Check Out These Pages, Too!

"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cool Season Pretties in the Edible Garden

If you've ever thought about planting some edibles there is no better time than now.

Learning to grow an edible garden has been one of the most enriching aspects of gardening for me.

For an endeavor that was so intimidating initially it's difficult to express how much joy it has brought over the past 3 years. Trepidation at times. But joy is always the overarching feeling that comes to mind when I recount this experience.

From my first effort at edibles in the spring of 2008 when there were just two lonely framed-beds in my side yard I fell in love with this process.

I also sensed the need to enlarge the space right off.

For me, rectangular boxes plopped in the corner were a great starting place but it just wasn't pretty enough. I shamelessly admit I like pretty. Pretty matters to me.

I envisioned creating a space that flowed with the rest of my garden.

A space that gave me the same peaceful sense I get when I walk into other areas of my garden. It would have curving lines with edibles and flowers blended together spilling and tumbling beyond their boundaries.

The straight edges of framed beds would be softened by the addition of hilled-up beds designed to avoid the traditional 'row' planting. And flowering hardy perennials would serve as foundational borders and edging. That way I wouldn't have to replace them each season.

It was simply a large grassy patch at the time all those dreamy plans were dancing around in my mind. Can you see the two framed beds in the upper left corner from the June 2008 photo above?

Along with the flowering borders there would be portable containers placed throughout in many sizes where seasonal herbs and flowers would rotate in concert with the seasonal climate or if it so happened ~~ the whim of this gardener.

Harvest. Just one of the sources of the joy I'm hoping to convey to anyone who really wants to try edibles but hasn't yet for whatever reason.

I'm a firm believer in "start with what you have and start where you are at the moment." Getting started is the key. Even if it's planting in one portable container. On a patio or a balcony.

In January 2009 to prepare for my second spring of sowing edibles more lawn was removed to enlarge the garden. Rather than spending my dollars on framed beds I spent them on good soil brought in and hilled-up in the new space.

Transitions from dreams to realities are not usually an overnight materialization. Always keeping in mind that gardening is the principle of seed-time and harvest.

Time. Every step takes time and patience. And with a little diligence and determination visions come to pass. By April 2009 what I had visualized in my mind was what I could see in my garden.

My home landscape used to be completely planned and predictable. The choice to plant heirloom seeds and allowing nature to have its way means that each season there are those occasionally surprises that add to the exhileration that blending flowers and edibles offers.

These days I can never be sure when/where a patch of bronze fennel or parsley or dill or even lettuce starts might decide to squeeze into a so-called 'planned' space and find some soil to take root. Fun stuff.

The sight of large leafy edibles happy to be in my garden supplies my table with food and my soul with great pleasure and satisfaction.

Life. Nurturing life and tapping into that sense of reward for giving my garden what it needs to grow. It gives back at a remarkable rate of return.

Peach tree blossoms are giving way to the beginnings of tiny fuzz balls of fruit. Outside of the designated edible garden is a Tropic Snow Peach tree mingled right in with ornamentals of agapanthus and pentas at its feet in the back garden. It has the feeling of being more naturalized rather than keeping ornamentals and edibles separated.
Self-seeding Gaillardia is no longer surprising. It is everywhere it seems. No problem. I've transferred many of the starts to other locations that could use a lift from these no-nonsense, brightly colored beauties.

What a learning curve there is with this type of gardening! What works. What doesn't. Not to mention the weather patterns and unexpected changes that affect each season. Inspiration to conquer comes along with the challenge. Attempts to master the timing, sowing, soil needs, irrigation, organic practices ~~ all a step by step process.

Last year with my first attempt at broccoli the plants were enormous but not a single fruit was formed. This season we've got broccoli! What could be more exciting!

Green Macerata cauliflower from heirloom seeds was added this year as well. Harvesting from both makes it doubly rewarding and oh, so delicious.

Cool season edibles planted last fall actually didn't mind the colder winter we experienced in December/January. Warm season seeds have been sown to come up when the fall plantings are spent. In Florida there is always a blend of seasons.

One of these days I aim to master eating (at least something) from the garden all year long. It's the humid, bug ridden world of summer when only bell peppers seem to endure that defies me. My first attempt to conquer the gap will be this summer. I'll be trying some heat resisant long yard beans to break that barrier.

Now what about you? Do you love this aspect of your garden like I do? Is it time to get to the dreams that dance in YOUR head?


  1. Wow! I am inspired by the beauty and the change. I need to get busy. We really are enjoying our vegetable garden this year. Looks like the Sedum Florida Friendly Gold will flower earlier this year with the spring weather a month ahead of last year. Yours looks like it may have buds. Time will tell.

  2. How I envy your sense of vision. It seems that at this point in my gardening venture, I must keep things relegated to certain areas. Everything you grow looks so doggone healthy! Enjoy your harvest, Meems! You deserve to eat well!

  3. I was getting hungry reading your post Meems. Your vegetables look wonderful!! My lettuce is slowly growing...hope it makes it to the edible stage. Also have a beautiful volunteer tomato. It popped up in a container where I am growing a tree. Have one small green tomato and several buds.

    Unfortunately I have visions for our yard but the other 50% of this family is against adding any more growing space :(

  4. Very nice to see the transformation of this area of your garden. Since I always want immediate results I needed to see and hear that I just need to get started. Growth takes time. Beautiful veggie garden.

