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In the Garden

Good day to you all!  Today I’ll be giving you a general overview of our backyard garden. You’ve probably noticed so far my posts have been pretty general and don’t go into great detail on any one specific topic.  Don’t worry, that’ll come.  Right now, I’m introducing you to our small part of the world for some inspiration.  The DIY how-to projects are just around the corner.

Our first two years in the house, we had a very small garden that produced a limited amount of fruits and veggies.  We didn’t want to commit to a full scale garden assault until we knew exactly what we wanted in the backyard.  After a few months of thinking, sketching, erasing, sketching again, and then thinking I’ve got a good plan, I called in the reinforcements (my very talented first step-mom who owns a landscape biz).  After a couple of hours of her fab advice on plant, tree, and decorative item placements, I got straight to creating a design in Punch Home & Landscape.  By the way, ignore the lack of a roof on the house.  I wanted my garden designed!

Thus far, we’ve stayed pretty true to our overall design, only adding and taking away a few items.  Here’s our current, in-progress, shots as we all know the garden is never complete.  And take my word for it, we’re rounding second base right now.

Are any of you thinking, “I thought you couldn’t use galvanized steel bins for an organic veggie garden because it leeches zinc.”  Well, there’s much debate on this topic and, for our family, I’ve decided it’s safe.  I’ve read tons of articles, searched forums, and so has this woman.  She’s with me, but I know there’s many of you who aren’t.  I say do what you think is best for you and your family!  If you’re in the Bay Area, we bought the bins here a few years ago when steel was still cheap.  The price of these bins has quadrupled.  Plan on signing over the deed to your house if you want several of these bins.  Okay, I might be exaggerating but geez they’re expensive now!  We built the wood boxes using untreated redwood from my parent’s old fence.  Re-use whenever possible!!

You’ll notice in some of the upcoming images, we have a watering system installed.  (We don’t turn it on until we’ve exhausted our rain barrel water supply.)  The hubby and his dad dug trenches for the 1/2″ tubing, then brought 1/4″ tubing up into the bins and boxes.  We have some with bubblers and some with half circle adjustable spray heads depending on the type of coverage needed.  The heads are easily interchangeable when you rotate your crops.

I’m sure you noticed above some boxes half full or all together empty.  We’re just starting some new crops of honeydew orange melon, banana melon, watermelon, white corn, cucumber, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, and gypsy peppers.  We’re currently harvesting carrots, peas, beets, lettuce, broccoli, artichokes, strawberries (yep, already), collards, kale (we do a lot of juicing), and several herbs.

What you may not have noticed is we have an entire large box dedicated to an herb garden (and two pink diamond pee gee hydrangeas in the mix).  We’re growing cilantro, thyme, cress, sage, borage, basil, parsley, savory, chammomile, dill, chives, oregano, and lemon verbena.  It sounds like the box would be bursting at the seams, but thankfully it isn’t.  We’re able to plant seeds in succession.  As one cilantro plant is finishing up I’m planting something else in its place.  So far we have a constant supply of most herbs.  For the first time, I grew frost sensitive herbs (basil for example) in the new garden shed/greenhouse over the winter and it worked wonderfully. Here’s a few of our herbs:

Mint tip: plant by itself in a large pot otherwise it’ll take over other plants and your yard.

 Sage just coming up

 Thyme just coming up


If you’d like some tips on growing an herb garden you may visit the following sites.  There are hundreds out there and I’m sure formatted much nicer, but these are sites I’ve referenced because they’re organic.

Here’s some helpful articles on designing your herb garden:

On a final note, we only use compost in our raised boxes and bins.  Over the years, I’ve repeatedly read to mix your current soil with a compost.  The first two years in our new home, we tested the soil, tried a mixture of our clay soil and compost, adjusted as needed, and felt like we weren’t getting results we were pleased with.  So, last year we went for it and filled the raised beds with an organic compost only.  Yes, we knew we’d run the risk of no seed germination and root burn.  However, the compost was aged over one year  and we thought, “Why not take the risk?  We can always go back to a mix.”  So, we went for it and are very pleased with the results.  After one season of growth, our asparagus crop is promising; our new strawberry plants are loving their home; the same lettuce varieties we’ve grown in the past are much larger this time around; and the kale was huge!  I could go on and on!  It also helps that we use an organic fertilizer from Steve Solomon.  The first year we used it, we decided to try it only on our strawberries.  The result: we got hundreds of strawberries on sweet juice steroids!  Oh my were they unbelievably sweet.  Not grocery store large and tasteless, but small and flavorFULL!  Yum!  This is a fertilizer everyone should be using!  Just look at the picture of Steve sitting next to his garden veggies.  If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

Check out the results of some of our early crops:

Roman Artichoke



 Flowering asparagus

Sage, beets, peas, carrots

Here’s to tasty, healthy eating!


P.S. Did you read this recent article on childhood obesity?


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