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, February 27, 2012

Harvest Monday

small broccoli shoots
Welcome to Harvest Monday a great blog hop sponsored by Daphne's Dandelions. Stop by and visit with gardeners from around the world!

This week some interesting things are beginning to happen, the tatsoi bolted before I got to it, so it became rabbit feed. Several broccoli plants had small (quarter size) heads and I feared they would also bolt so I cut them all. I had them stir fried with leftover pork roast, stems, leaves and all, they were quite tasty.

Blossoming pea shoots
I'm actually writing this on Friday as I'm leaving for the Creative Painting Convention in Las Vegas on Sat. I'll be back Tuesday night. The pea plants in the greenhouse are loaded with blooms so I picked most of them, along with some of the shoots. I had the blossoms, tasting slightly floral and sweet in my salad and I stir fried the shoots, which were also sweet and crunchy and tasted faintly of peas. Hopefully since I did this there won't be too many over grown peas when I get home.

When I get home it will also be time to ramp up the spring plantings, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants as usual, but also some leeks, more garlic chives, more lettuce, spring carrots and beets. It's been quite warm and hovering just above freezing at night. The peach and the plum tree are in full bloom and I suppose the apples won't be too far behind them. Hopefully we won't get any late snow storms to take them all.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Harvest Monday

lettuce & other greens, violas, radishes
Welcome to Harvest Monday, a great blog hop hosted by Daphne over at Daphne's Dandelions. Stop over there and visit with amazing gardeners from around the world.

This week besides the usual salads of baby lettuces, chickweed, red mustard, cilantro, sorrel, arugula and a few radishes, I harvested a bunch of carrots, some even actually a respectable size.

I also harvested some Giant Red Mustard from the large tub in the greenhouse along with some spinach and lamb's quarters to steam together, that was very yummy, but I forgot to take a pic!

Dwarf Grey Sugar pea blossom

All sorts of goodies are promising in the greenhouse, the peas have begun blooming so hopefully there will be a few pods on next weeks harvest tally.

Little Marvel Peas in Bloom

Ferry Morse Gourmet Lettuce Mix in a tub

F-B, onion, radish, misticanza lettuce, chard in the greenhouse bed

Wall pots of Sweet Alyssum smell like honey

All over Italy nearly every house and apartment, no matter how small the space has flowers growing in pots, especially geraniums. In many of the towns blank walls are covered with wall pots similar to these, full of blooms. Theirs tend to be larger and made of terracotta, some of them glazed and painted Majolica style. These are only about 13 inches across the widest part and are made of terra cotta colored plastic. I do like that they have built in saucers. They were easy to hang on two screws or nails in the wall. I got mine from Amazon after searching almost every where for them. They are not very expensive and I'm going to order some more. Wall pots are a great solution for those of us that are space challenged! I don't want the moss lined baskets because it is way to hot and dry here-those things would have to be watered three times a day even in the shade.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Harvest Monday

lettuce, kale, tatsoi and one lone mache plant
Welcome to Harvest Monday, a great blog hop hosted by Daphne's Dandelions. Stop over there and enjoy visiting with gardeners from around the world!

This week has been warm (for Feb.), dry and very windy. Also very crazy at my work and this week isn't much better. Going on 8 days straight tonight and the past two being graveyard. Looking forward to having 3 days off at the end though. Also looking forward, they are forecasting rain around Wed. and we sure need it badly.

Mostly harvested the usual salad greens this week, many types of lettuce, kale, cilantro, sorrel, chickweed, spinach, along with a couple of tatsoi and one lone mache plant. I did discover that I have mache volunteers in one bed, but they are tiny yet.

Here's a few more pics from inside the greenhouse. You can see some construction details in my post from the other day, Simple Homemade Greenhouse.
Blue bellied lizard

I have several small lizards and a couple of spiders running around in the greenhouse. This lizard fell into one of the big tubs and couldn't get out so I rescued it. It's belly is like electric blue.

The strawberries are beginning to bloom

Salad Bowel lettuce

This 24 inch pot of Salad Bowl lettuce gave me 6 oz in one picking.

tomato blossoms

The crazy Yellow Marble tomato is blooming!

And now I am off to bed; one more night of graveyard....

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Simple Home Made Green House

The first section of the greenhouse was built in 2009. This show it in 2011 when I finished it so it runs the full length of the south side of the house.
A lot of you have asked to see more of the construction of my greenhouse. The design had several constraints. My house was built about 1900-1919 mostly it seems of scrap. There is no crawl space or ordinary foundation. It sits on huge timbers, probably scavenged from mining operations. The center section of the house has 10 foot ceilings and was probably the original structure. It was added onto over the years with shorter shed roofed additions. None of it is straight, level or plumb. Even the roof line is wavy. The south wall of the house is only 6 ft 7 in. on the inside, so the greenhouse is not very tall.

Greenhouse construction
On the outside there was a walkway about 5 ft. wide along the house even with the floor level. South of the walk way the ground rises almost 3 feet, there was a dry stone wall here. There had been a line of trees here which I had cut down about 20 years ago because they were hollow and full of fire ants. The stumps threw up a lot of suckers. Preparatory to building the greenhouse I had to pull down the stone wall and dig out all the stumps as best I could. I then rebuilt the wall along most of it's length and this became planting bed inside the greenhouse, topped with a 2x12 board frame.

