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.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year

12-15-2016 Black Copper Marans pullet egg
Happy New Year! In some ways the past couple of weeks I've felt a bit sorry for myself, not being able to do everything I want to do, how my life has taken strange twists and turns the past couple of years, the bizarre weather we're having this year, the usual winter blues. so this is a bit of a recap of the year. I have gotten things done. I have made progress on the gardens. I know the only way to go is forward, but looking back at how much I _have_ managed to accomplish will perhaps give me a kick in the pants.
 chickens on compost 1-1-2017
Last fall and winter I had chickens working compost piles and made a new garden space with 300 sq ft of bed space.

kale seedlings under lights
I started literally hundreds of seedlings under lights.

purple potatoes
I planted a lot of potatoes in different colors and harvested well over 100 pounds for sale.

eggs for hatching
I hatched a lot of eggs of from different breeds.
Mixed lettuce March 24, 2017
I harvest a lot of pounds of lettuce, kale and spinach.

cantaloupe & watermelon seedlings 4-25-17
I hauled six truckloads of manure and made another garden space. I planted watermelons and cantaloupes in it.

By May I was picking all kinds of summer squash.

Globe-Miami Farmers Market
In June the farmers market started. It was so much fun to see everyone each week, vendors and customers alike.

Cherry Tomatoes 6-30-17
While 2017 wasn't the best tomato year ever, there were a lot of cherry tomatoes early on.

Black Tail Mountain Watermelons
By July the melons were coming in.
green beans
By August the green beans were coming in. Not as many as I hoped for, but a good amount still.

Also in August, the Armenian and regular cucumbers were coming in.

new pullet eggs
By September the oldest of the new pullets were laying.

Superior Farmers Market
In October the Globe Farmers Market was over so we started in Superior.

cabbage seedlings
By November I was planting fall crops again. Cabbage, mustard, kale, pak choi, and more.

rock wall, new garden area
In December I started working on the area where I grew melons in the summer. Adding a rock retaining wall.

I'm hoping in the next few days to go over my harvest records and do a post about the total poundage of different vegetables harvested this year.

So Happy New Year. I hope 2018 is even bigger and better!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Farmer Friday

cute chickens
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. My oldest daughter came to visit from Florida and brought me some cute chickens. The one in the background is a cookie jar. There are some more, including some metal ones that can go outside but I didn't take a pic of them yet.

The Nankin's first egg
I'm keeping my grand daughter's little Nankin chickens for her because she can't have them where she lives right now. They started laying last week. Their eggs are even tinyer than the Silkies.

steamy compost
I've been turning compost piles this week and made a new one which needs to be turned already. 

1/4 inch sifter screen
I made a sifting screen with 1/4 inch hardware cloth. I sifted a lot of peat moss and added some vermiculite for seed starting. This will be much less expensive than buying small bags of mix from the store. I'm planning to make some other sizes of sifters also.

a rock retaining wall begun
In this area last year I dumped 6 truckloads of mixed manure and planted melons. The melons grew fairly well once I was able to keep out the squirrels. When the melons were done I put some young cockerels in there because they needed more space. I've culled that group down to 2 birds and put them in another pen. This area is quite sloped and needs a retaining wall at the bottom. I thought about using some tires, but decided I liked the idea of a rock wall better. Sill a lot of work and clean up to do. I started putting up more fence and that job needs finished also. There will be space here for 2 new beds 4 feet wide and almost 20 feet long, with some space along the rock wall for some herbs and flowers. I will probably have to terrace the 2 beds also, using some old boards to help keep things even. 

more work on the wall

mystery fork
We had our Christmas dinner on Saturday. On Christmas morning I found this fork in the driveway. All the kids deny it falling out of their cars. So I don't know, maybe it was elves or aliens.

The little cafe where we do our winter farmers market is closed this weekend so we are taking Saturday off. Felt a bit odd not to be picking and washing and packing veggies this morning!

