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, July 30, 2012

Harvest Monday

Northern Arizona Melon?
Welcome to Harvest Monday, a great blog hop sponsored by Daphne's Dandelions. It's great fun to visit with gardeners from around the world.

The biggest news this week is the giant muskmelon from the greenhouse bed. It weighed 11 pounds! Now I'm pretty sure I planted Hale's Best Jumbo and the other large melons are round like Hale's. The only thing I can think is either some seeds of Northern Arizona Melon, which I grew years ago and is the only football shaped melon I've grown, got mixed in or this is something out of the compost.

It's been a few years since I've grown Northern AZ so I don't really remember what they should look like inside or out. As you can see a slice of this melon almost fills my dinner plate, the flesh was sweet and delicious, and tend all the way to the skin. It has a flavor resembling cantaloupe but not quite the same. Of course I saved all the seeds ;=)

green chili

Other harvests included green chilis. I'm not positive, because my plastic labels with permanent marker all faded completely out, but I think these might be New Mexico Joe E Parker.

Baby Blue Hubbard
The sole Baby Blue Hubbard plant in the back garden only set one fruit and then looked like it was dying. Possibly disease, possibly from lack of water. The stem on this one looked like it was drying out so I went ahead and pulled and cooked it. It really needed to go longer, a bit watery and not as sweet as I think it will get later towards fall. But a good lesson, since I have four more plants out front. I will be patient and wait.


There were only about a dozen eggs all told from the hens this week, but one day we got three, so I think the molty one might be getting back to laying again.

Market Stand

My oldest grand daughter, Miracle, spent the weekend with me. She brought her violin to the farmer's market and played for folks. She even got a $2 tip.

Here on the table, from left to right is more of the weeks harvest;, Tromboncinno squash ( I had to climb on the roof to get one of them!), Snow White, Princepe Borghese and Red Currant tomatoes, Mountain Rose potatoes, eggplants, Rond de Nice squash. In the back are some yellow Scallopinni, white patty pan, yellow zuchinni, and some odd squash that I think must be either something out of the compost or something that came in with the yellow zuchinni seed. They look a bit like a cross between zuchinni and yellow crookneck. They taste fine tho.

In the red crate are herb plants, sorrel, basil, lavender, rosemary.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Farmer's Market

Miracle with my veggies
On Friday afternoon I went and picked up my oldest grand daughter, Miracle to spend the weekend with me. On Saturday she came with me to our little Farmer's Market and brought her violin to play.

On the table you can see all of my different kinds of squash and a few small tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and some herb plants.

co-op table friends
Our market has co-op tables for gardeners with a glut. Here are some of the ladies that have been sharing the co-op table with me this summer. They are fun to be with and talk to each Saturday.

Miracle plays for FM patrons

Miracle had a good time playing her violin for the patrons of the farmer's market.

Miracle plays for the market manager & helpers

Miracle plays the market

Our county extension agent plays guitar and is out most Saturdays to sing and play at the market; Miracle talked him into playing a duet with her.

Miracle can play & hula hoop at the same time!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chicken Palace on Wheels

Bottom frame and legs, portable coop
Well with 33 birds things are a bit crowded around here. While the ducks don't sleep in the hen house, my original little place was only built to house about 5 birds, so the 9 that are roosting in there are a bit crowded.

I've been looking at every type of portable coop design on the internet and saw a great design at Mother Earth News. However there were a few things I wasn't thrilled with, like the wheels were all the way out at the end of the frame. That means when you pick up the handles, you have to pick up the weight of the entire coop. I thought bringing the wheels in closer, about a third of the way in from the end would be better. That way more of the weight is actually on the wheels. This is the way garden carts are made and why I could haul 4 bales of hay in one trip, pulling it with one hand over level ground. I just got the wheels on the coop frame tonight, right before dark and it rolls like a dream.

A lot of coop designs out there are more chicken tractors, with a little space for roosting and nesting and some fenced in for a run. What I was looking for was an actual coop, just for roosting and nesting, to use inside my electric fence. My design is 4' x 7 1/2', or 30 square feet. I think it will probably work out for about 10-15 birds, since they will never be confined inside except at night.

And just because they are so cute, here are the little chicks that were hatched last week. They are all little characters.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Harvest Monday

Eggplant from plant #8
Welcome to Harvest Monday! This is a great blog hop sponsored by Daphne's Dandelions so hop on over and visit with gardeners from around the world.

