Browse Month: July 2016

NED Gardens Across America — Episode 7

Kirlangic melon harvest and taste test. From three plants, we are seeing four melons. The first of the melon has turned a beautiful bright orange that reminds me of Tabby cats.
Reviews of the Kirlangic or Tiger melons have been mixed when it comes to taste. Most report a fruit that lacks sweetness. While others have advised that the fruit needs time to ripen. Impatient and using the fruit falling off the vine as a sign, I decided to give it a taste test.

Other things going on for the project is the disappointment with how the watermelon are coming along. In the learn by doing process, much has been learned about growing watermelon. This is the first experience with watermelon developing into a non symmetric shape. From this experience, we learn that we want to keep symmetrically shaped melons.

The Powder Star pole beans have turn to seed and we will have a good number to return to the project. Elsewhere and not feature, the beans are growing and producing well. Next up we wait on the Abigail’s Coffee okra.

My Prize Arrived + How I Water On A Slope

Entering a photo contest on Instagram, I was surprised to learn that my photo entry won. If you will like to help to win another photo contest, please vote daily until the end of the month at
The prize is a $25 Botanical Interests gift certificate. If we win, we can all help pick out the seeds and I will plant them.

***SPOILER ALERT*** Do not read further if you would rather see what the prize is.

The prize is a GrowOya MEDIUM size 3-liter olla with a 3×3-feet coverage. Ollas are un-glazed terracotta containers that hold liquids. When filled with water and partially bury in the ground, water seeps from the porous terracotta and provide water to plants as they need it. It is an ancient watering technique that is said to have gone as far back as early agricultural China. This is also said to be a more efficient form of watering.

Thanks again, GrowOya!!


This video is not sponsored by GrowOya or any of their retailers.

GARDEN TOUR: July 27th Update

We are once again out in the garden to see how it is growing. The galangal ginger is coming along nicely. It has already received two toppings of compost from a nearby source of compost.
On the topic of tropical plants, one turmeric rhizome is beginning to show signs of sprouting while another has already unfurled its first set of leaves.

On the newer garden beds, the pumpkins, peas, and daikon radish have been cleared out (since the last tour). In their place, more sugar pie pumpkins have been sown. Also in this space, cantaloupe plants are being grown for the first time. With La Nina foretasted, we may be able to squeeze them in this year. Two varietes are being tried: Charantais (a French heirloom) and Ha’Ogen (an heirloom from Israel). Both are said to have excellent favors.

In a separate and newer planting area, the soil has been once more amended in hopes that the area will be useful. Growing there now with good signs are: Charantais melon, Triomphe De Farcy filet beans, Dorinny Sweet yellow corn, and Moon & Stars watermelon.

That and more in the video.

Planting Russian Comfrey Bocking #4 (Root Cutting)

Having a vested interest in dynamic accumulators (plants that mine minerals and nutrients from the soil), Russian Comfrey are being grown for that function. Two more popular strains are Docking #14 and Docking #4. With #14 being the most popular. Today, Docking #4 is going to be planted from root cuttings received via post.

In this episode, we well see the post-blossom end of a dragon fruit, compost piles in action, and learn a little bit about how galangal is being grown.

Russian Comfrey comes in many strains and the two more popular strains are ‘Bocking #14’ and ‘Bocking #4.’ In my interest of harvesting minerals with dynamic accumulators, these two strains are being tried. I am especially drawn to #4 because of their potential to reach as deep as 8 feet.

Surprisingly, comfrey is quite expensive. While they do spread, it can take upward to 3 years to establish. Definitely make friends with someone who has comfrey growing 😉

Gardening Work & Update July 22, 2016

A couple of gardening tasks to do for the plants growing in the raised planter. 1. Add a trellis for the heirloom Black Prince tomatoes to train on. 2. Prune back the other Black Prince tomatoes so that the Black Beauty eggplant my have room to grow.

There are many approaches to dealing with garden pests. Those approaches are often times tied with our gardening style, circumstances, and how much time we have to work in the garden.

The approach of observing, interacting, and working with nature (parts that make up the permaculture principles) is reflective of my present ability to spend a good deal of time in the garden. As such, I am fortunate in that I have a front row seat to watch nature in action.

When presented with garden pests, we are observing their environment. We make note of what fosters the good and bad bugs. From those observations, we change our practices so as to encourage the good bugs to thrive which in turn make it more difficult for the bad ones.

Even the bad bugs, we look for their beneficial qualities. Over several videos, I have talked briefly about the beneficial qualities of caterpillars. We know that they are voracious leaf eaters. The question next is: how do we exploit that trait? In the garden, we some times prune our plants back. Can we then prune just enough and leave some for the caterpillars? How are they then beneficial? Perhaps they turn the leaves that would have otherwise been tossed aside into compost. Perhaps, they present themselves as better snacks over the fruit when the birds are near.

FROM THE GARDEN: Broken Rice (The Quick Version) & More

Going into the garden to forage for ingredients for Broken Rice (a Vietnamese dish). Today, we will need: lemon grass, piper lolot (Piper sarmentosum), Chesnok Red garlic, shallot, Tokyo Long White scallion, Romaine lettuce, Black Prince tomato, and Japanese cucumber.

We will see a couple of guest appearances from Ernie and Bert redfoot tortoises and Marbel the dwarf rabbit.

Japanese Cucumber Harvest

Growing these Japanese cucumber for the first time, it was a surprise to see how big they are. The seeds were from a Jardin Seeds heirloom seed library. It has been fun growing through the seed library.

Black Prince Tomato Harvest

The heirloom Black Prince tomato is ready for harvest. Let’s see what it looks like inside!

Heirloom Black Prince indeterminate tomatoes grown from seed. Grown in Zone 1 (Permaculture) so as to allow them to vine ripen with lesser chance of rats and birds chewing on them.

Pest management is a hands-on and observation approach. The tomato plant naturally grows a dense cover for itself. Many tomato growers prune their plants as a result. Even with pruning, there is still enough foliage to go around for pests like tomato horn worms and katydid. These pests have been spotted and have not been removed. When they become a problem, they will be removed and turned into fish food.
This observe and interact approach requires less labor and external outputs (like needing pesticides). Forgoing the use of pesticides frees the budget up. Further, it does not attack the beneficial insects. Insects like spiders find the plant home and their hunting ground.


Pumpkin pie is a delicious dessert. It is also absolutely amazing when their made from scratch with ‘Sugar Pie’ heirloom pumpkin from the garden. Chosen for their overall flavor and sweetness, they are the ideal pumpkin for making pies with. Hence, they are also known as “Pie Pumpkin.”

When you grow your own pie, you do not have to wait until October/November to make some fresh pie. A couple of pies will be made from scratch.


Planting Russian Comfrey Bocking #14 (Root Cutting)

Read and heard lots about comfrey as a plant that is used as “green manure.” It is a easy growing plant; and the leaves can be used in “chop and drop” practices.

Russian Comfrey comes in many strains and the two more popular strains are ‘Bocking #14’ and ‘Bocking #4.’ In my interest of harvesting minerals with dynamic accumulators, these two strains are being tried. I am especially drawn to #4 because of their potential to reach as deep as 8 feet.

Surprisingly, comfrey is quite expensive. While they do spread, it can take upward to 3 years to establish. Definitely make friends with someone with comfrey 😉

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