved list can be sold. And of course the cost to get on the approved list is prohibitive to the small company. There are already things like this that are being pushed on us in the US and the fact that it isn't law yet is only because we are hanging on by the skin of our teeth. You can read more about this at Stop the White List

Monday, December 19, 2011

Seedy Saturday Winner & Harvest Monday

Cooking a ham on my airtight wood stove
 First my apologies for not getting this post done earlier today. I have been having some technical difficulties with my computer and it is a pain. But I'm working them out one by one.

The Harvest Monday blog hop is sponsored by Daphne over at Daphne's Dandelions.  Stop on over, say howdy and check out some of the other folks around the world and what they are harvesting.

MMmmm well now it doesn't seem that I've taken any pictures of the harvest this week! I suppose it's a bit boring to look at baby lettuce week after week any way. But I did get a whole pound of baby lettuce this week and amazingly enough, a few of the little Yellow Marble tomatoes! (about one ounce). Yesterday and today have been very grey, drizzly and cold. Which made perfect weather for my experiment which follows.

But I'll tell you what else I did this week; I bought a ham on sale (I love ham with sweet potatoes and applesauce on the side) and when I got home realized that no way was it going to fit in the crock pot. See my oven has been out for awhile so I've just been cooking on the stove top or the crockpot. So I decided to try baking my ham on top of my air tight wood stove in the living room.

The top of the stove runs 150-200 degrees F. so I figured it would work just like those big electric roasters and it did! It was delicious! I think I will experiment with this some more.
My ham cooked on my airtight wood stove.

And now I know everyone is waiting for the winner! The winner of this weeks Seedy Saturday is Katie Hertfelder Congrats Katie! Send me an email to hysong AT cableone DOT net with your snail mail.

To the last couple of winners, I haven't forgotten you, I just haven't made it to the post office yet, hopefully by Wednesday for all of you!

In the meantime, for those of you stopping by for the first time, I write articles on Squidoo. I have made a list of my Organic Gardening articles to make them easy to find, if you want to check them out.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Seedy Saturday Free Seed Giveaway!

Dwarf Grey Sugar Peas
Welcome to Seedy Saturday! This weeks free seeds are for Dwarf Grey Sugar Peas. These are the little flat snow peas that you get in Chinese food. They are great raw in your salad or on a veggie party platter, as well as stir-fried. They easily fit into the edible landscape with their beautiful pink and maroon blossoms, resembling Sweet Pea flowers!

These seeds were homegrown in 2009 and still have good germination, at least 80% should sprout. I'll send you about 25-30 seeds, enough to have a some to eat this year and to save your own seed for next year.

If you don't know how to grow peas, or you've had trouble in the past, I've written an article to help you grow the best pea crop ever, How to Grow Peas.

To learn more about saving your own seed check out Garden Seeds, Grow Your Own.

Seedy Saturday Rules: Basic rule, just comment on this post and you are in the running to be drawn for the free seed. There's a couple of other things which you can read on this post.

I will announce this weeks winners on my Harvest Monday post, so be sure and check back on Monday to see if you are a winner!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rain Water Catchment

My Water tanks
I live in a pretty small house by modern standards, only about 900 square feet, give or take a few. At the moment I only have about one third of my roof guttered to catch rain water. Even though the joints on the gutter leak and one of my tanks has sprung a leak, I still managed to catch 300 gallons of water from about 3 inches of rain.

When I have my whole house guttered and all the leaks plugged, I should be able to harvest about 450 gallons of water for every inch of rain that falls. In that case the three inches of rain that has fallen this month would have garnered me 1350 gallons of water! The next problem of course is enough tank capacity to hold that water until I really need it in May, June and July. Right now I'm using whatever I can get but when I plan my future home I'm thinking of building a cistern big enough to hold several thousand gallons of water and maybe even create extra roof space like covered porches to collect extra water. (Around here, as long as they are not closed in, covered porches aren't counted for property tax value, we are calculated strictly on square footage of enclosed living space).

I've just finished an article with some great resources about rainwater harvesting, called Rainwater Catchment.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Seedy Saturday Winner & Harvest Monday

Red & Yellow beets, parsnips, carrots
Welcome to Harvest Monday, a great blog hop sponsored by Daphne at Daphne's Dandelions  Stop by her place for links to more wonderful harvests around the world!

This week I didn't get to harvest anything until Saturday because there is still snow and ice around the yard. Before Sat. I couldn't harvest because of the freezing temperatures. But on Sat. I pulled a decent amount of root crops. The tops looked sad and went to the rabbits this time, but the roots, of course were fine. Don't laugh at my pathetic parsnips. I know they are too small, but they tasted fine. I don't think  I got them planted early enough. Better luck next year.