I don't think I got pictures of everything this week, just too darn busy with work and this week I only got off on Sat, I ended up having to go in on Sun. My boss hates to give me overtime, because I've been there so long I have the highest wages, but it looks like I'll have about 8 hours of OT this week.

In the meantime, eggplant #8 produced it's first fruit and it is more a pinky lavender than the dark purple of the others. I will probably also save seeds from this one, even though it is later getting going than the others.

Tromboncinno, on Wed.

On Wednesday I bumped my head on this, the first Tromboncinno squash.

Same squash on Sat, 30" long

By the time I picked it Saturday morning, it was 30 inches long and the skin was still so tender I could pierce it with my fingernail.

When I looked up, I realized that the squash are running over the top of the shade cloth and are headed for the roof. I might have to climb up on the roof to pick them! But this one was fairly easy for me to get to.

I picked these two for the Farmer's Market. They were the only squash I sold, I think because there were so unusual. We had a glut of squash at the market this week.


I picked the first Scallopini early in the week. It was nice, not as watery as the Rond de Nice or other zucchini.

Rond de Nice & Scallopini

On Saturday I picked more Scallopini and a couple of Rond de Nice. I noticed on Sunday evening that there are several more Tromboncinno growing and there is a very large Rond de Nice which I will probably feed to the chickens. I don't know how I missed it!

Also this week I picked lots of small tomatoes and pulled some green onions. I didn't take a pick yet, but some of the red onions from unnamed sets had fallen over and the necks were drying up so I pulled them. They were the smallest in the bed. Looking at how things have grown there I think the problem might have been not enough sun as that bed is shaded during the cooler months and the size of the onions correspond with the sun pattern on the bed. That is, the biggest ones are at the front edge where they get the most sun and the smallest ones at the other end where they get the least sun. I will try onions again in a bed that gets more sun and see if that doesn't help. I'm just adding the onion weights as I use them, while waiting for them to finish curing.

This coming week there will probably be a lot of squash. I'm not that big on squash so will probably end up feeding a lot to the chickens, if I don't sell it. Egg production is still down, one hen is in a complete molt, but her new feathers are finally coming in and look very nice. Two of the other hens have slowed down in the heat, giving just one or two a day and some days none. And the other hen has been broody; her eggs hatched on Thurs, for pictures check out my Population Explosion post. That same post has pictures of the ducks and some of the other chickens also.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Population Explosion

3 older hens and a couple of pullets in
 Well there has been a population explosion around here! Back in March I picked up 4 pullets coming into lay, 3 barred rock banties and a full size Buff Orpington, along with a young BO rooster. Then in April I picked up 4 Buff Orpington pullet chicks. That brought the total up to 9 chickens\

crossbred ducks
Then in June I was gifted  with some baby ducks.

Welsummer poult

And 4 young Welsummers. (For those who are not 'into' chickens, Welsummers are a breed from the Netherlands and lay dark brown eggs). They _could_ be crossed with Dorking, but we probably won't know for sure until they grow their adult feathers. Also it will be a bit before we know the sex) This brings us up to 13 chickens and 5 ducks.

Some of the Muscovies, with a sneaky Welsummer poult helping itself to the feed
Then in July I found a source for Muscovy Ducks, a breed I have been looking for. I bought 11 young ducklings, 6-7 weeks old. I got a nice variety of colors and patterns. I will probably end up with too many drakes, but we shall see. Muscovy meat is less fatty than regular ducks and they do not quack. These guys make a soft whirring sound that is really different. And that brings us up to 16 ducks and 13 chickens.

chicks hatched 7-20-12

Then one of my barred rock banties went broody and I set 9 eggs under her. Some of them had been in the fridge, so I took a chance on them. On Thurs/Fri 5 eggs hatched, tho one chick didn't make it.

I have no idea which hens are the mothers but they are all the barred rock crossed with the Buff Orpington rooster. (pure BO chicks would be solid yellow) Three are mostly dark and will probably mostly look like the their mommas. But as you can see one has a light silvery color.
little brown faced chick
And then there is this one with a red/brown face. I'm hoping it's not a roo because I think it's going to be really pretty.

So that brings the chicken count to 17 + the 16 ducks = 33 birds! Whew! I really hadn't intended to grow the flock quite so fast! Of course if any of the new chicks or the Welsummer poults are male, they will be going to the freezer. If there are really way too many Muscovy drakes then some of them will also become dinner, although I"m reading up on the breeds color and pattern standards and I might keep some extras if they look like they might approach the show standard, to help keep my gene pool reasonably diverse.

