Category Archives: Veggie Gardening

Garden Update: Mid-Summer 2011

We haven’t had the most ideal Summer for starting the journey of urban farming. There’s been little or no rainfall, and the temps keep sticking in the 100’s- unbearable, especially with the high humidity. Despite watering mornings and evenings, we lost our cucumber, pea, zucchini, and our second harvest of green beans fried on the vine. Those losses alone had us somewhat discouraged, however we’ve had big successes with other plants. We’re seeing peppers, potatoes, watermelon galore, and tomatoes popping out of our ears! The cherry tomatoes seem to be the most productive (an absolutely delicious), so we’re saving back seed for next year… we’ve been popping them like candy the last two weeks. The larger tomatoes are doing well, too, but have just started ripening. Our tomatillos had a batch that dried up and fell off a few weeks ago… sad, sad! But the second batch is hanging in there– extra watering required! I assumed they’d be as hardy as tomatoes in the heat, but I was wrong. This is a learn-as-you-go operation, and we’re still having a lot of fun!

Daniel spent the early afternoon weeding, and acidifying (coffee grounds & peat moss mixed into the soil) & mulching the two "test" Blueberry bushes. They're hanging in there, but boy are they struggling! Blueberry plants have shallow root systems.

we have some Russian Giant sunflowers hanging in the shed. We'll be putting paper bags over the heads to catch the seeds. These grew in our front yard, and put on an amazing display... a definite repeat planting next year!

Sky Bear carried this little bucket around and filled it with goodies today. The baby potatoes were harvested early from his little garden since the plants weren't doing too well. The ones we planted in the barrels are still doing great, though.

Last, but not least, I love our big Basil plant. I've been cutting from it weekly, and mixing it into pasta and sauces... fresh backyard Basil is amazing! For some reason it's tolerating the heat much better than our Lavender or Rosemary plants... I think it actually enjoys the heat.






Filed under Blueberries, Food, In Season, Natural Food, Organic Food, River Living, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening, Weather

Pinch Me! I’ve Died and Gone to Tomato Heaven

First cherry tomatoes harvested today!

My all-time favorite crop has to be tomatoes. I could grow nothing but tomatoes, and be perfectly content. There is no comparison between organic home-grown and store bought tomatoes; pure ecstasy. These little cherries taste utterly divine, and will not last long. All our tomato plants, which were started indoors from seed, are now over 6′ tall and covered in deliciousness. Mmmm mmmm!

Posted by: Jill

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Filed under In Season, Organic Food, River Living, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening

First Homegrown Green Beans

Picked today. YUM!!!

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Filed under Food, Organic Food, River Living, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening

Urban Farm & Garden Update: June 2011

first cucumber!

first green beans!

first snap peas!

first tomatillos!

We’ve got a smorgasbord showing up in our first-season garden. Not pictured are oodles of tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and red peppers. The whole family gets so excited when we actually see the food. I’m especially antsy to have tomatoes (my favorite), which is why we have 17 plants this year… overboard, I know, but so mouthwatering!

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Filed under In Season, Natural Food, Organic Food, River Living, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening

Urban Farm & Garden Update: Late Spring 2011

Potato barrels

Our potatoes are taking off like crazy. We have two experimental barrels this year. Prasad & Sky chose to grow some in their own little garden plots, and those are doing great, too. We’ll get to experience ground versus barrel potatoes, and decide what to repeat for next year. When the plants are towering above the barrels like this, it’s time to add more soil, burying almost half the existing plants. We’ll wait for blossoms to appear, and do a partial harvest of baby potatoes.

Green Beans & Snap Peas

Remember when we first planted these? You can see them here in an older post. The green beans and snap peas have entwined, creating large, happy vines. The peas are already flowering.

Snow Peas

Our snow peas were started much later than the snap peas, which is why they’re so small. We started them directly in the ground with seed from a generous neighbor friend, Kristen. We thought we wouldn’t be able to find snow peas this year, and were thrilled when she contacted me. Thanks so much, Kristen! They took off pretty fast, but we noticed something started nibbling on them. They must be pretty tasty leaves, because nothing else in the garden was being nibbled. Daniel put a little rabbit wire fence around them, and they’ve been doing much better ever since. These are my favorite peas for salads, so we’re hoping they continue to do well.


The tomatoes have gone insane! If you look back at our Early Spring post you can see how much they’ve grown. We’ve had a lot of rain, followed by sun and heat so they’re very happy so far. We’ve had no problems with staking, but when they’re taller we plan to add wood poles for extra support. Our tomatillo plants don’t have any cages, just poles, and they’re doing great, so far. They’ve got blooms, and so do all our peppers!


We thought this little guy was history a few weeks ago. It was tiny when we planted it on a small hill, and it got trampled a few times before the fence was up. I think it was down to two small, very sad look leaves. Now it’s thriving and blooming. I am a zucchini fanatic, so cannot wait!

Our front yard was tilled, and we planted a large strawberry patch, watermelon, and Russian Giant sunflowers. All three are taking off like crazy. Despite living in the Sunflower State, we’ve never been able to grow Sunflowers from seed. Our front yard plants are taking off, and we’ll have to post pics soon!

Summer heat is coming. We’ve had several humid days in the 90’s. The challenge in our climate comes during the intense heat & drought periods of Summer. We’re hoping the loamy soil helps significantly, and that we don’t have to irrigate excessively. It’s something we have to pay close attention to, or we could lose all our yummy crops. If all goes well, I’m pretty sure we’ll have enough food to feed several families!