Lettuce is frost damaged under row covers
I have some Agrobon row covers over some of the lettuce bed. This is just layed over the plants and where the snow sat and froze on the cover caused some damage, like freezer burn on meat. But I did pick lettuce and just fed the damaged leaves to the bunnies or the compost depending on how bad they were.

This is where I can see how having the frost blanket over beds inside a hoop house would be great. Funny thing is the lettuce that still has a little snow on it and no frost blanket looks fine and dandy.

This weeks harvest:
Baby lettuce                         17oz
baby carrots                           6 oz
parsnips                                 3 oz
yellow beets, roots only          7oz
Cylindra beets, roots only       4 oz

Total: 2.3 pounds

I have been busy writing more articles for you over on Squidoo, I've added a page here with links to all my organic gardening type articles. I'm currently working on another one about rainwater harvesting; I should have it live in a few days. In the meantime there are some on growing peas, improving soil fertility, using earthworms and several more.

AND THE SEEDY SATURDAY WINNER IS: cathy@home So Cathy if you don't hear from me, shoot my an email hysong AT cableone DOT net and give me your snail mail. Cathy is going to receive a nice big bunch of old fashioned hollyhock seeds.  Don't forget to stop by next Saturday for another Seedy Saturday free seed giveaway!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Around the Garden & in the Greenhouse

pea plants broken down by snow
Today was nice and sunny so I did a bit of work around the garden and in the greenhouse. I surveyed the damage from the snow storm last week.

The Bleushokker peas (in this photo) as well as the Sugar Snaps had some stems broken over by the snow and ice but peas are hardy plants and don't die from freezing. I'll probably just trim off the broken bits and feed them to the rabbits. Rabbits  happen to love pea plants.

freeze damage on lettuce

A lettuce bed covered with Agrobon frost blanket suffered freeze damage where snow sat for days on top of it and the leaves froze to the material.

Lettuce in the Snow

Another bed of lettuce which had been picked to ground level a couple of weeks ago had no frost blanket and so far shows no signs of damage. I think the thick layer of snow that was over it the first few days insulated it from the 22 degree nights.

Beets & carrots after the snow

The beets and carrots looked a little sad after the snow melted off of them, but they tasted just fine when I pulled them up. You can see there is still a little snow at one end of the bed (upper left corner of photo) and the soil is still frozen in some parts.

Dwarf Grey Sugar Peas in a tub in the greenhouse.

The greenhouse did get down below freezing some nights last week with the storm. Some little nasturtium seedlings froze to death. But almost every else is doing well.

Many things are sprouting up and growing. It gets in the 70's when it's sunny, though it can freeze at night, lately it's been just above freezing while outdoor temps have been just below freezing. One thing that seems to help is that the soil picks up a fair amount of heat during the day the surface is warm to the touch. I think this has helped the seeds sprout and the plants to grow. At this time I don't have any heat sink in the green house mostly due to lack of space, tho I'm thinking about at least using plastic milk jugs full of water.

Little Marvel Pea seedlings in the greenhouse bed
The Little Marvel Peas are sprouting up as well as a few other things.
onion seedlings in soil blocks

An onion plant left from last year and some radish seedlings.

Sweet Alyssum started in soil blocks and moved to plastic pots

Purple Pansies in the greenhouse
Old fashioned violet
Yellow Marble Tomato survives
A big surprise was to find that one of the Yellow Marble Tomato plants did not seem to have been frozen. It does lay over a couple of big rocks and perhaps they helped keep it warm enough, I'm not sure, but tomato season may not be totally over yet.

Don't forget to stop by and comment for Seedy Saturday's free seed giveaway. This week I'm giving away old fashioned hollyhocks, so if you have been wanting some for your cottage garden or to hide the compost pile, go on over and comment on this post to be put in for the free seed drawing.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Seedy Saturday

Red Hollyhock
Welcome to Seedy Saturday! I'm still having some difficulty getting a Mr Linky widget so if anybody knows how to contact those folks I'd appreciate it; if they have a contact button on their website I have not been able to see it. In the meantime, if you have seeds that you would like to give away, you may drop a link to your blog post about it in your comments.

This weeks Seedy Saturday giveaway is for old fashioned hollyhocks. Many different colors of them bloom in my garden, from white and pale pink to a dark burgundy.  Hollyhocks are of course out breeders, with many bees and butterflies visiting the flowers and spreading the pollen far and wide, so no telling what colors will show up in any given batch of seeds.

Mom's Hollyhocks
While classed as a biannual, that is growing a plant the first year, blooming and setting seed the second year, then dieing off, many of mine live from year to year, producing a bigger clump each spring. This partly depends on the weather, if they don't get enough water at the end of blooming they will often die back. So far I have never noticed any of them dieing of cold or snow in winter. But our winters are not nearly as severe as in some places.

