Category Archives: food gardening

This category includes all articles about growing fruit, vegetables and herbs in your home landscape. Topics to be covered include traditional vegetable gardening, permaculture, edible forest gardening, seed starting, heirloom vegetables, herb gardening, etc.

20 Jan

Thinking about what to plant in the veggie garden this year

So, it’s after the winter holidays now and I’m starting to think about what vegetables I want to grow this year.

So this is the 10th year that I’ve had my raised vegetable gardens.  I have 4 of them and they are about 6′x8′.

I’ve gone through many permutations of plan plans for them, starting off with the square foot gardening method with strict string layouts and regimented borders of flowers.  I progressed into a haphazard (read lazy) version of the square foot method with ‘areas’ not defined any more with string.  I’ve planted for early, mid and late successional plantings (or tried to) and I slowly moved towards more of an inter-planting scheme. The last season was one where I let everything lay fallow, and weed covered, as my garden pathways were under construction and I just ignored the forest of volunteer veggies, flowers and weeds until early fall (at which time I did harvest over 50 mini pumpkins from a volunteer vine that I never weeded, watered, planted, or fussed over…best success with pumpkin growing I’ve ever had…ha!)

At this time, mid-winter, I’m anticipating the next season of planting…which actually may be my favorite part…the catalog browsing, dreaming and planning stages.

I don’t know about you, but I’m always getting sucked into the gardening and seed catalogs, and I’ve grown many many things that I don’t even really eat.  I’ve had tomato’s coming out of my ears (I’m not a huge fan of tomato’s really), and have harvested a lot of strange and inedible bitter greens.

This year, I think I’m going to try my hand at cucumbers.  I’ve actually never had good success with cucumbers, but I tried the most delicious brined pickles this winter (Bubbes brand from Whole Foods) and they were so delicious I thought I’d like to try my hand at brining my own fermented pickles.  So I see some trellises in my future, probably made from the bamboo I took down that was previously made into my berry cage.  I see buckets of brined pickles and can’t wait to start looking at the growing pile of catalogs by my desk to choose several varieties of cucumbers to try.

I don’t think I’m going to grow tomatos at all, since several of my neighbors do, I will have plenty when they start sharing.

I do think I’ll get some nice lettuce going, and onions and leeks.  Also carrots and beets.

So in the mean time, before I start my indoor seeds, I’ll just be dreaming and planning of spring…Yay!


30 Apr

Hydroponic Tower Garden – Amazing!

This past weekend I went to an Earthday event at one of the local high schools near me. I saw a lot of great booths, and met many people sharing their knowledge of living green. I met someone there that I wanted to introduce to you, because she had on display an absolutely fantastic hydroponic growing tower that makes growing your own veggies really fun. The Tower Gardens have been featured in the May 2014 issue of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine!

The Tower Garden is an amazing compact and easy system for growing hydroponic vegetables and herbs on your deck or patio!

The Tower Garden is an amazing compact and easy system for growing hydroponic vegetables and herbs on your deck or patio!

Now, I’ve seen these in magazines, and I’ve actually tried to make one myself with some DIY instructions, which left me frustrated, so when I saw this system, how simple, how well thought out, and how easy, I wanted to know more and I asked Angela to write a guest blog post for me about the Tower Garden…so I’ll let her take it from here…and if you find yourself wanting one as much as I do, you can find her contact info at the end of the article. Thanks Angela for sharing this guest post and all the great pictures of your Tower Garden! -Mary

From Angela: Here I am- the woman with the black thumb that hates yard work. I am the perfect city dweller… or a least a condo/villa owner who pays a maintenance fee to have the property manage my weeds and seeds. Who knew I would care about and love gardening and growing my own food! I have no time, I have no flat space in my yard for this endeavor and I have no patience.

How did I become an avid gardener? I was introduced to aeroponics when my company teamed up with one of the top horticulturists in the country who ran Disney’s LAND. I was told I am to know, share and experience gardening. “Yeah, right”, I said. “I will only share this if I don’t fail at it”. If I can get anything to grow then I know it is good. As you can see, after 2 years of doing this, I am successful! It is so user-friendly, earth-friendly, and responds to the sustainability issue on an individual level.

Growing Zucchini Squash Vines in Hydroponic Tower Garden

Growing Zucchini Squash Vines in Hydroponic Tower Garden

Growing tomato plants in a hydroponic tower garden

Growing tomato plants in a hydroponic tower garden

I love this Tower Garden because the upkeep is minimal and the harvesting is plenty. I love that it takes up no space at all, you can rotate crops in a matter of minutes, and I don’t have to remember to water anything. You can grow all year round as well with some wonderful grow lights that hook onto the tomato cage.

Have you ever said, “I would love to have a garden BUT”…..?
This thing will overcome almost any reason for a person to not be able to garden. Sustainability and ego-friendly solutions on an individual level.

Who wants to garden with me!

Angela Meier-Tower Garden
314-453-4036 voicecom

hydroponic tower garden with trellis

Hydroponic herbs

The tower garden can be used indoors with a great optional lighting rig!

The tower garden can be used indoors with a great optional lighting rig!

24 Apr

What is a Food Forest?

What is a Food Forest?

