East Sac Edible

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Garden Theme Party: Part 1

My daughter and my nephew were born 10 days apart last year. For their first birthday, we had a joint birthday and of course the theme was a garden party! We quickly decided on a menu and a color scheme for the party. We decided to do red and white checkered pattern with burlap for our decorations. We bought yards of this fabric to make tablecloths, decorate candy jars and flower vases. A friend made red and white pom poms which we hung from the ceiling and around the photo montage wall. DSC_1402 DSC_1404 DSC_1405 DSC_1415 DSC_1421 DSC_1437 DSC_1418


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The Compost Sifter


My friend over at Seed Sowing Mama made me this awesome compost sifter last year. It is a simple frame, and particularly easy to use in a small space. My composting area is very small and I don’t have too much room to work so sifting the compost would be much easier if I had a little bit more space. This sifter does the job quickly even though it takes a little bit of effort.

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These three photos show you the progression of the compost being sifted. The sifter really keeps out bigger items so I end up with this lovely looking stuff:

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Here are my two finished piles. The pile to the front is the finished compost and the pile to the back is all the bigger pieces that didn’t go through the sifter. Usually I would throw the bigger piece pile back into my active compost in order to let it break down a bit more but my compost is full to the brim! The finished pile is going into the garden right away and the second pile will wait near my compost. Maybe I will use it to cover up any fresh kitchen waste to detract any rodents. Also I was only able to sift about half of my finished compost before it got too hot and I was ready for lunch. I have to get back out there and finish this job!

If you are interested in how Seed Sowing Mama made this compost sifter click to see her DIY Compost Sifter.



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The Compost Piles

DSC_1301DSC_1300 Anyone that knows me knows that I love compost. Over the years I have had many iterations of compost piles from old fence boards nailed together to a makeshift wire compost. When we moved into this house and didn’t have as much room as I wanted for a compost, I decided to use some store bought options. If I had as much space as I wanted I would make a three box system out of recycled fence boards. Although these store bought options are not my favorite, they are good for small spaces. I love the look of open air compost systems but I also can appreciate the orderliness of having the compost contained. At least my husband likes it this way.

The tall square composter is my new pile. Fresh kitchen scraps, and garden waste goes in here. The round composter to the left is my finishing pile. When the tall square one is full, I move everything into the round composter. This is a task that needs to be done yesterday as you can see since the tall composter is completely full! But I haven’t had time to shift out my compost yet.

I built this bean trellis in front of my compost to create a screen. During the winter months I take down the bean trellis since it is not being used and I have more space to add an open air compost. This is my favorite because it is easy to turn and my compost is processed so much faster. This winter I took everything out of the bins and created a huge compost pile in the middle. I added coffee grounds and horse manure to add height and heat. The compost was finished in a month and it was distributed around the garden in preparation of spring planting.

When I have an open air compost I check on the compost every day and turn it every day too! I know this is a bit obsessive but I was able to get rich useable compost in only a matter of weeks. The bins are kind of a set-it-and-forget-it system since it is so hard to turn. Occasionally I will open up the bottom and throw some of the bottom compost onto the top. That is why I move things into the round composter since it is much easier to turn.

Like the tomato plant that decided to grow along the compost? I staked this bad boy up to see what he can do. I know it is going to be a pain when this plant is huge but I have a hard time pulling out a perfectly viable plant!

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The Spreadsheet


My sister is a spreadsheet queen. She made a Garden Harvest spreadsheet for us in Google Docs. We use it to track our harvest from year to year. As I posted in an earlier entry, last year my goal was to grow 500 pounds of food from my property. I missed my goal by 75 pounds with a grand total of 425 pounds of food for the year of 2013. Not too bad considering a few months were spent landscaping and I couldn’t put anything into the ground during those months. The spreadsheet has been super helpful in tracking all of these numbers. Rows show harvest dates and columns show types of vegetables. For some vegetables, I wanted to track how prolific certain varieties were so they each got their individual column. For example I had 5 varieties of tomatoes last year, the persimmon tomato being my most prolific at 99 pounds.  Then my sister provided a total tomato poundage column so I would know how much of my total harvest came from tomatoes. She also included tabs so we could track from year to year. This also helps me keep track of when I am harvesting things which should also help keep a record of variability over time.

