Introduction to my edible garden

Here's a little update on my backyard edible garden project. I had every intention on building thousands of planter boxes, hanging raspberry vines from the roof, using every workable space for this garden, but it turns out that I actually want a bit of space in my backyard to lounge and sip margaritas lemonade in the sun.  So, with that being said, I have tried to utilize the sunniest parts of our yard, mixing edibles with perennials. When I started this project, I had a blank canvas to work with.

Brent took out the old rotting droopy cherry tree and pulled a few ugly bushes, so we were left with nothing except two hydrangeas and a patch of grass. A few weeks ago, we went to the Big Tree Nursery and bought a 14 ft Japanese Red Maple, and three 12 ft Vine Maples - to plant on the east side of the backyard, giving us some privacy from the neighbors. I used the west side of the yard for my peas and tomatoes, and will probably wait for the trees until I do any more planning.

(The image above, is of a potted mint I planted four years ago. It dies back in the winter and then returns every year in the summer. I've placed it on my raised patio that gets full sun, and it seems to thrive there. I often forget to water it for weeks, and it still seems to do well. It is a very low maintenance herb.)

The photo above is of my two absolute favorite plants. I bought them 4 years ago, and every year they come back strong. The one on the right is a white alpine strawberry, and the one on the left is a yellow leaf strawberry. They produce the most intensely flavored little berries that taste more like candy than strawberries. I keep them raised off of the ground, because my dog tries to eat them.

I was gifted this raspberry plant at the beginning of spring. I love fresh raspberries, but I'm a little afraid of the thorny prickly mess that's associated with growing a raspberry plant. This one is doing pretty good so far, considering it was just a few inches tall when I first planted it. I was thinking about bringing it down to the yard, and running a trellis up the fence, but I'm still undecided.

I was also gifted this lovage plant a few months back. It hasn't quite seen the same growth as the raspberry plant, but I am hopeful that it will grow strong. I have absolutely no experience with using lovage as a herb, so it will be fun experimenting with new recipes.

My chives from last year came back, but they have absolutely no flavor (any suggestions?) They kind of taste like grass. I think I'm going to pull them and plant a new batch, because I just love fresh chives as a garnish in so many dishes.

I'm pretty excited about growing sweet peas. I love being able to walk up and snap off a few pods for snacking. To make this pea trellis, I went to Home Depot and picked up five wooden stakes and some mesh netting (located in the tomato trellis section). I built this wooden trellis using some nails and a staple gun. I planted three sweet pea plants, which seem to be doing pretty well so far, and climbing strong. Occasionally I have to feed the stalks through the trellis or they will climb across the ground. They usually get around 8 hours of sun a day. Peas love sun, and lots of water.

Photo taken May 1, 2015

Photo taken June 8, 2015

Beside my pea plants, I have planted 4 tomato plants in large tomato cages. I have one green zebra, a cherry tomato, a beefsteak, and a heirloom. I have posted a photo of the tomatoes one month ago, and current. They have grown so much, they are even starting to flower. In between the tomatoes I have planted rows of Marigolds. Annual Marigolds are said to deter tomato hornworms and whiteflies. They are also known to repel harmful root knot nematodes that attack tomato plants. Who knows. It's worth a shot though, especially when you've invested so much time and effort into growing those tomato plants all summer. Tomatoes, as well as peas, require a great deal of sun and water.

Last year I bought this Guincho Purple Elderflower, and it was around 1/2 ft tall. I thought it had completely died by the end of the summer because it hadn't grown much, looked droopy, and started to loose its leaves. This year, at the beginning of spring, I transplanted it to this mostly shady moist location at the side of my house, and so far it has grown two feet and now has beautiful smelling flowers. I am hoping to make cordial once I can harvest enough of the flowers.

I'm pretty excited about these two blueberry bushes. The one on the top is a Sunshine Blue, and the bottom is Peach Sorbet. Blueberries require at least 6 hours of sun/day, and an acidic soil. Here in Seattle, our soil runs on the acidic side, but I also like to add a soil amendment every few months, just to be safe. I use

Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier

.  I also have a few azaleas which also like acidic soil, so I add some to those as well.

Last but not least, strawberries! I have 5 early Season Earliglow Junebearing Strawberry plants. I've harvested a pint of berries so far this spring, which is pretty good for first-year strawberry plants. They're planted at the front of my house mixed in between my rose bushes. They get pretty full/hot sun all day long, which berries love!