Welcome to our Organic Terra Preta Vegetable Garden Page. For more information on the Amazonian Dark Earth, or our Terra Preta Nova soil, click on the Terra Preta button at left.

 Please note, in this garden, we apply homemade compost as a mulch with very modest amounts of Organic Bone meal and a pinch of Organic Blood Meal.  I have chosen those two in order to more closely approximate the hunt middens of the Amazonians, into which the detritus of the hunt was allowed to compost before it was applied to the soil.  Scroll down to view the changing garden through the seasons.  We garden year round, and harvest year round.   We rotate crops every year, with special care to allow a three year interval before re-planting a crop from the Solanaceae family in the same bed.  We grow what we like to eat, and what we have found grows well in our area.  We also have a small orchard with fig, plum, pear, peach and kiwi fruits.

Above, The experiment began with the first Terra Preta or Amazonian Dark Earth Bed, and the first Terra Preta crop of Onions, beets, carrots, and  Japanese mustard, April 2008

Above,  three items of possible interest.  First, a Terra Preta grown Big Beef tomato, the biggest of the season to date, weighing in at 1 lb. 5 ounces,  It is reminiscent of the African Queen, except in color.  The African Queen is considered a pink tomato and this is deep red.  Second point, the rubber snake, one of many we keep in the tomato trellis to discourage birds eating the fruit.  Have to move them periodically, but they seem to work.  Idea came from Jeannie K, and we are using it every year.  Third point, the horizontal ladder toping the tall trellis, we are loving using the ladders and the plants seem to love the sturdy support.  Photo DML 

Above, still wet with rain, the harvest from four Terra Preta Nova grown Black Beauty Eggplant.  Before the sun set, they were made into six pans, double layered, Eggplant Parmigiano atop a layer of our own garlic and fresh herb dressed Farfalle, laced with Olive oil.  Photo DML 
Above, a branch of our pear tree, which is loaded with fruit.  Harvest begins in September and if we look forward to fresh pears and pear and fig pie!  Photo DML 
Above, the Issai Cold Hardy Kiwi fruit, with edible skins.  The blossoms I photographed last April (shown far below) have borne great clusters of these fruits.  At full maturity they are around two inches long and reputed to be super sweet.  Harvest is in September and October.  Photo DML 
Above, every year, in July, I pick a day and shoot a harvest portrait of our Terra Preta Organic garden produce.  This morning I had to do it in two stages, tomatoes and peppers above, and Trombetta and Cantaloupe below.  The tomatoes have been amazing and we gave half a dozed away yesterday.  The peppers don't seem to like the nighttime humidity with temperatures of 80°+.  I generally put a ruler in the photo to give some sense of scale. Photo DML 
Above, a day in the harvest cycle, part two.  The Cantaloupe in the foreground is the same 5 +pounder that was photographed on the vine. (photo below)  We have already harvested half a dozen Ambrosia and have many more growing and ripening.  We will definitely be adding Cantaloupe to the summer crops every year, perhaps mix in a couple of Honeydew nest year.  Over the years we have come to rely on the Trombetta, which has a nutty flavor, reminiscent of Acorn Squash. They are more prolific than ever on their new trellis system.   Photo DML 
Above, grown in our Terra Preta soil, the Ambrosia Cantaloupe fruit, ripening on the vine.  This experiment has been a great success.  This fruit is already weighing over 5 pounds.  The fruits are delicious, sweet and exude a heavenly perfume while they are ripening.  To see the trellis for these scroll down.  The photo below will show one fruit in a supporting sling,  The fruits must be supported due to their heavy weight.  Photo DML 
Above, two Ambrosia Cantaloupe fruits, the one on the right is sporting a black net sling that helps support the weight of the fruit.  We have these hanging all over the trellis.  Photo DML 
Above, the Trombetta Zucchinetta trellis has earned another tier of horizontal ladder.  These plants have already been incredibly productive, we are sharing them with friends and family.  Photo DML 
Above, and below, two views, north and south, of the infant Trombetta Zucchinetta plants on their re-cycled ladder trellis.  We were so thrilled with the smaller Cantaloupe trellis, shown below, that we went on a hunt for old ladders.  Our friends Jan and Billy donated these.  It is modular, re-usable and quite sturdy.  A second horizontal set of ladders will be installed above the first row as the plants mature.  The trellis, designed and built by my husband Howard, will provide the Trombetta with the huge growing surface they require, as photos of previous years will show.  Photos DML 
Above, in our Terra Preta soil, the Ambrosia Cantaloupe are growing by leaps and bounds, covering the trellis.  This is our first attempt at growing cantaloupe and they are lovely plants.  There are baby fruits all over it.  For a view of the ladder trellis, before the vines covered it, scroll below.  Photo DML  
Above, a closer look at the Ambrosia Cantaloupe flowers.  The honeybees are loving them.   The trellis netting has six inch eyes to allow for easy access.   Photo DML 
Above, The experiment for 2012, Terra Preta grown Cantaloupe, climbing on a trellis structure designed, and built by my husband Howard.  We are recycling old ladders, painting them black, to blend into the landscape.  We now have a sturdy, movable,  re-usable trellis.  Photo  DML
Above, Terra Preta grown Black Eel Heirloom Zucchini plants grown from seeds obtained from Seeds of Change.  They are fast growing and prolific, see fruits below.  Photo DML

