2014 Update: Adding Edibles

blackwood garden tour 2014 - food varietiesIn October 2013, I went on the Blackwood Educational Land Institute’s Edible Garden Tour. I was so inspired by all the ways Houstonians were growing food in their gardens. The gardens, styles and strategies were all so different. Some built traditional vegetable gardens in their back yards, some randomly mixed edible plants into their regular landscaping beds, some created jungles of edible plants and trees that were so dense you could barely get around, and others created traditional landscaping designs using only edible plants.

After that first edible garden tour, I started adding edibles to the Reclaimed Garden. The gardening strategies are the same as before: reuse items around the house or ones I find along the way, work with nature, learn from others, watch what happens, keep doing what works, and try something else when something doesn’t work.

blackwood garden tour 2014 - food and chickensAfter a year of experimenting with edibles, here’s what I’ve found…

  • In Houston, vegetables don’t grow in the ground. They only grow in raised rows or beds of amended soil.
  • Gardens take a lot of water! Hugelkultur, ollas, mulch and rain barrels are all used in the garden to get the most from every drop of water.
  • Most herbs die in the blazing sun. They grow better in shadier areas or located under other plants.
  • Fruits and vegetables need bees. There are tons of bees and butterflies in the the flower beds, but they never made it into the vegetable garden in the backyard in 2014. I had to hand pollinate the vegetable plants with a paint brush. I’ve begun planting bee/butterfly loving flowers in the vegetable garden and between the flower beds and vegetable beds to bring in the bees.
  • edibles - collage of little veggie plantsMy plants grow better when I start them from seed. I can’t explain it. Transplants from the garden center and organic nurseries just don’t make it in my garden. When I start the plants from seeds or cuttings, they do much better.
  • Flowering plants are even prettier when they produce edible fruit. Edible plants add twice the color to the garden – once with flowers and again with fruit. Win, win, win!