If the south side of your house is level and clear then you can build a much wider greenhouse. If the south wall of your house is taller then you can build a much taller one. If you whole area is flat then you could have beds directly in the ground without retaining walls.  My dream home will be two stories with a greenhouse room the full height of the south side and about 12-14 feet wide. It will have in ground planting beds with a meandering brick and gravel pathway, a pond and stream running through it, where I can grow avocados and some citrus which I cannot grow here now.

2x4 screwed to side of house, pipe fits into hole, plastic stapled to top of 2x4
Construction of the greenhouse is very simple. I've lost the book mark to the video where I first saw this method. As far as I know in most places this construction will not require a permit since it is made of plastic pipe, but you should check with your local authorities.  All of the lumber used in mine is scavenged scrap and second and third hand, which is why some of it looks like it does.  I used 2x4s screwed to the house wall with a hole drilled through them every 4 feet to take the ends of the PVC pipe.  This sets the ends of the pipe right up under the eave of the house.

I set a 2x12 (you could use a 2x6, I just happened to have a 2x12) at the outer edge of the greenhouse and then played around with my tape measure to get an idea of how long to cut the pipes. Just keep in mind that you don't want the pipes to bulge upward from the house wall, they should arc gently to the ground. Once I figured out the pipe length I cut all the pipes to size.

The frame showing the wire mesh and the wood it's wired to.
Because the greenhouse wall doubles as a trellis for plants in the summer I covered the bottom 5 feet with concrete reinforcing wire, so 5 feet from the end I drilled a hole through all the pipes. These holes are for small bolts to fasten a piece of 1x3 wood to. This is to give me a place to wire the reinforcing mesh to and to staple the plastic to.

The bottom of the PVC attached to 2x12 baseboard on inside
The 2x12 at the outer edge of the green house has metal fasteners to accept the ends of the pipe. Then a screw is put through the wood and into the pipe to keep the pipe from sliding further down.

fairly simple end framing, seen here without the door in place
On the end of the greenhouse I built a frame work from 2x4s to staple the plastic to and I built a door of 2x4s. These areas all have half lapped joints. The hardest part is to work with the curved edge which was a matter of trial and error for me. The two ends of my greenhouse are made differently. I haven't gotten around to building a second door yet. The current door has chicken wire stapled to it to help keep stray dogs and pigs out of it when there is no plastic on it. When it warms up this spring I'll build another similar door on the other end.

When covering the greenhouse with plastic  I cover the bottom part by stapling to the 1x3 board, then pull it smooth and staple it to the 1x12 at the bottom. I pull the edges tight and staple them to the wooden frame at the ends; this way you have a pretty good seal at the ends. For the top of the greenhouse first I staple the length of the plastic to the 2x4s that are attached to the house. Then I use fasteners that are made to go on plastic and will accept a rope or bungee cord. I use bungee cords attached to stakes, concrete blocks or what have you to stretch and anchor the top plastic and keep it as tight as possible. With this method I can open up the whole top of the greenhouse for venting when it gets too warm in spring. Then I cover the ends and the doors. I only got one door made, so at the far end I stapled the plastic to the top part of the frame and just weighted the bottom with rocks. That way I can open it for venting if needed.

Sept. 2011 Greenhouse frame covered in morning glories.
When the weather is getting pretty warm I start vine crops like cucumbers or flowers like morning glories to cover the trellis and help shade the house during the summer.

The greenhouse does freeze inside, in fact the air temp is usually almost the same as outdoors overnight. But the sun heats up the pots and soil during the day and I think that warm soil is part of why the plants grow so well in it, as well as the warmer temps during the day. During the winter on warm sunny days I open up the windows and get some of that lovely warm humid air into the house. The greenhouse also helps keep cold drying wind off the plants and I think that helps their growth too. Experiment, build your own little green shelter from what ever you have available and have fun!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Harvest Monday

Salad mix Jan. 30, 2012
Welcome to Harvest Monday, a lovely blog hop sponsored by Daphne at Daphne's Dandelions. Stop by and check out what gardener's all around the world are harvesting.

I harvested some lovely salads this week. The large 24" pots of Salad Bowl lettuce in the green house are getting big enough to pick, (4 oz from one picking) the chickweed is starting to take off and the Lamb's Quarters are also picking up.

This weeks salads have contained lettuce, red mustard, chickweed, Lamb's Quarters, cilantro, sorrel, violas, violets, spinach, chard, arugula and radishes.

baby carrots
I picked another small batch of baby carrots as well.  The totals for January were 7.84 lbs of produce with a  retail value of $29.36

In another experiment I have been trying to cut some clover, edible weeds, bolting arugula, even apple tree trimmings, each day to feed to the rabbits. Sometimes there isn't much and sometimes my work schedule keeps me from being able to do this. I've been recording the results in the tab up top about animal feed harvested.

Interesting that feeding less than 30 pounds wet weight of fresh feed resulted in a savings of 56 pounds of purchased feed...... Perhaps fresh organic feed is more satisfying. I will continue to experiment and record the results. I do intend to breed one or two of the does to kindle in March, if I can get their cages fixed. So we'll see how that pans out with the fresh feeding.

*edit* I've realized that there is a terrible typo in my figures. There are only 4 rabbits, not five so the feed savings is 25 pounds of feed....