Wednesday, November 23, 2011

1st Vegetable of the Season!

I enjoyed some time out in the yard today. I first pruned a bit on all my rose bushes, cutting off all the spent flowers and any dead or out of place stems. I only got poked bad once. :) Those thorns are brutal.

The hibiscus plants are very healthy and flowering quite a bit, especially the red variety.

And in the vegetable garden, I plucked my very first ever ZUCCHINI! Hooray! It is about 8 inches long and looks great. The plan is to fry it up tonight to go with dinner.

I also plucked some nasty slimy mushrooms that have been growing quite happily in the flower area of the garden. These will NOT be included with our dinner. :) My understanding about mushrooms is that they are not harmful to the garden. They are the reproductive organ of the fungus that lives in my soil. That fungus actually helps with the decaying process of organic matter in the soil. Even though I pulled out the mushrooms, the fungus still lives in the soil and will continue producing mushrooms as long as the soil is moist. 

Here is the lettuce growing very nicely:

More lettuce and spinach:

I caged the 4 largest tomato plants today to help them grow upward. I hope they have a growth spurt soon so we get some tomatoes before the cold hits.  
Also, to the right is the wonderful cilantro that we have already enjoyed several times with meals. 
Cilantro is one of my favorite things to grow in the garden. I love having fresh cilantro in my backyard. 

Gardening is good for me. Picking weeds is not good for my 9-month pregnant belly. There is no comfortable way to squat anymore. haha. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Growth Since Seed Planting

Sunflowers (planted seeds on October 10th)

Lettuce and Spinach (seeds planted Oct 11th), yellow squash and zucchini (seeds planted Sept 17th):

Cilantro and cherry tomato (seeds planted Sept 22):

Roma tomato and Snap Pea vines (seeds planted Sept 22nd and additional peas on Oct 11th)

The weather has been pretty chilly in the last few days due to a cold front, but hopefully these plants can still keep growing enough to produce before the winter cold comes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More seeds

This morning, I planted more sweet pea, romaine lettuce, spinach and crisphead lettuce seeds to fill in the gaps of the earlier seeds that didn't grow or got smashed by the neighborhood cats.

Looking forward to seeing more growth. Pictures to come soon!

Monday, October 10, 2011


Today, I decided to plant some flowers in a garden bed that I am not planning on using for my fall vegetable garden. My grandma shared some of her seeds from her Utah gardening, so I planted many of those and also 9 sunflower seeds (12-foot kind). I am excited to see how these flowers do and to add some beauty to my garden in the next months.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Enjoying new Beauty

This past week I planted 3 hibiscus bushes (1 gal size) on the side of our house. I am really excited to see them bloom soon and hope that they will enjoy their new ground. This location gets sun in the late morning and shade from the wall and our house at most other times of the day. Eventually, I would like to have some landscaping rock on the side yard on both sides of the sidewalk. The large petrified wood rocks here have been in my family for a while and have moved all over with us. I still have one surviving (barely) mint plant growing on the side yard as well as 2 Aloe Vera plants that are very happy. 

I also planted some pink and white Vincas and Mexican Heather (small purple flowers) in pots to make the front porch more beautiful. Flowers bring me happiness. I have had success with both of these species of flowers in the past and I love Heather. 

And in the vegetable garden...
Zucchini plants (seeds planted 2 weeks ago):

The start of a Sweet Pea vine:

I am grateful for green!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More Seeds & the 1st GREEN!

Yesterday, I planted these after tilling in some purchased garden soil. ($5 a bag at Walmart)

This morning, I planted these, also in that new soil. 

And I was so excited to see the first bit of green popping up from the yellow squash hill!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Preparing the Soil & Planting

Today, I did some long-awaited work in my garden. Because I'm pregnant and it got too hot, I didn't finish it. But here's what I accomplished. 

