edible landscape

Mandy’s Planting Olive Trees!

Wow—leave this gal alone for a couple of weeks and *POW* she and her edible landscape have gone crazy! 

Crazy as in olive, fig, peach AND pear trees.  Crazy as in blueberry hedges, lettuce walkways… Bok Choy, red cabbage, carrots and radish—oh, my!  Apparently radish are a gardener’s best friend.  Not only easy to grow, these little fellas are the workhorses of the garden!

They keep all sorts of bugs away.  For instance, they lure leafminers from spinach, deter cucumber beetles and rust flies, squash borers and more!  Just keep them away from the cabbage family and turnips. 

I had no idea about this amazing fact.  So for you first-timers, radish are for you!

And how about these carrots? 

Just lovely and lush against the porch beds filled with greens.  And this Kohlrabi looks splendid! 

Never even heard of Kohlrabi in the garden, save for a few passing mentions in my gardening magazines.  Check out the Bok Choy and cabbage!  All just steps away from the kitchen…

Not to mention the blueberries I told you about.  Look at these babies, in line and ready to go in!

And don’t think I forgot about those beautiful peach blossoms.  Can’t wait for the fruit to begin forming… 

Now how about you?  Planned your edible landscape, yet?

Warning for Edible Garden Growers

If you decide to incorporate an edible garden into your landscape, be sure you’re not the only one who knows about your new endeavor.  If you are, you may emerge from your home with the same great disappointment as I did today.  The lawn fellow sprayed my bright tender greens with insecticide.

Shudder, chills, mutter, groan–the horror!

But yes.  Alas, it’s true.  My sweet wonderful landscaper put an end to my glorious edible salad bed landscape, shown here in the foreground of my rosemary hedge.  It’s not his fault. I didn’t label it as edible landscape. I didn’t advise him I was cultivating foodstuff around the house. I merely amended my soil with compost and worm poop and assumed (yes–I know what that stands for!) that he would know that it was new growth.

Yet he mis-identified my tender green sprouts as weeds.  But with nothing else to do–you can see my lawn is a barren wasteland of frost damaged grass–he decided to spray the perimeter for weeds. Under normal circumstances I’d be celebrating, but today?

Not so much.  So please, take a word of advice from a woman who knows:  communicate with the man (or woman) whose job it is to care for your grounds. You’ll be glad you did.

As for me? Next time I’ll be sticking big, broad, conspicuous white plant labels in my newly planted edible landscape! No sense in risking it, right?

Not a chance.

Now THAT’S Beautiful Landscape

 Would you look at this gorgeous landscape?  And it’s edible.  Talk about win-win—why Mandy has this concept hands down!

Isn’t this Bok choy beautiful?  She’s decided to harvest it ahead of the frost, though shouldn’t worry too much about the cold as this plant thrives in cooler weather.  But gazing upon these decadent leaves, can you blame her?  I mean, haul this batch into the kitchen, break out the oil and garlic and grab your saute pan—we’re having Bok choy for dinner!

YUM.  And so fun.  I mean, how cool is it to walk out your front door and clip a few leaves for the family meal?  So fun, I moved my lettuce bed clear up to the house because it’s much easier to stroll outside the patio door and grab lunch than it is to make the trek down to the garden.  Especially in this frigid weather we’re having.

I know—call me a lightweight, but one of the keys to successful gardening is planting a garden “you can live by.” 

Garden to live by?

Oh, yes.  A “garden to live by” is one you’ll incorporate into your daily life.  If planting food just outside my door as opposed to clear out in the pasture will encourage me to eat more salads then by God, I’m planting a landscape of lettuce around the house! Spinach, too. 🙂 We do want to be healthy, don’t we?  After all, we have New Year’s resolutions to keep!  And I for one plan to honor mine for as long as I can so my new motto is:  easy access = healthy living.

Next on the menu for Mandy will be red cabbage.  It too, loves the cooler temps so watch for its harvest within a month’s time. 

And don’t forget about her carrots, beets and radish (shown above between the raised planter and walkway)!  She’s already dug into the radish and chomping at the bit for her carrots and beets to mature so stay tuned (we’re hunting wabbits). 

Hmmm…  In the meanwhile, what can she do to pass the time?  Why, plant more edible landscape, of course!

Options for Edible Borders

Mandy’s garden is really beginning to take shape.  The front planter is brimming with rosemary, cabbage and bok choy among others while her rosemary transplants are surviving.  (Sometimes, that’s all we can ask!)  She’s been busy adding herbs to her walkway as well, tucking them in between the Vs of each paver–which stopped me in my merry photo shoot tracks. 

AGH–you put them where?  I stared at them in alarm, then I turned to face her.  Bright-eyed and proud, she stood awaiting my reply.  How was I going to break this gently?  I mean, disappointing enthusiastic gardeners was not on the top of my list of things to do.  But she had to be told. 

“Um, Mandy…these oregano are going to spread quite wide and far and–”

“Oh, I know!” she chirped (she’s very happy that way).  “But those radish will clear out pretty quickly so I’m planning on having the oregano fill in the space.”

I smiled.  Well I do like a knowledgable garden gal!  She’d already planned for near catastrophe–or more specifically–how to avoid it.  “Perfect,” I replied and resumed the business of snapping pictures.

Not only does she have oregano in place, but parsley, thyme, chives, basil–the works!  And while some of these will grow to be a tad crowded, it’s nothing she can’t manage with a little clipping.  Besides, this woman plans to USE these herbs, not just gaze at them in admiration!

