Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTOS! Stefani’s garden in California

Spring garden
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stefani Bittner

Today’s photos are from Stefani Bittner in Lafayette, California. I met Stefani when I was in California a few weeks ago, and we had a great talk about her veggie garden. I begged for photos. And here they are! Stephani says, “My house and garden are nestled on a hillside surrounded by 100+year-old California oak trees (I do a lot of shade gardening!). There are edibles planted throughout the landscape and in a dedicated kitchen garden. I grow food year round that feeds me and my two girls, ten chickens (I know – crazy!), and lots of friends and family.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stefani Bittner

“Right now we are eating a lot of braised greens, salad greens, arugula, peas (snap, ‘Golden Snow’, and purple-podded), chicories (my Mom brought back amazing seeds from Italy last summer and I planted 9 different varieties this past fall), bok choi, beets, purple-sprouting broccoli, mustard greens, spring onions, and herbs for tea, cooking, etc. The favas were planted as a cover crop but I love them so much I’ll probably let at least half of them produce beans.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stefani Bittner

“This year I am trying a new variety (to me) that has a black bean. The kitchen garden has herbs growing in the beds and spilling over the walls that I allow to flower to support our local pollinators/beneficial insects. The garden has fruit trees and flowers (yarrow, roses, California fuchsia, sun camellias, lilacs…) in the surrounding beds.

Pear flower
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stefani Bittner

“The fruit trees include meyer lemon, variegated lemon, finger lime, sour oranges (used for marmalade and growing as an edible hedge), apricot, pomegranate, 2 pears (domestic), 2 apples, 3 figs, 2 persimmons.  Plus I’m growing rhubarb, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, currants, and I just added a pineapple quince and a white pomegranate this year.

Purple-podded pea
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stefani Bittner

“There is also a garden bed dedicated to garlic (heirloom varieties that we get from Paul Wallace at the Seed Bank) and we grew potatoes in a grow bag for the first time this year (there are photos of the results on our blog). I am determined to get the potatoes out of the larger planting beds!”

Oh my gosh, Stefani. I’m exhausted just reading this! You are amazingly ambitious! I am not worthy…  **Hey–Stefani has a website! She does this stuff professionally, you know… Check it out here!**

Purple-sprouting broccoli
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stefani Bittner

Anybody else want to share what new and exciting edibles you’re trying this year in your gardens? Anything you tried last year that was especially successful, and that the rest of us should try? Tell us!

Oh, and it occurs to me that some of you might not know of FG‘s sister site, It’s full of great info for home veggie and fruit growers, and even has recipes! And blogs! Go on over and check it out. It is, after all, that time of year…

Sour oranges
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stefani Bittner
Aphrodite the chicken
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Stefani Bittner

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View Comments


  1. tractor1 04/13/2012

    Wow, Stephani is a professional farmer.

  2. pattyspencer 04/13/2012

    Wow - that's a lot of gardening! I would love to have the kind of soil that would allow me to grow a lot of food plants (I would have to expensively ammend my soil) I really like Aphrodite - so cute! Lots of love going into your garden!!!

  3. User avater
    forloveofflowers 04/13/2012

    I would love to know what vegetables she is having success with especially in the shade. I have almost 100% shade and would love to grow edibles but felt I didn't have enough sun to even try. Beautiful images!

  4. user-7006902 04/13/2012

    Fantastic! What inspiration. I always envy the milder climate. Applaud edibles in the landscape! Vegetables are beautiful and so is that chicken.

  5. user-7006903 04/13/2012

    Forloveofflowers - Do you have our Jan/Feb 2012 (#143) issue handy? We actually have an article on plants for shade in there! While some of those do best in sun, you can get away with growing them in the shade. Why not give it a try?

    Jillian (FG staff)

  6. soilgoil 04/13/2012

    Stefani, I wish I had a fraction of your energy and ambition! What a wonderful garden! I used to live in a neighboring county, where herds of suburban deer decimated almost everything I tried to grow. Must you fence everything?

  7. sheilaschultz 04/13/2012

    Wow, Wow and another Wow! Drop dead gorgeous, Stefani. What you have created is spectacular, with edibles no less! You are an artist and a farmer, and those stone steps make my heart go pitter-patter...

  8. jlittle14 04/15/2012

    That is a beautiful chicken! What breed is she?

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