Two Easy, Inexpensive Organic Solutions to Pest Control

Pest control is the vein of every organic gardener’s existence.  At some point we all recognize that there is a small portion of our garden we must be willing to share with nature. Although I must admit, I am much more willing to share with the birds (please stop taking a bite out of each berry; have a whole one, on me) than I am to insects (gross).

As my poor eggplants can attest to, I have been neglecting pest control in my garden. The heavy spring rains we’ve had lately has been a big deterrent to treating the garden, but it looks like we’re in for a hot, dry week, so no more excuses! Seriously, WHAT IS EATING MY EGGPLANT?

IMG_0937sm

One of the keys to appropriate pest control is treating early… oopps. A few bites out of a well established plant is not a big deal; I would concede to consider that “sharing,” but leaves that appear laced with holes, particularly on young plants need to be dealt with immediately.

The second is to retreat as needed.

But the most important, is to apply treatments judiciously. Like “conventional” chemical pesticides or insecticides, organic pest control is unscrupulous. Any time you apply a product, organic or not, it will affect good insects as well as bad.

Often, the solution to getting rid of a pest depends on what kind of insect is eating your _____ (fill in the blank).  The problem is you and I don’t always know who the culprit is. Don’t worry. I still have a couple solutions for you.

1. COFFEE GROUNDS

Coffee is an excellent all around insect deterrent. It is also extremely cost effective – you can use the used ground from your morning brew, or you can swing by your local coffee shop and ask to take their used grounds. What is better than free?

Coffee grounds deter a wide variety of pests, including deer, cats, slugs and insects. The scent of caffeine can be detected by most insects, even at very low levels, causing them to steer clear of the treated area all together. Simply sprinkle used grounds around the base of the afflicted plant to keep pests from coming back. Avoid getting grounds on the leaves or near the flowers, as that may deter pollinators as well.

Coffee also acts as an excellent fertilizer for nitrogen loving plants such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, corn and berries! That’s a great two-for-one deal! Note that plants can get “burnt” from over fertilization, so do give the plant a health drink of water with this treatment and monitor the color or the leaves. If they start to yellow or brown you may be over doing it.

2. DIATOMACEOUS EARTH  (DE)

This is a naturally occurring siliceous rock that is crushed into a powder and can be found inexpensively at just about any farm store. We get “food grade” DE that can be mixed (in very small amounts) into our chicken’s feed, acting as an organic de-wormer. DE can also be sprinkled safely onto pets’ coats to eliminate lice, ticks, or mites.

Additionally, DE can be used to eliminate ants (indoors or out), aphids and any other insect. It works really well, but it will also harm beneficial insects! So, again, use judiciously and try to spot treat so that you’re not spreading this broad spectrum organic insecticide all over your garden or property.

To treat the afflicted area, sprinkle the powder directly on the insects, on the leaves where they are snacking or on the ground around the plant where they may be walking. DE works by creating microscopic cuts in the insects’ exoskeletons that causes them to dehydrate and die.

Advertisements

Water Therapy, the Escape and the Return to the Pond

It has been a crazy few weeks here since I posted about the ducks being afraid of the water. The ducks still abhor the pond, although they cannot remember why. So the Handy Man and I began an intensive duck version of “water therapy,” hoping to lure them back to their once beloved water.

First, we began treat training, as we needed some leverage against the ducks to get them to do our bidding…or to perform the few simple tasks we required of them, like put themselves to bed at night and swim in the pond. This was a fiasco in and of itself. Although Peanut ‘n’ Butter came to love peas quickly, they would not do anything to get them. More so, we were permitted to toss them peas from afar. And that was about the extent of the success of that. The dog on the other hand, loved pea-training.

Peas, Ducks and the dog

The second step to water therapy was to get the ducks back into the water. Any water. Placing them in the pond was not an option, as they jumped out before their feet even hit the water. So, back to the bathtub it was. We made daily trips in the house, up the stairs to the tub. They loved this.  We fed them peas as they splashed and played boisterously for hours each day, but they would not return to the pond once back outside. Peanut ‘n’ Butter were content to watch us toss handfuls of peas into the pond from across the yard.

Peas in the Bathtub

Now confident they were comfortable in the bathtub, we introduced the gold fish to the situation in the third phase of water therapy. We allowed Peanut ‘n’ Butter to observe the fish through a clear container before releasing it (and some peas) into the tub. Please, take a moment to picture this in your mind – two grown adults, with full sized ducks in their bathroom, putting a goldfish in the bathtub. What have we come to?