But we did notice a wee bit of a bug problem with the cabbage.  Seems someone is chewing holes in her leaves.  Solution?

Follow your nose!  And the stinkier the better when it comes to organic pest control.  By that I mean garlic, coffee, compost, manure, mint…really depends on what beast you’re after for which method you choose.  Check the Garden Elements section of my website for full details, but with some experimenting on Mandy’s part, I’m sure she’ll find just the right concoction to rid her garden of pests.  Let’s hope for some windy days ahead, too.  Will help minimize the front porch stench.

No worries!  We’d rather be temporarily inconvenienced by the all-natural aromas than permanently poisoned by toxic alternatives. 🙂


Mandy’s Edible Landscape and Sun Study

Wow–this woman has been busy!  Since our last visit, she’s cleared the front porch of boxwood and weeds and formed a lovely decorative wall to showcase her soon-to-be rosemary hedge.  While she already has some rosemary in place, she plans to add a few more plants to fill in the area for a complete lush “hedge” look. 

In front of this section she has a nice line of available dirt she intends to use for seasonal vegetables, such as cabbage and carrots–GREAT garden companions for rosemary because the rosemary is said to repel cabbage moths and carrot flies.  Are we employing organic methods, or what?

But before she took this step, Mandy did something very important.  Unlike my garden that is out in an open grass field behind my home, clear of any trees or shade, hers is a mix of shade and sun so she felt it important to perform a sun study.

A what?

My question exactly.  🙂 Basically a “sun study” tracks the sun’s path over her yard.  Because Mandy lives in a neighborhood with tons of trees, she needed to be sure which locations were suitable for herb and vegetable plants.  Smart.  Very smart.  And simple, too.   First she secured an 8 1/2 X 11 copy of her homeowner’s property survey–an outline of her property boundaries–and then made 10 duplicate copies (one for each hour of the day she intended to record the sun’s path). 

Next, she chose a day where she had time to devote to said sun study and began at 8:00am by walking out into her yard, observing which parts were currently exposed to the sun and then highlighted them with a yellow marker on her survey sheet.  She then repeated this action on the hour, every hour until 6:00pm giving her a consecutive record of the sun’s trek over her property.

With all 10 copies in hand, she then transferred the information to the original copy, color-coding each area according to 4 different categories:  shade =blue, part-sun=green, full-sun=yellow, and hot spots=red. Full-sun in Florida counts as 4-6 hours of sun.  Part-shade was marked as 3-4 hours while shade was no sun at all.  Hot spots are as you’d imagine–they receive sun all day long without reprieve–an important thing to know in Florida. 

Pretty cool, huh?  This was a totally new concept to me and I just love it.  How organized and wonderful and the absolute perfect way to avoid disappointment when it comes to creating an edible landscape!  As you can see, the area out back by her pool counts as full sun and will provide an excellent location for growing cucumbers, zucchini and black-eyed peas. 

As noted, this diagram was drawn during the month of May.  Being that it’s already October, she’s due for another to account for the change in equinox.

Meet My New Garden Coach Project!

I have another “willing woman” to participate in this adventure we call gardening.  Her name is Mandy (no, she’s not the Mandy from last year) and she is gung-ho for gardening!  Seriously, this woman has major plans for her garden.  We’re talking total edible landscaping–eventually–but for now, we’re going to begin with a small section in her back patio.

She’s already cleared out half the space and because it receives plenty of sun it will be the perfect spot for the zucchini, cucumbers and black-eye peas she wants to plant.  Remember:  always start with your favorites and if they’re easy like this group well, then, all the better.  🙂  I do like easy.

For watering, Mandy intends to install a drip system in this area–the perfect method of irrigation–especially with the squash family.  They’re susceptible to fungus (as will be demonstrated on our school garden post this Friday) so keeping the water off the leaves when possible is key.  Another way for her to utilize this space is by inserting a metal trellis against the back fence, giving her cucumber somewhere to climb up and out of the garden.  Her zucchini could probably manage the climb, but they’ll take the low route  and hang out down along the sidewalk.

Her black-eye peas should get along fine with the cucumber, so she could slip them in alongside, or place them in the opposite yet-to-be-weeded section.  Either way works!  And speaking of plant beds, Mandy intends to amend her soil with her very own compost.  Didn’t I tell you she’s serious about this business of gardening?  Oh, let me tell me you, she is so serious.  I mean, when a woman doesn’t rip out a cactus from her garden because she’s not sure if she can eat this particular variety or not, you know you have a woman intent on edible landscape.

I see a cactus?  I’m pulling it out before it pokes me!  But back to the compost.  She started an outdoor pile a while back before deciding to go high-tech.  She purchased this nifty do-it-all-for-you composter and now uses it for all her composting needs.  Side by side, it looks rather intimidating compared to the simple ease of tossing your scraps and leaves into a big pile (like I do).

Until you see the kind of dirt this thing can churn out–and this after only 6 weeks!  That’s black gold, baby and oh-so-ready to be pulled out and tilled in. 

Yep, you better believe it.  There’s no better way to begin a new garden bed than with a scoop full of this stuff!  Maybe we should refer to this as black magic from here on out.  The results she’ll see with this organic rich material will surely make her a believer. 

Stay tuned and watch her progress or better yet–why not join in the fun?  You’ll be amazed at how EASY this gardening thing can be.