"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Our Food Garden Realized

Most of the gardens are finally planted and burgeoning with new growth. The sod I removed from the newest addition is a distant memory making way for a diverse variety of new plants.

Plants like tomatillos, ground cherries,

and even a few litchi tomatoes.

The sage is all abuzz with nectar seeking insects.

Valerian reaches towards the heavens with lilac scented blooms.

Volunteer tomatoes and sunflowers thrive alongside the onions and flax.

The heirloom Umpqua broccoli plants, whose seeds I am attempting to save, are flowering just as the Russian kale has finished and is now podding up... perfect timing. I was worried about keeping both from flowering at the same time, although crossing these two might prove interesting... perhaps another time.

Thick stalked purple podded peas are standing tall with a little support.

The last two years have brought a plethora of predatory insects, frogs, and salamanders into our gardens to help defend against the bad. I have never seen so many ladybugs like this one gracing some of last years parsnips just beginning flower.

I'm not sure whether our grandson or the robins like the strawberries better. We divided and transplanted over 1,500 ever-bearing plants early this spring and did not expect to get berries this soon, if at all this year. Almost every one has fruit in various stages of development... lucky us.

The tiny English walnut trees seem happy, I planted 50 nuts last fall and ended up with 46 trees in the making.

Purple carrot flowers are most intriguing,

but these Egyptian walking onions have got to be the strangest alliums I have ever seen, tentacle upon tentacle sending feelers in every direction. They arrived this spring all the way from Michigan via my gardening and greenhouse hero and master of all that is allium, El, of fast grow the weeds ... thank you, thank you!

A pox upon my house if I dare forget to mention the vibrant growth taking place with these prodigious tomatoes, some of whose seed I received from Dan & Val of Grunt and Grungy's Garden.

The hard work out of the way, I now look forward to strolling through our little food gardens enjoying the wondrous selection that we are privileged to partake in. Who am I to be blessed with such fortunes while so many go hungry? The world's inequities are hard to understand.


Eva said...

What an amazing garden! I too have tomatillos, loaded w/ flowers, but I have yet to see any fruit. Have you had any luck?

randi said...

you are 'blessed' not only because you did the conceptualizing but you also did the WORK! (Common sense Yankee chimes in)

Yes, we're lucky in that toss-of-the-dice way to have wound up in the lovely places we live but we also bust our butts to get it and keep it.
Not for a moment do I feel that you and yours don't deserve the fruits of your obvious labors Mike. Your gardens are a testament and your generosity in sharing these blog posts help all of us trying to learn, grow and yes, even share an extra row. Well done my friend.

Silke said...

Oh, wow, your veggies look wonderful! You must be so proud that all your hard work led to such a luscious garden!! I am so impressed and happy for you that all is growing so well! :) Silke

Anonymous said...

Wow, you definitely have a longer growing season that us! I'm envious.

el said...

Ah yes another delightful tour while I am sitting chained to my desk! Thanks again, Mike.

But yes your hard work is paying off, isn't it? And I might need to trade something to get myself some of that valerian seed!

Happy solstice and I hope your weekend is filled with good dirty work.

Mr. H said...


We planted our tomatillos and ground cherries the last week of May, usually this takes place in June but the weather has been outstanding for a change. If all goes well the first fruits should start to appear in our gardens toward the end of July and all through August.

After they flower a husk starts to develop and can become quite large compared to the little fruit developing inside.

Eventually the fruit fills out the husk and at this point they can be picked, even the ones that you miss and split open a bit are fine. We freeze ours and use them mostly for salsa in the winter months.

Tomatillos are one of the reasons I experiment with so many different plants. I never even new they exsisted a few years back and they are now one of my favorite foods.

Mr. H said...


You are so right, and yes life can be a toss of the dice. It's just that I sometimes feel guilty for having so much. My problem is I think about things a little too much sometimes. I need to focus more on just being grateful for what I have and where I am. Thanks.

Mr. H said...


This year is shaping up to be a good one for a change. I am so excited that we have not had any weather mishaps yet. Keep your fingers crossed for us.:)

Mr. H said...


Our growing season looks to be a bit longer this year for certain. Normally we can plant tomatoes and such the first week of June and are lucky if they are all finished ripening by early September. So we get right around 110-120 or more frost free days, which is just perfect if all goes well.

If we have a cold rainy summer, as has happened in the past, all bets are off... especially when it comes to tomatoes.

Mr. H said...

Hi El,

I spent about eight years behind the desk, hated every minute of it. I'm glad I was not into gardening back then, it would have been unbearable.
Filling out shipping and receiving paper work for various computer equipment and the components thereof is even less exciting then it sounds.

You are welcome to any valerian seed that I get, one gargantuous plant is enough for us... especially since we really haven't used it for anything yet. It sure is a handsome plant though.

Stefaneener said...

The loveliness of a garden almost always rocks me back. All of that work on the gardener's part -- and even then, the return is so much more than the input. I'm always telling people who "wish they could garden" that it's the one area I know of that you and the seeds are completely on the same side -- you want the same thing! All the gardener has to do is help them have what they want, and then? Abundance beyond measure, really.

And count me in on the late-to-the-tomatillos group. I am so excited about them this year.

Mr. H said...


You are so right, I think about that a lot. One little lettuce seed will not only provide leaves for a salad but many hundreds if not thousands of new seeds as well... amazing.

You will love how the tomatillo plant grows. I think the purple ones taste a little better, maybe, but the green ones seem to be more productive for us.

If you have never tried them you will have to give ground cherries a go as well. I honestly cannot tell the difference between a green tomatillo plant and a ground cherry. Other then identicale plants the fruit has very little in common as far as flavor goes.

Leigh said...

Nice tour, Mike. What's the story on the litchee tomato? I'm intrigued...

Mr. H said...

Hi Leigh,

Litchi Tomatos are something I have wanted to try for a couple years now and finally ponied up for the seed this year. We had a difficult time getting them to germinate but the ones that did are growing really well. They are large tomato like plants (members of the nightshade family) that are covered in little thorns. The husk covered fruit is supposed to taste like a cross between a cherry, tomato, and watermelon... who knows?

Check out my February 24th post "New Acquaintances In The Garden" for pictures or better yet try http://www.growbetterveggies.com/growbet
terveggies/2008/07/morelle-de-balb.html for information.

Mr. H said...


You will have to type that Url in order for it to work for some reason it will not copy and paste.


Leigh said...

Thanks Mr. H!

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