Complete List of what we’re growing this year:

Potatoes (barrel & ground), 14 Tomatoes, 9 multi-colored Cherry tomatoes, 2 types of peas (snow & snap), Green Beans, 2 Blueberry bushes, 50 Strawberry plants, 1 Zucchini, 2 Cucumber, 1 Bush Cucumber, 4 Jalapeno peppers, 6 mixed pepper plants (red, yellow & green), Garlic, Onion, 9 Eggplant, 8 Tomatillos, Kale, Broccoli, Sunflower, Watermelon, 2 Peach trees, 1 self-pollinating Apple tree, Cilantro

Plus, don’t forget we have a duck & 3 hens laying eggs every day. By August we’ll have 6 more starting to lay. It’s a wonderful feeling when your food comes from right outside your back door.

Posted by: Jill

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Filed under Blueberries, Chickens, Do-It-Yourself, Ducks, Eggs, Food, Fruit Trees, In Season, Natural Food, Organic Food, River Living, Seasons, Shashwat, Simplicity, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening, Weather

Sandwich-Summer Simplicity

One of the most monotonous things about Summers with four kids is meal prep. Day in and out Daniel and I are preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it always starts feeling like I’m on a gerbil wheel! Every time we think we can take a breather and sit down, it’s time to prepare yet another meal. I’m not having it this Summer. There are far too many more interesting things to focus on and spend our time doing, so we’ve come up with a simple solution. We’re calling it a serve yourself Sandwich Summer.

Instead of “What’s for lunch/dinner, Mom?” They’ll say, “What kind of sandwich(es) will I create for myself today?” I’ve decided, for the sake of other more interesting and fun activities, as well as sanity, time & energy conservation, we’re going the easy route for lunches, and most dinners (4 nights/week). Three days a week (F, Su, and one weekday evening) we’ll prepare a hot meal for dinner. But ALL lunches and other evenings we’ll have our pick of a smorgasbord of choices for making our own sandwiches.

Sandwiches require little prep, no heating, conserve energy/dollars and won’t heat up the house by cooking. My maternal grandmother used to prepare sandwiches for dinner on evenings the temps were too high to turn on the stove. So, I’m just expanding on an old family tradition.

What’s for lunch and dinner? For both meals, our kids will choose from a rich variety of organic vegetables, cheeses, feta, spicy or regular mustard, mayo, ketchup, butter, lettuces, spinach, sprouts, pickles, vinegar & oil, home made breads, bagels, tortillas, cashew, peanut, and almond butter, cream cheese, honey, crushed red pepper, black pepper, egg salad, deli turkey (for Sky & Sorin), tofu, spicy tempeh, veggie pepperoni, and more. Side items include fruit, carrots, granola, yogurt, salsa and chips. I’m excited about how liberating this will be on my end, as a mother. Even Amelie and Liam will take part in Sandwich Summer, but of course we’ll do the prep. Maybe his brothers will end up preparing for him… that would be perfect. Liam doesn’t usually enjoy sandwiches, but we’re spicing up the choices a lot to get him interested… he loves spicy food. With so much variety, there just has to be a sandwich for everyone.

Here’s to a very simple Summer!

Posted by: Jill


Filed under Family Happenings, Order & Balance, Organic Food, Seasons, Simplicity, Thoughts & Insights, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening

Farmstead Harmony

Today I’m feeling especially struck by the perfectly harmonious relationship we have with our animals. I was pulling weeds around the roses this morning (which have their first blooms of the season and the fragrance is to-die for) and threw all the weeds into the chicken run. It was a large pile, but they were all devoured in less than thirty minutes by both the ducks and chickens. Instead of tossing them into the garbage or compost heap, they disappeared into a perfect cycle… we’ll basically be consuming the weeds through our eggs. There is something primal and beautiful in having that symbiotic type of relationship with other living beings.

I’m noticing we have the most ideal mulch now. Every month we clean and rake out the entire chicken run. All the old straw and manure goes into the compost pile. Chicken and duck poo breaks down quickly since it’s dry and grainy, so we’re able to stir it around a month or two and see the most ideal mulch appear for our garden beds– rich, organic straw. We laid a heavy layer over our tomato bed, and they’ve been taking off like crazy. (**PLEASE NOTE: The compost we put on the beds was from the Fall/November. Compost should be aged at least 3 months for above ground crops, and 6 months for ground/root crops**) My point- we fed the chickens our scraps, weeds, etc. and they produced fertilizer resulting in mulch that both protects and nourishes our plants while at the same time saving us a lot of money on mulch. Then we’llĀ  consume the most amazing tomatoes we’ve ever eaten (if all goes well). I’ve been so excited about the mulch, we’ve been putting it everywhere. Note: we have to be sure to use the very broken-down straw compost since it can burn plants if it’s too fresh.

I should add that we have a new type of Dandelion control going on within the yard. We consume it ourselves, but never from our back yard due to the dog waste. Prasad walks around every day picking Dandelion and Violet to feed Forest, our growing Flemish Giant. The Dandelion that was taking over the cellar door is trimmed way down (sometimes he even gets the whole root out), and this week he’ll be pulling out the plants behind the air conditioner. Would Prasad be so willing to weed without his bunny? Probably not. Once again, it’s a sweet example of the natural harmony that takes place when you have the right animals around.

There are so many other examples of this in our lives, and I’m wondering if I’ll ever get used to it and take it for granted… it is, after all, the most natural of things.

Posted by: Jill


Filed under Chicken & Rabbit Gardening, Chickens, Clean Planet, Collaborative Love, Ducks, Eggs, Food, Order & Balance, Organic Food, Peace, Rabbits, Recycle, River Living, Simplicity, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening, Wild Food