Above, Terra Preta grown Black Eel Heirloom Zucchini fruit that had been hiding...looks like a whale compared to the normal zucchini. This one was delicious as well as enormous.  Photo DML 

Above, one day's harvest of Terra Preta grown Heirloom Black Eel Zucchini, grow from seed. The fruits develop almost overnight.  Photo June  DML

Above, Terra Preta grown Issai Kiwi, in a raised bed.  These blossoms cover the trellis, and are buzzing with our Honeybees.  The trellis is also home to a Mourning Dove, who had built a nest and is sitting on her eggs.  There are two female Issai and a male in this trellis bed.  This is the second year since planting.  The plants are Cold Hardy Kiwi, rumored to bear incredibly sweet fruits, with edible skins (not the fuzzy type) and harvest will be in September/October.  The source of the plants was Edible Landcapes, located in Virginia.  Can hardly wait to taste the fruits!  Photo DML 

Above, Terra Preta grown Sugar Pod Two Edible pod Snow peas ready to munch in early March 2012.  Some folks plant peas in the spring, but I have much better growth and pea production by planting in late October or early November.  They are ready to blossom as soon a weather permits and yield longer, since the hot weather is soon to come.  Planting in fall gets them primed for flowering at the earliest moment.  I did swaddle them with a row cover when night temps dropped to 28 degrees.  Photo DML 

Above, aerial view of Terra Preta Winter Garden 2012, clockwise from far right, Winterbor Kale, Baby lettuces, onion bed Peas and Spinach, Kale bed, Fallow bed and finally side view of garlic bed, with trellises just waiting for the tomatoes to be planted.  We have eaten onions, kale, lettuces and spinach all winter, and still enjoying the garlic harvest from last year.  Photo  DML

Above, Terra Preta grown Spinach borders Italian flat leaf Parsley with the Snow Peas at the far end of the bed.  Photo DML 

Above, Terra Preta Nova hosts the onions, which will make way for Bell Peppers and Eggplant as we rotate the crops, and move from Winter to spring/early summer. Of note, this has been a very mild winter.  Only a few stretches in the 20s  Photo DML 

Above, Terra Preta grown Winterbor Kale, a staple each year, for taste and nutrition.  We sauté the shopped leaves in hot olive oil, with a shot of Soy Sauce as they finish up. Also a great addition to soups, stir fries, roasted veggies etc. Photo DML 

Above, close up of Baby Lettuces in Terra Preta soil, we have enjoyed them all winter, see photo below for cold winter night protection.  Now spring is here! Photo DML

Above,  for the rare winter nights, when temperatures fall below freezing, row covers are used to protect the winter garden.  Here we see the Terra Preta Baby Lettuce bed, cozy and warm.  Photo DML 
Above, Lavender in full bloom June  photo DML

Above, Our Georgia Jet Sweet potato bed.  We used our own Sweet potatoes from the previous year to generate the slips for this year.  Our harvest, seen below, exceeded expectations.  Also, having lived in Hawaii for many years, we know that the tender green tips and young leaves are edible.  We harvest the tips and sauté in hot olive oil with a dash of soy sauce added, or use them in stir fries and saimin, etc.  They grow in the mid-summer heat that kills spinach and kales.  Photo DML 

Above, Our Georgia Jet Sweet potato harvest.  The dark Terra Preta soil was so loose we dug these out with our bare hands.  For size comparison, see photo below.  Photo  HEL
Above, our Terra Preta grown Georgia Jet Sweet potato harvest up close and personal.  These potatoes have a dark orange flesh and are loaded with vitamins and beta carotene.  I have already set aside the Sweet potatoes that will provide next years slips.  Photo  HEL

