April 21, 2013
Well, we’ve been busy helping folks design and install their spring vegetable gardens. Out on the farm, our strawberries are ripe and delicious. As most of you know, we’re in our first year of organic strawberry production at Blue Bramble Farm and are thrilled to be harvesting our first crop. We’re also in the process of creating a new logo, website, farm label, and public outreach program so thanks for staying tuned as we go through this transition!
February 12, 2013
My friend Suzanne Reiss of Suzanne Reiss Photography took this shot a few years ago of some wild edibles I pulled out of my yard for my sandwich. It was the end of February – the same time I will be offering a wild edible plant class out at my farm in Wimberley. If you’re interested in checking out our farm-in-progress and learning about some wild edibles out here, send me an email to register for the class! Here are the details:
What: Wild Edible Plant Walk – Learn how to identify, harvest and prepare some of the most common wild edible plants in Central Texas. * We will probably look at two different sites out here in the hill country to get a good sense of what’s in season!
Date & Time: Saturday, February 23rd 1p-3p, rain or shine
Cost: $40 per person includes handouts and some wild edible snacks
Location: Wimberley, Texas
January 9, 2013
It is a great time to plan your new garden or re-design your existing garden. Growing food in Central Texas is challenging but with some guidance and a good plan, you can create a fabulous edible garden! An Edible Yards consultation is perfect for getting you started and on the right track – contact me if you’d like some help with your plan!
November 2, 2012
I suppose this is a good time to introduce you to Blue Bramble Farm. We’ve been busy preparing the ground and getting ready to plant strawberries. Our dear friend Cypress (also a farmer at Engel Farms in Fredericksburg) came out to help us lay mulch and drip tape.
We’ll be planting our berries this week and the blackberries will go in this winter. I’ve been working quite a bit on the farm but will continue to offer Edible Yards services. I’m just not sure how much time I’ll have for blogging over the next few months!
John Engel and Cypress helping us out on the farm.
October 8, 2012
August 27, 2012
August 11, 2012
I do consultations for folks on a regular basis and want to share a bit more about my consultation process. I absolutely love consulting with people on their edible yard projects – I can help you figure out your next steps no matter what stage you are at in your food producing adventure. Many of my consultations last about an hour, but I am always willing to stay longer to cover more ground. To break it down, here’s what I cover during a consultation for:
The beginner: Many people I consult with prefer to install their gardens and do their maintenance work themselves and just need some guidance on designing their garden, developing a planting plan, and figuring out where to get materials. Many of these folks are new to gardening or have tried something for a season or two and have had a difficult time. During a consultation, I’ve helped clients lay out their garden and develop a seasonal installation plan. In addition to discussing options, I like to get lists and sketches down on paper for the DIY crowd so they can get started and follow through with success. It can be hard to know where and how to start as a beginning food producer and I spend plenty of time showing folks exactly how to get things growing in their yard – I’ve always believed that our gardens themselves are our best teachers.
The occasional gardener: Some folks I work with have a few growing seasons under their belts and simply need some advice on how their gardens can be more productive or better designed in their space. Believe it or not, I’ve showed up to some pretty amazing gardens complete with expensive boxes and irrigation systems only to find that they were installed in total shade! Yikes. I’ve actually helped some clients move their gardens during a consultation to take better advantage of their space. People with some experience often need a year-long planting plan or some suggestions on maintaining their garden for optimal fertility and best harvests.
The seasoned grower: I consider myself in this category and I am still constantly presented with questions in my garden -I love figuring out what new bug is nibbling my plants or how soil has changed over time or what new tricks I can try to achieve better harvests. I often arrive at consultations with seasoned gardeners prepared to identify pests, diseases, soil problems or design issues. Many times these growers will contact me with specific needs and I can determine whether I am able to consult with them on the subject – I will only consult with people that I am qualified to help. Sometimes, two vegetable gardeners are better than one when it comes to working out gardening problems!
Consultations are for the Edible Yards client that wants to grow good food. During a consultation, I will arrive at your site and get right down to what it is you need. I am hands-on, experienced and knowledgeable about local growing conditions and have been consulting with people on their food gardens for over 12 years in Central Texas. Let me know how I can help!
July 20, 2012
June 19, 2012
I’ve spent a lot of my gardening and farming days braiding onions and garlic. While I find onions harder to braid than garlic, it’s still a lot of fun and produces a gorgeous, edible bunch to hang in your kitchen or pantry. Since both onions and garlic need to be hung to cure after harvest, braiding them makes the bunches more presentable. Oh, and there are several braiding techniques printed on the web. Check this link out for one way to braid onions.
(PS. The little yellow house in the background of the top picture is our guest house that we rent out through airbnb. If you ever want to visit Wimberley, check our listing for an affordable stay on our little farm.)
April 16, 2012
Garden design is a unique process with a wide range of methods, applications and results. I get a lot of questions about my process and would like to share a little bit about my own designs and how I work with clients to create their ideal vegetable gardens and edible landscapes. I spend a good amount of time observing, taking site inventory and conducting site analysis since every site is different and has its own special features and challenges. An edible garden has specific needs such as good, fertile soil, ample sunlight, decent drainage and easy access for maintenance and harvests. When designing, I am always looking at ways to best utilize the space and maximize food production.
Clients also have their own ideas and needs so I spend plenty of time discussing what the client wants to grow and what they like to eat, how much time they want to spend maintaining their garden and their budget and expectations. If a client wants an entire edible landscape and is starting from scratch with their yard design, I can draw up a complete design in cooperation with landscape architects. If a client simply wants a vegetable garden or small orchard, I usually do a simple sketch and seasonal planting plan that includes everything the client wants to grow. I also do a lot of site design which involves walking around the client’s space, marking off growing beds and paths, staking and stringing and poking around in the soil to find the best location for growing food. My design process involves a lot of back-and-forth discussion with my clients to make sure we understand each other and can work together. Good design involves great communication to achieve beautiful, productive gardens.
One of my latest design projects is working with the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts to create a 6000 square foot culinary and teaching garden at their campus in Austin. They have a unique farm-to-table curriculum that allows their students to gain credit by working on local farms. In addition, they are establishing a culinary garden on campus that will provide ingredients for the kitchen and will offer some space for teaching and dining. I am designing their on-site culinary garden for production, education and garden events and will include seasonal annual crops, culinary herbs, edible flowers and perennials such as asparagus and blackberries. After taking a site inventory and compiling all of their needs, I completed a basic sketch of their garden with a plan to install this fall. Check out the sketch:
I do not believe in wasting time or money on drawing up elaborate designs. I am a very practical person and think that a productive, gorgeous edible garden can be achieved through thorough site design and simple sketches. Ultimately, most people want a productive, edible garden and it is my goal to help folks realize their ideal gardens sustainably and efficiently. I love to work on designs and look forward to helping folks create their perfect vegetable gardens and edible landscapes!