Archive for Garden

Garden Planting

So. The chickens now have a little yard. I bought this fencing at our local Home Depot. I am not sure I like it. It doesn’t close easily. It is difficult to align with the connectors on each side. Also, Rylan cannot get it closed and so I can’t really send him out there to feed the chickens. That’s not going to work, for sure. Quite obviously, I am going to have to do something different. Bummer. On the bright side, the chickens love it! They love it so much, that they have started flying over it to get out. So, I did go purchase some netting to put over it, not realizing that doves are flying down to get the bird seed that isn’t eaten. The birds are now getting caught in the netting several times a day, which is then driving the dogs insane. All of them. Which is driving me insane!!! And having to go out and get the birds out of the netting all day, is completely too much. So, something will have to be done! (I have an idea of what, but I don’t want to have to do it.)

I have been saving this topiary form in the garden shed for almost 9 years. I had 2 of them in our previous home, covered in creeping fig in our front yard by the front door. One day, after we had moved, the new owner, who were friends of ours, had them pulled out and was throwing them away. These things are hard to find, and since she is not a gardener of any sort, she just plain didn’t want them. So, I snagged them from her. YAY for me. I really don’t know where the other one went… This one looks nice right her in front of the little chicken coop. Love it! Can’t wait for the creeping fig to grow in.

My great grandma lived in a little trailer near my grandma’s house. Along the side of her trailer she had a lot of mint planted, and every time we would go and visit her, I would pick some and chew on it. Funny the things you remember. So, this spot is perfect for some mint filling in the space. If I can keep the dogs off of it. Hence, the little fence.

2 New Plum Trees, Santa Rosa & Satsuma Varieties

We also planted in a couple of new plum trees, into the same hole. Everything I have read about plum trees says that the Santa Rosa Plum is self fruiting, but that it bears more fruit if there is another variety nearby. So, since I have seen this to be the case with the previous plum tree & I had until LAST summer… We now have 2 new little trees, emphasis on the little.

Cat's Claw Vine

Trumpet Creeper Vine, Madam Galen Variety

Saturday was a full day. My son and I planted 6 new vines in the garden to cut on the reflective heat that the block fencing adds to the already stifling temperatures in the summer. We put in 4 cat’s claw vines to cover the back wall and 2 trumpet creeper vines, the Madam Galen variety, which is supposed to have beautiful flowers all summer, and is quite a vigorous vine. I was discussing this with the gardener up at Harper’s Nursery. All of the online information I have read about this vine indicates that it’s roots are a giant nuisance, sending out shoots everywhere and that it’s almost impossible to remove. The gardener at the nursery was saying that that may be true in moist climates, but here in Arizona, with our very dry conditions, and clay soil, the root systems just do not act in that way. They then showed me a mature plant of it that they have at the back of their nursery, which climbs up a telephone pole every year. He told me that every other year or so, the city comes out and has them cut the vine down to the ground, and it climbs back up with no problem whatsoever. This is the kind of vine I need on the fence surrounding the garden. I had cat’s claw until last summer, when the watering system broke and I lost everything. Even the cat’s claw died, which is rumored to never die, no matter what. I know it doesn’t look like much here in the picture, but it is dormant in the winter, meaning it loses all it’s leaves, and looks dead, even though it’s not.

Asparagus

The asparagus are a little behind this year. This picture is a little blurry, but this is the first little shoot. YAY! It looks like I need to add some soil to cover the crowns a little better.

Lettuce, Spinach, Broccoli, Cabbage

The lettuces are doing ok. Hopefully it won’t get too warm. I may need to move these over by the fountain area, where is a little cooler. We shall see.

Garden Gnome

My daughter begged for this little garden gnome a couple of years ago. At the time, I thought he was kind of ugly, but as his paint has faded, his attraction for me has grown! ๐Ÿ™‚ I do think he is quite cute here, don’t you?

 

Peach Tree in bloom

The peach and apple trees are blooming. I just love the deep pink on this peach tree. It really is beautiful.

Well, that’s it from my little organic Arizona garden!! Happy planting!

