Busy Busy

Well it’s really busy around here, just not enough hours in a day to keep up with everything!

gardenapril09 001The Maxi Golt peas were done for, so out they came, to be replaced by Burgandy okra and several inches of sawdust mulch

gardenapril09 004Some of the Sugar Snap peas come out and are placed by Double Yield cucumbers [thanks! http://www.freedomseeds.com] and Kentucky Wonder pole beans

gardenapril09 005Chires Baby Corn seedlings. These are the little baby corns in Chinese cooking, or left to mature they make popcorn.

gardenapril09 006The strawberry bed is interplanted with purple bush beans.

gardenapril09 007The Elephant Garlic is blooming. We got almost 5 pounds!

gardenapril09 008A spell of cool rainy weather gave the Blueshokker peas a new lease on life.

gardenapril09 010A Grimes Golden apple grows with Mammoth sunflowers, asparagus, Swiss chard, cosmos and nasturtiums.

gardenapril09 011Super Italian Paste tomatoes in large cages. Despite a wind storm knocking them over and breaking some branches, they are doing ok.

gardenapril09 012A Lemon Gem marigold. It really does smell and taste of citrus.

gardenapril09 013On the patio looking down the SW side of the house. The big green bushes in front are some of the potted potatoes.

gardenapril09 014This sad looking Red Currant tomato nealy drowned. It’s planted in an old ice chest and I didn’t realize the drain plug got closed up. But it’s making a come back and even delivered up our first taste of homegrown tomatoes.

gardenapril09 015Yard long bean seedlings in a planter by the house. They’ll grow up to shade the laundry room windows.

gardenapril09 016The trombocino squash is taking off.

gardenapril09 017On the patio tomatoes grow in old ice chests and peppers in the orange pots.

gardenapril09 018!st big red tomato, an Imur Prior Beta, it weighed 1 1/2 ounces and tasted delicious.

gardenapril09 020The Kabocha squash was rudely pruned by a pack rat

gardenapril09 021The buckwheat is blooming. mmmm buckwheat pancakes, coming up!
gardenapril09 022The chickens enjoy scratching in their new spot.

gardenapril09 023A wild sunflower with very tiny seeds volunteers in the raspberry bed.

gardenapril09 025The Baba raspberries are showing some color.

gardenapril09 026The new garden area: paths laid, beds made, planted with popping sorghum, quinoa and Bloody Butcher corn.

gardenapril09 027Potatoes in the ground out front aren’t as big and lush as the potted ones on the patio, but doing ok under 6 inches of sawdust mulch.

gardenapril09 028Bloody Butcher corn seedlings. The sticks along the edge of the bed are guides to keep small children on the path.

gardenapril09 030King of the Garden Lima beans are taking off up their trellis.

gardenapril09 031Pencil pod yellow wax beans await transplanting.

gardenapril09 032Poppies and wildflowers bloom along the driveway.

gardenapril09 033A strong smelling sage blooms

gardenapril09 034WOW! look at those melons taking off.

gardenapril09 035Yippee! A baby watermelon

gardenapril09 036The Baby Blue Hubbards are blooming. That compost pile is still hot, 138 degrees!

gardenapril09 037More wild flowers, poppies, a corn flower and a baby apple along the drive way

gardenapril09 038A bee buzzes a bright red poppy full of pollen.


I was working on this posting yesterday but it seems to have disappeared. Ah well, the wonders of the computer age.

gardenapril09 002Here is the area where the chickens have been for a few months now. Finally moved them.

gardenapril09 003Here you can see the new beds beginning to take shape along with the paths.

gardenapril09 005Three little farmer girls thresh the wheat,

gardenapril09 006The younger two pooped out pretty quick, but Miracle persevered.

gardenapril09 008Here Miracle and Harmony winnow the wheat in front of a small fan. The nice breeze we had earlier of course died as soon as we were ready for this part.

