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, May 28, 2012

Harvest Monday

greens, artichokes, onion
Harvest Monday once again! Link up with Daphne's Dandelions and visit gardeners around the world!

Here in the US this is a holiday; Memorial Day, to remember those that have died for their country. Today I also reflect on my many ancestors that fought in the Revolution, Civil War and other times of trouble to ensure freedom for their descendents.

But the garden harvest does not wait for anything. The garden gives when it's ready to give and you'd better be there to catch it! Like my grandkids will say "You get what you get and don't throw a fit!"

My cooking greens have now generally been green chard, red burgundy amaranth and some fat nasturtium leaves. Nasturtium is too hot and spicy for me to eat raw, but it is a lovely addition to cooked greens. Also found these three small artichokes.

Royal Burgundy purple snap beans
This was a week of firsts. Here are the first purple snap beans. I now remember what I didn't like about the Royal Burgundy beans. They are not very bush like and they tend to sprawl all over each other in a tangle. I think I will try another variety next year; anyone have suggestions?

The first nasturtium blossom opened.
nasturtium blossom

trumpet vine

The trumpet vine began blooming this week; it's a big draw for the hummingbirds.


My free waterlillies put out their first bud.

permaculture bed
Here is my experimental permaculture bed. In the center is a small Kadota white fig. Around the edges are comfrey plants which will be chopped down for mulch and animal feed. Also scattered around the edge are lemon mint, sunflowers and Kaboch squash. Sprinkled all over are buckwheat; also for animal feed and mulch. I also just discovered that buckwheat greens can be added to salad mixes. And their flowers are good bee food.

comfrey blossom
baby fig
Chaparral Sage blooming
Sage blossom

The Chaparral Sage by the driveway is blooming. I love the scent of this plant, I make bundles of it for smudge sticks and as an air freshener. Just leave a bundle in your hot car and it will smell wonderful when you get in it. When the sun is shining hot on the leaves you can smell these two small plants 10-15 feet away.

gnarly turnips

I realized (not the first time in my gardening life either!) that turnips really are mostly a fall crop. They began bolting and these two roots were the only ones in the patch that were big enough to do anything with. The rest went to the chickens.

first potatoes

More firsts this week were the first potatoes. The russets were from sprouting grocery store spuds and the red one is a Red Pontiac. I think all the work I put into the potato beds, begging for leaves, adding coffee grounds and potash, extra digging, is going to pay off in a nice crop this year.

first tomatoes

And the first tomatoes! The Princepes and the currants ripened at once. And of course a bird had to have a taste too.

Pearl Oyster Mushrooms

And a promise for next week! The mushrooms are growing!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Garden Tour

honeybee on red poppy
Wow there is so much going on in the garden lately! Things are just growing, blooming and going crazy I can't hardly keep up with it all! While harvesting is a bit slim at the moment, it's coming to a tipping point, where I will be over run with things in a very short time.

There are still a few oriental poppies blooming, the bees love them and come get all the pollen as soon as they open in the morning.

All Blue potato blossoms

The potatoes are really blooming now, except the German Butterballs which haven't started yet.

squash & cantaloupe on compost pile

This compost pile, made mostly of horse manure and wood chips was made on the terrace garden to kill a tree stump. In the four corners are Baby Blue Hubbard squash and in the center under the Victorian style cloche (just love that thing!) are sprouting some cantaloupes from Italy. Yes, that's going to be crowded, but I figure over a cubic yard of manure should be able to feed them well.

mushrooms on compost

The other compost pile, built to kill an oleander bush next to the rabbit cages has sprouted a great lot of mushrooms. I think they are inky caps, but I'm not trying them. I don't know enough about fungi to risk killing myself.

squash and ground cherry on top of compost pile

On the top of that pile are three Tromboncinno squash to grow up the fence and shade the rabbits and in the foreground an Aunt Molly's ground cherry which I'm growing for the first time. I suspect it will be much like the wild ground cherries in TX which were sweet and tart at the same time.

Tromboncinno in a tub

This Tromboncinno in the old washing machine tub on the patio is beginning to take off. Keep in mind the house roof here is only about 6 feet off the ground.