I tilled the soil and added some fertilizer granules and mulch.
I soaked the soil and tilled it again to allow the moisture to seep down deeper. 
And I planted these:

Yellow Squash
Iceberg Lettuce
Romaine Lettuce

I'm not quite sure about my soil. I think it is too sticky rather than nice and loose. I thought the sandy loam that I purchased last season would be better, but so far I am not too impressed by it. I hope that with added mulch, this soil can produce well. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fall 2011 Season Plans

I went through my blog archives to help me remember when I planted seeds for the Fall Season last year.

Of the many things I planted, here's what I want to plant again this year.

Last year, I planted:
Lettuce on Sept 24th and Nov 23rd
Snap Peas on Sept 24th
Cilantro on Oct 8th
Spinach on Oct 8th

Also, this year, I want to plant some cherry tomato plants and try again with zucchini. I plan to plant my first seeds mid-late August depending on the weather. 
I have high hopes for a successful season in my garden. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cabbage Harvest

My cabbage harvest included 3 small heads of cabbage. I haven't been feeling well lately, so it took me a while to harvest them and because of that, they had a stronger flavor than store bought. I am happy that we got something from that long time of growing and watering.

I finally dedicated a morning to clearing out the old plants in my garden that either were not producing, had died or began to seed themselves (cilantro and lettuce). It was a lot of work and filled half the trash can with roots and plants. All that is left now are three Roma tomato plants and they seem to be happily producing fruit for us.

I accidentally picked one of the most red ones while touching it to look at it. We haven't tried it yet, but I hope it is delicious and full of homegrown tomato flavor!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cabbage and Romas

So, I realized that my last post titled "Giving Up" was slightly depressing. I haven't given up on gardening all together, just the seeds that I planted for the Spring season. My cabbage is still developing from the Fall season. The Roma tomatoes are growing too, which gets me excited. We eat a lot of tomatoes in our house, so I hope we can get really delicious tomatoes this season for a while.

3 tomato plants

Growing Romas

Friday, April 8, 2011

Giving up

I'm sad to say it, but only a few corn seeds grew to a few inches tall. The zucchini, roma tomato, cherry tomato and watermelon seeds did NOTHING! So, this past week I gave up on all of them, since a few stalks of corn isn't enough to pollinate and produce anyways. No more wasting water on those seeds. They may have been old seeds (although they were just purchased last year) or the soil may have not kept in moisture well enough for them to be planted on hills.
My tomato and strawberry plants that I purchased are doing well and those will be my success this season. :)
The cabbage from the winter season is still growing and I am still hoping for some cabbage soon, it looks like it is forming in the centers of 4-5 plants.
Cilantro and lettuce are also still edible and I use them frequently. The peas stopped producing this past week and I believe that's because it started getting too warm for them. I am happy with what I got from the sweet pea vines.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Slow Seeds

I am not sure exactly why the seeds I planted weeks ago haven't made too much progress yet. There are 6 or 7 corn seedlings popping up just in the last few days, but no zucchini, watermelon or tomatoes yet (possibly due to cat and bird problems.) Which brings me to another point. The Cat Scat plant that I purchased with high hopes has let me down. The cats in my neighborhood must like the smell instead of being repelled by it because it seems that the digging and pooping has actually increased since placing that plant there.

We'll see what progress comes with the seeds this coming week. I am glad that I purchased the tomato and strawberry plants so I can have a little success this season. I caged the 3 tomato plants this past week and they all look healthy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lots of Lettuce

It is great to have fresh lettuce in the garden! I really wasn't all that excited about planting lettuce, but it is much more rewarding than I anticipated. It is so much more fresh than anything I can buy at the store and it has such great flavor. I am excited about my lettuce. I have been using it slowly over several weeks now and still have several bunches to use up before it gets too hot.

Here is a large bunch of romaine lettuce that I used this past weekend for a great salad.

Also, my sweet pea vines are doing great with this nice warm weather we have been having. I get several pea pods off of it daily. They hardly ever make it inside the house before I eat them, but here is a handful that made it inside one day.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Scarecrows & Cat Scat Plant

In my many efforts to overcome pests in my garden, I have learned a few things. 

Scarecrows really do keep many BIRDS from pestering (and destroying) newly-planted seeds and seedlings. This guy has been in my garden through rain and shine for about a year now. He lost his pants and legs in a recent storm, but he's still smiling. 

