Edible gardening

From 2 to 92 edible trees, shrubs and vines in 4 years…

We moved into our current home in October, 2015. Having moved from a home with multiple fruit trees, it was a bit of an adjustment for me to see one lemon tree and one orange tree. Both though large, to my dismay were not producing well. For the first time in years, I had to resort to store bought lemons.

There was plenty of space to grow, but needed a lot of work to be done. Little hills, dense with clay, grass covered lawns, several trees past their prime littered the landscape. However, it was that time of the year for buying bare root trees, so I could not delay any longer. I purchased a few bare root trees and found spots in the garden, on the south-west hill to plant them. The soil was as hard as rock, and the neighbors magnolia was towering over the fence. After planting two trees, we decided to do the rest in containers.

Over the next few months, I studied the course of the sun, understood the soil a little better, and came up with a master plan. The plan was to extend the fence out, and reclaim some of the front yard space into the backyard. With the fence extension started the veggie bed making project using up the old fence boards. With the beds in place, one by one the container grown fruit trees found homes.

Over the past 4 years, we’ve added numerous fruit trees, bushes and vines in our suburban home. A few of them did not survive, but thinking back, I am so proud of our garden transformation – from one that was quite boring and barren, to one that harbors plenty of life, inviting birds, bees, butterflies, squirrels, blue jay’s, wood peckers, humming birds, and many many more that call this space their home.

Today is the day my dear mother passed on, 6 years back. She left behind with me the joy of gardening. Although she was not an avid gardener, she was creative in many aspects and found delight in simple things. She perhaps knew that one day, I would go deep into gardening when she first gifted our first fruit tree – the nectarine.

Honoring my mother, and thankful for the gift that started this all, from the 2 edible trees, we have planted 92 more, as of  May 21, 2020.

Here’s a list of what is growing in our edible garden.


  1. Raspberry – Bababerry (May – July) – 2 vines
  2. Raspberry – Red heritage ( harvest Aug – nov)
  3. Raspberry – Fall gold (ever bearing)
  4. Raspberry – Canby (harvest June – July)
  5. Raspberry Baby cakes (late June – early July)
  6. BlackBerry – Olallie (harvest late-May to early July)
  7. Blackberry – Triple crown (harvest mid-July to August)
  8. Blackberry – Chester
  9. Grapes – Summer Royal – September
  10. Grapes – Ladies finger – October
  11. Grapes – Perlette – August
  12. Grapes – unknown variety
  13. Grapes – unknown variety
  14. Purple Passion fruit
  15. Passion fruit – Hawaii’s variety


  1. Misty blueberry – 2 bushes
  2. O’Neal blueberry – 2 bushes
  3. Pink lemonade blueberry – 2 bushes
  4. Sunshine blue – 2 bushes
  5. South moon – 2 bushes
  6. Legacy – 2 bushes
  7. Sharp moon – 2 bushes
  8. Unknown blueberry varieties – 5 bushes
  9. Elderberry (mid Aug – mid Sept)
  10. Goji berries
  11. Huckleberry


  1. Nagami Kumquat
  2. Calamondin
  3. Laurel bay
  4. Tea – camellia sinensis
  5. Kaffir lime
  6. Blenheim apricot (harvest late May – Mid June)
  7. Montgomery cherry
  8. Lapins cherry
  9. Dwarf Mulberry
  10. Pakistani mulberry
  11. Sugar cane
  12. Loquat
  13. Plum – Santa Rosa – June – Jul
  14. Plum – Satsuma – August
  15. Asian Pear combination- Shishenki, Hosui, 20th century, Chojuru
  16. Figs (Aug – Nov)
  17. Nectarine – Snow Queen white – June end – July mid
  18. Nectarine – Heavenly white nectarine – July
  19. Avocado – Mexicola
  20. Olive
  21. Gala Apple (Aug)
  22. Golden delicious apple
  23. Guava (Aug – september)
  24. Banana
  25. Drumstick / Moringa
  26. All-in-one almond
  27. Pear – Anjou – late September
  28. Pear – Kieffer (Sept – mid Oct)
  29. Pear – Warren (Oct – Nov)
  30. Pear – Combination pear tree – Comice, Seckel, Flemish beauty
  31. Fig – Violette de Bordeaux (Aug – Nov)
  32. Fig – Janice seedless Kadota
  33. Fig – unknown varieties – 2 vigorous trees
  34. Fig – Panache
  35. Pomegranate – Wonderful (September – November)
  36. Pomegranate – Eve (Oct-Nov)
  37. Espaliered Apple – gala, Fuji, golden delicious, Braeburn
  38. Golden delicious apple
  39. Guava – Pink flesh
  40. Guava – Mexican white
  41. Guava – Portuguese
  42. Guava – Pineapple
  43. Persimmon – Hachiya  (harvest Nov-Dec)
  44. Orange – Cara Cara Naval
  45. Orange – air-layered unknown variety
  46. Blood orange
  47. Grapefruit – Oroblanco 
  48. Grapefruit – Rio Red 
  49. Mandarin – Owari Satsuma
  50. Mandarin – air-layered unknown variety
  51. Lemon – Improved Meyer lemon
  52. Lemon – Eureka pink variegated lemon
  53. Lemon – air layered unknown variety of lemon
  54. Lemon – air layered unknown variety of lemon