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My Brother’s Project

I am super lucky to have 2 of my brothers and their families, living nearby. One of my brothers, lives about a mile from my house. The other day he and his wife were over & I was working in the backyard trying to remove a pygmy palm. Can I just say, WOW! That is a project and a half!! Not sure I will undertake that again. Anyway, as I was moving the rock back and trying (unsuccessfully, I might add) to hack away at the stubborn roots of this palm, my brother decides to come out and stand there and proceed to give me tips on how to use a shovel, etc. Slightly annoying. Aargh. Anyway, I finally turned around and told him that if he was going to critique me, he could help. Long story short, it ended up with him removing the palm and me standing there, jumping on it to try to loosen the roots. It’s a good thing we don’t have a video of it. Embarrasing. Well, the palm is gone. But, he was going out of town the next day and had a small project he hadn’t finished, so I told Bekah, my SIL, that I’d come over and finish it for him, since he was helping me & didn’t get to it.

When I got to their house, this is what I found. Hideous. He had tried to refinish their little backyard table in this nasty orange color. My SIL and I sanded and sanded on that table. Finally, on Friday, last week, we progressed to using paint stripper. What a mess!

However, this is what it looks like now, freshly stained in my favorite Minwax stain, Provincial. I love that color and use it for everything. I can’t think of an occasion that it doesn’t look good. And after 6 long hours on Friday, it is finished!! YAY! It looks lovely. Great job, Bekah! And to my brother, I don’t think you should do any more projects like that any time soon. Because if you do, you are on your own!!

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A Hot Air Balloon Right Over My Head!

Last Tuesday, I was working in the garden, trying to clear the pathways of the grass roots that invaded last summer. What a task!! I had really had one of those days that you never want to repeat. As I was about to collapse from fatigue, I looked up and directly overhead was a beautiful hot air balloon. It was so close, I felt like I might be able to reach out and tell the people in the basket “hi”! I definitely could hear them putting more hot air in…so lovely! It gave me such a smile! So, thank you, hot air balloon, for cheering me up!!


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Planting Season

As usual per this time of year, I have been outside planting and doing general cleanup activities. Unfortunately, I am not completely finished. Mostly, because I can’t decide if my broccoli is finished producing this season and whether to pull it out or not and I still have plenty of carrots left and am not ready to pull them up yet as I still have a bunch in the fridge. My husband is rooting for the snow peas to go, as he is very tired of them in everything we have been cooking.

We have had so many rainy days along with a little colder weather than we are used to, that the asparagus have been slow to come up this year and are just now coming into their full season. I am planning to try a new recipe for an asparagus frittata that I found in the newest issue of “Hobby Farm Home”. The strawberries are tasting rather delicious. I haven’t ever planted them and had them do well, so I have been so pleasantly surprised to see that happening. I am really loving this SFG thing! Out here we have such clay soil that with the SFG you don’t have to worry about that and it is amazing what you can grow.

Speaking of that, a few posts ago I mentioned that I was trying an experiment in growing celery. Well, unbelievably, the celery is almost ready. So funny that it actually worked. It is still rather small compared to full grown celery, but I am impressed. It looks like if you plant it from seed in October, it will actually grow all winter and do well.

I have plans to spend the afternoon out finishing up some cleanup projects outside and putting up a frame for a support for the Bayberry and Blackberry plants that I finally got planted on the north side of my house.

Happy planting!

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Winter Storm Cleanup in the Garden

For the last couple of weeks we have had some pretty constant days of rain and blowing wind. The garden looks terrible. Leaves are everywhere, and weeds are starting to show their ugly faces. So, with Saturday afternoon came some nicer weather and I decided to try to tackle some long overdue garden chores. I mainly worked on the grape vines which needed to be pruned back and the leaves raked and put into the compost bin. That took a little bit of time. I debated on saving the vines and wrapping them into a wreath, but in the end, they ended up in the garden waste pile.

I have been thinking vaguely about purchasing a wood chipper, but I am not sure I will have enough use for it to justify buying one. And, my husband, wasn’t too keen on the idea when I mentioned it in passing one day.

The peas, which are “Mammoth Melting” variety, are huge. I haven’t really had them get so big that they are tumbling over the supports. I put up some small supports because I usually don’t have them grow over about 4 feet. These vines are probably pushing 6 feet right now. I am just starting to get some snow peas off them, and they are very fresh and lovely.

