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.