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, April 30, 2012

Harvest Monday

First Homegrown Artichoke
Monday, Monday, Harvest Monday.... I look forward to this time each week, where we can share our successes and commiserate over the not so good stuff (I refuse to call them failures; if nothing else they are compost!) Thanks Daphne's Dandelions, for being our hostess and getting us all together!

I think my most exciting news this week is picking my very first homegrown artichoke. As you can see it's a bit on the small side and I may have picked it too soon (there was absolutely no 'choke' in it at all). But I was worried about our temps hitting 96 and it going past it's prime too quick. Well, it was tender, delicious and absolutely wonderful.  I don't think I've eaten a fresh arti since I was a kid and we lived in California. I always thought it was great fun to be able to eat with my fingers and get messy and nobody said anything to me because they were doing the same thing!

After I cut this one I could see that there are three more little ones hiding underneath it! Soooo looking forward to more!

Of course I had lots of eggs, (and sold my first dozen!) lots of salad, the Mammoth Melting peas are coming on strong too. And I discovered that even when they are getting lumpy they are still sweet and delicious, they just get a string like an old fashioned green bean. There were a couple of bug eaten strawberries (discovered the culprit, it's the pill bugs aka potato bugs aka rolly polly), a couple of spears of asparagus and a big of broccoli.
The chicks have a good time playing in the greenhouse.

The chicks are growing fast, losing their fluff and growing real feathers. Every day that I can, I put them out in the greenhouse where they are reasonably safe as long as I'm around the yard. At this time it isn't predator proof so I can't leave them out there all the time. Besides which, the far end is where the rat hole is, so I couldn't leave them in there at night, large rats have been known to attack sleeping chicks.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Chicks Day Out

Buff Orpington chicks
Well here are the chicks, enjoying some time outside in the green house. They had great fun running around eating bugs, worms, bits of chickweed.

dust bathes
Then they took a dust bath and later settled down behind some pots for a nap.

west end of the greenhouse

While the chicks were playing I took down the plastic that was shredded in the storm the other day. It's warm enough I don't really need it. It's looking a bit bare since I pulled the Dwarf Grey Sugar peas out. I also took out two large pots of lettuce that were getting bitter.

You can see the chunk of concrete wall  laying on it's side that got pushed over a couple years ago while taking out an old tree stump. It's just too big and heavy to move so I'm just working around it for right now.

concrete wall

So what I'm probably going to do is just build up a rock wall between the chunk of concrete and the wood framed bed on the other end and make another planting bed here. Maybe I'll plant some more cantaloupe in it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tomato Planting

Well I took out that bed of brassicas that weren't doing much and fed them and the weeds to the chickens. I think a big part of the problem was the bed was too dry and I didn't realize it. I decided to plant my 8 Amish Paste tomatoes here.  To help with watering I bury this olla (unglazed clay pot, about 2.5 gallons, I think) in the middle of the tomato circle. You then fill it with water and the water seeps out the sides of the pots over a few days. I would love to have a lot more of these, but I only have one. Since this bed will hold two large tomato cages, I put the olla on the end of the bed that gets the hot afternoon sun and dries out the worst.

claypot waterer

What to do for the other tomato circle? I had a 12" clay pot and found a stick that would exactly fit the drain hole to act as a plug. After adding some sulfer and potash to the bed and some rotted horse manure, I dug the olla and claypot into their positions.

tomato cages with clay pot waterers

I then set up the tomato cages and pounded in some rebar to stake them. This is very important, a few years ago I didn't do this, thinking that burying the bottom six inches of the wire would be enough and a bad summer storm took both cages over, doing a lot of damage to the crop.  My cages are concrete reinforcing wire with 6x6 inch openings, so I can get my arm to the center for picking. The cages are sized to fit into a 4x4 ft square. I plant four large size tomato plants on each one. In other years with slow, cool springs I can then wrap plastic around the cage to keep the plants warmer. In hot summers I drape shade cloth or even old white sheets over the sunny side to help prevent blossom drop in the heat. I will put scrap lumber or flat rocks over the tops of the clay pots to keep out mosquitoes and rats. I did get the tomatoes planted, but by then it was dark so no picture.

