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August Permaculture Garden Update 2019

Some of our potato harvest!

Hey adventurers!

Welcome to the August 2019 Permaculture Garden Update on our project here in Sedona, Arizona. In this blog post, I’m going to share with you what’s new and blooming in the garden, as well as some other exciting things! This blog post goes along with my video on YouTube, which you can find here. In the video, I showcase some of what’s being harvested right now, and in this post I’m going to share the varieties with you!

This project started in October of 2018 for a small organization called Enriching Life Forever. The intention for this food forest was to produce enough fruits, nuts, and veggies to donate to people in need. This is a first year food forest, so what we have are mainly veggies. Slowly, we’ve been adding plants and shrubs and trees into the mix, and are even expanding out into other places in the yard. As the garden has grown, so have we, and ideas of creating a more in depth experience for our guests here enter our mind. What started out as a short term project is seemingly turning into a long term one with great new goals. More on that in the future!

African Horned Cucumber flower

The video starts out walking into the garden and showing our main planting area. Six African horned cucumber plants take over the fence and the small trellis we built for them, blooming with tiny yellow flowers and showing signs of fruit. Jelly melons are pretty unique - they are yellow and orange, spiky on the hard outer shell and inside are seeds that are encased in a green jell, tasting a bit like kiwis and cucumbers mixed together! This is the first time I’ve ever grown them, and they seem to enjoy the hot Arizona weather.

Zulu sweet peppers

Along the fence, we have volunteer spaghetti squash, cantare green beans, and purple bumble bee tomatoes, which seem to be the most prolific in our garden. Most of the tomato plants we have are of this variety and do best with the climate here, though we have harvested some German pinks and Cour Di Bue Tomatoes. Moving along, we showcase the onion bed where we grow Spanish yellow onions and Tropea red onions. They are finally sizing up despite being in the ground since March. We also have grow black garbanzo beans, though the heat has gotten the best of them and haven’t set out any pods yet. The pepper varieties are purple Zulu peppers and Spanish mammoth peppers, and right above them are straight eight cucumbers and beit alpha cucumbers. We noticed that the straight eight cukes become bitter when grown in extreme heat in the desert, though the beit alpha cukes are pretty damn good! No bitterness, and they are crispy as can be - perfect for eating raw and dipping in hummus. I make fermented pickles with the straight eigt variety, which you can find the video for that here. The same bed grows basil, radishes, kale, and eggplants.

Spanish Mammoth Peppers sizing up

A berry bed was created with strawberries and raspberries, though as usual, these things take time to establish. Next, I show the lemon and lime trees. We keep them in pots because in this part of Arizona, winter is a bit too chill for citrus so we bring them inside as houseplants. We keep shade cloth on the main garden area to keep the main crops cool during the day. Heat stressed plants don’t product vegetables. The herb spiral is next to the citrus trees, in order from the bottom - mint, calendula, parsley, chives, lavender, chamomile, lemon thyme, oregano, feverfew, dill, and rosemary. An herb spiral is a permaculture practice where we created a raised planting area in the shape of a spiral. Each plant has a specific spot in the spiral that is best for its idea climate. An herb spiral is basically just a microclimate structure, the low north end is for shade loving plants like mint, and the center point is for heat loving plants like rosemary.

Next, I take you into our pomegranate tree guild. I don’t show tree, rather the gogi berries growing around the tree. It seems that they spread by roots as new plants are popping up everywhere. Also in this bed is a Charleston watermelon plant producing a fine little melon. In our heart shaped bed next door is a few stalks of corn, a peach tree, and more watermelon plants excited to grow because it is now almost fall. The hot night temperatures are dropping into the 60’s with the plants enjoy more and are growing much better.

A young Zucchino squash hanging out

My favorite feature of the garden is the seating area backed by a wall of zucchino squash. We grew these on the farm last year in Wisconsin and loved their silly shapes! This wall is compromised of six plants that wrap and wind themselves up the juniper trees. When the conditions are right, these guys will produce tons of zucchini that can grow up to three and a half feet long. They taste best when they are smaller, though it is fun and exciting to see how long they can get!