That’s my office on most warm days. I’m a lucky woman. The view? Me & Scarlet’s Backyard Farm. After the joy of last year’s experimentation, we went at it with gusto this spring. Here is the hill 6 weeks ago (after we scoped out the situation, tilled, and planted seeds, which I posted about here: Backyard Farm Year 2):

And here it is today:


Yay! Here’s what we’ve been discovering (and eating!) in this year’s backyard farm. I’ve got pics, tips, and questions for you (advice, please) after the jump…

Cauliflower shot up all of a sudden

But where is the veggie? I keep poking around for it, no sign yet…

I planted two tomato plants. I can’t remember what variety this is, but it’s some sort of regular old delicious tomato. It’s threatening to kill its cage:

The other is Romas… there are so many…

getting so close… i can almost taste them…

But about six other tomato plants sprung up from the ground!

They must be lurkers from last year’s delicious cherry tomato haul, and they are already bearing little green pearls of goodness.

I better cage them soon!

We planted lots of corn a week apart, so it would be fresh at different times.

I think it’s the most exciting to Scarlet because it grows so fast.

The zucchini has already provided endless delicious breads and meals

And I’m about to pick our first crookneck squash. What’s the best way to prepare it?

A sea of butternut squash has taken over one corner of the yard, though no fruit yet.

And the first tiny cucumbers have made their appearance

This year I am trying to train them to grow up the railing and hang from my treehouse. Yes, I do most of my work up there on warm days, thanks to the hubbie extending our internet service to work outside!

When these guys first started popping up, I could not for the life of me remember what I had planted so I asked y’all on facebook to mixed response, most of which said “weed.”


Bell peppers!

I planted all different colors and varieties, and there are about 10-12 growing now, so I can’t wait to see what sort of pepper bounty we recieve. Isn’t the flower they make so very perfect?

And a sea of scallions. This is my favorite thing to have in the garden – so easy to grow and so versatile, you’ll use them almost every day and they can sit there waiting for you to pick them without going bad. And they’ll continue to grow all year (at least in Southern California).

The peas are starting to pop up from their seeds (do i need to stake peas?), a friend gave me these seeds and I think they are my favorite present ever!

Our strawberries have been giving up a good amount of fruit, but Scarlet picks and eats them immediately so we haven’t had any shortcake to speak of.

Eggplant. Waiting patiently.

The artichoke has been the most exciting for me. I planted it last year as a tiny sprout (see a pic here) and not much happened. Then a few weeks ago it just popped. First I saw this:

Then two weeks later the thing is almost 10 feet tall and artichokes are poking up everywhere!

So far we have just been steaming them for 30 minutes with a clove of garlic, slice of lemon, and a bay leaf in the water, then dipping the leaves and heart in melted butter. I’ve been meaning to do more exciting things with them, but once you’ve had an actual fresh artichoke eaten that way, you just want more, more, more and anything else seems like overkill.

On the other side of the yard, by the door to my office (seen here),

we planted a lettuce and herb garden.

You’ll notice a few sunflowers. For most of the year we had Scarlet’s birdfeeder hung here – cut to spring and sunflowers are everywhere! I pick most of them out to make room for my edibles, but how can you not let a few of these grace your yard?


Some of my favorites from this bursting section are sage,



lots of mesclun greens (everyone should plant these, you can toss the seeds between your other plants have mixed green salads in a couple weeks),

basil, cilantro, parsley,

arugula (on pizza, in pasta, with eggs, we’ve been eating it non stop and i can’t get enough of the peppery goodness. Which is good, because there are about 15 plants growing willy nilly all over the place.),


and a patch of butter lettuce. there are actually butter lettuces growing in random spots all over the garden, because I found scarlet out there randomly tossing seeds around. At the time i was (in my head) all stressed about the disorganization of my garden, but now it’s a daily reminder of the charming magic of children.

I am sad that I could not get better pictures of our pole beans on the vine, because I think they are the single best thing you can plant if you have children. Here’s our first haul:

Picked by Miss S herself.

They are growing on the bamboo u-hoops up the white wall. Scarlet selected the seed packet that featured purple pole beans (of course) and they are just stunning. They are so easy for children to pick and give up lots of beans, and there is something about their size and shape that children just adore. And they get to come out a pick a big bunch, and then THEY EAT THEM AFTER, which is a win-win.

The other thing I do not have a great image of is the sugar pumpkins. Scarlet insisted we plant pumpkins, who was I to say no? But they take over. We planted them from seed six weeks ago, and they are now about 12 feet long. I put a bamboo trellis against the wall and I’m trying to train them, but they own about 15 square feet of the garden already. The big bright orange-yellow flowers are a delight, I can’t wait to eat & carve them.

We planted some bulbs this year and now we have shallots (how do I know when to pick them?)

And a row of garlic (also, how do I know when to pick them?)

We have been blessed this year. So far (knock on wood) no pest problems, no irrigation issues, no plants acting funny. Just gardening bliss! My only frustration is this bastard:

MINT! I pulled out FOUR SQUARE YARDS of mint before planting this year and every other day a new sprout pokes up its head. When I was pulling up the mint, i tossed the scraps into an old planter (for easy clean up) with no soil in it, then I set it aside and never watered it or looked at it again. Guess what’s in it now? An enormous mint plant. When it comes to mint take my advice.

So that’s what’s up in our neck of the woods. What’s happening in your gardens? I could chat with you about our plantings all summer long…

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