Another hint for growing melons of any kind. I don't do this with the clay pots because they would just get really crusty with the fertilizer salts, but I sometimes bury a 1 gallon pot in the middle of where I plant melon seeds and always run the hose into the pot. Then if I need to feed the plant I'll fill the pot with manure or compost, adding in blood meal, potash or kelp meal. That way every time I water the melons are getting a nutrition boost.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Harvest Monday

homegrown salad!
Well now another Harvest Monday rolls around; gosh some weeks just seem to be flying by and I'm not always taking a picture of every harvest. Linking up to our hostess, Daphne's Dandelions, hop on over and visit with gardeners from around the world.

Of course I harvested salad this week, although the lettuce harvest is a bit light, there being a slight gap between the old lettuce getting too bitter to eat and the new baby lettuce being big enough to pick. Besides lettuce there is sorrel, lambs quarters, chives, radish and viola blossoms.

first strawberries
The straw mulch helped keep these strawberries from rotting, but some kind of bug or maybe a small bird was tasting them. However they were ever so sweet and delicious. Can't wait until I have more plants and can get more than a taste!

Besides these of course there were eggs, some greens for cooking (red mustard, lambs quarters, chard) and lots of peas now that the bed of Mammoth Melting Sugar are producing.

storm damage

And the storm we had a week or so ago caused some shredding of the plastic on the greenhouse.  You can see the Dwarf Grey Sugar peas here. They are even more pathetic looking now. I've been picking off yellowing seed pods and when I've got most of them then I'll feed the vines to the rabbits and chickens and plant something else in the tubs.

You can see more stuff going on around the garden in my post from Saturday and the one from Wednesday.

Also, I've gotten my harvest totals, feed totals and chicken page all caught up. A quick scan of this month's harvests tells me that we are likely going to be at about half of what we had in March. I think this is mostly because I don't have my lettuce succession down yet, so will need to work on that.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

More Happenings Around the Place

Pearl Oyster Mushroom kit
So my mushroom spawn finally arrived. Here you see a 5 gallon bucket with a big bag of coffee grounds dumped in, the instruction book and the bag of spawn. Seems pretty simple; mix up the bag of spawn with the wet coffee grounds, cover the bucket with the perforated plastic bag (included) mist twice a day with non-chlorinated water and wait about a month ;-)

View into part of the front garden
I got those plastic urns at a yard sale a few years ago for about $3 each.

Oriental poppy

The splash of red in that last picture is this, the first Oriental poppy of the year.

Salad Bowl lettuce seedlings

In a shady corner of the front yard is some Salad Bowl lettuce. You can't really see it here, but towards the upper left are also some dill and sunflowers coming up.

potatoes are sprouting
Most of the potatoes that I planted last month are beginning to show above ground now. When they get a little bigger I'll mulch them well to help keep them cool.

laundry sink becoming water feature

Over on the terraced garden an old laundry sink is in the process of becoming a new water feature.

west side planter
The planter below the kitchen window on the west side of the house has one or two pea plants that escaped the birds, along with sweet alyssum and snapdragons. I'm going to plant some beans along here.

Princepe Borghese

And here is the promise of tomatoes to come! The Princepe Borghese are making little green ones all over.

Buff Orpington chicks

Well I just couldn't help myself. Since I ended up with only one BO hen I grabbed four chicks when I saw them at the nursery today!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Busting Out All Over

Striped Sweet Peas
These striped sweet peas are the most fragrant of all; they are highly intoxicating! Much more so than the pink or red ones that started blooming first.

Baby Bonanza Peach

You've seen the baby plums, well we have baby peaches too, along with.....

baby artichoke

A baby artichoke! I'm soooo excited!

Hale's Best Jumbo Cantaloupe
Royal Burgundy Bush Beans

The cantaloupe and bush beans in the cold frame are doing well and growing like crazy.

But this bed of brassicas in the back garden are doing very poorly. I think the soil just isn't up to snuff yet and of course I let the henbit and chickweed over run them. This is also one of the beds that gets very little direct sun in Dec & Jan. A couple of plants in here look like they are trying to perk up and do something so I'll give them a little longer, otherwise it's off to the chickens with them!

I've been getting some vermicompost out of the worm box and feeding worms to the chickens, which of course they love. I've also been planting and transplanting seeds and seedlings all over the place, with many more to go.

Monday, April 16, 2012


lettuce, chard, sorrel, spinach, radish, chives, violas
Another Harvest Monday rolls around! I love visiting Daphne's Dandelions and hooking up with gardeners around the world!

