If you are into growing your own produce than this time of year your mailbox is probably flooded with seed catalogs. If you’re really into edible gardening you might be sneaking some peaks at online seed catalogs while you are at work. Excitement is building for the edible gardening season to come. You almost smell the tomatoes!
Speaking of tomatoes…
I find descriptions of tomato seeds and plants to be packed with exciting descriptives and amazing amounts of hyperbole. Yesterday a gardening friend and self-confessed tomato addict gave me a description for a unique “chocolate” style hybrid. After reading the description I was ready to sell all my Hershey stock and race to the store to buy every Ghiradelli bar I could find. I was certain no one would eat chocolate again. Why would anyone eat chocolate when they can grow their own?
Now back to reality, at least for a minute. I have grown some of these chocolate varieties of tomatoes. Some are tasty with great texture and unique flavor profiles. Others are rather boring and do not come close to their seed catalog descriptions. In any case, none have ever made me think I was tasting chocolate.
The moral to this story is to mostly grow what you like and are familiar with. Pick fruits, vegetables and herbs you enjoy and would normally buy in the store. Of course you should make sure they will grow in your zone and specific garden conditions. Then, each season you can throw in one or two exciting new edibles to see if they appeal to you. Just do not get carried away. I have seen many edible gardens suffer from overcrowding created by an overzealous, but good intentioned gardener.
What new fruit, vegetable or herb are you going to try growing this year?
Some of our recent favorites
Ah, the holidays are upon us. Before you know it the parties, celebrations and hoopla will be gone. What’s an edible gardener to do as she waits for the soil to thaw?
Grandma’s garden sketch
Easy…plan a garden! We love using the cold, dreay months to tear through seed catalogs and sketch out our coming year’s gardens. Maybe even order some seeds to beat the crowds and get some discounts!
When do you start planning your edible garden?
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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.
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!
2016 will be the best cilantro season ever!
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
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!
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.
Check out my boy, “The Tomato Shark” and his tip for extending tomato growing season. His efforts have resulted in a nice second crop of tasty tomatoes for the DIY Backyard Farm!