Now it's just a waiting game for all the youngsters to start paying their way! The Buff Orpington pullets should begin laying sometimes in September or so. The Welsummer poults, provided some are female, may not begin to lay until spring. Probably the same for all the ducks.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Harvest Monday

Summer Apples
Welcome to Harvest Monday! I can't believe another week has gone by already and we are entering the second half of the year. Oh my where has time gone?  Harvest Monday is a great blog hop sponsored by Daphne's Dandelions, so hop on over and visit with other gardeners from around the world.

One day the wind was blowing the apples off the tree plus the birds were starting to get into them, so I picked the tree clean. They are a bit sour, was waiting for them to ripen up a bit. I have been trying to find out what is causing that brown corky growth on the tops of some of them. When I search for cork in apples the pictures look different from this and shows corky spots on the inside. These are fine inside, just have that dry brown spot mostly on the top part and not all of the apples show it. I'm wondering if it's sunburn.

Golden Bantam Improved
This year I have some of the best looking corn plants I have ever had, they went 7 feet with the tassels, almost all had 2 ears per stalk and some put out tillers and tried to make more. BUT it was so very hot and dry when it put out tassels and silks that the pollen was just drying up, so my beautiful 10-12 inch ears are nowhere near being filled. What is there tastes delicious, however. So, note to self, corn should not tassel the last two weeks of June!


I harvested some more eggplant. These are not as big as they look; that is one of those little cereal bowls from the dollar store.


The small salad tomatoes are winding down, only 3 pounds this week instead of nearly 5. They are now split about half and half, Princepe and Snow White.

In addition there were two Black from Tula, along with a paste tomato and a small round one from volunteer plants.

Rond di Nice

And of course some Rond di Nice squash. This one weighs about a pound. The five pound monster that was imitating a green pumpkin was fed to the chickens. The other sorts should be coming on shortly, maybe next week. I think I'm going to stuff this one full of tomatoes and cheese. Maybe I"ll add a little sausage to it. mmmmmm.....

See this post for a garden tour and the newest additions to the poultry flock.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Garden & Poultry Tour

Well tons of stuff going on around here. We've had a slight break in the heat with some humidity and some rain so things are really taking off. I swear some things like squash vines grow a foot overnight.

I'm going to link up with Oregon Cottage's Garden party, go check out all the pretty gardens!

Lots of new stuff coming along too. Another eggplant, more a pinky lavender color which is really pretty. I think this is eggplant #8, I'll have to check.

Black Tail Mountain Watermelon
The Black Tail Mountain melons are setting fruit.

King of the Garden Lima

The King of the Garden Lima beans are running up the trellis. These are giant limas, speckled maroon. Peter Henderson Co. sold them at the turn of the century, another name for them is Leviathan. These are big plants, too. Last time they went 14 feet tall.

Green house bed
I'm kind of a lazy gardener in some ways. If things sprout in the compost and aren't too much in the way, I tend to leave them. Here is the bed in the greenhouse, you can see a cantaloupe, an onion going to seed, some nasturtiums and a tomato. The feathery leaves in front are sweet alyssum.

Hale's Best Jumbo

Further down the bed is the first melon to set on these plants and what a whopper it is! I've never seen one so big; I just hope it tastes good!


The tromboncinno vines have run more than 10 feet long along the house and are now putting out a lot of side branches. Tons of male flowers every day.

baby squash

And now finally, what looks like the first female blossoms coming on. Sure hope they start setting fruit!

Now onto the poultry tour! Two months ago I had 9 chickens. Today I have 16 ducks and 13 chickens, with possibly more on the way. (I have a broody hen that should hatch eggs by Friday).

There are 5 baby ducklings in the house. They started close to the same size but now two are much larger than the other three. Either pure Harlequin or Harlequin x Runner.

It maybe a couple more months before we can determine sex on these. But all the boys will be named Dinner.


Yesterday I went and picked up some Muscovies. I have been looking for this breed of duck for awhile. They are not related to other ducks, but can breed with them, although the babies are mules. They say the meat is much leaner and tastes different from other duck meat. I got quite a variety of colors and patterns, can't wait to see them all grown up. I don't expect they will lay until spring though.

Welsummer or Welsummer X Dorking
Still not sure if the four poults I got from a friend are pure Welsummer or crossed with Dorking. They are just beginning to get their combs and so far everyone looks about the same, so it will be a while yet before I know if there are any roosters. If so, their name is Dinner.