As you can barely see in the bottom of the picture, the broccoli is ready for picking. We have oodles of broccoli right now, which my family does really like, so that is good. Out of the garden, for some reason, I have decided it tastes so much more tender. Yum!

My bell pepper plants really suffered this past month, because for a couple of days we actually had freezing temps. I know! Can you believe it? Anyway, I forgot to cover them and they just look pathetic. I am trying to decide whether to pull them out or not. If you look closely, you can just make out some new leaves that are popping out.

Bell Pepper - frozen back

Be that as it may, I am starting some others from seed inside under a grow light. YAY! I got myself a grow light! I wanted one for my birthday, but my husband said that if I did, the government would track it and come to check that I wasn’t growing marijuana! Right! So, I purchased one for myself a couple of weeks ago.

New seedlings under grow light on kitchen counter

It is actually working wonderfully. I just put a couple of hooks under the cabinet and suspended it from them with some wire. I leave it on for about 14 hours a day, and after 1 week they were already getting their second leaves. So exciting. I am trying to grow enough extras for my mom and father-in-law also. One day at a time. The only downside to having this light right in my kitchen is that my husband says he needs to wear sunglasses to watch TV because it is too bright on his poor little eyes. ๐Ÿ™‚

Above you can see on the right, one of my brussel sprout plants that I started from seed back in Oct. On the left, the little seedlings are celery. I am trying that as an experiment. I am not too sure they are going to have enough time to grow before it gets too warm. We will see. They are definately slow growers!

My father-in-law is just putting up an awesome chicken coop. Here is a picture of it. It isn’t quite finished yet, but when it is, it will be really great. He has about 38 chickens which include 8 babies. On Saturday, we found 2 more hens roosting. I love to see those babies following after the mothers scratching for bugs.

New chicken coop

Baby chicks

This one is a rooster.

I am hopefully getting a couple of new hens today from a friend of mine. We had one of ours die a couple of weeks ago and now we have 4 hens. I am not quite sure what happened. It is possible she was egg bound because she had not yet started laying and was due any time to begin. I went out there and she was just dead. So sad. I really hate that, but it is part of having animals. My son always has a hard time.

Other random things happening in the garden right now:

– strawberry plants are starting to set fruit

-lots of carrots (By the way, I had planted some carrots of the variety “Tonda di Parigi” which are small round carrots similar looking to a radish. They are a little sweeter and very good raw. Interesting to taste the difference when compared to a regular baby carrot – “Little Finger” variety.)

-some tomatoes are starting to ripen and for some reason the starter plants that I purchased from the local garden center were labeled wrong and I have 3 cherry tomato plants. (Although, there is no where near the amount that I get in the spring/summer, even with a greenhouse type effect of growing them.)

-the eggplant are still producing the dreaded eggplant. I am definately pulling them out in a couple of weeks. I have just left them really because the little sparrows sit inside the plants and I feel sorry for them.

Happy Gardening!

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Preserving & Etc.

So, do you ever wonder what to do with all those jalepenos, or other peppers that your plant just keeps on producing and you can’t eat quick enough? My mother-in-law makes jalepeno jello, which you can do. I just really only have one recipe that I use that for, & I’m pretty sure I haven’t made that in oh, about 5 years. So, last week, I was looking through my trusty Ball Blue Book and came across this recipe:

Hot Peppers

1 1/2 pounds banana peppers

1 pound jalepeno peppers

1/4 pound serrano peppers

6 cups vinegar

2 cups water

3 cloves garlic

Leave peppers whole or cut into 1 inch pieces. Mix peppers together. Combine vinegar, water, & garlic in a large saucepot. Bring mixtu to a boil; reduce heat & simmer 5 minutes. Discard garlic. Pack peppers into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Ladle hot pickling liquid over peppers, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: about 5 pints.

Note: When cutting or seeding hot peppers, wear rubber glovs to prevent hands from being burned.

I definately do not have that many peppers, so what I did was fill one jar crammed full of whole peppers (mostly because I didn’t feel like cutting them up). I then put 2 cups white wine vinegar (not distilled) with 1 cup of water & 2 cloves garlic, minced into a pot and continued to do the recipe that way. I didn’t even process the jar after I was done, and the heat sealed it on it’s own. Also, as I make flavored vinegas all the time, I figured the vinegar would preserve it without having to actually can it. Guess what? Today I opened that jar of jalepenos and it looked & smelled just like the jar’s you buy at the store. YAY! The jalepenos even changed color to look like the ones you buy in the jar. So, I was happy!