  5. I've always envied your *beautiful* veggie beds. It inspired me last year to rework my own tiny space in the garden area nearest the kitchen. But so many months later, the old blocks still sit in a heap, and nothing has been done. As for summer vegetables, I don't even bother.

    BTW, gaillardia seedlings popping up everywhere? Pretty awesome!

  6. Meems: I always envy your talent to make gardening art work! Yes, I also have quite some dreams dancing in my head, just in much smaller scale than yours. I think I still have one small piece of land left that might be good for flower/edible mixed bed. hmmm, wish I can have some more time in my hand. Are those gaillardia amazing?! I love it!!! Wish I can find free seedlings too!

  7. Patience is one thing my garden has taught 2006 I want to be "a gardener" in 2010 I can say that I have made an honest and patient effort...and even though I am a "newbie" I am so satisfied with my backyard gardens in how they have progressed so far...from my imagination to satisfying is patient you must be. I get so much inspiration from you. Thank you.

  8. Hi Meems...There's nothing more rewarding than heading out the garden patch...collecting lettuce, radishes, carrots, sugar snap peas, a few tomatoes, parsley and dill and heading back indoors to mix it all together. There definitely can be some frustration involved, but everytime I pull into the driveway and see my little veggie patch straight ahead...the feeling of growing some of our own healthy and organic veggies & fruits is extremely satisfying. Here's to a successful spring garden!

  9. Rick,
    Some of my sedum is already blooming that adorable compact yellow flower. The plants you gave me are bull of buds. It's early... like everything else it seems with our extra-mild February.

    I'm glad you're learning how to use the relegated areas to your liking. Thank you for the kind blessings... we are eating well from the garden because of the mild winter. It has been wonderful.

    Siesta Sister,
    Fortunately my other 50% gives me free rein where taking out grass is concerned. But not so much when it comes to all the hardscaping/water features I dream of adding. Somehow his eyes glaze over with $$$$ signs. So I know what you mean. :-) Enjoy those tomatoes... I'm always wishing they were as easy to grow as they are to seed.

    Believe me. I want instant results, too. Adding flowers to the edibles is one of the ways I 'work around' that need. While waiting for the edibles to produce the flowers I've planted give me instant as well as continued satisfaction. Working with pretty environments that draw the pollinators and flying critters makes my gardening time doubly fun.

  10. Floridagirl,
    Locating your garden near the kitchen is perfect. Maybe this year you will have some herbs even if you never get around to the edibles? ~~So satisfying to walk out while cooking and snip a bit of this 'n that to add to what's for dinner.

    Many dreams were formulated in my mind when I was raising my children that I never got around to. When my concentration was on them I did so much less in the garden and never even tried an edible garden until long after they were grown. I do wish I would have at least planted a few things back then but I never felt like I had time to devote to it. Don't worry or push this time of your life. It will come soon enough. Those precious boys will be grown before you know it and the garden will still be there. You have done amazing things in your 'young' garden. I'm always impressed with your VERY green thumb.

    Not patient by nature but gardening has taught me a measure of patience I didn't know was possible. Congratulations on your back gardens. I'm sure you would say it takes a lot of diligence and desire mixed in with energy and enthusiasm. But with those elements anyone can make it happen. Thank you for your kind words.

    You said it so well. Often while I'm gardening and need to stop for lunch I head to the edible patch to cut some lettuce & spinach & basil, pull a radish & carrot or two, a tomato, an onion and take them straight to the kitchen to make an instant salad. What could be better/fresher/more rewarding than that?

  11. Sigh! ... your edible garden is just SO beautiful, Meems! I love it. You're such an inspiration to me.
    And I know exactly what you meant about that learning curve. Seems like more of a learning circle ... the more I learn, the more I realise that I have so much more to learn!

  12. What a beautiful labor of love and work of art your edible garden is Meems!

  13. I know what you're saying about the intimidation and trepidation. I always say "I don't do veggies." Maybe I will get brave next August and start some cool season veggies, although I was kind of hoping to settle in to the confidence that comes from doing something familiar. This gardening stuff is not for the faint of heart, but it definitely has its rewards.

  14. Form and function. Things can't get any better than that. I only had potted herbs and a papaya tree which has since died. Because of Fer (My Little Garden in Japan) and his post on grapes in containers, I'm venturing into growing grapes although I did purchase seedlings and not seeds. I also bought onion and tomato seeds which should come in quite handy as we saute a lot. -- Bom

  15. Sunita,
    Isn't that the case for everything in life. I guess the curve gets us going; the circle is never ending... always so much more to learn. Thank you for your kind words. Mutually inspiring. *hugs*

    Garden Girl,
    Thank you. There's always more we wish for don't you think? I love my little veggie plot but dream of more space and a few laborers to help me keep it up. :-)

    Well said. It is not for the faint of heart. But certainly there are much less labor intensive choices in the garden than edibles and roses. :-) Oh, by the way, I added a Louis Philippe to the perennial border of the edible garden! Just for fun.

    Seedlings are great! So happy to hear you are giving grapes a go. Onions and tomatoes for saute sounds perfectly delicious... and smart. You will love having them at your fingertips.

  16. Thanks for such an encouraging post, Meems. This is the second year I've really focused on the kitchen garden, altho I've grown herbs and toms for years. But this year, they (toms) are growing so slowly, and I really don't know why. I'm worried the heat will get to them before I get the fruit. Still, the brassicas are going strong.

    Eggplant will go through the summer here, if you get the right variety. I have a very fruitful one in a container originally planted 16 months ago. Also, okra is a summer crop.

    -- Penny


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway