An East Nashville Edible Garden

creating an edible garden in the heart of Tennessee

Tag: peas

2017 – so far.

How are we nearly halfway through the year already!!! The strawberry season has come and gone, along with the spring salad greens and peas. The blackberries and raspberries are in full swing and the summer squash, tomatoes and peppers are just coming into their own. The beets and beans will survive a little longer, but it’s already time to be thinking about ordering seeds for the next round of sowing in the fall.

 

Blog June 2017

 

There are a few new additions to the garden this year. This is my first year growing zucchini. I’m not a huge fan of summer squash but had the space so wanted to try it.

 

zucchini 2017

 

I also grew some cape gooseberries from seed and they are doing well. Here’s hoping they will pollinate and I’ll get some fruit in the fall. And the flying dragon fruit planted last winter, that will eventually grow into my front edible fence are also growing well.

 

Flying dragon fruit 2017 (a)

 

Another first was celery. I planted some seeds in February and put out three plants in a morning sun spot to see if they would survive throughout the hot TN summer, to give me celery in the fall. So far, they are doing well too. And my biggest success of the year had been parnsips! I planted them last fall, with the carrots, and they were ready to harvest this Spring.

And I’ve  got a few experiments going on too. The Vert Grimpant melons that I grew on the ground last year, are growing up trellises this year to see how they fair. I’ve also got my tomatoes growing up a trellis wall as well, and am growing them single or double stem because of it.

 

Blog June 20172

 

There is nothing quite like figuring out how to grow a new food. You can read all the garden books in the world, but there’s nothing that will teach you like trying. You don’t need a green thumb to be a gardener – you just need to pay attention.

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Pea Hedges.

Over the last few days I’ve planted about 900 peas. To get a decent crop you really do need to plant in large quantities but that doesn’t mean they need to take up huge amounts of space. Last year I designed some pea hedges for the smaller 24″ varieties, and an a-frame version for the larger 6′ ones. Here’s how I did it.

To make an 8′ pea hedge (for just a dollar a foot) – I started with 3 x  2″ x 1″ x 8′ weathershields from Home Depot. Cut one of the lengths into four pieces. Drill the other lengths with holes all the way through, about an inch apart. Then, join those two lengths (with the neatest hole side facing outwards) into a rectangle with 2 shorter lengths of the 24″ pieces. I added an extra piece in the middle so it didn’t warp, but two extra pieces would probably have been better.

 

pea hedges (1)

 

Next you’ll need some fishing line (50lb is a good weight). I got mine from Walmart. Thread the line through the bottom of the first hole and tie it on. Then, thread the wire through the wood and pull it as you go to keep it tight. I stopped halfway along the 8′ sections to tie the line off and start with a new piece, just to keep it tight. Once you’ve got the fishing line threaded through, attach some stakes to each end of the frame.The stakes should be  about 4 inches longer than the fence.

 

pea hedges (2)

 

Next you’ll need some conduit pipe. Again, I got mine in 10′ lengths from home depot, and cut them into three. Hammer them in the ground so the pea fence sits between two pieces of pipe and tie the fences on.

 

pea hedges (3)

 

The a-frame is made in the same way, except with a 6′ x 6′ frame. The conduit pipe (10′ cut into two this time) is hammered into the ground at an angle to match the frames. I used hinges at the top, and there’s no need for stakes here.

 

pea hedges 3(b)

 

HOW TO USE THE FENCES THROUGHOUT THE SEASONS.

The great thing about these hedges is that they are easy to move around, because it’s just the conduit pipe that keeps them in place, which is easy to pull out. I untie and remove the frames when I’m not using them, and they stack away easily. When it’s time to plant, I rake back my mulch, plant the peas and when they are about 3 – 4 inches tall, replace the mulch and sit the fences back on top, tying them to the pipe. By removing the fences when planting, it also makes it much easier to lay down bird netting to protect your precious seedlings. If you get the right size, the netting will fit over the pipe, keeping it in place.

 

pea hedges (4)

 

I love edible hedges. I think they give structure to a garden as well as being amazing space savers. I plant a pea on either side, an inch apart, so with just one 8′ hedge you will be able to plant almost 200 peas.

 

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Lessons from 2016, for 2017 – the winners.

It’s that time of year again when seeds are being ordered, and I look back on previous years. What has done well, and what should I try differently? Here were the big winners of 2016…

LEMON SQUASH (summer squash). These were AMAZING. Firstly, they grow upright which is a huge space saver. (I grew 6 plants in a 8′ x 6′ area). I used conduit pipe 5ft out of the ground but by the end of the season the plants were growing far above that and toppling over a little. From my six plants I got 204 squash!! They are supposed to be the most disease resistant of the summer squash plants but that doesn’t mean you won’t get squash bugs and vine borers. You just have to check the plant every day or two. Funnily enough, I discovered I don’t really like summer squash but it does make a fantastic soup with onions and tarragon which I’ve been enjoying all winter, so I’ll be growing it again.

 

Lemon Squash 2016 round up

 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH (winter squash). These are fantastic keepers over the winter months. I harvested mine early September and they are still holding up well. From three plants I got about a dozen squash and really had to keep on top of the squash bugs, but it was totally worth it. I’ll be planting more this year, simply because they keep so well.

 

Butternut Squash 2016 round up

 

VERT GRIMPANT MELON. My first year growing melon and I chose this variety because the fruits are small (I live alone so perfect for one), and because I’m a sucker for anything old and European. They were grown on the ground but are really perfect for trellising so I might try that this year. From 6 plants I got about a dozen melons.

 

Melon 2016 round up

 

RHUBARB. After failing spectacularly with the rhubarb last year, I bought two more plants and placed them in morning sun, afternoon shade. They loved it! I had enough for jam all year and the plants should get bigger in year two.

 

Rhubarb 2016 round up

 

GINGER. I use a lot of ginger, especially in the winter and had success growing it on a rooftop in Brooklyn, so I wanted to try it here in TN. I bought two plants (not the roots) from Baker Creek, planted it in April and harvested on Dec 1st. I’ll have to wait until the Spring to see if the roots I left in the ground have survived. If not, I still have some I bought inside in pots which I’ll plant out when the weather gets warmer. The rest of the ginger was peeled, cut up and stored in Brandy. The plan is to keep more and more back each year as the harvest gets bigger and bigger.

 

Ginger 2016 round up

 

BUSH BEANS. – So easy to grow!! Got two great harvests but still have to figure out how to freeze them well. Mine went very tough when cooked from the freezer.

 

Bush Beans 2016 round up

 

SUGAR SNAP & SNOW PEAS. – I built an A-Frame trellis and pea hedge trellises for the peas this year and had huge crops! While the regular garden peas freeze very well, like the beans, the sugar snaps and snow peas didn’t. They just got too sickly sweet once defrosted. Amazing straight from the garden though!

 

Peas 2016 round up

 

 ELDERFLOWERS. While I planted the elderberry bushes last year, this was the first year to get elderflowers, and that meant finally having a go at elderflower sparkling wine. Another great addition to the garden.

 

Elderflower 2016 round up

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