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.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Hoop Bending

hoop bender
Well three years after I bought it I finally got my hoop bender bolted to a stable work space and got to use it!

This little contraption will bend a 10 foot long piece of 1/2 inch EMT (conduit) into a hoop four feet wide and four feet tall.

It didn't take very long for me to bend all 10 pieces of EMT that I had on hand.

first hoop done!
Most of my garden beds are sized four feet wide. The hoops are pushed into the ground and a purlin or ridge pole fastened along the top to keep them all together. Then various coverings can be fastened to the hoops, frost cloth, shade cloth, plastic, depending on the weather and needs of the crop. The nice thing about using the EMT is that it will last just about forever and does not need a bottom board or stake in the ground like PVC does to hold it's shape.

Sugar Daddy peas sprouting

In other news the Sugar Daddy snap peas are sprouting. If the weather isn't too severe I should have snap peas for sale about the end of March. 

feed needs for meat chickens
While excess cockerels and cull hens supply me more than enough chicken for the freezer I have been contemplating and calculating raising broilers to order. So far no takers. $6 a pound for home grown organic chicken isn't a bad price, but I do need a non refundable 50% deposit to be able to get started. Perhaps that is what is throwing people off.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Welsh Harlequin ducks
Last spring I hatched some ducks from my old pair of Welsh Harlequins. I ended up with 3 drakes and 2 hens. Love my Harleys! The boys are beautiful with their emerald green heads and russet chests.

The hens are good layers, the grandmother of this brood once laid 90 days straight without skipping a single day. (She did take a few weeks off to go broody at that point tho). These two young hens are now both laying, so yay! More eggs for us. I love duck eggs, especially for baking.

duck eggs

hoop house lost it's cover
main tomato garden

We had snow and rain over the holiday with some high wind. I had to wait until things thawed out this morning to get the cover back over the hoop house. Didn't really hurt anything, I mostly use the plastic to help winter crops grow a little faster in the cold weather.

I got all the old tomato vines pulled up and chopped into the pieces. I've started a new big compost pile in the main tomato garden. The compost chickens will be moving to this area shortly. You odn't have to chop things up for the compost but it makes it rot faster and it is much easier to turn the pile if you don't have a lot of long stringy stuff in there.

parsley, sage, rosemary and lavender
Kale seedlings

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and lavender seedlings are all waiting to go into the ground.

Some Red Russian Kale, aka Ragged Jack seedlings are also waiting to go out into the garden.

seedlings in the hoophouse

Broccoli and collard seedlings have just been transplanted into larger pots and are waiting for garden space.  That is the great thing about growing most of your garden from your own transplants. The seedlings can grow off to the side, out of the way and not needing as much water while they wait their turn to go into a garden bed.  I can gain as much as 6 weeks growing time this way.

The broccoli I"ve been harvesting is Di Ciccio, an older variety that makes slightly smaller heads but a lot of side shoots. This batch is Waltham 29, another old variety. I don't remember growing it before, so we'll see how it does. All of the collards I'm growing this year are Georgia.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Three Month Catch Up!

Roots & Greens at Superior FM
Well oh dear it's been 3 months since I post last. I am so bad! Well here are a few highlights! In November we started doing a small farmer's market in Superior, Arizona, about 20 minutes away. A small mining town they don't have any large stores and have been buying up the produce I bring like crazy. It's hosted by a lovely lady named Willa, owner of the SunFlour Market. We started out on the patio, but when the weather got bad Willa insisted we come inside.
End of tomato season

The end of tomato season is always a bit sad, but at the same time it's a relief because by the end of the season I'm sick of picking all those little cherry tomatoes!

Trombonccino on the trellis
259 pounds!

There is a 30 foot long trellis across the back of my house. There were about 5 Trombonccino plants, a couple of birdhouse gourds, a loofah and a spaghetti squash planted along it. As the first really hard frost threatened in  Nov I picked them all. 259 pounds of Trombonccino. That doesn't count a few I picked in September and it doesn't count all the little green ones I picked during the summer. When I add that in we might be pushing 300 pounds!