Ducks vs. Fish The Hunt

Much to our surprise, Peanut ‘n’ Butter loved the fish. And by loved, I mean ate. They even did a celebratory dance in the tub about it. (Not pictured, as I was too busy shielding the camera from the excessive water splash-age.)

SUCCESS, we thought. Surely we had done it. The ducks (re)discovered that they loved water AND that they liked eating fish.

In the supposed final stage of water therapy, we set a fish, in a clear container, on the edge of the pond. We carried the ducks from the bathtub to the pond, showed them the fish, and set them in the pond, hoping they would make the mental correlation. But no. Before their feet hit the water, they were gone.

In the days that followed our failed attempts, we gave them space. Other than bedtime. Bedtime has also been a situation in and of itself. It has taken them TWO MONTHS to figure out how to get into the coop to go to bed on their own. The Handy Man and I have had to corral Peanut ‘n’ Butter to the ramp and guide them up it to tuck them in each night. Every night. For two months. Last night was only the third night they were able to accomplish the task completely unassisted. For comparison, we only had to show the much younger, smaller chicks how to get into the coop twice before they were completely self-sufficient at the task.

But at least there had been some progress, albeit, painfully slow progress. The other night the Handy Man and I went to bed with some small satisfaction that the ducks were finally starting to “get it.” Maybe they’d never get back in their pond, but at least they would be able to put themselves to bed.

I know now that this was just an attempt to lure us into a false sense of security.

Early the next morning Peanut ‘n’ Butter, two breeds of ducks that supposedly cannot fly, were found in the front yard.

The Handy Man heard them quietly talking amongst themselves when he crouched down to pull some weeds before heading off to work…and there they were, proudly sitting in the front yard; probably plotting our demise. Sometime between sunrise and 6:30am they took flight, making it over the 6’ privacy fence, and decided to hang out in the lawn for all of the neighbors to see on their way to work.

How long had they been planning this escape??? When did they learn to fly???

Handy Man corralled them back through the fence, hoping it was a fluke, as we cannot have our animals escaping in a residential area to face dogs, cats, or the dreaded HOA. However, in the days that followed, we watched Peanut ‘n’ Butter conduct flight training before our very eyes. Peanut would sound “take off” with a single quack, and both would take off into the wind reaching heights of 7 to 8 feet and traveling 20 yards, stopping just before the fence.

Peanut 'n' Butter feigning innocence but looking quite suspicious post-escape.

Peanut ‘n’ Butter feigning innocence but looking quite suspicious post-escape.

We concluded that Peanut ‘n’ Butter weren’t happy here and needed to be re-homed, freed or for their primary feathers to be clipped. I really couldn’t bear the thought of any of those options. Searching for answers, I stumbled upon an ad for 3 week old Blue Swedish ducklings up the road. A last ditch effort to “fix” our ducks. I convinced the Handy Man that the babies would love the water, having never been traumatized by it and that Peanut ‘n’ Butter get back in the pond, seeing that it was safe and that they would be happy and stop trying to escape. Although, I had to agree that if it didn’t work we would re-home the unhappy pair, I was willing to take the gamble.

Impulsively, we brought the babies home and placed them directly in the pond. They had never experienced water before and loved it. They splashed, played, preened and even chased fish while the rest of the farm looked on in aw.

IMG_0735sm IMG_0738sm IMG_0736sm

Peanut ‘n’ Butter drew closer and closer, watched tentatively from the bank for nearly an hour before it happened. First Peanut, then Butter returned to the pond.

Peanut IMG_0742sm

Today, just two days later, it is how it always should have been. Peanut ‘n’ Butter seem to have forgotten they were ever afraid of their pond. There have been no further escape attempts, and the only flights taking place are short bursts of play in the pond.

Happy Ducks

There is finally peace on the farm and the whole flock is content…

Ducks

The whole flock

Thanks to Sifl and Olly.

Sifl and Olly

Strawberry Rhubarb Wine Icecream

Let me start by saying, you need this icecream in your life. Need. It is everything delicious and lovely and spring, and is a little evil. But sometimes, that’s ok. This is one of those times.