Things are Growing On

The heat wave has been broken by unusually cool and cloudy weather and even some rain. The garden is loving it.

gardenapril09 001Miracle’s sunflower has really grown the last 2 weeks. Compare this pic with the one from May 11th

gardenapril09 006One of my little plant nurseries. These are different kinds of beans & corn sprouting in 2″ soil blocks. I have to keep them covered with a row cover to keep the birds from eating them. The 3 yr old wants to know why I put the plants to bed & cover them with a blanket.

gardenapril09 008Looking through the arch. The poppies are almost done along the fence and will be replaced by mixed sunflowers.

gardenapril09 009The hairy vetch [purple flowers] is almost as tall as the dwarf peach tree.

gardenapril09 010The buckwheat is growing fast, it is even beginning to flower.

gardenapril09 011The tub, in the back, Kabocha squash, in front a canna and some daylillies sprouting.

gardenapril09 013Green tomatoes!

gardenapril09 014A Trombocino squash starts to take off. It’s growing in a 19 gallon tub.

gardenapril09 016Potted potatoes are blooming.

gardenapril09 017More seedlings, top row some herb cuttings and some sorrel. On the bottom shelf are the basil plants that have overwintered in the house.

gardenapril09 018Basella or Malabar spinach seedlings.

gardenapril09 019New Zealand spinach seedlings.

gardenapril09 020Popping sorghum seedlings in the kitchen window. I had to put them in  the house to keep the birds from pulling them up, but now there is a mouse munching on them!

gardenapril09 021Also in the kitchen window, sweet potatoe cuttings rooting in a jar, lima beans sprouting in pots. The green in the background are the tomatoe plants out on the patio.

Varieties Growing in 2009

Well, I’m getting around to a few things, one is a list of what’s growing this year, this includes things we’ve already harvested and eaten as well as what’s in the ground now. But it doesn’t include things that I will plant in the future. Altogether I count 132 edible varieties. That number will grow somewhat as the rest of the summer planting goes in and later on when I put in the fall and winter crops.


This is a list of varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers grown in 2009. Items marked with * are from home grown seed.



*Apache Purple Pod

King of the Garden Lima


Yardlong or Asparagus Beans



*large mixed [yellow, pink, red, white]


Danvers Half Long


Purple Dragon


Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Purple cauliflower

White cauliflower


Chires Baby Corn

Bloody Butcher


Black Beauty

Neon Hybrid

*Neon F2


Lettuce mix

Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach

*Swiss chard



*Red Russian Kale

Giant Red Mustard

Pak Choy

NZ spinach

Malabar spinach



Basil, Lettuce leaf

Basil, Spicy Globe

Basil, Thai



*Cilantro / coriander

Chives, regular

Chives, garlic

Chaste tree, aka Monk’s pepper, buddleia, summer lilac







Marigold, Lemon Gem

Marigold, Tangerine Gem

Marigold, Texas Tarragon

Mint, peppermint

Nasturtium, Alaska

Nasturtium, Empress of India

Oregano, Italian



Sage, broadleaf

Sage, chaparral

Sage, Pineapple





*Hales Best Jumbo cantaloupe

Blacktail Mountain watermelon

Jubilee watermelon




Leeks– the Student

Garlic, regular and Elephant



Florence Red Bottle

Welsh bunching

Red Bunching


*Sugar Snap


*Dwarf Grey Sugar

*little Marvel

Maxi Golt

Sweet Magnolia


Ancho Gigantea

Jimmy Nardello


Santa Fe Grande

Sweet Red Bell

Georgia Flame

Alma Paprika


All Blue [Peruvian ?]

Red LaSoda

Yukon Gold



Easter Egg


Baby Blue Hubbard







Super Italian Paste

Polish Linquisa

Snow White

Yellow Pear

Yellow Marble

*Princepe Borghese

Imur Prior Beta


White Globe Purple top



Purple de Milpa Tomatillo

Ice plant

Honey locust tree



Jersey Hybrid Asparagus

Connover’s Colossal Asparagus

Elephant Ears


Sequoia strawberries

Thorn less blackberry



Granny Smith Apple

Anna Apple

Grimes Golden Apple

Summer apple [mislabeled, unknown variety]


Heritage Raspberry

Baba Raspberry

Santa Rosa Plum

Wild Mexican Elderberry



Winter wheat


Popping sorghum

Mammoth Sunflowers

Oil Sunflowers

Sunflowers, mixed kinds & colors


Red root pigweed

Lambs quarters



Soapwort: roots make cleansing suds good for gentle cleaning of delicate or vintage fabric

Golden bamboo: useful small garden stakes

Madder: produces a long lasting red dye from the roots, yellow/tans from the tops. My chickens love it.