 Well the lettuce harvest is lightening up again as some patches are turning bitter and preparing to bolt, while the newer patches are not quite up to speed yet. I need to figure out how to get a steadier supply going and not wait so long between plantings, especially now that the weather is warming up I don't expect a planting will give me as many cuts as when it was cooler. And soon it will be too hot and the seeds won't even sprout.

Mammoth Melting  on the left, Dwarf Grey Sugar, right
The peas in the greenhouse are falling all over the place and loaded with seed. I'm going to start drying them off. The Mammoth Melting Sugar peas planted out in the garden are starting to come on now. You can see how much bigger their pods are compared to the Dwarf Grey. I will probably keep growing the Dwarf Grey though, just because they are really pretty.

Of course I got eggs this week, all the girls are laying so I get 2-4 eggs a day.

I'm eating two or more dinners of greens a week now too. Red Mustard, chard, spinach and lambs quarters, usually mixed together and cooked up with bacon and onions. I have ripped out the last of the spinach and the lambs quarters in much of the yard are beginning to get tough and stringy, but so far the mustard and chard are holding out.

I finally found my calculator and tallied up March's harvests; 25.56 pounds of produce worth over $60. I don't have an exact $ amount yet as there are a couple of prices I need to check on first. I finally got my taxes finished so now I can maybe finish cleaning off my desk and finding my garden receipts so I can catch up my expense page.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

More Goings on in the Garden

bolting lettuce and finished spinach
I think April might be the busiest month of the year for gardening. I know I have a lot of things going on at my place right now. In the back of this bed is lettuce I'm letting go to seed. This is the Italian Misticanza mix. I have another bed of this bolting also. Since I wanted more red lettuce I've pulled out most of the greens from this bed. You can also see a California poppy volunteer there. Down front is a patch of spinach. With the warmer days it's getting pretty tired so I picked all the good leaves.

Then I cleared the area of weeds and roots (the chickens loved them). And scattered a bit of horse manure over it. I'm thinking of doing this bed as a '3 sisters style', but instead of corn, beans and squash I"m thinking about using okra, black eye peas and maybe sweet potatoes.

new lettuce bed

Lettuce pickings are down again as another outdoor bed turns bitter and the tubs of Salad Bowl in the greenhouse join them. In the meantime this newer bed has produced a few leaves big enough to pick, along with some radishes. Along the front end with the radish are some cilantro. In the upper left are some turnips.

Pea plants in the greenhouse

We had quite a storm Friday night and Saturday with a lot of heavy wind. It shredded part of  the plastic on this end of the greenhouse (it was a bit old and starting to go already). It also blew the pea plants around quite a bit and now I must crawl over the rocks to get around them. I think I'm going to let them start drying off for the seed and so I can get them out of the way. Next year I'll try to remember to not let the plants from all the tubs grow together, so I can move them outdoors to a semi shaded spot come spring.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Around the Garden

Well I lost the first strawberries that tried to ripen in the greenhouse to rotting. They were touching the soil and were buried under the henbit and chickweed. So I cleaned up the bed and broke down and bought a bale of straw $11, ouch. But I mulched around the berry plants, the potatoes that I planted in Jan that are sprouting up and sprinkled a bit on one of the beds on the terraced garden.

Cantaloupe seedlings

The cantaloupe seedlings in the greenhouse are doing well. I'm going to have to thin them down to just one or two plants tho! Also sprouting up are some nasturtiums and there is a California poppy peeking in.

corn seedlings in soil blocks

I've started some Golden Bantam Improved corn in soil blocks. I usually don't start corn until May, but we are already having May type weather so decided to go ahead. I start them in soil blocks because of the birds, they are so terrible, pulling pea, bean and corn seeds out of the ground. This way they seedlings won't have root damage but will be big enough to hopefully escape the birds notice.

Eggplant seedlings

 I have 10 eggplant seedlings that I started indoors weeks ago. There is a hybrid eggplant that is a shocking pink called Neon. I grew it a few years ago and saved some seed. So these will be all different forms and colors. I'll pick my favs and save seed from them again, eventually developing my own. Of course I"m hoping for a shocking pink open pollinated eggplant....

volunteer pepper seedlings

 Remember the Yellow Marble tomato plant that lived all winter? Well apparently when I tried to get it to root on it's stem I broke the stem and it died before rooting. But it looks like there are some pepper plants of some sort volunteering from the compost I put in the planter.