Strawberry Rhubarb Icecream

Rhubarb, strawberries, honey, wine, heavy cream… this is all I need in life.

Rhubarb & his accomplices

The beautiful rhubarb in my garden was the inspiration for this endeavor. It really is one of my favorite perennials. Although I also have strawberries in the garden, we never seem to have enough to make something out of. Actually, we never have enough for them to even make it inside the house, despite having six very healthy, productive plants. How do you say ‘no’ to a ripe, sun-warmed berry? They’re consumed just as soon as they’re picked. So, to insure that next spring we would produce enough organic strawberries to make it in the house, we planted over 60 baby strawberries in the front yard as attractive edible groundcover in the flower beds. The manual labor eliminated any guilt from this indulgence.

Strawberry plants

I used to think that making icecream from scratch was excessive; that it was one of those things that is ok to just buy…but then the Handy Man surprised me with an icecream attachment for my Kitchenaid and I learned that I had been so misguided. Homemade icecream is just divine and superior in every way to that stuff at the grocery store labeled “icecream.” This is one of the few items that really isn’t cheaper to make than buy, but the price is comparable, and the quality superior. I like that it also gives you the ability to control the ingredients by using organic dairy, seasonal, local, organic fruit and less sugar.

On that note, this icecream has much less sugar than typical icecream recipes. If you like it sweeter, by all means add more honey, but we really like it this way! It allows all of the flavors to come out, particularly the tartness of the rhubarb, as well as the subtleties of the red wine. These are some pretty adult-flavors, but they also pleased the pallet of our youngest dinner guest at three years old.

And speaking of adult flavors – let’s talk about wine! Wine selection is important because the reduction imparts a surprising amount of flavor, so be sure to pick something you like! I selected a blend that is a little bit fruity, but not sweet, with a Pino Noir-like finish. Merlot would work nicely as well. But the type of wine is much less important than simply selecting something you like. Just try not to eat it all at this state, when it starts to smell really delicious…

Rhubarb-Wine reduction

I wait to churn the icecream until just before it’s time to serve dessert. Mostly because I love to serve it straight out of the icecream machine, while it has that thick, creamy, soft-serve consistency. It’s also a fun party-trick and only takes 10 minutes. Our very wonderful friends baked a strawberry rhubarb pie to pair with the icecream… it was heaven. HEAVEN, I tell you.

Strawberry Rhubarb Wine Icecream

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream

1 ¼ cup half-and-half

½ cup sugar

½ cup raw, local honey

3 egg yolks

2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb (4-5 stalks)

3 cups chopped fresh strawberries (1 pound)

¾ cup red wine (reserve the rest of the bottle for drinking)

1 heaping tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. To make the custard base, combine ½ cup sugar and egg yolks in a large bowl. Whisk until pale yellow and set aside. Combine heavy cream and half-and-half in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat until scalding (180°F), or until tiny bubbles start to form around the edge. Do not boil. Slowly add ½ cup of the hot dairy mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Gradually add the rest of the dairy mixture, stirring continuously. Pour dairy and yolk mixture back into saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until mixture reaches 160°F, stirring constantly. Pour mixture back into the large bowl, and place bowl in an ice-filled bowl until custard cools completely, stirring occasionally (about 20-30 minutes).
  2. While that cools, combine ½ cup honey, rhubarb and wine in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a soft boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let wine reduce for 10 minutes, or until rhubarb is tender and the liquid has a more syrup-like consistency. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. In food processor, combine strawberries, wine-rhubarb reduction, cinnamon and vanilla; process until smooth. Fold rhubarb mixture into custard base and refrigerate until cold (at least 2 hours, or overnight).
  4. Freeze icecream according to your icecream-maker’s directions. Eat immediately for soft-serve consistency, or freeze for 2 hours, if firm consistency is desired.
  5. ENJOY!

Landscaping a Small Urban Apiary

Update Spring 2015: Two years later our little urban apiary is as beautiful as ever! It is everyone’s favorite place to hang out and is the focal point of our yard. The ducks make their nests and hatch their young among the lavender, the chickens relax under the shade of the tree and the bees bustle about. We often sit on the retaining wall stones watching bees come and go, breathing in the sweet scent of rosemary and lavender. It is just as idyllic and well serving as I had hoped.