Giotto gets a mouse
Mom's barn has become mouse heaven and I'm really tired of those little buggers. There are literally hundreds of them tunneling all over. They are eating the feathers off the chickens to the point some birds have no tails. So I've been digging up or pouring water into every hole I see and Giotto helps. Sometimes the mice jump out of a different hole where he's not expecting them and doesn't see them quick enough to catch them but other times he gets them. Sometimes the chickens catch them too and eat them. Giotto just plays with them.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Throwback Thursday

Superior Farmers Market Dec 2016
Last fall was a much better time for produce and eggs than this fall has been! Last year I had beets, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli as well as an assortment of greens. This year I wasn't able to protect seedlings from birds, bugs and squirrels in July, August and September when things needed to be planted. So part of the winters work is to make more hoops and buy more row covers to help keep hungry critters out!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Winter Solstice Dec 21

December 21 is the Winter Solstice. This is the longest night of the year so of course it is also the shortest day. This is an important landmark on the gardener's calendar for several reasons.  Vegetables need at least 10 hours of full sun daily to grow well. When there are less hours of daylight growth slows down noticeably, even if the weather is warm.

You can use this website to see when your area sees less than 10 hours of daylight. In my area the time period from December 9 to Jan 1 has 10 hours or less of daylight. Even though we are having a warm winter this year plant growth has really slowed down during the past few weeks due to having less sun. It is fun to look at the chart linked above to see what two days of the year are the same length. I know that by March most of the hens will be laying and the earth will be bursting with green. Interesting to see that March 14 and August 27 both have 13 hour days.

If you keep chickens you will see fewer eggs during this time period also. It isn't the cold weather, but the length of day that slows or even stops egg laying. Chickens need 14 hours of daylight to trigger the hormonal processes that start them in to laying. In natural light the birds will begin to lay when daylight hours hit 14 and will increase laying to their maximum ability when days reach 16 hours long. They then decrease laying as day length decreases. Since they will also slow down or stop laying when stressed, such as when summer temperatures are over 100 degrees, I do add lights to some of my pens for the winter. Some people feel that is not natural and the hens should have a rest period. I figure they already rested in the summer and now they need to get busy and earn their keep. Chicken feed isn't cheap.

Another reason to pay attention to the length of day is if you are raising animals that are seasonal breeders. Heritage breed turkeys, guinea fowl, geese and some other poultry species only breed in spring, when days are getting longer.   While domestication has bred out seasonal breeding in cows and pigs, goats, sheep and horses continue to be seasonal breeders.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Farmer Friday

We had a little rain early in the week. The garden got a whole .1".That was the first rain I've had since September 10th.  Last year at this time we were getting snow. It is just now barely freezing at night. This is the weather I expected in October so winter is coming later and later. No rain in the forecast for at least 10 days. We really need our winter rain, everything is still dry and brown so it's been a real battle keeping things going. The sparrows and quail descend in hordes to gobble up any speck of green they can find. Sometimes they find their way under the netting and devour the seedlings despite everything I do to foil them.

frozen squash
I have cleared out the last of the frozen squash plants and replaced them with spinach. Now if I can keep the birds out......

covering the greenhouse
I got the greenhouse covered with plastic the other day. I hate using so much plastic each year. Plans are to replace these structures with more permanent ones that will have solid but openable siding so I can do away with the use of plastic sheeting. In the meantime it does help warm up the house and it does produce a lot of food and seedlings.

Avocado seedling
The one good thing about our milder winters, my avocado seedling is still alive and doing well on the back patio.

steamy compost
I turned compost this week, getting ready to make a new pile. The pile in the front has cooled off and ready to use.