BO cockerel, Reserve English

Snow on the mountains

We got a little rain in November with some snow on the Pinal Mountains to the south. Went to the Tucson poultry show where my young Buff Orpington cockerel placed Reserve English.

Seeds from Baker Creek Heirlooms

Finally the old girls are done with their molt and the younger girls are starting to lay too so egg production is picking up a little. While 2016 was crummy for hatching and growing out chicks I am very pleased with the color on my Marans eggs!  My order came in from Baker Creek Heirlooms and I'm really looking forward to the coming growing season! I'm especially looking forward to tasting those black tomatoes!

greenhouse clean up
compost chickens at work

It took some work to get all the squash vines down off the trellis and put up the plastic to turn it back into a greenhouse. Almost done with the clean up in there. On a sunny day it's 95.  The compost chickens are doing well. If there aren't enough food scraps they get a half ration of commercial feed. They find a lot of worms and grubs in the compost too. Some are still molting, but the oldest girl I have, in the bottom of the pic is laying about every other day. She'll be 4 next month.

DiCicco Broccoli
cauliflower 1 1/2 pounds!

The broccoli and cauliflower are doing amazingly well. If you didn't know, cauliflower is a once over crop. You cut the nice big head and you are done, pull the plant and plant something else. Broccoli however makes a nice head and when you cut that off it makes side shoots so you get several more pickings. And the small leaves and stems are also edible and have about the same nutritional value as the heads. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fall Might Be Here Finally

Rainbow Carrots
Fall was certainly in the air this morning as I loaded produce for the last farmer's market of the year. I'm always a bit sad at the end of market and wish we could have one year round, or at least into November. Perhaps someday, I know there are some plans in the works for new things for the market.

Rainbow beets

I've had a lot of fun growing the rainbow beets and carrots this year. However, from an efficiency stand point it might be better to order the colors and grow them separately. This is because some colors grow faster and are ready to harvest before the others.  If they were grown separately then I could clean out a complete section and replant sooner. For a home garden however, the mixtures are great.

extra large Gold Rush Zucchini

The big yellow Gold Rush Zucchini have been pretty popular at the market over the summer. Some of my customers also liked the green and yellow patty pans, but those plants did not do well once it got really hot. Neither did the green zucchini, whereas the Gold Rush really kept on going.

The cherry tomatoes are still going strong. Some of the large fruited tomatoes have a lot of green fruit on them yet. Hopefully they will have enough time to ripen up before our first freeze, sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

mini bell peppers

The rainbow mix of mini bell peppers have done really well considering they were only in 2 gallon pots and wilted frequently in the heat this year. Looking forward to seeing what they can do planted in the ground next year.

I am already working on plans for next year as January (when I start tomato seeds) will be here before you know it. I am really excited about the book I just got in from Amazon, The Market Gardener. It is providing some missing links for me, especially when it comes to planning and organizing the garden. I am really looking forward to implementing this new information in the coming year and seeing what a difference it will make,  not only in the garden, but in my bottom line.
(yes this is an affiliate link which means if you click on it and order something from Amazon in the next few days I will get a small commission for  your purchase)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Farmer Friday

BOxBR hen about 4 years old
My oldest hen is about 4 years old. Poor thing is about half naked from molting. So are most of the other hens. Egg production has dropped to zilch. The compost chickens haven't laid in a week or more and even the younger hens in the barn dropped from 8 eggs a day to 3.

I tried to get lots of chicks hatched in January so they would start laying by July and August to take up the slack but luck wasn't with me.

hello baby tarantula

I disturbed a baby tarantula hiding in the manure pile when I was getting some for the garden.

Some people pick them up but not me, scooped it out with a stick and let it go.

pretty pink Four O'Clock flower


I didn't think that sunflower was going to make it. It was real puny for a long time. Even now it's only a couple of feet tall. Just tells you how bad the soil is.

tomato jungle, that's my shirt!

