Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Beyond Edible

Last week's brief reprieve from record heat allowed us to get a little work done in the edible corner of our yard. Several mongo weeds disguised as garlic revealed their true nature and met their destiny. We now have breathing room and a little bit of space for fall crops. That’s right, we’re thinking about cool-season veggies, despite the return of 100 degree days. By mid- to late-August we’ll fill in the spaces with beets, radishes, raab, cilantro, carrots, and spinach.

Meanwhile, we’ve got cherry tomatoes out the wazoo, as well as cucumbers, carrots, and a few jalapeno peppers. Banana peppers and eggplant are on their way. The squash-vine borer once again sabotaged our zucchini, despite the paper cup I placed around the seedling. Now why did I think that would work? A little old lady told me so. Oh, well. Now I need to cut out the larva and replant the remaining healthy vine.

We’re filling in time between making tomato sauce and gazpacho by keeping our sensory garden full of interesting herbs and native plants. Acceptance in this space requires one or more of the following criteria: pollinator friendly, edible, native, or touchable. The soil is dry clay/backfill amended with leaf mulch and composted manure. It receives full to part-sun. Creeping thyme works beautifully between the stones, and it works its way into most of our meals. (Quote from Papa: “weren’t we just walking on this?!”). Yes, it’s steppable and tasty too!

Lovely borage joins the thyme, with weeping blue flowers and fuzzy leaves that taste like cucumber. It’s a nice garnish in salads or iced tea. Anise hyssop has attractive foliage and long-lasting purplish blooms. The leaves are sweet and delicately scented. We can use them in tea or flavored honey. We also planted dwarf golden-rod along the border of our new bed. It blooms in mid-august, and butterflies love it.

Our pollinators approve of our new additions, and we’re having lots of fun identifying the different varieties of birds and butterflies.

Most gratifying was our nine-year-old neighbor’s offer to help out. We love growing new gardeners, not to mention free labor!

Books we love for edible plants and pollinator identification:

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