Start by Growing What You Love

After you have designated your growing space, plan your space so as to have the right amount of the fruits and veggies you like the most.  If you use lots of tomatoes, fresh and canned, enjoy selling them or giving them away, maybe 20 plants is the right amount.  If you only use one or two chopped in a salad, one plant should do you.  Potatoes can be found on sale for 10 lbs /$.99, so why grow them?  We grow the red ones because it makes us happy.  They’re fun to dig out like buried rubies all winter long from under the dirt, straw and snow.  We don’t sell them ever; we scurry them into the kitchen plastered with sticky mud, bathe them in the sink and admire their lustrous red color while they dry.   A corn plant hogs one or two sq. ft of bed space and takes 3-4 months to produce 1-2 ears in my cool mountain climate.  Corn from the valley can be bought for 4 ears/$.99 all July, but we celebrate eating our very own corn.  If you love green salads and want to be freed from buying those spendy mesclun salad mixes, grow your own salad greens.   Your  fresh-picked green salad is special.   Do you love melons?  There are tantalizing heirloom melon seed varieties available that you will never find fresh in stores or produce markets.  Save a hot, sunny spot for these. 

So make a list of the fruits and veggies you really like and go buy some seeds.

But I want my food garden to look neat not messy

Check out picasaweb.google.com/nutrition.gardener for hundreds of fabulously inspiring garden pic’s.   You can have bushels of food and  aesthetic beauty too. 

 The disheveled look in a garden doesn’t work for me either.  Casual, funky gardens are popular, but  I  lay out beds and plantings with a tape measure  and grade garden areas  to perfection, making room for rolling lawn areas, elegant flower beds, hammocks and dainty bistro sets   Raised beds confine sprawling vegetables nicely.  Also wanting to grow as much food as possible,  I started incorporating edible perennials into my landscaping.  Below is an arbor supporting a grapevine loaded with grapes.

Grapes shading a wooden bench

Grapes up close

Raspberries planted at base of deck

Raspberries look nice planted along the base of a deck (shown left).  3/4 cup of raspberries have 25 mg of Vitamin C and as much fiber as a slice of 100% whole wheat bread.  I am always grabbing a handful from the plants to snack on as I walk by.  Some plants bear both in early summer and again all through fall even when everything else has died back for winter.

Strawberry plants

Have you thought about a landscape ground cover that is both beautiful and delicious and provides 20% more Vitamin C than oranges ounce for ounce?  Here is a sloped bed alongside a gravel parking spot planted with strawberries.  Having more than you can eat is inevitable.  Fortunately, they freeze well without added sugar.  Make the  perfect low calorie strawberry milkshake with frozen strawberries, milk, protein powder and a little sweetener if desired.  Serve thawed strawberries over plain yogurt all year. Pick up a box of No Sugar Needed fruit pectin at the grocery store and make your own strawberry jam with as little sugar as still tastes good to you.

Young blueberry and huckleberry bushes form a lovely hedge (below).

Blueberry bush against a fence

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Aesthetics are important too

Roses on left, D'Anjou pear on right, strawberry bed at end of lawn

Plum and pluot trees in the lawn
Elberta peach in the lawn with hedge of young blueberry plants behind
Irises, strawberries, roses under the oaks

 

Hammock between oak and cedar tree is always shaded.

Soil Preparation

This is a raised bed ready to plant.  After the squash was done in late summer, I threw into the raked out bed about 3 trashcans of compost.  What is in late summer homemade compost?  Continue reading

For first time gardeners- the bare basics

If you are planning a garden for the first time, walk around your yard, noting which areas get some sun now, and where it will be sunniest in summer for at least 6 hrs per day.  After you have found a good spot, stake it off.  If it is super sunny, you will grow about anything there except for leafy crops like lettuce and spinach in the heat of summer.  Continue reading

Fresh from the Garden in Winter?

Cold, cold day..... outside the mini-greenhouse, that is

Check out the  winter pic’s of inside covered raised beds (greenhouses on the cheap).  It’s about 35 degrees inside and the kale, endive and radicchio are all comfy though growing quite slowly.  Other pic’s show the raised bed with its 6 ml plastic sheet thrown to one side while broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage sunbathe on a 40 degree day in late January.  That’s me in the bright sweater headed for the house with a fresh-cut bunch of greens for steaming. Continue reading

You know you need the money

When you have grown more produce than you want to eat fresh, freeze or can, sell the surplus to passersby. Match your local grocery store prices if you want to be competitive, even though you know yours tastes so much better and is worth double maybe. Continue reading