Bringing in the Muscovies caused quite a ruckus in the yard. I blocked off the baby pen where my Buff Orpington pullets had been living, so I could put the ducks in there until they get used to their new home. The pullets are getting big enough and have been running around with the big chickens for awhile now, but they keep trying to get back in their baby house..

Monday, July 9, 2012

Harvest Monday

Italian Heirloom
I'm a little late getting started  but it is Harvest Monday, a great blog hop hosted by Daphne's Dandelions, so hop on over and visit with other gardeners around the world. This week I'm also joining Oregon Cottages Garden Party for the first time. Looks like another great blog hop!

Some more firsts this week, the first Italian Heirloom tomato. I think this plant wasn't getting an even water supply which would account for the cracking, so I need to pay more attention. Tasted great tho, a bit sweet with a little tart. I got the seeds from the Seed Savers Exchange.

little eggplants
A nice bowlful of  small and tender eggplants, which I sliced and fried in olive oil, smothered in marinara sauce, topped with some yogurt cheese and pesto.

There have been a few eggs, but some days none at all. One hen is molting, one hen is broody, and the other two are not laying every day. I think because it's just been so stinkin' hot. I've picked a lot of small tomatoes and a few greens but even the chard has slowed down. There are things coming along, but we in a bit of a lull at the moment.

You can check out my eggplant breeding experiment on this post. And get a little garden tour at this one.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Garden Update

Buttercup squash
Has been a really busy week; I have not been feeling my best and had little energy with a crazy work schedule. The garden is also feeling the heat and some things seem to be in lull at the moment. I did get about .5" of rain on the 4th which was really nice. Not nearly enough, but nice.

All of the squashes are doing well, the Buttercup plants are growing by leaps and bounds and setting fruit. These are winter squash so won't be ready until fall.

Squash vines on the greenhouse
Here are the squash vines growing on the green house. Most of these are Buttercups plus a couple of Tromboncinno. 

The row cover in the foreground is covering a new planting of French Filet bush beans.

Amish Paste

I've been a bit disappointed with the Amish Paste tomatoes. Half the plants went under to some sort of wilt (probably verticillium) and they have only set a couple of fruit so far.

Red Burgundy Amaranth
The first planting of Red Burgundy Amaranth is blooming.

Like I said things are in a lull, probably because it's been so hot and dry. However now that the summer rains are trying to come in, the temps are down a bit and the humidity is up so things should start growing again.

Something I learned recently is that most nitrogen in the soil is bound up and not usable to the plants until liberated by micro-biotic life in the soil. If the air temp is below 50 degrees no nitrogen is released. As the temperature begins to rise more and more nitrogen is released until it peaks at about 75-80 degrees. Above 80 there is a decrease in nitrogen release, with it stopping completely around 100 degrees. This certainly explains why there is that certain point in spring, when the temps rise over 50 degrees and suddenly the garden takes off. And again why when it begins to hit 100 degrees that growth slows down, being a function as much of nutrient deficiency as of lack of moisture.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Eggplant Breeding Experiment

Neon Hybrid Eggplant
A few years ago I grew the really pretty pink Neon Hybrid Eggplant. I just loved the color and this photo does not do it justice. But it was a hybrid and I really would like to have a pretty pink open pollinated variety. One that comes true from seed each generation. So I'm working on breeding my own. I saved the seeds from the hybrid and this year I planted some.  I planted about 10 and they are growing in 2 gallon pots on my patio.

Eggplant #1
True to the genetic prediction, the resulting plants are roughly 50-50 white or purple. The purple ones are long and slender and the white ones are more globular.

Eggplant #2

Eggplant #3

I have numbered the plants according to the order they are setting their first fruits. I am also tracking their productivity separately.

Eggplant #4
Eggplant #5

Eggplant #6

Like most solanums eggplants are basically self pollinating, although I have a lot of bees, so some crossing could occur naturally, I"m not going to worry about it.

While there isn't very much variation in this generation the next generation should show a much greater diversity of size, color and shape.

Unless some of the others are more prolific, I will probably only save seed from #1 and #2, since they are the sturdiest and first fruiting. Next year then I will raise as many plants from each batch of seed as I possibly can, because the more I plant, the more likely I will get a pretty pink one.

Eggplant #7
Have you ever saved your own seed and developed your own type of plant?

I learned a lot about plant genetics and how to breed plants, the best methods of seed saving and a lot more from Carol Deppe's book, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties. She tells you how in very simple layman's terms. I think every serious gardener should have a copy of this one!