1st Princepe

1st Currant tomato

Which tomatoes will be ready first? Princepe or Currants?

back garden overview

The back garden is becoming a jungle, the beds on the left, from front to back, Red Pontiac potatoes, then corn with squash and the bolting Purple Dragon carrots, the next bed is the lettuce and turnips, with hollyhocks on the edge, the next one is Red Burgundy amaranth with bolting lettuce, then the bed of peas across the back. On the right, from front to back, you can see the asparagus fronds that are growing by the apple on the fence, the bed with trellis has bolting lettuce, the next one are the Italian paste tomatoes, then the onions and parsnips and then the bed I just planted with quinoa, beans and amaranth. Remember you can click on any picture to see it larger.

turnip and lettuce bed

This is the lettuce and turnip bed which you last saw in this post. (it's the picture labeled 'new lettuce bed'.)  The lettuce was getting bitter, especially those plants in this now mostly bare area where they got a lot of sun and dried out quickly. So I pulled them out along with some weeds, leaving some volunteer pepper and tomato plants and planted 5 yellow zucchini seedlings. In the back are the turnips along with a bit of lettuce now being over run by volunteer tomatoes. In the front and along the right are volunteer hollyhocks.

tomatoes & basil

The bed of Italian paste tomatoes got 6 basil plants along the sunny end.

Hales Best Jumbo Cantaloupe/Muskmelon

In the greenhouse bed the Hale's Best Jumbo is taking off and beginning to run. I've used strips of old cotton sheets to tie it up. Around it are some nasturtiums, on the left is a Florence Red Bottle onion going to seed. On the right is a patch of Rainbow chard seedlings, on each side of the Rainbow chard are patches of Perpetual Spinach chard which are older. Oh I checked the seed packet, they are labeled Hale's Best Jumbo Muskmelon. Because actually, what we call cantaloupes are actually supposed to be called muskmelons. cantaloupes are a similar but different thing. Americans have a lot of things backwards from the rest of the world. Netted melons are muskmelons and smooth ones are cantaloupes.

squash in the new greenhouse bed

In the newest section of the greenhouse bed are more squash, from front to back, 2 Tromboncinno, 5 Buttercup, 1 Baby Blue Hubbard.

I'm sure you are wondering why so many squash plants? (And I have more seedlings underway, they are in those soil blocks in the tray in this pic). Because first I will be selling at the farmer's market this summer and because second squash, especially winter keepers will make good food for me and the chickens this winter. I'm hoping that by next year perhaps I will not have to buy any feed for them at all. We shall see!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

around and about the garden

carrot blossom
Things are really happening fast around here, even more so than these photos show, I'll have to take some more tomorrow! 

The volunteer Purple Dragon carrots are blooming.

Carrots blooming

Parsnips and onions

The parsnips are also blooming. And those onions have been put on notice; if they are not sizing up by the time the parsnips set seed and are ready to come out, then the onions are going too! They just don't seem to be growing very well. I'm not sure if it's the soil or if they aren't getting enough water or what.

parsnip blossoms


Things are going out and going in nearly every day right now. This was the last brassica bed, which you last saw in this post. Last week I realized the broccolis were really just putting out a lot of small new leaves and not much else so I tossed them to the chickens and prepped the bed. Just got it planted yesterday. In dry weather I tend to make deep furrows for planting even though I'm not that fond of planting in straight lines. I make the furrows with my triangle hoe and push the seeds down into the bottom of the furrow. That way all the water runs to the bottom and helps keep the seed moister. In this bed I planted quinoa, a plant grown for it's leaves and seeds, more red burgundy amaranth and some anasazi beans. We'll see how that works out.

Mammoth Melting Sugar peas
I've been pretty impressed with the Mammoth Melting Sugar peas. Most years I've had Sugar Snaps which by the time it's pushing 95+ are shriveling up and covered with aphids. These Mammoth peas, while some stems were broken in the wind and are now dead, are still growing pretty well, even though it's been about 100 degrees every day this week. They have a heavy set of pods that I'm letting go for seed and are still putting out some blossoms, pods and new growth. Even when the seeds are quite large the pods remain sweet, crunchy, juicy and delicious. They do however develop a tough string. You can bet I'll be planting more of these this winter.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Harvest Monday

Harvest Monday! Hop on over to Daphne's Dandelions to meet other gardeners from around the world!  Pickings have been a bit slim, with the lettuce going out and the summer crops not really producing much yet. I have picked a little bit of baby lettuce from two small patches, along with chard and Red Burgundy Amaranth. I found these carrots hiding in one of the beds, leftovers from the last batch I guess.