Vinca major, drought tolerant ground cover

Virginia creeper, Drought tolerant vine/ground cover

Bearded iris: flowers

Star jasmine: fragrant flowers

Trumpet creeper: draws humming birds

From a 3 year old

My 3 year old grand daughter is the self appointed rabbit feeder and helps feed and water every day she is here. A couple of weeks ago she was giving our buck too much feed and I told her he doesn’t need so much, we don’t want him to get fat. She then thought that she shouldn’t feed the doe and litter of fryers too much either. So then I had to explain that we wanted them to get fat so we could eat them. Ever since then she tells me almost every day “Right grandma, we want them to get fat so we can eat them?”

Well we ate some for dinner last night and all three girls thought they were delicious and had seconds.

but it’s a Dry Heat

It has been about 90 in the shade the last few days, so the things that like cool weather are becoming crispy critters but the summer crops are taking off. The Little Marvel peas didn’t make it past the first hot days a couple of weeks ago and The Dwarf Grey Sugar peas were _very_ unhappy. So we fed the Marvel plants to the rabbits and let the sugar peas set as many more pods as they would to save for seed. The Bleushokkers have been very different sorts of peas. They are a purple shelling pea that were traditionally grown in Europe for soup. I had read that they could be eaten pod and all when small and flat. They were tender at that stage, but not sweet like other peas and actually didn’t taste very pea-like.  So I tried them as raw shelled peas. They were actually a little bitter. Today I had some of them cooked, what a surprise. They went from being a bit bitter to sweet and starchy. Very much the sort you might make into soup. So half the row goes for seed saving & half for eating for as long as they’ll last.  The green shellers, Maxi Golt, were ok, but no thrill so I didn’t plan to save seed from them. They hadn’t made any new flowers in a week so I pulled them up and fed them to the rabbits. All the Sugar Snaps are going strong, but I can see the signs of heat stress. The purple snaps, Sweet Magnolia are also still doing well. Again, half the row to eat and half for seed for next year so I can plant a bigger area.

The potted potatoes have also been drooping in the heat, but since they were in pots I was able to move them where they will get a little shade in the afternoon.  So far the tomatoes on the patio seem to be doing well, but the Super Italian paste and the Polish Linquisa have started dropping blossoms.  I found a peice of shade cloth to put over one patch, but really need some more for the rest of them. Tomato pollen dies when it gets to be about 90 degrees so the flower falls off instead of setting fruit. Hopefully a little shade in the middle of the day will help keep them a little cooler.

Different kinds of beans are sprouting up all the squash and melons are doing well. I’m just trying not to think about my next water bill.

gardenapril09 001Miracle with her sunflower plant in my back garden. The bed on the left is the greenhouse with snap peas. The one directly behind her was planted last fall with carrots, turnips, beets and purple broccoli. The only thing left are the beets which will come out soon so we can plant the baby corn. The trellises in the background aremore peas.

No Monocrops Here!

A monocrop is what you have when you have a solid stand of just one thing. This is how commercial farming works, just one thing in each field. But nature doesn’t do things like that and neither should gardeners! You get much more production from a given space by planting intensively.

gardenapril09 025A case in point, this is my strawberry bed. It was planted with strawberries last fall, the plants are in staggered rows, each plant with 12 inches between it and any other strawberry plant. Then I planted bits of different crops to try out over the winter, chervil, carrots, spinach, cilantro, mache, claytonia.  That big bushy clump in the back is the cilantro going to seed. The dainty white flowers are pretty and supply necter to many beneficial insects. And the seeds are the spice you know as coriander.

gardenapril09 028This is the chervil, also going to seed now. Chervil tastes like a very mild black licorice. I haven’t decided if I like it or not, sort of like cilantro, it grows on you over time.

gardenapril09 027Here’s a bush bean seedling. After eating up a lot of the greens in the bed, when it got hot I started the beans in soil blocks and put them out in the bed about 6 inches in all directions, more or less, where ever the bed was pretty empty. Strawberries and bush beans grow well together.

gardenapril09 026and just look what I found hiding out here. This year the few strawberry plants in this bed will barely give us a taste. But this fall the large plants will make runners and by spring the bed should be full of fruit producing plants.

In the garden….

