This summer Scarlet and I have been cultivating a little backyard food garden (doing my best to be true to my word).

I have to admit a dorky sort of excitement every time we go outside. Growing food with your kid is so joyful…it just turns me into a sentimental sap.

It’s not too late to plant certain things (depending on where you live)…maybe get some winter squash going? I am a city girl and by no means any sort of farming expert so I’ll just show you our beginner garden and link you to some great info from smarter people than me. We’ve had some successes, some failures, and some complete mysteries that maybe you can help me solve?

Check out our Backyard “Farm” and help me with my questions please after the jump…

Our Backyard Farm


We live in Los Angeles, Scarlet and me. This is our yard. The big tree to the left gives up the sweetest tangerines. We grow all of our veggies on the little hill, and in the middle of the hill is a fig tree. The fig tree is beautiful and really just manages itself. Look forward to some fig jam recipes this fall! This site helped me understand when to pick them (I learned they won’t ripen off the tree). Here’s what else we’ve got growing:

Cucumbers

Total home run. We grew these from seed and three plants are starting to produce like crazy! But they have grown long and fast and are snaking all over the place now. I saw somewhere a picture of cucumbers growing on an overhead trellis, with the veggies hanging down. That would be cool. A bunch of ways to grow cucumber here.

Arugula

I guess I didn’t do it totally right because it already has flowers and I never picked it, so maybe tonight I can have like one side salad before it goes to plant heaven, but I’m going to follow this advice and save the seeds for next year: Arugula Growing Guide

Pole Beans

I thought I had made a pretty clever and cute pole bean trellis, but then I learned that it should be six to eight feet tall. So yeah, don’t know what I’m going to do about it, I’m not starting over. Ways to stake pole beans.

Tomatoes

We just picked our first batch and roasted them yesterday after taking these pictures. Truly amazing. My only issue is this:

I didn’t stake the tomatoes! Look at that mess! I kept meaning to, but I never got around to it and I totally regret it. So many of the tomatoes are rotting on the ground before I get to them! I tried tying them up with a string yesterday…is there anything I can do at this point?

Zucchini

Total success. Easy to grow and super prolific. We’ve been eating zucchini like crazy, I’ll share some of our recipes soon. Awesome beginner plant.  Child actually eats something green because she’s proud of it: “i grow this plant kini garden mommy!”

Romaine

So far so good.

Eggplant

Still waiting for a fruit to show up, but in the meantime that stem is pretty.

Peppers

We’ve got green and orange peppers. They were doing fine but now seem a little wilty? What should I do?

Jalapenos

These look great but maybe weren’t the best idea to plant with a toddler. I’m always worried she’s going to accidentally puncture one and rub jalapeno juice in her eye.

Corn

I’m really excited about corn stalks. Carleton’s family has a dairy farm in Pennsylvania with corn stalks everywhere. I can’t wait to eat fresh corn! Any corn growing tidbits for me??

Okra

This is my great sadness. What is wrong with my okra?? Why is it dying? Why did all the leaves fall off? I wanted to pickle it Texas-style. Is it salvageable?

Green Onion (Scallion)
This is my favorite thing to have in the garden. You can let it sit for a while without worrying about it going bad and just use it when you need it. It will keep multiplying and grow year after year. And you can just use one or two at a time instead of buying a giant bunch!  We grew these from seed and it was a breeze.

Strawberries

My bastard dog dug up the other strawberry plants, so hopefully we will get a few good ones off this lone survivor.

Artichoke

Just planted this a few weeks ago.  I’m excited because I learned from this site that I could have artichokes year after year!

We planted carrot seeds but the soil was too dense and they didn’t make it. We also planted canteloupe seeds which I thought never sprouted until I found this hiding under the giant tomato plant yesterday!! I was so excited I screamed!!

Basil

Followed Jacinda’s advice from her How to Grow Basil post and I have my first successful basil plant ever!!!

Lemon Thyme

I haven’t cooked with this yet because it is SOOO lemony. This recipe for Lemon Thyme Sorbet looks nice, do you guys have any suggestions?

Mint

This picture just proves my point.  It’s a great plant and so convenient for garnishes.  I have been saying “mojitos” for a year but still haven’t made them. I need someone to bring over a bottle of rum and force the issue. Erin? Kelly? Asia? Sherri? Felice? Kristen? Someone?? Anyone??

Dill

Gotta have it to make some pickles!

Parsley

I love this parsley pesto.

Joy.

So I can’t wait to hear your tips! Especially about my sad, sad okra.  And remember, your comment could win you a 1/2 yard of Nicey Jane oilcloth, as could any comment you leave this week.  Because we love you.

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