Garden Tour: April

by - April 26, 2012

I often get asked about my garden. What we grow, how big it is, that sort of thing. So I figured we could take a little tour. Care to join me? It's a modest garden -- 116 square feet of raised beds and then other plants tucked in flower beds and pots throughout the yard. Our lot is 1/4 acre and our house has a decent footprint so there isn't a whole lot of yard left to grow edibles. Slowly we've tried to take out less useful plants and replace them with edibles or medicinals.

This pic was from the MLS listing before we bought the home. How in the world did they get an aerial shot?! It helps give a little perspective on the layout. What the pic doesn't show is behind the detached garage is small rectangle of extra yard that the previous owners weren't using at all. That's what we turned into the garden.

Ready for an insane amount of pictures?? Ok.

Avery in our strawberry patch. We get about a dozen strawberries a day, sometimes more. Season for strawberries in north TX runs about March-June. Our patch is 16 square feet and doing great in its 2nd year. Last year was a different story... Of course, the strawberries are smaller than conventionally grown ones, and sometimes we have to share with the ants (or birds), but there is nothing like picking a strawberry straight off the vine and being able to pop it in your mouth that instant, knowing no chemicals have ever been sprayed on them. Juicy and sweet.

Bigger harvest than usual.

Onions! We planted tons of onions....sweet yellow and red. My kids will literally snap a green stem and eat it there on the spot. Yum!

Chamomile. Once this flowers, we harvest and dry them to make herbal tea or tinctures for medicinal use.

Butterflies have been everywhere this spring, much to the sheer happiness of my daughter. She is a master butterfly catcher. Once in the light grasp of her little hands, she'll usually give them a pep talk and set them free. So sweet.

And yes, I consider butterflies part of the garden...these guys are great pollinators!

Of course, bees, too!

Cilantro, gone to seed. Blooming cilantro is a flying insect favorite, it seems. This plant is always buzzing with a myriad of guys. When your cilantro flowers and goes to seed, don't rip it out of the ground. Let it die, as in go completely brown and 'crispy'. That's when the coriander (cilantro seed) appears. You can harvest the coriander and also allow some of it to fall in the ground. It will replant itself and reappear in the fall. Our family is obsessed with cilantro. It's used in nearly every dish we can squeeze it into!

Beans! These are bush beans. I've got a mix of black valentine and blue lake beans. We've got a lima plant in there somewhere that Avery brought home sprouted from a kindergarten experiment.

Yellow crookneck squash. Not yet flowering, but soooon.

Marigolds. Lots of marigolds scattered throughout the garden to attract our beneficial insect friends.

Oregano. This guy is going on 1.5 years old. If we don't give it a 'hair cut' at least once a week, it tries to take over. As another gardener once told me, oregano has no manners. It seems that oregano can live and thrive in any condition. But don't neglect it too much or it will think it owns the place.

One of 15 tomato plants we have scattered throughout. Every one of my tomatoes were grown from seed this year. Anxious to see how that compares to last year when they were all transplants purchased from a local nursery. Some of our varieties are known to do well in TX climate - drought and heat tolerant. Arkansas Traveler, Box Car Willie, Abe Lincoln, Cherry, Aunt Ruby Green. Tomato tip: If you live in a hot climate, only grow small to medium tomato varieties for more success. The large ones like Big Boy, Early Girl or Better Boy (commonly found in nurseries) tend to crack and get bug infestations before they can ripen or grow to size.

Here are a few cherry tomatoes starting.

Row of 12 tomato plants next to a 6 foot trellis.

Boston Pickling Cucumber. To grow up the trellis. We looooved our homemade refrigerator pickles last summer and can't wait to do it again! We canned some pickles from last season's harvest, but they didn't compare to the refrigerator ones.

Looking from around the corner of the garden down our side yard where we have two compost bins, 4 water barrels, our wheel barrow/shovel and trash cans. Justin just installed that stone path this spring.

Rosemary in front of the beans. Rosemary is a good sport. It isn't as invasive as oregano and can handle some severe pruning. Fragrant, evergreen and lovely year round.

More onions in front of tomatoes. Onions and tomatoes are friends -- onions help deter pests and are said to make your tomatoes tastier!

This is end of season for the sugar snap peas. This time of year I let them dry out. Once the leftover pods get large, their seeds are full grown and once they are dry and rattle around, it means you can harvest the seeds to save for the fall. We grow sugar snaps from Sept-Apr. By February, I was giving away big bagfulls of this stuff because we were so sick of eating them. They are prolific growers for sure.

Of course, what would be a spring/summer garden without basil? Basil season here is mid-March thru mid-November. Or in other words, frost to frost. This is another plant I grew from seed this year. We had so much basil last year, I've still got bags of frozen pesto in my freezer from fall's harvest.