I got my first seeds from my mom's hollyhocks and I'm pretty sure she got them from my granny who probably got them from her friends and relatives. They really are just an easy pass along flower!

Seedy Saturday Rules: Everyone that comments on this blog post before 6AM Monday morning is entered to win free hollyhock seeds and the winner will be announced when I make my Harvest Monday post. I will mail seeds to other countries, (I am in the United States) but you are responsible for knowing your own country's rules and if they will be allowed in or not. I don't have time to keep up with stuff like that.
I am sooo totally pumped! These cute little 'candy' jars from Zazzle look like a great thing to put seeds in and would make a fab gift for your gardening friends! I'm off to go make as many as I have photos for! But you can make your own, just upload the photo of your choice from your computer and change the text as you wish. If you can't figure out something on the Zazzle template, just give me a hollar [hysong AT cableone DOT net] and I'll help you out, if nothing else I can help you find the instructions on Zazzle itself.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dreaming of Spring & Edible Flowers!

Violas are yummy edible flowers.
Yes, I know, it's not even Christmas and I'm drooling over seed catalogs and dreaming of spring! I just can't wait to really get my garden going full steam again.

One of the things I'm thinking of are all the yummy sorts of edible flowers I can plant. Violas are very nice, a sweet flowery taste to them.

Pea shoots and blossoms are edible and taste like peas. This one is Dwarf Grey Sugar.

Another thing I'm looking forward to are all the sorts of peas I've planted. I haven't ever tried the pea shoots but I have tried the blossom and they taste very much like peas.

Tulips are also edible.

Tulips are also edible as well as beautiful in the spring landscape.

Nasturtium leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible.
Nasturtium leaves and blossoms are edible, but have a hot spicy flavor not enjoyed by everyone. The green seeds are sometimes pickled for use as a substitute for capers, but that sounds like more work than I want to do.

Roses are another edible flower that is often used in the landscape, but so far I haven't really found any with a flavor that really stands out. Some are a little bitter even if you trim off the white part at the bottom of the petal, while others are just sort of bland. So I'm still looking for one that actually tastes like roses!

There are dozens of other edible flowers that you can use to add color to your edible landscape. Most herb flowers are edible and some are colorful. Some vegetable flowers are edible, like zucchini.

If you'd like to read up on more edible flowers I'd suggest Rosalind Creasy's book to get you started.

Monday, December 5, 2011

More Snow & the Water Tanks

snowy footprints
I had to be to work at 6 this morning and it began snowing on my way in. In a couple of hours it was coming down fast and hard, in huge flakes. By noon there was about 3-4 inches of snow on the top of my car. About 1:00 the sun came out and where ever it was shining the snow melted, but not anywhere else.

The garden is hiding under the snow

The garden still has a fair amount of unmelted snow on the beds. This time of year it doesn't get much sun after 2:00 and none at all after 3:00.

Rain water catchement

On another note, on Sunday I went out to discover that the smaller of my water tanks was full and also leaking underneath. It got blown off it's support during the July 4th storm (I know it's Dec and I'm still talking about that !@#@ storm!) so I suppose that is when it got a crack in it's bottom. That explains why it was empty the rest of the monsoon season. I thought it was because the gutters were messed up and leaking.

Well, I went and hauled the big square tank down into the yard and then I went through the junk and found an old fountain pump. mmmm need a piece of tubing for the pump, nothing handy on the porch or in the yard. Check the falling down shed. Sure enough found a piece of tubing that fits the outlet on the pump and oh goody, it is long enough to go from one tank to the other! YAY! So I pumped all the water out of the fiberglass tank into the bigger one. Got some more this afternoon. When the weather warms up I'll have to get a fiberglass patch kit and patch up the crack. In the meantime as long as it rains faster than the tank leaks and I'm home to turn on the pump I can at least get some of the rain water. The big square tank holds about 250 gallons and the fiberglass one about 150. Now I just need to buy some more tanks and finish getting gutters on the house!

Harvest Monday & Seedy Saturday Winner!

baby lettuce, violas, society garlic blossoms, chives, lemon thyme
Welcome to Harvest Monday! This weekly bloghop is hosted by Daphne, over at Daphne's Dandelions. This week of course saw more baby lettuces, along with some herbs and edible flowers.

yellow beets, baby carrots, tiny potatoes

One day I pulled a couple of big yellow beets, some baby carrots and emptied a tub that grew potatoes. The potato plants have looked quite pathetic all fall and all I got were these 3 tiny potatoes. I think the problem was the soil was just not fertile enough. Looking at the plants I'm sure they didn't have enough nitrogen and looking at the potatoes I'm equally sure they didn't get enough potash. Ah well, there is always next year!

Pineapple Sage flowers are great in salad

The small Pineapple Sage plants that I bought recently have begun to bloom. I sprinkle the flowers in my salad. They have a lovely sweet, floral flavor with hints of pineapple. Their bright lipstick red color adds another dimension of color along with flavor.