Lancinato kale
The kale has been struggling with the warmer weather. It encourages aphids which I blast with cold water from the hose. Hopefully now that things are cooling off it will grow better. A new set of chard seedlings are waiting to go out into the garden, while the collards are growing well along with the mustard. I don't sell much mustard (don't know why, they are delish) but the chickens really like them.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Throw Back Thursday

Eggs Dec 2016
Last year at this time I was getting a few eggs from new pullets but not many others. The same is true this year. A lot of hens but not many eggs. The days are short and a lot of them are molting. But today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. Beginning tomorrow the days will begin to be  a few seconds longer each day. By March I'll be swimming in eggs.

Broccoli Dec 2016

cauliflower Dec 2016

Last year I had lots of broccoli and cauliflower. This year it was so very hot and dry in July, August and September with so many birds and grasshoppers that my seedlings did not survive. So no broccoli or cauliflower now. 

Snow Dec 2016
Last year we had a little snow. this year I've had .1" of rain since the 10th of September. No snow on the radar at all.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Throw Back Thursday

Cleaning up the greenhouse 12-14-2016
Cleaning up the greenhouse 12-14-2017

Today I was cleaning up in the greenhouse and getting ready to put the plastic on it. Seems I was doing a similar job on this day last year. I had a lot of squirrel and pack rat issues last winter, they were under the house and tunneling into the greenhouse to eat everything in sight. I put down some chicken wire and rocks along the house and that helped the issue (along with the cats). Today I added more gravel and sand over the top of the chicken wire. I am hoping that will prevent issues this winter.

Maybe tomorrow I'll get the plastic up! It's been so hot I have been waiting for it to freeze up some, to help kill off some of the bugs before I put up the plastic. 

Friday, December 8, 2017


Red Kuri squash
There are a few Red Kuri squash left. I will have to plant more next year.  They have been very popular at market. 

I got the plastic on the little hoop house and moved the silkie babies in from the indoor brooder. 

 We didn't get any rain but had a beautiful sunset. The last rain my garden had was September 10th when it got .8"

The collards are doing well but the kale is slowing down a bit. 

Lancinata kale has been popular at market. 

Mom and I have lunch at a Chinese buffet every Thursday after her hair appointment. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Farmer Friday

cabbage and mustard seedlings in a low tunnel
The weather has been really crazy this year. While I don't think our hottest summer day beat the 115 degrees we had in June last year I think we have had a lot more days that were 95+ this year. 20 years ago we would have had a killing frost by Halloween and possibly seen some snow by Thanksgiving. Here it is November 30 and it hasn't even frosted. At all. Nada. Not even close. I still have somewhat productive zucchini and a few straggling cherry tomatoes. Hard to keep to my planting schedule when plants aren't coming out on time. I do have 2 low tunnels covered with frost cloth. In one are red and green cabbages, red mustard and I just took out the little patch of baby pak choi. I replaced it with rainbow beets.

Fava beans and red mustard
The other low tunnel is mostly fava beans and more mustard. I don't sell a lot of mustard greens but the chickens, especially the young ones love their greens. Mustard is hardy, grows year round and is easy to grow. tucked in between other things in both tunnels is cilantro. both of these pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago, so the plants are a lot bigger now.

funny looking pumpkins
I haven't been selling many of my funny looking pumpkins so I started feeding them to the chickens, who enjoy them tremendously. First they fight over the seeds and then they eat the meat, leaving a paper thin bit of rind.

baby turnips and greens
The turnips are growing well. But they are not the best sellers so I will not plant so many of them next time. But the chickens do like them, roots, greens and all.

spinach seedlings
It has finally cooled off enough that the spinach is finally sprouting. But it's still been too hot for the lettuce.

I pulled the rest of the turnips this morning. Some had gotten quite large. 

It's hard to believe there are still cherry tomatoes. These were late volunteers so maybe next year I'll plant some late on purpose. 

There are still a few Red Kuri squash to pick. These have been very popular with my customers. 

This is an avocado seedling. It is over a year old and has lived through one winter already. If it makes it through this winter I will put it in its own pot. There are two more in there but they aren't very big yet.