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The Edible Garden

August 24th, 2020

This is my 8th summer gardening here in Maine, the edible garden is the best it’s ever been. That’s to be expected, all the additions of compost are really improving the soil structure, and the garden is almost expanded to the full size that we have been planning.

I still need to add fruit trees, berry bushes, grape vines, and a few other items, but overall it’s really starting to settle into place and look fantastic. It no longer looks like a new garden. It’s filled with tons of self seeded flower: anise hyssop, verbena bonariensis, echinacea, dill, coriander, and rose campion.

This year I added a tithonia hedge on both sides. Not only do these help with wind, they provide lots of food for pollinators, especially monarchs. Now that I have 120 feet of them, I notice the hummingbirds are loving them as well. It’s a constant buzz of activity and it is proving to be a great add for reducing the wind in the garden.

The vegetables are all producing well, some things I have cut down on this year, some I have increased. At this moment, the tomatoes are the stars of the show. Here in Maine, we have a short window to enjoy tomatoes fresh off the vine and we savor each and every one. The ‘Sungold’ tomatoes are especially stunning right now, I enjoy watching them ripen downward.

Overall, it’s been a great year for the edible garden. No doubt all of our years of improving the soil are finally paying off. We look forward to layering in more and more seasonal foods as we finalize the plans for this lovely space.

What are you harvesting and loving at the peak of ripeness right now?

The Main Vegetable Garden

July 19th, 2016

I have a small potager out behind the house, it’s an ornamental vegetable garden. In it I grow a lot of herbs and lettuce. Out behind the garage there’s a big vegetable garden, right now it’s probably 70 feet wide by about 50 feet wide. It gets a little bigger each year, in a few years we will have expanded it to the final size. When that time comes we will make permanent pathways, plant hedges, and a large perennial border in front of the fence that will surround it. Until then, it’s a fairly traditional garden space. I have rows that are 4 feet wide, vegetables are planted very closely in these beds, or things are interplanted.
Main edible garden 1
It’s filled with all sorts of things, mostly the ones I grow in large amounts: peas, beans, onions, potatoes, asparagus, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, etc.
Main edible garden 2
Main edible garden 3
I read a while ago that at the Hagley mansion garden they layered their garden waste in a row of the garden throughout the growing season. There was not turning of the compost, it was let sit over the winter and the following spring squash was planted in the piles to use the nutrients while it continued to compost. I’m giving this method a try in my garden, so far the zucchini planted in the pile is doing well.
Main edible garden 5
Main edible garden 4
Main edible garden 6
This garden is not tilled, it hasn’t been since we moved in. The result is that each year I have fewer and fewer weeds and the soil structure is getting better and better. It’s amazing how much difference you can make in a short amount of time, I’ve noticed huge differences in water and nutrient retention along with weed load in this garden in the past four years. It’s a great space, hopefully when it reaches its final size it will be big enough to allow 25% of it to be fallow each year so the soil can rest.

How’s your edible garden going? What size do you consider the perfect size for an edible garden?

Using up Seeds

May 30th, 2016

I start onions from seed each year, mostly because I can find varieties that I can’t get in sets/plants and because they store longer than onions grown from sets. I like to grow 4-5 different varieties, which means I always have loads of extra onion seed.
seeding onions 4
Since it doesn’t store from year to year, I plant all the seeds thickly in rows and either harvest them as small set onions for quick growth the following spring, or as scallions during the summer/fall.
seeding onions 1
seeding onions 2
The direct seeded onions have germinated and are growing nicely, though the ones I seeded indoors back in March are much larger.
seeding onions 3
This year I may try transplanting a few of the direct seeded onions to see how they size up and store. It would be nice to direct seed onions and save a bit of time, but I might have to experiment with different varieties. Either way, I enjoy scallions, pearl onions, and onion sets and I don’t have seed going bad.

Do you grow onions from seed, sets, or plants?

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About

This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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