Above, a sampling of the Organic Terra Preta garden vegetable harvest on July 11,2011.  We see here 9 pounds of Tomatoes, 9 pounds of Bell peppers, 4 pounds of Eggplant and 5+ pounds of Trombetta Zucchini.  The foot long ruler gives a size reference.  Despite a lack of regular rain, the garden is thriving with irrigation every third day.  This marks the fourth year of our Terra Preta experiment.  We remain convinced of the incredible fertility and vitality of this Terra Preta Nova soil.  In fact it appears the soil improves with age and with the compost additions.  photo DML

Above, the Terra Preta garden Tomato bed .  The garlic,  planted around the border, was harvested in May, scroll further down for garlic photos.  Now the tomatoes are reaching high. There is a close up of the tomatoes in photo below. 
Above, Terra Preta soil Bush Beans with the Trombetta Zucchini behind.  photo DML
Above, the Terra Preta grown Trombetta Zucchini with a blossom.  These seeds come from Italy and are available through the Gourmet Seed Company.  They are prolific and taste delicious!  photo DML 
Above, a close up shot of the Terra Preta soil Red Bell peppers.  You can just see the ripening bell at the bottom center.  photo DML July 
Above, a  shot of the Terra Preta grown Yellow Bells, the second of the three varieties of Bell Pepper we grow.  photo DML July 
Above, a close up shot of the Terra Preta garden Big Bertha bell peppers, the third variety we grow,  These ripen to a gorgeous red and are delicious!  photo DML 

Above, the Terra Preta Organic garlic crop, planted in October.  It was planted around the border and now surrounds the three tomato plants and their supports.  The garlic, is now ready for harvest, and removing them won't disturb the growing tomatoes in the least.   May   photo DML

Above, a few of the Organic Terra Preta garlic with a foot long ruler for comparison.  photo DML 

Above, the Terra Preta garlic rests in the late afternoon shade.  It has now been bundled and hung to cure for several weeks, the air is aromatic with its pungent fragrance.  photo DML 

Above, Sweet Lettuces, planted from seed in November, in the Terra Preta Winter Garden.  We garden year round and eat from the garden every day.  Click on the photo above, or the link below,  to reach our Winter Garden page to see what we grow, even in very cold winters like this one. Then come back here to scroll down for past summers and winters.  photo DML
 Terra Preta Winter Garden ***, click here for the Winter Garden Page
The Terra Preta Garden Summer of 2010  scroll down

The Queen in profile, Heirloom African Queen tomato ripens on the vine.  Is it the first grown in Terra Preta soil?  Perhaps. For history and more information on this extraordinary plant scroll down.   Photo DML 

The African Queen Tomato poses with Big Bertha Red Bell and California Golden Wonder, Black Beauty Eggplants and various herbs.  The African Queen weighed 1 pound, 12 ounces and measured 5.5 inches at her broad shoulders.  She will fulfill her ultimate destiny tonight, as we taste the first fruit!  photo  DML

Above, Portrait of a Queen, The African Queen to be precise, an heirloom tomato whose seeds I obtained by joining the Seed Savers Exchange.  Inspired by Amy Goldman's book, The Heirloom Tomato, I was determined to try this variety. So.... African Queen meets Terra Preta.  The portrait, above, shows the first fruit is measuring close to 6 inches across. Below, two more African Queens waxing large...The plants are very healthy, and are very special to me, having grown these from rare seed.  We have had very little rain this year, and for tomatoes that is a good thing.  They are Less likely to develop those maladies that wet leaves  are prone to.  Photo DML June 

Our first Terra Preta African Queen Tomato, ripens on the vine.  This will no doubt be the most photographed tomato in my garden~ Another fact of interest, this is an heirloom from Western NC, so this is  a homecoming of sorts.   Another photo, but not the last, I am sure, below:

The Heirloom African Queen Tomato, more than a handful   Photos DML 

Above, a portion of our Terra Preta Tomato Harvest: African Queen Tomato poses with the Big Beef, Cherry and mid range fruits.  Photo DML 

The third year of Terra Preta, foreground Basil and Onion bed.  Behind we see the Bell Peppers, (4 varieties, including Big Bertha, Purple Beauty and Golden Wonder), and Black Beauty Eggplants, and of course, the Honey Bees!  Photo DML 

Here we have Sweet potatoes, flanked by Trombetta zuchinneta, and tomatoes.  Photo DML Sept. 

Above, the harvest of our Terra Preta Sweet potatoes begins.  It was like digging for buried treasure, good fun!   We grew our own starts of Georgia Jet from the previous years harvest.   Photo DML Sept.