Some of the tomato plants are really getting their second wind with cooler weather and a little rain. Even a bit jungly out there. That's my shirt, looking towards my feet in the lower right corner of the picture.

cherry tomatoes and mini bell peppers

I picked produce in a drizzle this morning, getting ready for the farmer's market tomorrow.

rainbow carrots

The carrots that I planted a bit later are doing much better than the first batch. They got some potash fertilizer along with more water.I also redug those beds and sunk them into the ground.The carrots are growing a lot faster than in the older raised bed.

rainbow beets
I pulled the last of the rainbow beets from this bed. But I forgot to take a picture of them. They are so pretty, yellow, orange, red, pink! Just like the Rainbow Carrots. Next week this bed will be redug and sunk into the ground and planted to carrots.

hello Tinkerbelle

Tinkerbelle is a really sweet cat. She's funny, Lil' Bit is loud and noisy but Tink doesn't really meow, she just makes funny little squeaky sounds.

The back garden

The back garden, you can see all the weeds trees around the patio and invading it. The will be a winter job, getting the cut and dug out of the way.

You can't see the house because of all the squash vines. It is very dark and shady under there!

Then some beds of rainbow carrots. They have been a lot of fun to grow, with all the different colors.

back garden another view

beet seedlings

The beets seedlings I transplanted are doing well. They are covered with fine netting to keep bugs and birds out of them.

radish seedlings

The kale transplants are doing well and the French Breakfast radishes have sprouted.

These are under an old screen door and a really old piece of shade cloth. Soon to be replaced by fine netting.

luffa and pumpkin vines

At Mom's house the Luffa and Jack Be Little pumpkin vines are really taking off. By the end of summer they will probably completely cover the front of the barn. I love the cheery look of the lemon yellow luffa blossoms.

bumble bee in a luffa blossom

The bumble bees like them too!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Compost, Eggs and More Digging

compost heating up
Well compost pile #2 is heating up pretty well, just need to get it to kick on up to 131 degrees F or higher to make sure that all pathogens are killed. But 120 is a good start!

This pile is taking a little longer to get built than the first one, so that might be the problem. Hopefully I'll get it finished off in the next couple of days.

burn pile buried in the garden
Remember that bed of beans I'm digging up? Well I got down to the area where none of them lived and what do I find? There was a burn pile buried in there. Pure ashes along with broken glass, rusty metal and a lot of rocks. No wonder those bean plants croaked!

about done

This was several days hard labor, a lot of pick and shovel work. Fortunately the weather has cooled off a tad. I piled up a lot of sand and gravel from the bed into the path. But after about 8 inches of build up it was started to slide into the next bed. So I started throwing it over the fence into the driveway. Harder work, but faster than using a bucket.

dirt and rocks in the driveway

adding and wetting organic matter

Now for a special trick to really make this bed super abundant. Adding chicken litter mixed with wood shavings and old horse manure to the bottom of it. This organic matter will act as a giant sponge and help catch and retain water for the plants. The material is really dry and so is the ground so I'm wetting it down as I go.

actually not wet yet!

Even though there is water puddling in the bottom of the trench, the chicken litter is not really wet yet. I have to stir it up and keep wetting it until it is all saturated.

Then toss a few shovel fulls of the top soil onto it and add some more litter. This will take a few days to complete. Then I will add some fresh compost to the top soil, set up the new drip irrigation lines and start planting.

Purebred Blue Ameraucana

The last chicks hatched in June are getting big now.

purebred Black Ameraucana

BCM pullet eggs with egg color chart

My oldest Black Copper Marans pullet began laying this week. But her egg color so far is disappointing.  Both of her parents hatched from a #7 egg (that would be the lower right side of the color chart). So far she's just laying about a #4 which is the lightest that Marans should ever be. My fingers are crossed they darken up some as she gets going.