Amish Paste tomato seedlings

I have about 25 canning tomato seedlings, about half Amish Paste and half Italian Heirloom. They will be going into the ground soon.

Little green plum

The plums are getting bigger, although we did lose some in a bad wind the other day, there are still a lot on the tree.

Dwarf Grey Sugar peas making seed
It is getting so warm that the Dwarf Grey Sugar peas are growing faster than I can keep them picked. They have also billowed out into the walk way at the bottom so bad that I can't really reach the tops without breaking the stems along the bottom. So the tops are loaded with pods going to seed. Which is ok, I needed to replenish the supply.

turnip seedlings

I have a small patch of turnips and thinned them out this evening. I tossed the greens in with some chard, lamb's quarters and spinach and cooked them up with bacon and onion for dinner.

one part of the front yard
Here is one part of the front yard, left, some Princepe Borghese tomatoes, some green onions and sweet alyssum. Buried in there are a few new strawberry plants. On the right behind the wire trellis are bunches of Italian Red Bottle onions, in front of it are more green onions and sweet alyssum. Oh yeah, one lone pea plant that the birds missed. The mass of green in the front is madder, a red dye plant.

Headboard trellis & Victorian cloche
Next to that bed is this one. I haven't planted the main part of it yet. On this end is an old head board I picked up off the side of the road. My cute little Victorian cloche is now protecting some watermelon seeds.

terraced garden
Over on the hillside terraced garden the first snapdragon is blooming. You can see I've added some straw to help keep the soil moister and to prevent erosion when it rains.  I've also added some more herbs to these beds, a citrus flavored thyme and two sages, a purple and a golden.

native penstamin

Around these terraced beds are clumps of native penstamin. They really attract bumblebees and hummingbirds.

Tall bearded iris
Here's a close up of my tall bearded iris.


More sweetpeas began blooming this week. I can get high on these things, they smell soooo good! I planted all sorts of seed, some I collected from a garden fence I walk by sometimes, some from several old seed packets. I'm always attracted by labels that say "highly fragrant" and "old fashioned".  I just wish cameras could capture that fragrance to you could enjoy it too!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Harvest Monday

Fresh Eggs!
And it's Harvest Monday once again! Harvest Monday is a great blog hop sponsored by Daphne's Dandelions. A great way to visit gardens all over the world!

I didn't take too many pictures of harvests this week, just too busy doing other things, but I got lots of eggs, 4 hens averaging 3 a day.

I got a couple of spears of asparagus, picked some mustard, chard and lamb's quarters for cooking.

I picked lots of salad with lettuce, mache, claytonia, chard, spinach, lamb's quarters, chickweed, chives, viola blossoms.


I picked lots of peas, Dwarf Grey Sugar from the tubs in the greenhouse and the Mammoth Melting Sugar out in the garden are beginning to come on. In the photo the two extra large pods on the upper right are the Mammoths and the others are the Dwarf Greys.  It's getting  a bit warm in the greenhouse for the peas and I wanted to move them outside to a cooler spot, but the three tubs have all grown together so I can't move them without ripping them apart. I will have to remember next time to give them more space and keep them separate. Because they are so warm they are really getting past their prime quickly, before the pods are even very large, I just let them go to make more seed for next year.

Green Globe Artichoke
Around the yard: The two artichoke plants I put in last fall are growing fast, hoping for 'chokes soon.

baby lettuce

I'm now looking for every damp shady spot I can find to plant a patch of lettuce in. These little guys are out front covered with window screen to protect them from the birds.

Sweet Peas
The first sweet pea blossom opened this week; heavenly!

sweet peas & violas

The sweet peas are on a small obelisk in a large wash tub by the front gate and surrounded by the violas.

Tall iris
This tall two toned iris doesn't usually bloom until about mid-May, so it's waaay early!

worm bed experiment

I loved Harvey Urssery's worm beds in his greenhouse and decided to try something similar in the narrow paths between my raised beds. These bed dry out way too fast and I've thought eventually I will take the sides away and dig them down lower into the ground. Then I thought perhaps I could make worm beds between them with scrap lumber to walk on. That would keep the sun off the sides of them and help keep them from drying out too fast as well as growing more worms for chicken feed.

trellis bed ready for planting
I also got this trellis bed ready for planting. You can see the before pictures on my post from the other day.  I've decided to plant a few cukes at one end and then the rest in beans. I don't eat that many pickles so don't really need a ton of cucumbers. And I eat way more beans than cukes!