Heavenly Herbals

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My urban homestead

Hello Everyone!

   I know it’s been a while, but I’ve been busy outside!  Spring is finally here, and I’m gardening like crazy!  Two years ago, I collected pallets, and we filled them with dirt, and started a pallet garden.


  The original pallet garden

As you can see, we had to fence everything in – we have a family of rabbits, and a very hungry ground hog that live in the neighborhood, and they take great joy in eating my veggies!  Anyhow, the first year, we had herbs, tomatoes, peppers, carrots and lettuce.  Let’s just say that it brought the farmer out in me, and we had to expand!  

  On to year two.  We added another bed, conveniently positioned against the clothes line support pole – for the pole beans of course!


Year 2 beds are on the left – fenced in. The bed on the right is a new one for this year!

Last year, we had pole beans – both scarlet runner and purple podded pole beans (from http://www.rareseeds.com), cherry tomatoes, dill and pumpkins in this bed.  Both the dill and cherry tomatoes were volunteers from the previous year, and so I didn’t think about where they were positioned…. that is until we discovered tomato hornworms… We removed them, and used Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew, and had no more problems….  but upon further research, we discovered that it was the close proximity of the dill that attracted them.  


Tomato hornworm… Ewwwww.


As for the pole beans, the scarlet runners were nice, with pretty red flowers, but the yield was not great.  The purple ones however, were amazing!  From one packet of seeds, I got over 30 quarts of beans!  The pumpkins just didn’t work…  It was a wet summer here, and the beds just didn’t get enough drainage, so the vines rotted.  Live and learn.

I planted only heirloom plants and seeds, and our tomatoes are always an interesting experiment.  I think our favorite is the chocolate plum tomato.  We got a heavy yield, and the tomatoes were amazing! They are small – sized between a cherry tomato and a regular one, but the quantity of them makes up or it!


On to this year.  We spent time starting many seeds inside under grow lights, and have really expanded our selection of veggies.  We spent the last weekend outside, expanding our planting area exponentially.  We have added 5 new beds and we made grow bags.  The grow bags are made of burlap, and filled with dirt.  We placed them on pallets because we wanted to utilize parts of the yard that are damp, and we placed a weed barrier inside to keep weeds from growing up through..  These are planted with herbs (angelica, wood betony, blue vervain, st john’s wort, calendula).  I will keep you posted about how they work.


ImageThis is my lettuce and spinach bed. It gets about 4-6 hours of sunlight a day, so it is great for leaf crops.


Two more grow bags will be used in another area – for potatoes!  I purchased purple majesty seed potatoes from Rainbow Seed and Supply.  We grew potatoes when I was growing up, and they always tasted better!

I am expanding my selection of plants this year too – we will be planting:

Tomato, Black Krim; Pepper, Hungarian Yellow Wax; Cabbage, Early Flat Dutch; Celery, Golden Pascal; Spinach, Giant Noble; Spinach, Bloomsdale Longstanding; Basil, Genovese; Lettuce, Parris Island Cos; Beans, Red Noodle Asparagus
Beans, Cranberry; Beans, Cosse de violetta;Pumpkin, Musquee de Provence; Cucumber, Boston Pickling; Cucumber, Mexican Sour Gherkin; Melon, Boule D’Or; Chamomile, Common German; Calendula; Morning Glory, Grandpa Ott (purple); Morning Glory, Scarlet O’Hara (pink); Morning Glory, Clarke’s Heavenly Blue; Viola, Johnny Jump Up viola tricolor; Feverfew; Bee Balm, Lambada; Calendula, Maayan Dark Orange; Marigolds, assorted; Parsley, Moss Curled; Fenugreek; Parsnip, Hollow Crown; Turnip, Purple Top White Globe; Peas, Dwarf Grey Sugar Snow; Mustard, Giant Southern Curled; Horehound; Beets, Early Wonder; Beets, Detroit Dark Red; Spinach, Tyee F1 Spinach; Spinach, Bloomsdale; Carrots, Tendersweet; Carrots, Daucus Carota; Lettuce, Rouge de Hiver; Lettuce, Grand Rapids; Lettuce, Buttercrunch; Corn, Seneca Red Stalker; Nasturtium, Jewel Blend; Nasturtium, Alaska Variegated; Calendula, Maayan Dark Orange; Kale, Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch; Kale Siberian; Mustard, Tendergreen, Oregano, Marjoram, English and varigated thyme, winter savory, chives, lemon balm, lavender, parsley, garlic, shallots, onions…..  

I know it seems like a lot, but we only plant a bit of each, and will narrow down the list for next year, based on the performance this year. As I said before, we only plant heirloom vegetables, so we are able to save seeds for next year.  I will keep you all posted about how we are progressing!  So far, so good though!  The only things missing from our urban homestead are chickens and a cow or goat…  but we live in the city, so it just isn’t possible.  

I will end with my favorite motto:  “Grow food, not lawns!”