Mary’s definition:

A food forest is a constructed or modified forest ecosystem system designed to largely self sustain over time, while providing the ecosystem services of a natural woodland and providing some food or other resources for human consumption.

It is not “vegetable gardening in the shade”

The 7 layers of forest gardening - drawing by Graham Burnett

The 7 layers of forest gardening – drawing by Graham Burnett

Basically, a food forest is a very ancient method of agriculture. Evidence of people modifying the forests for an increase yield of edible plants can be found as much as 11,000 thousand of years ago, before traditional cereal based agriculture. It is a method of growing things that people need like fruits and vegetables, providing habitat for animals that humans might want to eat, like rabbits, chickens and goats, and other products that people want, like honey, maple syrup, herbs, nuts and wood products, but with less intensive inputs and within a more sustainable ecosystem system that supports water quality, biodiversity, air quality, soil health, and ecosystem resilience.

In modern times forest gardening is being rediscovered for the environmental benefits, but is also being tested as an economically viable alternative to modern agricultural methods.

I’ll be blogging more extensively on forest gardening as an urban and suburban agricultural system over the coming months.

11 Apr

Early April Shitake Mushrooms (and flowers)

A few photos I took tonight (April 11th 2014) to show the first harvest of the season for the shitake mushroom logs we have in the shade garden. I think this marks 1.5 years since inoculation so I am expecting several more pounds this spring…I hope. This harvest was 13.5 ounces, and I left a few small ones on the logs to get bigger, maybe by tomorrow they will be ready.

While I was out there I also took some pictures of the hellebore (which has been blooming for a month now) and the native wildflower – bloodroot (which only blooms a few days each year, so it is a treat to see it. I did notice that I now have 3 bloodroot flowers, they have multiplied because the last 2 years I only had one.

Shitake mushroom log 2014 April - 1.5 years after inoculation

Shitake mushroom log 2014 April – 1.5 years after inoculation

Shitake Mushroom harvest

Shitake Mushroom harvest

Hellebore Spp.

Hellebore Spp.

Bloodroot Sanquinaria Canadensis L. April 2014

Bloodroot Sanquinaria Canadensis L. April 2014

11 Mar

Sprawlstainable – New and Improved for 2014

Spawlstainable began as a two year chronicle of Dan and Mary Deweese’s journey to create a more sustainable lifestyle while living in the suburbs. Their 2 year goal was to reduce their energy consumption by 50% (which they did) and to grow 10% of their own food (which they didn’t). After the two years was up they had many followers, and had enjoyed their blogging experience, but new things came along and Sprawlstainable went dormant, without updates, for another couple of years. Now, Mary is resurrecting Sprawlstainable with new categories, a new mobile compatible word press template, and most importantly, a new commitment to adding content, because, even though the blogging had taken a hiatus, the Deweese’s journey towards sustainable living did not, and there is a lot to write about and catch up on… welcome to the New and Improved Sprawlstainable Blog….Thanks for Visiting!

Mary Deweese

12 Aug

July 2011 Garden Photos

Sunflower planted by Chipmunks

Wow, July was a very dry month for us here in Missouri…although the total amount of rainfall was near normal…that 3 inches all came in the first few days of the month…and then nothing for the rest of the month.  Things have struggled in the drought and heat this month…there were several weeks of very high temperatures…many days in the triple digits.  It has been almost impossible to keep up with weeding chores because of the heat…so things are getting a little overgrown in places…it is always difficult to stay motivated to maintain the garden when it is so hot, and this summer was a record setter!


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24 Jul

June 2011 Garden Photos

Fibrous Begonia Macro orange

Here is a nice collection of Photos from June, although I am a little late getting these posted…Things looked good in June…had regular rain…maybe too much rain…and the vegetable garden was a few weeks behind what it was last year…but most things look healthy and the season in quite underway.  I was on a garden tour this month called the Sustainable Backyard Tour…we had about 50 people come by…and the garden looked really nice.  I got a new wicker bench and chair which I have been wanting for several years for our main patio…and the weeds were mostly under control.  The wildlife has been incredible this month, and it really feels like a garden of Eden out there.


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24 Jul

2011 Food Growing totals


Last Updated August 18, 2011

Here are the current food growing totals…as well as last years totals so you can compare how we are doing.    We are definietly behind for the year, but I have started a bunch of fall crops and hope to make up the harvest in a month or two.


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02 Jun

Serviceberry Jam (and Strawberry Jam)

These are the homemade strawberry preserves made with sugar

Today I had the house to myself and I decided to embark on my first Jamalama (Jam making and canning) I’m doing Serviceberry and Strawberry. Of course the first thing you must do when jammin’ is turn the music mix up real loud…I hope you like Jammin’ too…we’re jammin’ he he :)

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26 May

May 2011 Garden Photos

Native Pink Honeysuckle macro

May was a great month for the garden!  I spent a lot of time out there and am pleased that it looks as good as it does.  It has rained quite a bit and everything is extremely green!  I stepped back for some of these photos so you can see the design of the garden more instead of focusing so much on individual flowers.  I hope you enjoy taking a tour of the garden, I wish you all could see it in person because the pictures just don’t do it justice.  It is like a garden of paradise out there, with so many birds and animals, flowers and fruit, I am truly one lucky gardener!

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