African Blue Basil

This summer’s  harvest turned out better than last year – better tomatoes, cukes and beans.  After harvesting over 2,000 pounds in the early first years, then in later years, 5,000, 6,000 and 7,000 lb on 1/10 acre, we’ve been lax in weighing/tallying our harvest.  I know, I know, record keeping is important.  Heck, that’s what got us where we are today.  The past few years we’ve gotten busy and are starting to feel, after over a decade of record keeping, “been there, done that.”  I still think it would be nice to tally up and see how well (or not) the garden is growing.

We are facing new challenges as the garden grows into its 25th year.  The biggest one  is mostly with the front yard.  Having turned the lawn into edible landscaping two decades ago, it’s grown into a jungle.   Young fruit trees have  grown older and we are faced with the challenge of more shade in the front yard.  Shade is a good thing, unless you are trying to grow sun lovin’ veggies (which gives the most lbs per sq. ft).

It’s certainly difficult to mix edibles, annuals and perennials together.  I heard that one of the main proponents of  edible landscaping told attendees at one of her lectures that she tears out and replaces edibles every year.    The first couple of years they “fit” nicely; but, then, bushes and  trees get bigger and their shade circle grows.   Yes, there is the forrest farming concept; but, try as we might, no tomatoes will ever grow in shade.

Alas, that means our front yard landscape will undergo yet another phase and stage.  We like to show  that edible landscaping can be “Pretty & Productive” but that does pose some challenges.

How has your matured garden brought you challenges in your growing efforts?


  1. c says:

    I have been switching my fruit trees to espalier or minidwarfs. They provide easier access for care and picking but also they fit into the yard better. My front yard trees are changing to only those that are naturally smaller when full grown.

    • Heather says:

      Espalier! Yes, I think that is the way to “grow” for fruit trees. I’m currently growing some dwarf and ultra dwarf Dorset apple trees in espalier form. In hind sight (which is 20/20), I should have planted a few different varieties. Anyway, I hope to plant at least 20 different ultra dwarf fruit trees with that method in my little suburban property.

  2. Jackie of all Trades SpoolTeacher says:

    Ms. SpoolTeacher is still at the beginning phase so this is all so helpful. She is mostly working on amending the soil. Living in AZ poses all kinds of challenges. Her tomatoes grew best in partial shade. The ones on the side of her raised bed that were shaded by late afternoon fared the best. You have to get them out early too. She also tried growing things up, not out; cantaloupe, cucumbers. She’ll be watching you all for lots of help. Thanks.

  3. Frankie Miller says:

    I am new to square inch gardening but am very inspired by yours !! I can’t wait to show how much we can grow at our College/Community Garden in Union, Mo. ! Please help me by explaining how much fertilizer and what type of fertilizer you use in your beds. I would like to know the components of the soil in your bed ie., topsoil to fertilizer ratios , do you use vermiculite, etc. Also, what type of fertilizer do you use !! I am passionately dedicated to organic methods. We harvested 250 lbs this first year. We are zone 6 but if I can install a hoop house at some point we may be able to grow year round ! Or, at least 9 months/year ! I would also like to see pics of all of your vertical methods because we are moving upward and onward in the spring !! 🙂 Please help !!

  4. Roberta Double says:

    I just found your site, and am working on rejuvenation of our little farm in New Hampshire. I am interested in your composting methods and vermiculture too. Where on your site is the best place to look for information on these gardening methods?
    We have kept bees in the past, and I plan to have a hive again next season. A bear attack on our hives stopped us short there, but we’ll try again. I guess that’s not a problem you have in your urban setting! Overwintering is the challenge here due to the mites weakening the colonies. New breeds are interesting, what breed of bee do you keep?

    We have 3 goats, 5 chickens and a horse out in the barns, and a cat and two dogs. I need to cut down some trees, or locate my garden elsewhere because we have trees all around. I may take some horse pasture as garden space and fence it off. I find your site encouraging, although our growing season is short, I could do so much more with the space we have. Thank you for the inspiration!

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