Anything that makes it into my house, gets weighed. I keep a scale, colander, notepad and pen on my kitchen counter. After weighing things I enter my totals into the doc. This year my goal is for over 500 pounds. Wish me luck!

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This Year’s Challenge: 500 pounds

This year I want to grow at least 500 pounds of vegetables from my garden. Last year, I grew 425 pounds. Because of our landscaping, I wasn’t able to harvest anything until April. My goal last year was also 500 pounds so I was 75 pounds short of my goal. This year I am determined and I have kept careful notes year round about my garden and how different varieties have been doing in my yard. I also have been planting biointensively so this year I need to do some work around amending my soil to ensure healthy yields.

Last year we put in 5 dwarf trees on our property. Last year we got 1, just 1, orange. I am hoping to get more fruit this year. However, that means that 425 pounds was all from vegetables. That’s a lot of poundage. Trust me. I had to process all of it some how. I had mountains of vegetables on my kitchen counters during the summer. So although I will be keeping track of my fruit poundage as well I will keep it separate so I will know how much comes from the fruit trees versus the rest of the garden.

I’ll keep you updated on the poundage through the year but so far:

                                            2013                         2014

January Total:           0 lbs                       2.02 lbs

February Total:         0 lbs                        3.08 lbs

March Total:               0 lbs                        5.88 lbs

April Total:                 10.33 lbs                 29.48 lbs

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Garden Inspiration from Japan

In March and April I spent a few weeks in Japan. Japan is not only filled with manicured gardens but walking around you always see people finding inventive ways of growing edibles in small spaces especially in the city. DSC_0783DSC_0743 DSC_0744 DSC_0745 DSC_0823 DSC_1062

We were in Japan in time to see the cherry blossoms bloom which is a national obsession. Every news report during this time closely follows the timing of the when cherry blossom season officially begins. Once cherry blossom season is declared Japanese people set up tarps under the blossoms in order to picnic and drink.

I’ve always wanted one of these bamboo fountains in my garden. I love how the moss grows on the rock and I love the sound of the water. I’ve always wanted the shishi odoshi, or deer chaser bamboo fountains. The bamboo gradually fills up with water and then when it is full it clicks down scaring away any deer. One day I am going to have one of these in my garden!

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In Kyushu, the southern most island, we saw fields of rice and tea, as well as green houses growing mountains of peas and mikan (tangerines). We also visited the onsen (hot springs). One garden was using the heat from the hot springs to heat up their greenhouse (like the English translation?). The last picture is of a typical vegetable garden. There were fava beans, broccoli, leafy greens, asparagus, onions and garlic planted here. We had several meals of vegetable tempura made from this garden!


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Lettuce, lettuce, lettuce

We have been enjoying lettuces by the bucketful! I started my lettuce seeds back in January  indoors. Currently I have three varieties in the garden and I have to start some more seed before it gets too hot.  My favorite lettuce is Redina. These large red leaves are great for wrapping or cut up in a salad. Plus the color gives a great pop in the salad bowl. My second favorite currently is an unknown butter lettuce. It is pretty and the leaves hold up well. I think it is the perfect lettuce to go with my warm goat cheese salad a la Chez Panisse. The third lettuce is called Emerald Oak. It does great in my garden and always looks good too. However, I am not too fond of the taste. It has a real bitter aftertaste. Not my cup of tea but I did give a head to a good friend who is a pro at salad dressings. I am sure she can find the right vinaigrette to compliment it’s bitter taste.

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A New Beginning

Welcome to my blog! I want to share what has been happening in my small organic garden in the heart of East Sacramento. We have lived in this house for two years now and I have been working hard to transform our typical lawn-scape into an edible oasis. The first year we moved in we worked with an edible garden landscaper to help us transform our front and back yards into edible spaces. The second year I have been busy building up the soil and squeezing as many edibles as I can into my small lot. I hope to share what I have learned and hopefully learn a few more things through this blog. Thanks for stopping by!