And as for CATS...

There are a lot of them around our house (none are ours) and they LOVE soft garden soil to leave their unwelcome and toxic poops in. And it's not just the feces, but they also dig up seeds and seedlings in the process.
 After many attempts to make this area unpleasant for them, I came across this Cat Scat plant (also at Whitfill Nursery for $2.99) and planted it in a small pot so I can move it around the garden and yard. It smells faintly of a skunk, but it doesn't bother me. I have seen improvements already, but will report back after a long-term trial of this plant as a cat repellent. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I went to Whitfill Nursery the other day and bought 3 tiny strawberry plants and 3 small Roma tomato plants. I planted them all in the garden after making room by taking out all of my slow-growing carrots. Here are my new additions to the garden.
3 Tomato plants in semi-sunny location
2 Strawberry plants in sunny location

In the next few days, I will give each tomato plant it's own tomato cage to help them grow big and under control. I also need to research these strawberry plants to see if I should allow fruit to grow in the first season, or pinch them off to allow the plant to focus on growing larger and stronger. Always more to learn.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Yesterday, I cleared out a section of carrots that I had planted in late September. They took much longer than anticipated to get large. According to the seed packet, they should have been harvested early December, but they were not ready at that point. 
I needed this sunny space for my newly purchased itty-bitty strawberry plants that I couldn't say no to at Whitfill Nursery in Gilbert. (Photos to come of the strawberry plants.)

Here are the carrots all a mess in my sink:

And mostly cleaned up:

Then I made them into Carrot Cake muffins, since I wanted to use them all right away before they lost their crunch. It was a lot of work getting those carrots ready for the carrot cake (especially if you count all the work planting the seeds and helping them grow), but it was very rewarding.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Playing in the Dirt

Yesterday I had some time, just me and the dirt. I loved it and accomplished some planting too. 
I had only planned on planting corn and tomatoes, but I couldn't help myself once I started looking through all my seeds. So, here's what I planted and let's hope that the weather stays as beautiful as it is right now for the sake of happy growing seeds.

Sweet Corn, Watermelon, Roma Tomatoes, Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes
 This is my first time planting on rows like this. I planted the corn and the watermelon on these rows and I plan to use the little dip in the middle to help deep water once the plants are tall. We'll see if it has benefits.

Corn planting
My garden today
I even indulged in a delicious snack, a juicy sweet pea. It's only one of two harvested from the winter growing season. I'll take what I get with sweet peas.

Sweet pea vines are so beautiful with their delicate white flowers. They make it all worth it, even with a little crop. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I am very pleased with the soil (Sandy Loam) that we just purchased at Pioneer Sand. The truck load cost us $27 (It is by weight). I am so excited to start planting, but I want to wait a few days since the temperature has been getting down in the 30's still at night.

We also put some new soil around our citrus trees and around some of the rose bushes in the front yard. I fed the rose bushes today with Scotts Rose food granules.

And, some good news! My peas did not completely die in the latest freeze as I had thought! There is new green life and beautiful sweet pea flowers. There is still hope for more sweet peas before summer!

Monday, February 21, 2011


A friend just told me about a soil mixture called SANDY LOAM. It is 33% screened fill dirt, 33% mulch, 33% manure. Sandy Loam is a great medium for vegetable gardens and other applications that utilize the warmth and micro nutrients of manure.
It is available at Pioneer Sand Company near Gilbert Rd and Guadalupe Rd in Gilbert, AZ. They fill up a truck for $30.

I am excited about this soil mixture since it is cheaper than buying bags of gardening soil and much less effort than getting the dirt, mulch and manure mixed together on my own.
I plan on using this soil and hopefully getting it very soon so my spring garden can get growing!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Growing Potatoes

I have a great interest in growing my own potatoes. I love potatoes because they can be a meal nearly all alone and they can be made into a variety of foods. I would really like to find out if potatoes can be grown in Mesa, Arizona.