As we move things around in the garden, we are finding more space to grow. I won’t be surprised if we do end up having a 100 trees pretty soon. Little hills, front yards, and side yard spaces are slowly being transformed into beautiful edible landscapes filled with color and food, for us and our nature friends to enjoy!

“We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it’s our garden that is really nurturing us.” -Jenny Uglow

Edible gardening

My first compost pile

Although we have been cold composting for several years now, I did not fully venture into producing large quantities of hot compost. I assumed that it was a huge time commitment and a hassle. However, my perspective changed as I got inspired by posts in garden groups. and watching several regenerative farming videos. It was fascinating to learn that homemade compost is made with the help of micro flora, fungi and bacteria in my immediate environment. Similar to consuming local honey for the best immunity, home made soil must have similar benefits too. This got me started on the journey of serious composting.

I wanted a portable, neat looking solution, that did not cost an arm and leg. After reading wonderful reviews I decided to go in for the GeoBin for the ease of setup and take down, and the configurability on the width of the bin. It was super easy to setup and it costed me around $35.

Since winter was fast approaching, I choose the sunniest spot in the yard to setup the bin. I loaded it up with greens and browns and invested in the ReoTemp compost thermometer. It’s a bit pricey but worth it, as I leave it out in the pile at all times. The hermetic seal is super tight.
I experienced classic newbie composting issues. I could not get the pile to heat up. The pile never heated beyond 90 deg and some times dropped to 80’s. I found it a bit hard to turn the pile but managed to do that a few times in the past several months. That did help heating up the pile back to the 90’s. Later I learned that leaves take longer to decompose and should have handled it separately. Regardless, by April the materials were fairly well composted with just a few leaves visible. Fluffy, earthy, wormy compost was ready! I did not realize how happy a compost pile would make me. It felt like I hit a gold mine in my backyard! With the stay-home situation and not many options to have high quality compost delivered to home, compost in the backyard is truly a blessing!

Taking lessons from my first compost pile, I have moved the location of the bin to a more convenient location that will help with turning the pile more often. This time, the pile is made of grass clippings, vegetable and fruit peels, spent winter plants, Amazon delivery boxes, some saved up brown leaves and some compost as a starter. The pile is filled half way through. and with the sun’s heat the compost should get cooking faster.

I feel good about making compost in my backyard, and slowly removing my dependency on mass manufactured compost. Apart from the benefits of reduced carbon footprint, reduced wastage etc, the important factor for me was that the diverse microbes breaking down the composting material are the ones found in my immediate environment.

By controlling what goes in the making of the compost, I know what’s nourishing my soil that feeds the plants. I am so glad to have tried this out. It’s not as hard as it sounds, and is easily manageable even for an urban gardener.

First compost pile
Starting the second pile…
bay area, Container gardening, Edible gardening, Nutrition, Urban gardening, Zone 9

Growing lush cilantro

Lush vibrant cilantro

Cilantro is the leafy counterpart of the spice coriander seed, which is ubiquitous in Indian, Mexican and Asian cuisine. They have incredible detoxification benefits, particularly well known as a chelator for heavy metals. Added to smoothies, made into chutneys, or garnished they are versatile in their use.

Cilantro is a cool season edible and aromatic leaf that grow well in both containers and in the ground. Growing them is fairly easy, but they bolt pretty fast if they are heat stressed.