IMG_06401IMG_0572IMG_13901

The intent was to landscape a beautiful apiary for our bees so that they would have a functional and welcoming home. What we ended up with lies somewhere between apiary, herb garden and aroma therapy garden. I love when planting is multipurpose – edible, perennial, aesthetically pleasing and good at attracting pollinators – and this apiary is just that. It’s a lovely space for bee and beekeeper alike.

IMG_0423sm

Consider planting in your apiary during early morning on a cool, drizzly spring or fall day. I know these aren’t the gardener’s preferred working conditions, but neither are they the bees’, which means you are far less likely to cause a disturbance. Bees will not venture out of the hive for foraging activities until the outer temperature has risen into the mid 50’s. There may be the occasional security guard that comes out to supervise your activity, but in general, they will remain out of your way and you out of theirs.

A cherry tree, which is full of heavy blooms in the early spring to feed hungry, over-wintered bees, casts dappled shade to offer some reprieve from the Southern summer heat. Honey Bees are very particular about the temperature inside the hive, working year round to maintain 94-97°F. When you live in a climate with extreme heat, it may be necessary to help them out by creating some shade – not too much though, they’ll be wanting that sun come the cold winter months. Think of something native to your area that has sparse branching and will lose all of its foliage in the winter months.

IMG_9023sm

IMG_20130330_084154

Lavender is a clear choice for apiary landscaping as it’s one of bees’ favorites. We included various varieties of lavender in different sizes, foliage color and flower color. There are hundreds of lavender cultivars to choose from; we recommend choosing native varieties that will flourish in your growing zone as they will require very little care once established. When planting for pollinators, consider planting in clumps or clusters, rather than a single plant. Not only do they find this more attractive, it makes it more worth their effort.

Lavender

IMG_0404sm

Rosemary is another bee (and chef) favorite. The blue blooms and highly fragrant foliage are calming for both bee and keeper. Here, rosemary acts as a slight barrier between the entrance of each hive and the boisterous activity of the backyard. Honey Bees take very serious the job of guarding the hive entrance. By planting a visual and physical barrier you’re helping them keep things around the entrance calm. This barrier should be at least a foot away, giving the bees plenty of space to come and go free of congestion.

IMG_0408sm

Heather acts an extremely low maintenance ground cover that produces droves of purple, pink or white flowers from very early spring through late fall. Meanwhile, fast growing Pampas grass will add movement and height as it matures. Remember to leave plenty of space to work in and around the hives. You don’t want to feel claustrophobic when the plants mature to full-size, so plan accordingly.

IMG_0409sm

A nicely designed apiary allows for easy foraging (like super healthy, beautiful fast-food for bees) and creates a space for all inhabitants of your urban property to share and enjoy.

Which means, while these happy ladies are busy working away…

IMG_9282edit

…we can relax with lavender-mint vodka tonic while enjoying the warm evening, aromatic garden, and gentle humming of the hive. Bliss.

IMG_0422sm


Ducks Afraid of the Water

IMG_9138

It would be just our luck to acquire farm animals that are overly sensitive and easily frightened by things that would be common if encountered in nature…

You see, Peanut ‘n’ Butter did not start out afraid of the water. In fact, they have had quite the love affair with water in their first two months of life. When we moved them outside to be “grown up” ducks, we installed a pond (DIY details to come), which the ducks took to instantly. From the moment there was water in their pond, they did not leave it. We had to pull them out of it each night to put them to bed in the coop and they immediately returned to it each morning.

Any time is a good time for a pool party

Any time is a good time for a pool party

Then it happened. The Handy Man and I got a good idea and ruined it all.

When we see a problem or potential problem in our manufactured habitat, we try to address it in the most natural and mutually beneficial way possible so that it functions somewhat like a realistic ecosystem. For example, with the addition of a pond, we face issues that may arise when dealing with stagnant water – increased mosquito populations. There are a few simple, organic solutions to this: plant mosquito repelling plants (check), install bat houses (check) and introduce fish to the pond.

Now, you can see how this seemed like a good idea. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water. Fish live in water and eat mosquito eggs. Ducks swim in water and eat fish and mosquitoes. Surviving fish eat duck poop and make more poop for the organic garden. It’s the circle of life. Everyone’s happy.

So off to the pet store we went to purchase feeder fish – the tiniest, cheapest fish you can purchase. They’re typically goldfish or minnows that can live in nearly any condition and run around $0.10 a piece.

