Flavor of the week or maybe year?

I want to get a head start on my 2016 edible garden planning. Sure we still have gorgeous swiss chard and beets surrounded by armies of carrots, kale and herbs. However, our daily garden chores have diminished and we are starting to find ourselves indoors more. Perfect evening for planning the 2016 DIY Backyard Farm gardens.

Please share with me your favorite veggies, fruits and herbs from the 2015 growing season. Of course I will share my findings in some kind of top 10 list.


The Best Way To Improve at Edible Gardening

Even experienced farmers and edible gardeners need to take notes. Growing seasons can be long and the observations a gardener or farmer makes or the tips and tricks one learns can easily be forgotten.
I was reminded of this tip yet again as I reminisced on our 2015 cilantro season. Tomorrow is Taco Tuesday and there is no cilantro to be found! As a result, I headed to the local farmers market yesterday to pick some up. $3 a bunch! Ouch!

At that price I had to get some extra value out of my trip. I asked the local farmer for some tips on growing cilantro. He seemed to enjoy sharing his wealth of knowledge with me and spent a few minutes away from his busy market table explaining some of his best cilantro growing practices.

First, the wise farmer told me to harvest the whole plant instead of just picking off the sprigs the way I was doing it. Apparently, Cilantro is best harvested all at once for best results. I was doing it sprig by sprig and always wondered why the stubborn plants would still bolt!

Next, he explained that I need to be planting all season long on a weekly basis. I already knew this tip, but a few weeks into the spring I started to miss a week here and there.

Lastly, the farmer told me to make sure the plant is not getting too much heat in the summer months. Cilantro will bolt early and taste better if the soil gets too hot.

I have also heard that it sometimes helps germination if you split the seed husks and then soak them in water for a day before planting. I will be trying out that tip in 2016.
My edible garden planning guide is a great book for beginner and intermediate edible gardeners. The included notes pages are very valuable for even the most experienced edible gardeners!

garden planning, cilantro

2016 will be the best cilantro season ever!


Help Edible Gardens Survive Short Blasts of Frost

Backyard farmers don’t need pop-up greenhouses, expensive row covers (though they can be nice) or other costly crop protection. 

We are facing two early frosts and then a batch of more seasonal, above freezing weather. This situation calls for our “ghetto” style  frost protection. 

Simple to set up, inexpensive and effective for light frosts. You won’t save your tomatoes and peppers, but cold weather veggies will thrive on!


adding the sheets to our quick setup crop protection


next day…safe and sound easy to set up too


Everything Old is New Again

I could not resist the chance to join into this fun topic. Our educational system here is always under fire for one thing or another. Not enough STEM, too much free time, too little physical activity (true)…

I believe you get out what you put in. Sure our school systems could be better, but so could our parenting. Parents should foster a love for learning and focus their children instead of scattering them across too many activities.

The one thing I would change and already see changing is to teach children the rewards and joys of growing their own healthy, delicious produce. For much of history most kids learned such skills at home. Now children find their produce stuck to a paper board and wrapped in cellophane. The connection between soil, sunlight and plants has been lost! Mother Nature has taken a backseat to facebook, twitter and video games.

School gardens are popping up everywhere. Some are funded by grants and others are added because it is the “in thing” to do. The benefits of a school garden can be amazing. Kids are curious and nature is the ultimate vehicle to fuel the inquisitive mind.

Simple skills that are learned in the garden can help shape healthy eating habits and teach kids to care for themselves by growing their own produce. I am constantly amazed and inspired by watching children who visit our edible gardens. They ask so many questions and want to try foods their parents never thought they would give a second look to.

So, who else is in favor of the school garden to cafeteria approach??? Does your local school have an edible garden where vegetables, fruits and maybe even some herbs grow?


Kidding Around In Our Edible Gardens

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The New School.”

Fall Flavorfest In The Garden

Fall is a time for reflection in the garden. What crops grew well, what would you do differently next year and more. After all, taking notes and learning from experiences are some major factors that lead to edible gardening success.

Fall is also a time that some crops really kick it up a notch. As temps drop tastiness goes up. Go ahead, try out some fresh fall kale. What do you taste? It is probably more flavorful and sweeter than it was just a couple of weeks prior. Beets are another vegetable that I notice more intense flavors in during fall months. I am not the only one who notices this flavor phenomenon.

Our littlest DIY Backyard Farmer gives a quick glimpse into our current crop of beets and kale as fall sets in and flavors rise. Take a look. If she doesn’t make you want to grow your own then no one will!

How We Grow Better Zucchini

In years past we lost many zucchini plants to various types of rot. I believe the rot was often caused by wilting and rotting leaves that created an environment of wet, mushy mess. Wet, mushy mess is a breeding ground for plant ailments. A couple of years ago I began to carefully experiment with trimming off single leaves and their stems from the main stem of the plant. This can be a risky move because pruning a zucchini plant leaves the plant vulnerable at the spot where you made a cut.

In my experience the risk was worth taking. The video below shows how I prune my zucchini and what they look like in late September.

Book Review – Henrietta’s Guide to Caring For Chickens


An interesting children’s book on chicken keeping that covers the basics in a fun, engaging way. Both of my children read it and retained some of the basics. I would recommend this book to parents and grandparents to give to kids who are interested in chickens or who will be keeping chickens at home.

We were planning on keeping a small flock of chickens and this book helped to engage and educate the kids. Just like edible gardening, with chicken keeping it is important for the kids to be part of the activity.

Both of my kids did their own book reviews as well. Read on for their take.


My daughter was inspired to draw this after reading the book.

What did you like about this book?

The pictures were my favorite part because they were very funny and made me smile and laugh.

What did you learn from this book?

I learned that keeping chickens as pets or for food can be hard work, but also fun too.

Would you recommend this book to other kids?

Yes I would if the kids were also interested in chickens or learning to keep chickens.

Our 9 year-old son was inspired to draw this

Our 9 year-old son was inspired to draw this

What did you like about this book?

I liked learning about how fun chicken keeping could be. I also liked to image all the things the chickens would do in my yard.

What did you learn from this book?

I learned foxes like to eat chickens so a person should be careful to protect their chickens. I also learned some fun facts:

  1. Chickens are related to dinosaurs!
  2. Chickens really like to eat worms.
  3. Chickens like to take baths in the dirt.

Would you recommend this book to other kids?

Yes I would!

Why We Are Not Keeping Chickens…Day 2 and Beyond

So we got permission from our town to keep chickens. We socialized the idea with our neighbors and they were all excited and accepting. We were so fired up that we ran to the library and got a bunch of chicken keeping books.

We had books for kids and books for adults. Many of them page turners for our anxious learners. As we read on the tide of excitement began to turn. Suddenly those cute and whimsical birds were no longer the apples of our eyes. Keeping chickens was indeed more work than we had heard!

You see, chickens are certainly pets. Like other pets they require a certain level of care. Without proper care they can get ill or just plain unhappy. That is just not fair to the birds.

The responsible thing for our family to do was to refrain from keeping chickens at this time. Hopefully in the future our lives will allow more time for such a worthy pursuit.