I also pulled a few small turnips, some of which looked more like carrots than turnips, not sure what is up with that, but just then the camera chose to malfunction, so no pic.

Princepe Borghese tomatoes

The Princepe Borghese tomatoes are getting big and about to start turning colors. The plants are really loaded with fruit. Since they are in containers this means I probably need to give them some fertilizer and some more compost.
Tomato plants loaded with fruit

eggplants & potatoes in pots

On the patio the eggplants and potatoes in pots are doing very well. I finally got my sun shade fixed and set up and it gives them some relief from the hot afternoon sun.


I do a lot of recycling. Here a Currant tomato grows in an old ice chest and climbs a trellis made from an expandable baby gate. This is just hooked on some nails from the eave of the house.

Tromboncinno squash

This Tromboncinno squash grows in the inner liner of a washing machine.

The peaches and plums are getting big



potato bed

The large potato bed out front is doing well. Hard to see here but the potato plants are beginning to put out some blossoms, which means that they are probably beginning to make potatoes. So very soon I will be eating new potatoes!

lavender rose

This pretty lavender rose is blooming out front. I'm sure I've saved the tag somewhere; I will have to hunt it up to know the name of it. I really need to get some permanent tags on some things, like the roses.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Harvest Monday

snow peas, chard, strawberries
Another Harvest Monday! I so look forward to this each week, I love seeing what gardeners around the world are harvesting. I get to learn about unique foods, novel methods of preparation and get some great gardening tips! Thanks! Daphne's Dandelions for being our gracious hostess!

The lettuce has mostly pooped out in the heat, or rather just shriveled up. There are a few seedlings coming along but with 100+ temps I have serious doubts they will amount to much.

While I skipped harvesting the Mammoth Melting sugar peas a few days so they could set some seed, I've been harvesting some of the newer pods again as the plants have set quite a bit of seed; probably enough for a couple of years.  I got this nice handful of strawberries the other day; apparently my trick of setting ripening berries up on top of the plant is working because none of these were eaten on. The chard is coming along well; most of what's in right now is the 'Perpetual Spinach' which has fairly short small stems. I do have about 30 rainbow chard seedlings to plant out though.

I will have to make a note that things are thinning out this time of year and I really should have planted a lot more stuff a couple of months ago. In fact I'm thinking that the next time I plant corn or potatoes or anything with wide spacing I should plant lots of lettuce or something in between at the same time.

Perfect Strawberry!
Purple Mums

These purple mums don't seem to know they aren't supposed to be blooming yet!

Rose Granada
My $2 rose, Granada, has put on a grand display. While not as strongly scented as Cecille Brunner, it does have a nice scent. And the pink and yellow blooms are beautiful.


The greenhouse changes almost daily, as seedlings are potted on or put outside and new things are brought in. The yellow down on the center left are some California poppies and the clump of green past them is a red oriental poppy and some bolting cilantro.

New Ladybug
The cilantra certainly has attracted the ladybugs this spring. There were quite a few larvae on the plants and now they are hatching out.  It's funny, for all the warm weather we had this winter, I've just now seen much of an aphid infestation. This is on the tips of some mustard which is flowering. I think the aphids were encouraged because the mustard is growing in a tub which is getting pretty dried out and root bound.

new greenhouse bed

I spent some time on Sunday hauling in some partly composted manure for this new bed in the greenhouse. It's been watered well and I'll check tomorrow for any sign of the manure heating up, then add some finished compost to the top and get ready to plant it.  In the meantime, some squash seedlings which germinated under lights in the house (for bird protection) are enjoying a day out in the sun.
These are Trombonccino, Baby Blue Hubbard and Butternut.  The Tombonccino are going on top of a large compost pile next to the rabbits, to run over the fence and shade the cages. I'll probably plant the Butternuts here in this bed so they can run on the trellis. Haven't made up my mind where I'll put the Hubbards tho.