Jun 112014
 
This hummingbird is going after the nicotiana

by Avis Licht

In California June is a busy time in the garden.  Some plants are already in and growing, some need to be planted and some need to be sown.

All the highlighted links will lead you to more information on that topic.  There is lots of information here. So come back often.

My broccoli has been setting beautiful heads for the last month and now the side shoots are ready to be harvested.  Chard, carrots, kale, lettuce, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are all making their colorful entrance to the table. Freshly harvested food makes even the simplest meal a taste treat.

Herbs are the piece de resistance of the garden.  Easy to grow, beautiful, healthy and tasty, they make every meal more flavorful and healthier.  If you only have time or space for one plant, make it an herb. Rosemary, basil, cilantro, parsley, chives, tarragon, oregano, mint – they are easy to grow and add vibrancy and health to your food and to you and to your garden.

In June we really have beauty and bounty - Raspberries by the bowl and lillies.

In June we really have beauty and bounty – Raspberries by the bowl and lillies.

In June, I go out every morning to harvest berries of all sorts for breakfast.  It’s a great way to start the day.

Red poppies in the morning sun.

Red poppies in the morning sun.

I grow flowers not only for their beauty, but because they provide food for bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and other important pollinators in the garden.  The more diverse your garden, the healthier it will be.

Rhodohypoxis

Rhodohypoxis

Be sure to visit my online store if you want tools, seeds, compost bins, gardening gloves and much more.  Whatever you find in my store, I personally recommend.

 

This hummingbird is going after the nicotiana

This hummingbird is going after the nicotiana

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Chard stalks are beautiful, too.

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I grow many kinds of bee friendly plants.

Red Poppies

Growing herbs in a container near the house is easy and convenient.

Growing herbs in a container near the house is easy and convenient. This planter has basil, oregano, tarragon and marigolds.

 

May 212013
 
Edible landscaping

by Avis Licht

Bamboo poles for climbing plants

For a front yard, make sure your structures are ornamental as well as useful.

 

Edible landscaping has become more popular than I ever thought it would or could. Every day we hear about some new project in cities all over the world. We’re seeing gardens that are both beautiful and have delicious, healthy produce. I mean, it only makes sense.

In Marin County the municipal water district has been encouraging people to conserve water by planting low water use plants as well as food gardens.  In May they have a tour of the best gardens that use principals that they call “Bay Friendly”:  organic, drought resistant, permeable surfaces, habitat friendly for beneficial birds and insects, and lovely to look at.

On the tour last weekend I took some photos from a few of the gardens that incorporated some good edible landscaping ideas.  See if anything inspires you for your garden. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

Artichoke, plum, alstroemaria

Raised vegetable box

Raised vegetable boxes define an area and let you put good growing soil into a small area. It’s also easy to maintain.

California native plants

These California native plants look good, are low maintenance, provide flowers and habitat. They go beautifully in an edible landscape.

Native California plants

Another view of the same yard. This shows that the native plants create a small patio area and the vegetables are at the far end of the yard near the fence.

To read more about designing your edible landscape, read this post. 

 

Be sure to leave a comment or shoot me a question by going to the Ask Avis page.

Container Gardening

This suburban backyard is all raised beds and container plantings. Easy to maintain and very productive.

Chicken coop

This tiny chicken coop in an unused side yard provides fresh eggs for the owners.

Fruit trees in containers

I’ve never seen this many fruit trees in containers. Lots of varieties but also a smaller harvest from the containers. When growing in pots, be sure to give plenty of water and nutrients. It is easier to find the right growing conditions when you can move the pots to the right micro climate. Since they will be dwarf simply by being in pots you can grow more trees in a smaller area.

 

To find out more about growing in containers read my post on self watering planters.

Cauliflower

This huge cauliflower was in a raised planter. You can get huge results when you have the best soil and perfect growing conditions.

 

 

tower of strawberries

This tower of strawberry pots is fun to look at and certainly easier to harvest the strawberries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To find out more about growing strawberries read this post.

 

 

 

 

 

Back yard garden

Path, flowers and bird bath highlight the backyard garden. This yard has many fruits and vegetables, yet is entirely enchanting. At least I think so.

 

 

 

 

The Entry Patio

Entering the garden, you are led by a curving path, under fruit trees, by flowers, herbs and native plants.

Vegetable Garden

I love that this vegetable garden looks like a garden garden. It’s not just utilitarian.

 

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2013-05-18 14.30.05

California Native Plants

California Native Plants

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Tower of strawberries

Tower of strawberries

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Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden

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2013-05-18 14.59.222013-05-16 18.13.572013-05-18 14.29.102013-05-18 14.30.05Manzanita and Ceanothus are easy to grow and use very little water2013-05-18 14.56.122013-05-18 14.56.512013-05-18 14.57.432013-05-18 14.58.30the water at the top drips down to the plants at the bottom.  Great use of space and water.IMGP2597Vegetable GardenIMGP3917IMGP3906IMGP5998IMGP6000
Jan 232012
 
Strawberries


by Avis Licht

Strawberries

You can have great fruit growing in a small garden.  Here are some of my favorite and easy to grow fruits. Each of them has their own particular needs, so be sure to look up which varieties are best for your climate.