In the Garden things are growing & changing. When you see pictures of gardens you must realize that they are just a fleeting moment captured in the life of that garden. No other day or hour will it look exactly like that again because a garden is a living, breathing, growing life form, which also contains many other living, growing breathing life forms. Even if we weren’t working on making changes and improvements to the garden all the time, it would be different every day or two.

gardenapril09 008A beautiful pink poppy. The bees are always loving these big poppies as soon as they open in the morning because they are full of pollen.

gardenapril09 009The chickens have been working over this area for several months now. When we cut down a big evergreen this is where I had piled all the little branches too small for firewood. That yellow thing is my little electric chipper/shredder and now I’m shredding up the bigger stuff that the chickens haven’t eaten or broken up. When done, the area where the chickens are will become a new garden area and the chickens will go back on the other side of the tree for the summer where they will get more shade during the hot part of the day.

gardenapril09 018Well, ‘ol Stumpy is gone, thank goodness. this is the pile of chunks and roots we dug and cut out. There are actually some more roots in the way of finishing off this area, but I can only get so much done at a time.

gardenapril09 014Well that first green tomato is getting really big and now it has company.

gardenapril09 017A new view from the patio, this is looking back towards the greenhouse, which now has no plastic on it. You can see all the roots there on top of the wall we pushed over getting the stump out.That whole area will become more greenhouse eventually.

gardenapril09 020The Baby blue Hubbards are thriving on the compost pile. That thermometer says 160 degrees!

gardenapril09 021Since the days have been 85 to almost 90 I took the old windows off those watermelon & cantaloupe seedlings growing on the other compost pile. The watermelons are running already.

gardenapril09 032The bunnies are _almost_ big enough to be BBQ. Yes, I eat rabbits. Rabbit meat is like the breast meat of chicken, only all over. Also it has almost no fat and is higher in protein per  pound of meat than chicken, so it’s even better for you than chicken meat.

gardenapril09 004Two of my grand daughters pull the tops off the carrots and feed them to the bunnies. The rabbits and chickens are integral parts of my plan for self sufficiency. The rabbits eat a lot of greens, prunings from the roses, fruit trees and brambles and produce meat and manure. The chickens eat up a lot of spoiling food and table scraps and make eggs and manure. The manure from both helps raise earthworms which are good food for the chickens as well as making great compost to help our garden grow even better.

I’ve been out foxed..er moused!

Well I still had a late batch of pepper seeds and some heat loving herbs germinating on the heat mat under lights in the living room. so I decided to take advantage of the heating mat still being on to start the first batch of baby corn plants in 2″ soil blocks. Because the birds are a real nuisance, pulling up little corn and bean plants as they sprout in the garden, I’ve planned to start them all in soil blocks under cover. Well there was room for a few extra blocks so I put in some sunflower seeds too. That’s when I discovered I’ve got a mouse! The darn thing dug up & ate all the sunflower seeds and most of the corn!

The little rascal totally ignored the trap baited with peanut butter, so I have moved the seed starting operation into the greenhouse window in the kitchen. And now I am on a mouse hunt!


The numbers are in for April, 133 eggs and 19 pounds 11 ounces of produce. Most of April’s produce was peas, some spinach, purple broccoli, carrots, beets, lettuce, chard and lambs quarters. Totals do not include things fed to the rabbits and chickens, like stray clover plants, overgrown lambs quarters, bolting spinach and broccoli plants. Nor do they include grazing by small children!

Looking ahead, the peas will likely peter out towards the end of this month, as it gets hotter and dryer [they really like cool climates like England or the Pacific Northwest]. As the peas go out the new potatoes should start being ready. The garlic and onions should be ready to pull in June. I just planted some bush beans, with more on the way. They take 8-10 weeks from seed to beginning of harvest. Now that it is staying warmer at night I can plant corn and pole beans, including lima’s.

Knowing it will be very hot and dry during June and the beginning of July, I’ll start some other crops in soil blocks this week that will really enjoy that type of weather, like okra and black eyed peas.  I’m not certain how soon all those little green tomatoes will be turning red and yellow, but usually the big flush of tomatoes and tomatillos will come towards the end of the summer.

Between now and July I’ll be thinking about what I want to eat this winter, like turnips, beets, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, because July and August are the times to start them.

In the meantime trying to find enough compost to keep up with the things that need it now!

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