Many people look askance at me eating my salad without dressing. While I do like Ranch dressing, it is way too heavy and overpowering to put it on baby lettuce. It is better as  a dip for things with more robust flavors, like hot wings.

I don't even usually use vinaigrette these days, preferring to actually taste the different flavors of the lettuces, other baby greens, flowers and herbs.

yellow marble & Princepe Borghese tomatoes

Since we were expecting snow and freezing temps I picked all the little tomatoes that were at least beginning to turn color. Since it is predicted to be in the high 20's overnight all week I suspect these will be the last.

This weeks harvests:
lettuce, herbs, edible flowers           1 pound  5 oz

potatoes                                                        3 oz
beets & greens                             2 pounds 14 oz
baby carrots                                                  5 oz
tomatoes                                                       1 oz

total                                              4 pounds, 12 oz

This week's Seedy Saturday giveaway is for Sweet Magnolia, a purple podded snow pea. The seeds were saved in 2009 and should have good germination. The plants will go to 6 ft+ on good soil. I wrote everyone's name on a slip of paper and folded it up. Then I tossed them in the air and picked up the slip of paper that landed closest to me. And the winner is......... Shannon B.! For the rest of you, stop in and try again next week.

PS. I have one more space that I might plant Sweet Magnolias in and after that I might give away the seeds that are left in the jar, so be sure and check in every Seedy Saturday!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yes, it does Snow in the Desert!

Snow in the desert.
It rained all yesterday morning, then late in the afternoon the rain turned to big fat flakes of snow. This is looking out my front door towards the north early this morning.

Snow in the garden

Ooops. I forgot to put the crossbar on the top of this trellis and the snow freezing to the chicken wire has made it sag. So glad the peas are just sprouting, I have time to fix it when things warm up!

Don't forget to comment on Seedy Saturday for your chance to win some Sweet Magnolia purple snow peas!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Seedy Saturday; Purple Peas!

Purple Peas
Happy Seedy Saturday! This week I have decided to part with some of my stash of Sweet Magnolia, a purple snow pea. I am going to give away about 25-30 seeds. Sweet Magnolia was developed by Alan Kapular of Peace Seeds and is the product of trying to breed for a purple version of the Sugar Snap pea. I bought some seeds from him a few yeas ago and have been saving my own seed since.  Occasionally a vine will put out green pods instead of purple ones. Just make sure you don't save any seeds from those.

Sweet Magnolias are not quite as strong a grower as my Bleushokkers but they do well in fertile soil and can easily go to 6 feet or higher.

And it's possible that this picture is actually of Bleushokkers before they fill out. However the Sweet Magnolia's look like this too. The flavor is much the same as any snow pea. I have forgotten now, (it's been about 2-3 years since I've grown a batch of these) but I'm thinking they turn green when cooked, much like purple snap beans. But I usually eat most of my snow and snap peas raw, either as snacks while gardening or in my salads.

How does the Seedy Saturday Free Seed Giveaway work? Well, first you comment on this post any time before 6AM Monday morning (my time, I'm in Arizona). From all the comments I draw one name and announce the winner in my Harvest Monday post. If I can contact you through your blogger profile I will. Otherwise the winner should email me with your snail mail address at hysong AT cableone DOT net,(replacing the capitalized words with the appropriate symbols, of course.) I am willing to send seeds to other countries but I am not responsible for any duties, fees, etc. or if they can or can't be imported. If you live outside the US please check with your government agencies about small lots of seed coming into your country. (you might tell them you are involved in a seed exchange, not a commercial venture)

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Pineapple Sage, edible blossoms
When I was buying some plants last month I picked up a couple of Pineapple Sage and a Lemon Verbena plant. Our winters are too cold for them so they are living in my bedroom, in front of the big window that looks into the greenhouse. The Pineapple Sage is blooming. I love the bright lipstick red flowers; they are edible and taste delicious. A fruity, flower, pineapple flavor. I picked a stem of them today and tossed them on my salad, yum!

Pineapple Sage blooming

Here's a shot of the herb plants in my bedroom. You can see into the greenhouse and the window box planted with purple pansies out there. The other herb plant in the bedroom is a basil. There are actually several plants in the pot, the original one that grew all summer and a couple of babies that sprouted up last month. While I was gone on vacation the basil had bloomed and made some seed before I got home and pruned it back. I doubt they will manage to live all winter, but it's fun to have them for a bit longer than just outdoors.

Sugar Snap Pea blooms

Outdoors the Sugar Snap Peas have put out their first blossoms. I don't know how well they are going to do, our first winter storm is trying to roll in and we could get a little snow.

Don't forget to check back for Seedy Saturday! I've got a really great free seed giveaway for you!