Strawberries are at the top of my list. They can be grown in small areas, they can be planted in pots and they can be spread around the garden.  Commercially strawberries are one of the most heavily sprayed plants both with herbicides and pesticides.  It’s much better to grow your own.

How can a bamboo stick keep a large dog out of the strawberries

Can you have too many strawberry plants?

If you want a fruit tree for a small space, consider a genetic dwarf fruit tree.  They are bred to be smaller without pruning. You can have a full sized apple, cherry, nectarine and more that is only 6 ft tall.A small space is fine for an espalier fruit tree

An espaliered tree can be trained to grow against a wall or fence and take up very little room.  This requires some real attention and work to keep the tree properly pruned and still produce fruit. But once you learn how, it can be incredibly productive in a small space.

Citrus trees can be grown in large pots in a sunny spot near the house or on a deck. Choose naturally dwarf varieties so that they won’t outgrow their containers.

Mandarin orange in a container

It's easy to grow citrus in a pot

 

 

Citrus are wonderful for the edible landscape because they are evergreen, fragrant, produce fruit and look beautiful.  Another winner.

Whenever plants are put in pots, be sure they get enough fertilizer to keep them healthy, and regular water.  Pots can dry out quickly because  they are exposed to the sun and wind.

 

Surprisingly, fig trees can be happily grown in pots.  Normally a fig will grow quite big, but it can be tamed to fit your small garden in a pot and still be healthy and produce plenty of fruit.

Fig in a container

Figs thrive in planting containers

Dwarf blueberries  stay small in the ground and are good for container plantings.

These are a few of my favorite fruits for the small edible landscape.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

Sep 072011
 
Apples on the Tree

A bumper crop of apples in the Fall

In California, the Fall is synonymous with apples. For Edible Landscaping we have many varieties that will grow, from the coast up to the Sierra Foothills.  My own trees have four varieties of apples on one tree.  With two trees, that gives me a grand total of eight varieties, in one small area.  They ripen at slightly different times, to extend the season.  Check your nurseries for types that work in your climate. If you go to Smart Gardener you can type in your zip code and they’ll tell you what your growing season is.

Sun Gold cherry tomatoes

Sun Gold cherry tomatoes

Of all the vegetable crops, tomatoes are one of the few that almost everyone wants to grow at home, because they ALWAYS (almost) taste better than store bought. If you live in a cool climate, as in the California northern coast, or a short season climate, as in higher elevations, then you want to grow Cherry tomatoes, which ripen earlier, faster and longer than larger tomatoes.  Check out the varieties of heirloom tomatoes that give wonderful taste, great yields and all kinds of colors. Organic gardening is more than a buzz word, it’s way to enjoy life.

One of my favorite Edible Landscape plants is the delicious Strawberry. Strawberries can be early, middle and late producing.  Some varieties give two crops, such as the one pictured below. Some are everbearing and some are Wild Strawberries. You will get a lot of information from this site, Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, and you can order plants from them as well.

Strawberries

It's Fall and the Strawberries keep on coming

More on Fall Plants Tomorrow!

Sep 062011
 
Special ingredients for the best apple crisp
Special ingredients for the best apple crisp

Blackberry, strawberry and apples for the crisp

Going out into the garden to pick fruit is a really sweet thing to do.  You can be sure the fruit is fresh, organic, and ripe.  I needed something really quick to bring to a family gathering.  So I stepped out into the garden and picked a bowl of strawberries, a bowl of blackberries and some wonderfully tart apples.

Apples, blackberries and strawberries from the edible garden

Beautiful fruit right from the garden (click to enlarge)

All I had to do was rinse them off, slice the apples and put them in the pan.  If you want you can squeeze a little lemon juice over the apples.  I didn’t have any, and no harm was done. I confess to sprinkling a tiny bit of sugar over the top of the fruit.

The next step is the crumble for the top.  You can use a variety of ingredients.  I use 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup  flour, both whole wheat and white, 1/4 cup  sugar mixed in with 1/4 cup butter and a pinch of salt. A little cinnamon and nutmeg goes well with this. Mix these ingredients over the top and voila, you’re ready to go.  Thirty minutes in 350 deg oven and you will have the best crisp you’ve ever tasted.

Fresh and organic makes a huge difference in the taste of fruit.

The final crisp - ready to eat

This was still steaming from the oven when I took the picture.

People ask me if you can really eat flowers. The answer is a definite yes.  Take a look at this salad.

Edible Flowers in the salad

Nasturtiums and borage flowers in the salad

Flowers in a salad make the salad look beautiful and in this case give it a tangy flavor.  The Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and Persian cucumbers are also incredibly flavorful.  See what I have to say about edible flowers in another post.

Don’t be shy, give it a try. You might really like it.

 

 

 

 

 

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