Flowering flat leaf parsley. Parsley loves cold weather so as soon as it got warm here, it 'bolted'. It's a perennial, tho, so let it flower to invigorate the plant and it will come back full and beautiful in the fall.

Garlic! My first time growing it, thanks to a local friend who gave me some starters. We harvest these guys mid-summer.

This is our big pepper patch. We are growing 25 pepper plants this spring/summer. Jalapenos, Baja, Serrano, Hungarian Hot Wax, Sweet Banana, Poblano, Red/Yellow/Green Bells. Mostly jalapenos. Our harvest was so huge last year, we seeded, chopped and stuck a bunch in the freezer. How great it was having fresh peppers to use in dishes through the winter!




Chard. Nurtured these guys from seed, too. I can already tell they are thriving better than my transplants from last year. We use chard chopped in salads - make sure you finely chop the leaves as they can be a bit tough. We also use them for juicing and smoothies. Crazy nutritious!


Lots of squash starters: Butternut, zucchini, yellow crookneck

A little wheel barrow action.


Just look at this lovely, rich compost. All from kitchen scraps and lawn clippings. Almost ready....

One more of the strawberry patch!

Overview of the raised beds.

Plants I didn't take pics of: Asparagus, sage, chives, dill.

Our back patio:

On this little plot (against the garage wall), we have two grape plants (flame seedless and mars), a raspberry bush (Dorman Red), blackberry bush (Navajo), and two tomatoes.

Look at the little growing grapes!

Now onto the patio. Here is the catnip aka MOSQUITO repellant! Happy to say this plant is thriving and loves hanging out right next to our back door. So far, no mosquito sightings as our back door used to be the mosquito happenin' place to be last season.

We added some citrus trees in pots this year. I'm not expecting much, being their first year, but so far they are looking good! One lime, two lemons and one mandarin orange.

Mexican lime tree.

Meyer lemon.

Wish I could bottle up the smell of lemon blossoms. Reminds me of my high school years in Arizona where my family had citrus trees in the yard. I find myself going in the backyard just to smell them. Heaven.

Mandarin oranges.

Other potted friends -- Sweet Marjoram. Don't use this herb much in cooking, but it's pretty.

Lavender. Perennial, drought/heat tolerant and medicinal. My kind of plant!

Two blueberry plants. Tifblue and pink lemonade. Can you spy the berries?

Eucalyptus. Like lavender - perennial, heat/drought tolerant and medicinal. This is the silver dollar variety.

Another blueberry.

Various flowers to attract bees/butterflies.

Potted peppermint and spearmint.

Another view of the side yard.

Thyme as a ground cover. This part of the driveway is always in the shade. This thyme has remained healthy, strong and evergreen for the 1.5 years it's been planted there. Fresh thyme to pick and use in dishes whenever we need, and it's a pretty filler, too. Coconut and creeping mother varieties mixed in.

Window box that needs a little TLC. Have some herbs, chard, kale, impatiens and lettuce mixed in there.

Impatiens. Shade-loving beauties. They are a frost-to-frost plant that really brightens up our driveway.


Double knock out roses.

Purple cone flower aka echinacea. Another perennial, heat/drought tolerant, medicinal plant. I want more of these! You can make excellent tinctures to build the immune system, fights colds and get over illness quickly with this.

I see tons of baby bees around this guy!

Lastly, lemon balm. Another heavenly smell.

Thanks for taking the tour with me! It's fun to try and make the most of the land we have. I like the term I see floating around blog land now and then -- micro farmer. I like to sometimes pretend that in some way, my tiny cultivations can somehow qualify me as a micro farmer :)

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  1. What an amazing garden you are growing! It looks beautiful as well as delicious. You are inspiring me... Once again!

  2. Wow, Clairissa, your garden is amazing! I would love to have all these amazing fruits/veggies in my backyard for the summer! Maybe you've inspired me to do away with my fear of gardening, and give it a real shot! (We've only had 2 years of gardens since we've been married...the first was okay, but last year's pot garden didn't do so well!) Thanks for the inspiration! Very impressed!


  3. Katie kortmanApril 26, 2012

    Sooooooo jealous! I would love to have that muchorganicproduce at my fingertips! One day when I have a home I might have to call you up for tips. I started growing tomatoes and herbs in pots on my porch but I seriously knw nothing about gardening! Trying to learn!

  4. Gayle BramwellApril 26, 2012

    I love the tour and all that you are doing on your micro farm. You are very productive. Aren't plants wonderful? The more plants of all kinds the better. You are ahead of us in growing season. Thanks - and good luck with everything.

  5. Wow. Such a fun tour. Clearly you have done a lot of work. How are you able to keep it all the plants straight? Can you come to my house next? :)

  6. fabulous tour! what a garden. question, what is the name of the second to last bush w/ the white flowers?

  7. Jana - Bacopa.


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