Upon returning home from the pet store, we set the bag of fish in the pond to allow the fish to acclimate to the water temperature. The ducks got out of the pond when we did this but we didn’t think much of it and went about our yard work. After an hour passed, I emptied the fish into the pond and the Handy Man and I sat back awaiting our lavish praise. But no praise came. Nothing came. As far as the ducks were concerned, we had just poisoned their pond and it would never be the same.

IMG_9150edit

The ducks were afraid. Of the fish.

I looked at them in utter disbelief. “YOU EAT FISH,” I yelled. “Do you not know that yet?” We attempted to heard them to the pond to no avail. They would rather have died than go back in that water.

They spent the rest of the day glaring at us from the opposite side of the yard. We hoped that they would go to bed and wake up a.) in a better mood and b.) with no memory of the betrayal. But we had no such luck.

The next day Peanut ‘n’ Butter decided that they were chickens, not ducks. They followed the hens around, attempting to scratch up bugs with their webbed feet and did not once even glance longingly towards the pond. It was dead to them.

Everyone in this picture, including the dog, thinks that they're a chicken.

Everyone in this picture, including the dog, thinks that they’re a chicken.

The chickens, now sensing an imbalance in the backyard hierarchy, decided that they would try out being ducks. As you can imagine, this did not work out very well. Mid-day I found Uggh unsuccessfully “swimming” in the pond, half chasing fish and half panic-stricken, trying to get out. I scooped her up and dried her off. Hopefully she has realized that although a duck may get away with acting like a chicken, a chicken cannot get away with pretending to be a duck.

Silly Uggh, you're not a duck.

Silly Uggh, you’re not a duck.

Day three was more of the same. Impatient with their lack of progress and understanding of their own nature, we tossed them in the pond, thinking it would jolt their instinctual memories. But no. They just jumped out, ran away and glared at us from a safe distance.

We tried to lure them closer by placing their food and water dish near the pond’s edge, but they refused to eat from it. Instead, they ate weeds from the yard until we moved the food further away from the water’s edge.

We'll just eat these weeds instead.

We’ll just eat these weeds instead.

Exasperated at the end of the day, we sat with them that evening, trying to rebuild the trust lost in our relationship. They noisily chatter away, expressing their deep dissatisfaction with the situation to the Handy Man. Of course, as the fish-dumper, I can no longer be held in such confidence.

IMAG2507

Today we got the idea to play the ducks Youtube videos of other ducks splashing and playing in the water, hoping that the excited sounds of their brethren would entice them. (The things you will do for your emotionally distraught ducklings!) We did this for over an hour as Peanut ‘n’ Butter cocked their heads back and forth in response to the familiar noises to no avail. Although they did express interest and crept closer, they never breached the barrier at which they considered a safe distance away from the poisoned pond and monstrous fish.

So here we are with ducks that are afraid of the water. We broke them and their little emotional, sensitive spirits with a bag of fish. To be a duck-out-of-water is a sad, sad plight. Here’s hoping they return to the water on their own, as they continue to grow in size and confidence, overcoming this very traumatic experience…

We'll be over here...as far away from the pond as possible.

We’ll be over here…as far away from the pond as possible.

The fish are happy, though. They’re flourishing and have at least tripled in size. Scary little suckers. I guess the circle of life isn’t always so straight forward. Who knew?

Top 5 Must-Have Edible Perennials

In the world of all things edible, perennials are worth their weight in gold! They require a little more planning up front, such as additional soil amendments and thoughtful placement, but are some of the most rewarding and easily cared for producers in your garden. They also make for beautiful landscape additions, leaving you more workable garden space.

Although I can often be found ignoring planting zones all together (the dead Mango tree in the compost bin will attest to that), it is important when considering some perennials and may impact variety selection. Pick a variety hardy in your zone to insure success. We linger somewhere between USDA zone 7b and 8a; these are our favorite, most productive perennials.

1. Asparagus

I could write sonnets about my love of Asparagus. They are the first thing to come on in early spring; while you’re still day dreaming of putting your started plants in the dirt, asparagus’ first steams are already reaching for the sky. It produces heavily for several months before bushing out into a beautiful fern that will shade out most weeds – which means even less work for you! Once established, they are also extremely drought tolerant and are very hardy in hot and cold temperatures.