Above, the cured and graded harvest of our Terra Preta Sweet potatoes. A 4 x 10 foot area of Terra Preta bed  yielded 60 pounds of Georgia Jet potatoes, red skinned, bright orange flesh, sweet, moist and delicious.  As mentioned, we grew our own slips from last years harvest, and plan to do the same next year.  For size, notice the foot long ruler is the upper left hand basket.   Photo DML Sept. 

Above, a closer look at the Terra Preta Trombetta vine, with the Tomato trellis behind it.  To give an idea of size, this vine is growing over a 10 foot extension ladder, which you can glimpse the top of.  Photo DML Sept. 
Above, a Terra Preta Trombetta squash with flower and a small baby emerging on the emerging on the left.  This is just a youngster, see mature fruit in the next photo below.   Photo DML Sept.
Above, posing with late season tomatoes and big Bertha Bell Peppers, a Terra Preta Trombetta squash at maturity.  This squash weighed 4 pounds 4 ounces, and is nearly two feet long (see ruler at right). These squash are delicious, grilled or sautéed in olive oil.  This particular squash will last for many meals.  The seeds came from Italy through Gourmet Seed International.   Photo DML Sept. 
Below, 2009 Terra Preta Garden, or, Year 2 ATP (After Terra Preta)

Above, Three Celebrity tomato plants above at eight weeks from transplanting starts.  They are six feet and climbing.  At the front of the bed, a Black Krim heirloom planted from seed has taken over where the Sugar Snap Peas held sway. Germination in the Terra Preta soil is notable for its' speed. Many plants are up within three days of planting.  June  photo HEL

First fruit of the Celebrity weighs in at 10 ounces, see quarter on skewer (at right) for size comparison, June   photo HEL

The Bell Pepper (see fruits below) and Eggplant bed, eight weeks after planting starts, Our Terra Preta project is now in its second summer.  June  photo DML

Terra Preta Bell Peppers, July   photo HEL

The first fruits of the summer 09 Terra Preta harvest, Garlic, Japanese Eggplant and tomatoes and Basil. These first tomatoes weigh in from 9.8 - 12.4 ounces.  June  photo DML

Organic Terra Preta garden harvest showing just a  portion of the tomatoes harvested that day, with four pounds of eggplant, destined for Eggplant Parmigiano, later that same day. photo  DML

 Above, Organic Terra Preta garden sweet potatoes, two varieties, Centennial and Georgia Jet, midsummer. Beyond, the catnip is in bloom as well as parsley on the left.   photo DML

Harvesting Dwarf Grey Sugar Snap Peas, now at 7feet tall, and growing!  The seed packet states plants grow 3 feet tall, staking not required....is it the Terra Preta soil? These plants produced prolific amounts of sweet edible pod peas.  We are glad we did not plant giant peas!  .  May  photo HEL

Tita and I examine the 'dwarf' Edible Pod Peas blossoming.  April.  We can just see a glimpse of The Celebrity tomatoes, behind the peas (far left of photo) at four weeks...see photos above for the growth they achieved in the next four weeks from planting. photo HEL

Below, 2008 Terra Preta Garden, or, Year 1 ATP (After Terra Preta)

Acorn Squash, with close up below showing tiny squashes, the bees love the blossoms October  photo HEL

Terra Preta Bell Peppers, some plants are as tall as I am.  The pepper in my left hand came from a low branch. the pepper in my right is still on the bush finishing ripening. They are thick walled and very sweet!  Not bad for mid November!       Photo HEL 

Aerial view of Terra Preta Garden (clockwise from bottom) herb bed, Bed of Kale infants and onions, Acorn squash bed, Trombetta Zucchini Trellis, Bed of Bell Peppers, Eggplant, Bed of Bush Beans  October photo HEL

Another shot of the Garden showing the bed of Baby Kale and onions, Bed of Acorn Squash and Basil, and at the back, the bed of Sweet Potatoes. Note on the right, Italian Trombetta Squash hanging, the fruits of these zucchini reach more than two feet long.   October  photo HEL

Tomatoes June  photo DML

We grow organic herbs, and our catnip, is a triple winner!  Tita, shown at left, grazes in it, the Honeybees love the blossoms and we make our organic herb tea blend with it!  Catnip makes Cats frisky, but for humans, it is a delicious calming tea! photos DML

Sweet Potato bed (above left) and the Trombetta, Tromboncini or Trombone Zucchini Squash Pavilion (above right) August  Photos DML and HEL
Bell Peppers and Eggplant bed (above left) and one of the many Sweet Basil plant August  Photo DML