Here are 6 tips for lush cilantro growth :

  1. Seed choice: Choose slow bolt variety seeds, and not the one from the pantry for reliable good leafy growth.
  2. Growing media : Easy to grow in containers / ground alike. Pick a shallow (4-6″ deep) and wide container, and fill with a mix of compost, perlite and coco coir for good water retention, nutrition and aeration.
  3. Germination and timing: Best germination is between 55 deg -70 deg. Each spherical seed pod has two or more seeds in it. Gently crush to separate the seeds in half. Soak in water for up to 24 hours. Densely spread on growing media and add about 1/2 inch soil to cover the seeds. Once they germinate, thin them optionally. If you want large plants, thin the plants and replant in separate areas of the garden.
  4. Watering and feeding: Use a regular watering schedule and ensure that the soil is moist. A high nitrogen fertilizer will promote good leafy growth. I use a liquid fertilizer periodically but most often good compost is adequate to provide the nutrients.
  5. Harvest : Regularly remove leaves from outer sections of the plant once the plants are at least 4 inches tall. If allowed, the plants could grow as tall as 1 – 3 ft.
  6. Extending the harvest: Start the first couple batches indoors with the help of a heat mat, when outside temperatures are still in the 40’s. Set out transplants once the seedlings are 2-3 inches tall. Direct sow seeds every two weeks when day time temperatures are between 55 deg – 70 deg, until summer and start again during fall season once weather starts to cool off. As temperature rises, pick different cooler spots in the garden at each sowing. Under a tree canopy is a great location. Mulch with bark or compost to keep roots cool. Water adequately and frequently when temperatures rise.

A cilantro pesto recipe for a savory spread for breads / flat breads:

2 cups cilantro leaves and stem

1/2 cup walnuts, almonds – optional

2 chillies, salt to taste and a 1 tbsp of cooking oil

1/2 tsp turmeric powder.

A small bit of tamarind or 2 tsp lemon juice.

Heat a heavy bottomed pan, add oil, chillies and turmeric. Add all the other ingredients. Saute’ them together until the cilantro slightly wilts. Blend until well incorporated into a paste, adding a bit of water as necessary. Alternately, you can skip the saute’ and blend the ingredients raw. Store in the refrigerator and use it liberally as spreads/chutneys. Its particularly tasty as a spread in an avocado sandwich. It also tastes great with freshly steamed rice and a dollop of ghee.

Cilantro is an excellent addition to the front yard garden. Lush bright green is refreshing to look at in late winter/early Spring. They add ornamental value besides culinary and medicinal uses.The whiff of smell as you water the cilantro plants is delightful to the senses. Try some in your garden this season!

bay area, Container gardening, Edible gardening, Limited space, Urban gardening

Cinderblocks in the edible landscape

I had 12 cinderblocks left over from a backyard seating project. I hit up Pinterest for ideas, and there were several cool ones. I debated between building a cinderblock seating vs using it for planting vs building a retaining wall. So guess what I finally ended up doing…

Continue reading “Cinderblocks in the edible landscape”
bay area, Edible gardening, Limited space, Zone 9

Air layered plant success

Propagation via air layering for fruit trees…

Last year I wrote an article on air layering propagation method to propagate fruit trees that we had wanted to plant in our current garden. The lemons, mandarins, nectarine that were air propagated last year survived the winter. Much to our delight, the mandarin produced a couple of fruits as well. We found a permanent home in our current landscape, and planted the mandarin next to the Owari satsuma. In early January, we planted the nectarine next to our 3 year old Snow queen nectarine tree. The lemons went in pretty containers and are now full of flowers and small fruits. This lemon variety is perpetually loaded with lemons and are prolific. I cant wait for the abundance to continue.

I had read several articles stating that air propagation of pitted fruits has very minimal success. We probably got very lucky, as out of the 3 branches that we attempted to propagate, 2 successfully rooted and thrived. What had surprised me even more was the fact that the one that rooted fast and held on successfully was a thick branch of at least 1.5 inch diameter. I accidentally killed one of them in the pot, due to lack of consistent watering during the growing stage in summer months. The treasured nectarine tree delighted us with several flowers leading up to a few fruits, 4 precisely the first year. With the plant also came the peach curl disease, which we have to tackle this winter by spraying a copper fungicide and prevent it from spreading to our other trees.

Savoring the success of air layering, this year I plan to propagate the tasty pink guava and adopt other methods of plant propagation and grafting.


Successful air layering – results after 1 year of growth