If cared for properly, an asparagus root can be productive for over 15 years. Growing up, my grandma had roots in her garden that were nearly 30 years old and still producing year after year. This earns asparagus the number one must-have perennial spot.

IMG_9237edit

I will be eating you and a few of your friends for dinner

2. Herbs

Fresh herbs make all the difference in cooking, but are so expensive at the grocery store or farmer’s market! It may surprise you to learn how easy they are to grow at home as perennials. Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Mint, Sage and Lavender are all hardy perennials in most growing zones. In zone 8a/7b, where I live, Parsley also grows as a perennial with no extra effort, while dill and cilantro self-seed each year. Herbs do well with confinement to a pot (indoors or out), and are beautiful edible additions to traditional landscaping. The sheer fact that they will pay for themselves a thousand times over earns them the number two spot. However, their evergreen beauty through the winter months, ability to attract pollinators, ease of care and capacity for improving the flavor profile of everything in your kitchen could nudge them into first place if you’re not as obsessed with asparagus as I am.

Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano & Sage

These will make you a master chef. Clockwise from the top: Sage, Oregano Thyme and Rosemary.

3. Berries

Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Cranberries, Goji berries – all berries! Berries are expensive to buy and often soaked in a chemical soup of pesticides. You can find cultivars of most kinds of berries well suited for almost any growing zone. Although they often take a couple years to start producing heavy yields, I promise they will be worth the wait. Most berries require a little pruning to keep plants healthy and yields high, but it is very little maintenance when you consider how many non-fruit yielding trees and bushes you extend the same effort to each fall.

The strawberries are just starting to set flowers

The strawberries are just starting to set flowers

4. Walking Onions

I was gifted a few precious heirloom walking onion bulblets, and now have an entire bed full! It was certainly one of the best gifts ever. When these onions grow, they look much like green onions or scallions. You can trim the tops off and directly substitute them in any application you would use green onions. You may use the large underground bulb onion that forms at the base and also the small pearl like onions that form at the tip in place of a flower. The plant “walks” itself by sprouting bulblets on the original stalk, which then bends under the weight, setting the small onion bulb “seeds” down, allowing them to root near the parent plant. If you allow the bed to become well established (ie., don’t over harvest the first year, and allow the onion to “walk”), you will never run out of onions. That’s right – forever with onions. It’s a glorious thing.

Walking Onion

Walking Onion

5. Rhubarb

Pies. Does this need further explanation? Rhubarb is extremely difficult to find in the market here. I was told by a local gardener that Rhubarb simply does not grow well in this climate – this is where ignoring growing zones can occasionally come in handy. I was determined to grow rhubarb; committed, against all odds, to force it to grow and get my pie. As it turned out, it was beyond simple and took no extra effort short of picking up a rhubarb crown from the farm and garden shop. I planted it, and it grew. It really is just that simple… Go figure.

Rhubarb dies completely back in the late fall and returns in early spring with bright red steams and huge beautiful leaves, gracing the barren garden with color. And then you harvest the leafstalks a few at a time, compost the leaves and make it into pie. Be sure to keep little hands, mouths and beaks away from the leaves of the plant as they contain oxalic acid, which is considered toxic. Also be careful to not over harvest the first two years as it establishes itself. Never take more than half of the plant’s leafstalks away in any given harvest, so that the plant will have enough foliage to sustain itself.

Future Pie

Future Pie

Bonus: Swiss Chard & Kale

Now, I know that Swiss Chard and Kale are not technically perennials, but did you know they can often behave like one? I have two year old swiss chard and kale plants that will not stop growing. And if they want to grow year round, who am I to stop them? Their preferred growing seasons are fall, winter and early spring, during which will be the best time to sow your seeds. However, they are very hardy plants that often times survive the summer heat. Growth will be minimal during the summer months and I would discourage harvesting during this time to avoid stressing the plant. Production will pick right back up when the temperature becomes a little more bearable. To keep up growth as a perennial, it is important to make sure the plant is not depleting the soil of vital nutrients. You can do this by amending the soil with compost annually or biannually, watering with compost tea every couple of months, or adding other organic fertilizers.

2 year old Swiss Chard

Thanks for breakfast today, Chard!

So there you have it – our favorite perennial fruits and veggies. What is at the top of your must-have edible perennial list?

How lovely is the silence of growing things

Image

IMG_9139sm

Mornings on the farm are so peaceful and so full of wonder.