Also, for those of you who have trouple with your bell peppers looking as big as the ones at the grocery store, I have been doing some research on this topic. This year, my peppers have had a few problems. Mostly, I think, because I have a fungus in the soil that they are growing in, so the leaves look wilted. I have buried banana peels under each plant, because apparently this is good for them as it provides magnesium as the peel breaks down (which it does rather quickly, despite the fact that it is very thick). I have also read to do this for rose bushes. I have also given them a good dose of epsom salts for nitrogen, which has helped them a little bit. Anyway, to make a long story short, the other day, I was picking up my vegetable basket from boutiful baskets and I had done the organic one (yes, even though I have a garden, I do get other veggies, mostly for the fruit right now). There were lots of bell peppers. They were smaller ones, just like the ones in my garden. So, apparently, it doesn’t matter. So, don’t fret about your peppers. I was pretty happy when I saw that!

I let the dove out of the chicken coop this am. The dog simply couldn’t stand that there was a dove in there and was trying to dig into the coop. Ridiculous! I had my husband go out there and look at the coop and he couldn’t figure out how these birds are getting in either! It’s a mystery!

Lots of long beans came off today! I really love those. If anyone would like some seeds for these, I have been saving and drying a few in my window. You really only need a few beans for a meal. And they are really tasty sauteed with a little jalepeno. Even my husband likes them, which is saying something!

Bay leaves, long beans, peppers, & radishes

Pictured above are the leaves from the laurel bay that I am drying. Apparently, when you cook with them, you are supposed to tear the leaf a little to release the flavor. Who knew? All these years, I have been putting them into my spaghetti sauce recipe and didn’t realize I was supposed to be doing that.

Yesterday, I went to lunch with my delightful friend, Roma, who is so incredibly talented, if I do say so. And, afterward, I dropped by the fun boutique, Rustic Hutch, which is located on Gilbert & Baseline, in Gilbert. I found some really awesome candles there. I have been burning one this morning & love the smell.

McCall's Country Canning Candles

I bought 2 of them. The one above is for Christmas, & is really lovely. The one I have been burning this morning, is “Raspberry Lemon Tea” & I do believe I love it!

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Here we are…

Sparkler radish planted October 5-6th.

Ok. I finally took some pictures, but then had to load the new PS Elements 8.0 before I could bring them to you. Lame, I know. And that took a few more days because then my mouse was out of commission. So, finally we are back in business. Thankfully. It has been so beautiful outside that I am just loving it. Unfortunately, so are the birds. And despite the fact that they have plenty of bird seed, they are thinking that my lettuce and newly sprouted lettuces are wonderful and eating them down to the ground. At first, I thought I had some kind of worm, but then discovered the birds. Some baling wire to make some little hoops to fit over the lettuce and seedlings & a trip to the local hardware store to buy some bird netting to fit over those hoops has solved the eating problem, but not the bird issue. They are seriously everywhere. My dog is going crazy chasing them. And somehow, every morning I go out there, they are getting into the chicken coop. I just came in from there, and there were seriously 10 sparrows and a dove. The dove is still in there. It wouldn’t come out. So, I say, whatever, to it!

I planted some celery this year, and don’t know if it will make it, but it has sprouted and they are seriously the smallest little leaves I think I have ever seen. The brussel sprouts have sprouted and the peas are starting to climb. YAY! I have a couple more new little basil plants that if anyone wants, they areย  free to come pick up, since I have 3 already and really don’t need anymore. Although, I did discover that my chickens love basil. I have been giving them the extras. And I started with 9 strawberry plants and am already up to 12.

Overall view of garden

Celery seedlings

I am excited to see the scarlet runner bean growing just like a bean! And by that I mean, it is a fast growing plant, so much that I can probably measure it’s growth every day! I am excited to see it in a few weeks. I do have a laurel bay that I really need to get into a pot, as it is sitting in it’s plastic nursery pot in the garden. I am pruning it into a topiary and it is pretty so far. The leaves look awesome as wreaths so that will be kind of nice to have as well as the culinary uses.

Ok. Gotta go. I have tickets to “New Moon”.

TTYL

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