I get a newsletter from Mike McGroarty, a fellow gardener, and the most recent one gave a lot of good information about growing and harvesting potatoes. He's in Ohio I believe, so I am interested to see if this information can also be used here, with our shorter growing season.
I want to have this information when I have an opportunity to give it a try, so I am putting it here on the blog for future implementation.

How to Grow Potatoes
Potatoes are really easy to grow, but unlike most other vegetables you don't start with seeds or a starter plant. Instead, you start with a potato! Most garden centers and farm stores sell seed potatoes which are nothing more than potatoes that have already started to sprout. These sprouts are known as eyes. If your seed potatoes have more than one eye (sprout) you can cut the potato into pieces with one or two eyes per piece. Cut them apart at least one day prior to planting. That will allow the potato to dry which will reduce the chance of disease or insect damage when you do plant them.

Plant your seed potatoes two to three inches deep in good rich soil. Your rows of potatoes should be 3 feet apart, and the plants in the row about one foot apart. Some people claim that if you toss a handful of pine needles into the hole with each seed potato that will prevent scab which is a blemish on the finished potatoes.

Don't start planting until the soil warms a bit. It takes warm soil for the potatoes to start growing, and if the seed potatoes sit in the cold damp ground for too long before they grow they could rot. Once planted you should see new potatoes plants in three weeks for sure.

Once your potato plants are about a foot tall take your garden hoe and pull about 6" of soil up around the plants. This is known as "hilling your potatoes" and it ensures that the new potatoes growing underground are not exposed to any sunlight. It makes for a much tastier potato.

The potato plants will produce a bloom; once the plants have bloomed you can start sneaking a few potatoes for dinner. Once the tops have died back in the fall it's time to start digging and harvesting all of your potatoes. Just dig around the plants with a pitch fork, loosen the soil and sift through it with your fingers to find your plentiful crop of potatoes.

Allow the potatoes to dry out the direct sunlight, then once dry store them in a cool dry place and enjoy!
-Mike McGroarty

Friday, February 11, 2011

My February Goals

The Spring planting season is about to begin in Mesa, AZ! Mid February is the prime time to start planting for the Spring season, after all danger of frost.
Speaking of frost, the recent frost killed my sweet pea vines. They had beautiful white flowers and the peas were just barely starting to come. I had eaten one delicious pod of peas before it all froze.

My goals for this month:
1) Enhance my soil
2) Plant corn
3) Plant tomatoes

Because I know that getting my soil just right is going to take a lot of effort and time, I plan to only plant corn and tomatoes this season. That way, I can focus on those 3 goals and perfect my gardening a little at a time.

Here is an article I just read in my efforts to learn about perfectly balanced gardening soil.

The lettuce and cabbage plants seem to be doing great and growing big. I fertilized them a few days ago and hope to start seeing some heads of cabbage soon.

Romaine and Iceberg Lettuce

 I recently learned that it is important to fertilize cabbage (and many vegetable plants) right before they begin to produce. Nitrogen is a specific ingredient that is important for the cabbage to produce good heads.
This is the fertilizer that I have been using in the garden and for the citrus trees.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Carrots and Cilantro

It's rewarding to have some things in my garden grow the way they should! I love going out and cutting off some cilantro or lettuce when I need it. The carrots are ok, but not as flavorful or dark orange as they should be. I will be revamping my soil before this upcoming Spring planting season and that should improve the quality dramatically. GOOD QUALITY SOIL = A GREAT PRODUCTIVE GARDEN, that is one major thing I have learned in the last year.

Dirty carrots


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Update on my Garden

During the winter time it seems that nothing too exciting has been happening in the garden. But, I have used lettuce and cilantro from the garden and both are great! All the tomato plants have been pulled out after a rough freeze we had in the past weeks. Here are some photos of what I have growing.

Sweet Peas

Cabbage, Cilantro, Romaine Lettuce, Carrots

Bush Beans

Romaine Lettuce, Cabbage

The citrus has been great on the Navel Orange tree closest to the house. The 2 Valencia Orange trees struggled and didn't produce much. The tangerine tree is bursting with fruit and are getting ready for eating now.